51. Alpha

It's been a while since I up-dated the blog, the reason is quite simple, I'm back at work. My real work that is... After (almost) finishing the animation, I needed to go back to work to save money to be able to finish the compositing and music of the film.

The compositing is when you add up all the layers of animation to create the final picture. It's usually (in my case) the main character on top of the background, but it can be much more complex, with camera moves, sfx (like rain or fire), depth of field, etc.

BG020 + DE_01_00_JIM_0001  =


To be able to add the character on top of the background, each frame of animation needs an Alpha. An alpha is a black and white pictures that tells pictures where to be transparent, white is not transparent and black is fully transparent.


The checker board is where I want the drawing to be transparent.

Jimmy Alpha

There are various techniques to create a drawing's alpha, in my case the line of the drawing are not closed so it makes it quite hard to use automatic techniques, so I decided to draw each alpha in photoshop. To do so I created a script that pre makes the alpha (using the magic wand) and I would correct it by hand, then save the picture as a png, which handle the transparency very easily. If you want to know more about the script gimme a shout, I'll be happy to send it to you.

The whole process is quite short (1 min per drawing), but because you have to do it for each drawings, and I am working with big files (long saving time), it adds up to quite a lot of hours.

It took me around 3/4 week to do all the shot, I did that after work, witch doesn't speed up the process at all, the good new is that every shot I animated so far have an alpha now, so I can work on compositing the shots.

As a little reward for finishing all the alpha, and as a joke, I edited a fake trailer for the film, it's put together using the automatic trailer maker that comes with iMove, its stupidly easy to do and takes about 5 minutes and here it is:


As a disclaimer, those are just work in progress.

48. Brushes! part 1

Allright, so before I decided weather or not it was possible to do any secondary animation on computer, I had to check that I could replicate the drawings fully digitally. For this I would need a brush (in photoshop, or what ever other software) that replicates the way my pen behave on paper.

This actually means that I need to replicate what the drawn lines look like once scanned.

Step 1: What to replicate


I start by drawing various type of strokes: Slow, fast, overlapping, light and heavy strokes.

Step 2: Understanding parameters


The amount of parameters can be overwhelming  but if you take them one by one it's actually straight forward.

- First you need to choose your brush size to match the pen. You won't be able to change the size of your brush once its finished, it will look odd. If you need a bigger brush, youll need to scan a bigger pen and create a new brush.

From now on stroke on the right is pen stroke on the left is "cg"


I've set the hardness to 33% because the pen is not drawing perfectly sharp.

Note: the size of your brush depends on the size of your document (because it's set in pixels) here i'm working at 300 dpi. If I was at 600 dpi i'd have to scale my brush up twice.

I keep it round because it's a classic pen.

- Then lets set the shape dynamics:

size jitter

The size jitter "randomise" the size of the brush in the range you set (here the brush can be 50% bigger or smaller). The size is also control by the pen pressure and I've put a minimum size so the brush doesn't disappear when I'm drawing lightly. (Here you need to match the diameter of your lightest pen stroke)

The size jitter represent the flow of ink of your pen and the randomness due to the paper, not the wobbliness of your stroke due to how you draw. I am not using the angle jitter and roundness jitter since my brush is round.

-  Scattering moves the brush in different axis, i am not using it here.

- Textures and Dual Brush aren't useful in this case.

- Color Dynamics



Color dynamics gives your stroke a more natural/scanned look. Scanner never scan black as black, it's multicolor darkness. Here my foreground color is a very dark blue and my background color is a very dark red. They are being mixed randomly at 57%.

A brush is just a succession of dots really close to each other. What the randomizing option does is give each dot a different value, in hue, brightness and saturation. The purity seams to multiply the effect. At -100 the brush turns black and white...

Note that if you un-tick "apply per tip" the color changes is applied to the whole stroke. It can give some nice effects.

- Transfer


Here you'll need to set the opacity and flow of your brush. As you can see on the strokes on the left, the pen doesn't cover the paper regularly (more or less ink comes up).

The opacity and flow are both transparency but one is applied by stroke, the other one is applied as you draw. With opacity you need to lift your pen and draw again to have a color twice less transparent whereas with flow if you draw twice in the same place in a single stroke, this place will be twice less transparent.

The important thing at this stage is to play with the pressure of your wacom pen. You might end up really easily with a completely transparent brush when your not putting a lot of pressure on your pen. You need to set the minimum opacity to something that suite you.

- brush pose is some kind of 3d ness of your pen on the wacom. lets not bother with it.

- The next parameters have no options. I change them on/off as I draw depending on the effect I want to give:



Adds sharp noise to the stroke.

