Week 6 of production: Animating armless people… that stuff is really difficult.

Hello everyone! Week 6 has now passed and things are getting closer and closer to getting finished for the GGC.

I’m going to talk a little about what I’ve been doing this week, and that’s animation of the main character. I had animated the rough animations for the character a week or so before this one, but those were placeholders, and needed to get changed or polished. So this week was only polishing and creating new animations that were needed for the character.

So let’s talk about the running animation of the character, undoubtedly the one animation I put the most work into.

The main character is a child that has wings instead of arms, and hides them under his/her poncho, not using them except for flying. This was troublesome throughout the whole process of animating since I have no idea how a character moves without arms, since there are a lot of things to consider, these being balance and general movement.

When animating, one usually want to exaggerate movements in order to make the characters intentions clear and easy to read. This of course depends on what kind of game you make. A super realistic game most likely won’t exaggerate their movements all too much, since they want to keep it as close to real life as possible. While in a cartoon game, an example could be that arms stretch back and forth and move in a unrealistic way.

Speaking of arms, they are important in movement to make something feel like it’s in motion. The arms help counterweight the rest of the body when we move, hence why we usually move our arms automatically when moving around. So for this animation, I had to imagine a person running without arms, as well as trying to exaggerate this movement.

I ended up running around our office, looking like a confused bird while desperately trying to figure out how the heck you move without arms. The result was that it’s very awkward to someone that’s not used to it.

I started making the roughs for the animations, which is easy enough. It all comes down to placing key frames on the “extreme” poses that the character will make, in this case; when the character lands the feet on the ground.

After that, it’s about placing more frames in between the main frames in order to get some proper movement, much like the GIF image below.

One of the first iterations. It was choppy. The End.
One of the first iterations. It was choppy. The End.

After that comes fleshing it out, which is essentially putting more and more frames in between the ones you have until you get fluid motions, adding movement to the torso, hips and head. No arms in this case… no arms.. yeah.

Anyways, once I had an iteration of the animation I was happy with, I could start polishing the animation. The GIF below is the iteration I went and polished.

An earlier iteration of the animation, where I had problems with stutters due to the first and the last frame being the same.
An earlier iteration of the animation, where I had problems with stutters due to the first and the last frame being the same.

Now I had the main animation done, had the footslides gone and managed to get a pleasant swing on his/her body when running. Now I could polish it. This step is pretty much the same, put in more frames, alter them so that is looks and flows better. I had a problem now though, the character had a stutter when the loop closed. This was caused by the first frame and the last being the very same, something you usually want when making a cycle of some kind.

I fixed this by making the last frame similar to the last one but not the same. This ended in a smoother transition on the cycle. I also changed the motions on the body, making the swinging less aggressive and a bit more smooth and subtle. aaaaand that was pretty much what I did with that.

The running animation that I made for the game
The final version of the running animation, where I managed to solve the stuttering movement.

I could go through every single animation that I did, but that would end up in me making an entire essay about the process, which I will do anyways. BUT NOT HERE!

The GGC is coming closer, and nerves are starting to die slowly.

Until next time! Cheers! ๐Ÿ˜€

One thought on “Week 6 of production: Animating armless people… that stuff is really difficult.

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