Character animation has always been a thing I’ve wanted to do, but was always intimidated by. Either I wasn’t confident enough in my abilities in some software, or never felt like I could wrap my head around rigging a complex character. It just seemed like too big of a project to take on, and I would ultimately be disappointed with whatever I could do.
So after spending some time learning the ins and outs of Blender, I decided to take an honest stab at animating something. I spent the last couple months modeling, rigging and animating a frog guy from the ground up. It started with this doodle back in October:
Then I went back and drew him at a higher fidelity and figured out some details about how his clothes could work. I started modeling the shoes first to see how it would look, but then immediately decided to keep going:
The really intimidating part of character modeling is the rigging process. This is basically where you build out the skeleton for the character, and go through and finesse how the body deforms when the limbs move. Luckily there are some tools that kinda help this process along:
One detail I really wanted to nail was having the shoes bend & deform correctly. I knew I'd be animating the feet a lot so I made sure to figure out the best way to handle this. I spent a lot of time playing with the feet once I got it going 😄
From there, I animated a relatively simple loop of him carving back and forth. This was a nice introduction to animating a lot of moving parts, like getting the hands and fingers to sway a little bit. My favorite part of this is that I actually figured out a way to “rig” some functional skateboard trucks:
After the carving loop went well I felt like I wasn’t done animating this guy yet. I wanted to try something more complex, and having him do a kickflip was the next logical step. Problem is, both a kickflip and a push are surprisingly complicated/intricate to animate. I was way outside of my comfort zone for most of this, but I think it turned out great.
While working on the kickflip animation I realized the scene needed some background stuff. I drew some city blocks to figure out different ways to fill the space and make it feel like a sorta real place. Some of those objects are just stuff I had made to put in the back of the truck 😄
Here’s the finished product on Instagram:
My favorite stupid detail is that to get the skateboarding sounds, I actually recorded myself playing the game Skater XL and tried to line up the timing. I didn’t expect it to work very well, but when I edited it together it was perfect. Still surprised it sounds as good as it does!
About halfway through this project I started streaming while working on it. It’s been really fun to just hang out and listen to chill music while messing around with this stuff. This week I’m going to stream the process of sculpting a Ramona to match the Frank I made last year.
Baumgartner Restoration restores old paintings and documents his entire process. Very relaxing.
Heliscapes takes drone and helicopter footage and sets it to chill music. These are basically Apple TV screensavers, but sometimes it’s nice to have on in the background.
Nomadic Ambience is just videos of someone walking around somewhere nice while it rains. Super chill.