- Wet edge


Makes the center of the brush lighter and the edges darker

- build-up is some kind of airbrush option.

- Smoothing smooth you brush stroke, I wouldn't use it with a tablet if you want a hand drawn feel...

At this point you should have a brush fairly similar to your pen:

red arrows show the cg brush strokes.


The only option i couldn't find is to have more opacity/flow at the beginning of a stroke, I think it would look much more natural. If anyone knows how to do this, let me know!

Sorry for the bad english, this took more time then i though and I need to go back to work...




44. Deadman's little helpers

So a few students from RCDC (Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication) backed the film's kickstarter. I met them at the Kickstarters end's drinks, and for what ever reason when they're not busy at school or on personal projects, they want to help on the film... Instead of partying and having fun! Crazy peops.

So they're helping me shading some shots. To make sure everything is consistant I made this little "tutorial" on how to shade beard and hair on the film:


You can check it out in high quality on vimeo: https://vimeo.com/65075512

Anyway thanks Andreas, Amy, Ashley, Andreas and Matt

42. Same old, Same old

Damn, I've been dead busy with playing fancy dressing and drinking (for the live action of the film, obviously - well mainly) that I forgot to post last week! Anyway there is much more black on the character now, and shading takes twice longer... If you want to start a 2d film, hand drawn, here's an advice, make everything white! Damn that black T-Shirt is killing me.

So you can forgive me, here's a little GIF, the walking drunk (it's not the shot that caused me lots of pain):


39. Rewarding

I've got around 150 packets to prepare for the Kistarter, so I'm starting early. (And this as nothing to do with the fact that I don't feel like shooting more live action today, NOTHING) The lucky 15  first fellas that pledged for the book and that sent me their address will receive their book very soon.

I'm sure the post man is gonna LOOOVE me.

And to celebrate this I made a GIF, obviously. (Might take a while to load)



37. Loops

In animation we use a lot of cycles to save time on repetitive action, such as walks or runs. A cycle is just an animation that loops i.e. the first frame and the last one are from the same motion and we don't notice a change in rythme when the animation starts again.

Looping a video can get very tricky, but it will save a tremendous time in animation..

For exemple I'm working on a shot where the guy walks toward the camera, it's a 10 second shot, witch would mean 120 frames to animate. Way to much.

So let's turn this video (video is speed up):


into this cycle :


The first step is to find where the action repeats:


Now the first and last frames are kind of the same but the guy is moving forward...  Rubbish... So let's scale and rotate him so it matches as much as possible.


It's starting to get there, but because it's video, nothing loops at the same frames. It needs to be fixed, element by elements:


Each individual part of the body is looped. If you don't pay attention to the background.


Then I put the guy back together:


Et voila, if you look only at the guy,  the video is looping. You can see that I don't loop the lower body and upper body at the same frame, same with the arm and the guitar. That's another tricky part, as it's important to keep a natural look, but once drawn:


This fella can walk, forever!

An I only animated 21 frames!

Don't forget that first and last frame shouldn't be the same one, or you would have twice the same frame. You need to match 2 frames, and then remove the last one, if that makes any sense :)

It's the last day of my kickstarter if you wanna chip in, it's here: www.deadmansreachfilm.com

36. Live action, Again

I finished animating all the shots I filmed so far, so I'm back on live action. I have a few "classic" shot to shoot, i.e. me going around in my living room pretending to be in the desert, but after that I'll start the more complex shots, involving old fashion special effects such as building a fake head in latex. Ho boy that's gonna be fun!

Here, a mock up layout of one of the shots I film yesterday:


And just a little reminder that the kickstarter is still going! (9 days left!)

34. Kickstarter Update

backers Well the Kickstarter had an amazing start! We reached the initial goal in only 24 hours!

The initial goal was to cover the cost of finishing the film animation and the off costs, like festival inscription.

The new goal now includes the compositing of the film (putting all the animation layers together) and the sound recording!

I hope we can make it! So keep sharing the love!

Also I feel like the T-shirts don't get as much attention as they deserve, It's probably because I didn't talk about them in the video, so here we go:


I'm planing to print the T-shirt with the AMAZING Dude Factory, this means that the printing quality will be beautiful.

They print on American apparel cuts, Male and Female!  You can also choose a variety of colors. Check it out, HERE, And it's only £25!




33. KickStarter is READY - Trailer

Ahoy! "Animating Deadman's Reach" KickStarter is ready to go live!

I will be launching it THIS THURSDAY, valentine's day.

And it will include Awesome Rewards!


Don't miss it, Thuersday, for 30 days only! I will be trying to raise 7000£.

The preparation was bloody intense, but at least you''ll be able to enjoy making fun of me in the KickStarter video!

