Wool Cat Sequence Animation: A Step-by-Step Information Utilizing Blender and Cartoon Animator

About Deb Ethier

I’m Deb Ethier, animator, graphic designer, author, and musician for Rusty Bolt Theatre and Seat of the Pants Movie Lab (which is principally simply me!). I began making quick and micro-short animations again in 2016 and my movies (from comedies to full dramatic narratives) have been honored with awards at movie festivals all over the world.

I’d wish to share a little bit of what went into making “Madcap Catnap” that includes Louiethe Cat (one in all my favourite characters), and the way I used a number of software program sources to realize the completed movie.

Turning Practical 3D Dolls into 2D Characters

The thought of a cat’s dream world allowed me to play with enjoyable ideas. I had used Louie as an animated 2D character earlier than, however by no means with this many pose variations. The unique Louie is a 2.5 inch tall needle-felted character! I usually make my characters as actual 3D “dolls” so I can {photograph} them from each angle to course of into animated 2D characters.

Utilizing GIMP and png-enhancing software program I resolve what angles I would like and rework these. Louie’s dimension supplied a little bit of a problem, however I lastly received the wool texture proper so he appeared just like the tiny, blocky felted creature that he’s.

There have been finally a number of “Louies”; principally free bone, a pair extra historically rigged in CTA5. 

Creating Facial Animation

His face animation is absolutely vital because it wants to indicate emotion. I want morph heads in Cartoon Animator for varied causes, one being that the eyeballs really sit within the eye sockets giving a number of expression to facial animation. 

Morph heads may be difficult at first, however taking the time to do quite a lot of cautious tweaking backwards and forwards between previews and changes actually pays off. 

The dream world needed to be surreal. I usually get my inspiration from work, and partially went with the look of the Put up-Impressionists this time, including my very own graphic contact. Layering these in CTA5 with flat color-field panorama components throws the world additional off-kilter. 

Animating 2D Characters with Spring Bones

The brand new options in CTA5 (like Spring Bones) make it a really versatile 2D animation software program. Earlier than, I’d rig tails as a backbone and both keyframe manually or use one of many premade backbone animations. Nevertheless, by rigging the tail with Spring Bones, a beautiful, easy motion was achieved. A banner was additionally rigged this manner. However I feel probably the most enjoyable software of this new characteristic was within the ultimate chase scenes by way of the dream tunnel. I rigged the complete entrance and rear views of Louie with Spring Bones to offer that comical frantic wiggly walk-run that cats usually do. It gave a fantastic cartoon really feel, and I may nonetheless add facial animation simply.

Including Free-Kind Deformation Results on Props

The Free-Form Deformation (FFD) editor was additionally extraordinarily helpful as I used to be in a position to make the “crop” of underwear dance within the wind by making use of FFD to every pair of shorts (after capturing pictures of the underwear from varied angles in Blender). 

Layering and transferring the digicam alongside the z-axis (as in Louie’s run down the street) stays one in all my favourite unique skills in CTA as I like to push the dimensional boundaries in 2D animation software program. For that scene, I merely animated the again of Louie operating individually and layered it with the rendered scene so it seems as if we’re seeing it from Louie’s POV.

Rendering Props and Making Results in Blender

CTA5 was on the forefront on this mission, however I additionally produce other instruments that work very well with it. Blender is one in all these. I’m only a newbie on this 3D software program but it surely wasn’t that arduous to get the fundamentals for this mission. Manipulating characters and props (both unique or from premade fashions) in Blender permits you to save pictures at any angle for importation into CTA5 for rigging

Probably the most pivotal issues that I discovered Blender actually helpful for in relation to CTA5 is creating rotating or turning characters or props. On this movie, I used a propeller and windup key (however there are many different prospects). Animate and render as a picture sequence in Blender for enter to CTA5. (I take advantage of popVideo for enter as a result of my picture sequences have been fairly lengthy, however the brand new model of CTA permits for brief APNG sequence import). 

You possibly can reverse that workflow too. For the cat meals can I animated the label in CTA5, rendered it as a picture sequence, and imported this into Blender to be hooked up to the can. I then keyframed the digicam place and rendered out for import again to CTA5 by way of popVideo. I feel there could possibly be quite a lot of use for this system.

The dream tunnel on the finish is an impact made solely in Blender, following a tutorial. Load it as a video into CTA and you’ve got a wormhole! I feel there may be quite a lot of scope for increasing the play between Blender and CTA5, one thing I intend to discover additional. 

In relation to a video editor, I search for versatility and accessible plugins. I’ve used HitFilm Specific (with all of the add-ons) for a very long time, however their enterprise mannequin modified when the corporate was taken over by Artlist. In trying to find a viable different I got here throughout Vegas Professional and it appears to be an excellent match. I’m simply studying its ins and outs, however have discovered it to be user-friendly with quite a lot of help accessible. I significantly preferred the truth that it is a superb host for a few of my favourite third-party impact plugins — however Vegas Professional additionally has quite a lot of native plugins. 

To check its consumer interface, I created the title sequence for the movie with it and utilized results to units, props, characters, and scenes. I then examined it with a few of my favourite results mixtures from Hitfilm. It carried out remarkably properly. To check it additional towards Hitfilm, I created a straightforward blur impact for quick motion with out utilizing movement blur (which might actually lavatory down the render). I duplicated the video and utilized a long-angle blur to the underside copy. Stretched it out, angled it accurately, and positioned it towards the unique, whereas taking part in with opacity. It really works properly in each items of software program and is a really helpful, straightforward easy impact to make use of. Vegas Professional will doubtless be phased-in as my foremost video editor.

Though I really like integrating different software program into my animation workflow, CTA nonetheless stays my foremost software. It’s very versatile, well-supported, and fairly adaptable to my many types of animation. It simply retains getting higher with the addition of latest options on each replace!

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