27. Zoetrope Gif

  I finished shooting 3 sequences last week and I now have 12 new shots that I can animate.

Some of them are quite scary...

This one for instance, each drawing is a proper a4 drawing... shaded and all.

I made it into a kind of zoetrope gif, for fun. So that's 9 frames out of the 26 the shot needs...


Comment here

25. Live Action

I've now finished animating everything I shot a will back, so today and probably tomorrow will be shooting live action again. It's quite a pain in the ass, but it has to be done... the bigest trouble is that, since last time, my hair grew quite a lot, and I'm gonna have to shave my beard... What a drag!

Here's another little GIF, enjoy:

I'm a bit out of Ideas on what I should post, Do you have anything you'd like me to explain about animation, or anything you'd like to see?

Let me know HERE.

24. Shading animation

First of all, sorry for not posting yesterday. I'm sure the 2 visitors that were eager to discover more about the making of DeadMan's Reach were very disappointed, Mum... Conor... sorry.


I didn't post because I was going to post a video that I filmed with a GoPro stuck to my head. I thought it would be fun to see how I shade animation...

Turns out it took me more than 16 hours to shade the 33 frames of the particular shot I'm working on, and because of that:

1) I couldn't draw with a GoPro on my head for 16 hours, I had to stopped after 8 hours... Neck fixing is not included in the film budget.

2) Even speed up 3000 time, the video was extremely boring.

So, I decided to post a GIF instead. It's crazy how gifs are more popular than video, maybe its the equivalent of Disc/ CD but in the 2010: GIF / Vimeo

Anyway, here is what took me 16 hours to draw, color and shade...

And I'm still working on it... I'm now thinking "Summer 2016" is a good release date.

You can comment here.

18. Animatic, Again

The Backgrounds being almost complete, I spent last week working on the animatic and script again. I added a few shots, changed some timing, and started working on the voices. I'm going to keep on this week.

I'm recording the main character's voices 2 weeks from now, and i'll need everything ready.

I'm using an A/V script, A for audi and V for video (Duhh). Really useful:

17. 56 Backgrounds

I have now drawn 56 Backgrounds. I have a few left and my goal is to finish most of them this week and start animation next week.

I will need to make a new planning obviously...

There is a few POV in the film and I haven't decided if they will be fully animated backgrounds and characters or if it will only be a big background with pans.

Anyway, here's what it looks like when I try to review most of the BGs:


Post a Comment

14. Making a Shot

I finally got around editing that "making of video" I was supposed to last week. It shows the different steps I go through to make an animation.

1) Shoot live action.

2) Choose only the frames I need for the animation.

3) Time them and place them correctly.

4) Rotoscop them.

5) Clean the drawings and shade them

6) Place the animation on the Background.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, especial one of me moving in slow motion in my living room, there you go:

[vimeo 46986044 w=500 h=281]

music is "RoadTrim Part 2" by the dead pirates

post a comment

7. Time-lapse and Animation test.

Exciting post today as I finally have a drawing that will appear in the final film! I finished a first background and did a little animation test last week.

Here is me drawing the BG:

[vimeo 44107554 w=500 h=375]

I have to animate up to 6 minutes of animation in a very short time,

this is equivalent of 4320 drawings in pencils and 4320 in pen...

Lets say A LOT. To be on schedule I had to find a quick method to animate.

Since I'm not a proper animator it needed to be easy enough and reliable.

The obvious choise was rotoscoping, i.e. Drawing on top of video.

The problem with this technic, is that it doesn't feel right, you're missing the artist interpretation.

I decided to tweak this technic. I needed the Rotoscop to be able to draw easily, not to guide the movement,  i needed only the poses and not the timings.

So this is what I do:

I film the subject in slow motion (this is usually me moving slowly), with very specific poses.

Then I re-time the animation by keeping only the frames that are relevent to the animation I want.

Giving you a video close to Pixilation. But with the ability to film it on your own (quite important in my case)

Finally I trace the drawing on top of the video.

Here is the result, obviously a drunk skeleton:

[vimeo 44118553 w=500 h=281]

This week plan is to start the bigest BGs, and maybe animate a background animation to a final state.

6. Thank You

I just got back from Berlin, where I spent an awesome time with the guys at the Dudes Factory. You really should check their website!

In the mean time I didn't work on the film, but did manage to finish the THANK YOU page,

have a look at who bought the book so far, and discover great art works!

This week plan is a bit hard-core, I need to get the studio ready for 2D animation and Rotoscop.

Plus finish at least one Background to production level. And ideally have an animation test ready.

I'd better get to work then...

This is a preview of my rotoscop device, HIGH TECH believe me!