# 2D animations

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Towards my continuing interest in making a fish game, this week I got my butt in gear and made some experimental animations. I'd be happy to have any comments/suggestions. (As long as it's not crap like "go read books on animation" or "go find reference images of fish". -_- )

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What are your tools and process?

I think you're off to a very good start, and want to see more. I'd like to see the fish in the lower left slowed down a bit - I know it's a case of having too few frames and perhaps no specified framerate in the GIF - but I'm just curious overall: the blue and green wings appear to have been hand-drawn in felt tip pen on paper and then photographed/scanned? The wings and fish in the right column suggest a simplistic drawing tool. Have you looked at Pencil?

I'm interested because I'm turning my attentions back that way right now, so I'm eager to see what others are doing and how they do it. Keep us posted, and keep up the good work!

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I used Gimp for most of this because of its Playback filter; I'd really prefer to be using a vector art program but I don't know of one with a similar feature. Flash might but I was totally confused last time I tried to use that program.

The blue and green wings and fin were draw with marker (roseart finepoints I think) on printer paper - I was looking at the Muybridge animals in motion book, the flying cockatoo sequence, while doing the wings. (Sadly Muybridge didn't photograph any fish.) The fish with too few frames (I agree about that) was also drawn on printer paper, although I used ballpoint pen for that one. I actually drew 8 frames for it but the others just looked strange when I played them back so I discarded them. I am contemplating getting one of those wooden toys made out of circular slices that undulate around the spine like a fish or snake and using it to draw from.

The fancy goldfish which looks like it's doing aerobics was originally drawn in marker, but I heavily edited it in gimp with a paintbrush tool, width set to match the marker. The rowing wing is also an edit made in gimp - I used the blue and green wings as a reference and made a new transparent frame over each reference frame and used the paintbrush tool to experimentally adjust the motion, trying to capture a rowing motion I was picturing in my head. Perhaps the motion would be appropriate for an 'airfish' or a 4-winged bird. I deleted the original frames of the wing one. The for both I used the Playback filter in Gimp to repeatedly test the motion of the new frames and make small changes. I originally drew the new wing frames and edits on the goldfish in different colors so I would be easily able to tell which one I was looking at in the Playback and edit that one in the main window. For both the goldfish and the rowing wing I then desaturated all the frames and raised the contrast to get rid of the color variation.

Another thing I did was search online for example gifs of things swimming and flying to take a look at other people's animation frames. Some of them where I almost liked the motion I edited to make them look better to me. One had way too many frames and I got rid of a quarter of them. I considered using non-gif examples but movie and flash files are a pain in the butt to get frames out of. I used to have a program that batch-exported frames from movie files, it didn't survive my last computer transition so I should probably go find it again. I still want to find a good example of a butterfly flying, maybe also some other insects flying because they have two pairs of wings much like fish fins. Flying fish look quite similar to dragonflies.

So the rest of the process will be: search for more examples, reduce examples to lineart animations comparable to these so I can see just how the motions compare. Pick a motion I am happiest with and import the frames into a vector art program to make nice smooth lineart for them, and test it for smoothness of animation. Then color the frames and test again. Somewhere in there I also have to decide what the fish will actually be doing in the game so I know what motions I need to animate - I've been kinda stuck on that aspect though so I've been starting with a simple side view of ordinary swimming.

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I'd recommend giving Pencil a shot. It supports layers, frames and onion skinning, has a decent brush engine and runs on Windows, Linux and OS X. And it's completely free (it's open source).

Also, do you have a tablet? You need to set GIMP to use pen pressure to control opacity jitter. It'll give you a better line quality when you draw. If you don't have a tablet, get one. Given the passion you have for drawing and animation, it's an essential investment. I have three, and am hoping to pick up a Cintiq before the year is over.

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As far as free animation-specific programs go I thought CreaToon looked better than pencil; also have you looked at Gimp Gap, the add-on animation package for Gimp? But like I said, I'm really more interested in vector drawing/animation. My crappy brush-tool doodles in ginp are purely to experiment with establishing a nice movement over several frames, I wasn't trying to make them look nice. I've been hoping Inkscape will grow animation features, and also heard a rumor recently that Flash may go open-source.

I previously owned a tablet and absolutely hated trying to draw with the thing because I couldn't look at the stylus and the line it was drawing at the same time. For vector art I don't think a tablet would speed things up much, but if I wanted to get more seriously into bitmap coloring then I would invest in one of those pressure-sensitive monitors, basically the tablet built into the monitor so you can actually see what you're drawing.

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Quote:
 Original post by sunandshadowAs far as free animation-specific programs go I thought CreaToon looked better than pencil; also have you looked at Gimp Gap, the add-on animation package for Gimp? But like I said, I'm really more interested in vector drawing/animation. My crappy brush-tool doodles in ginp are purely to experiment with establishing a nice movement over several frames, I wasn't trying to make them look nice. I've been hoping Inkscape will grow animation features, and also heard a rumor recently that Flash may go open-source.

Flash isn't going open source any time soon. It's a cash cow for Adobe.

I hadn't heard of CreaToon. I wanted to take a look at it, but it's Windows only (I'm on a Mac). I don't use the GIMP at all, so no GAP; if it's an activity that I'm going to do very frequently, I prefer a specialized tool to an add on to a more general application.

Anyway, here's a work in progress I whipped up in about 20 minutes in Penci:

Quote:
 I previously owned a tablet and absolutely hated trying to draw with the thing because I couldn't look at the stylus and the line it was drawing at the same time. For vector art I don't think a tablet would speed things up much, but if I wanted to get more seriously into bitmap coloring then I would invest in one of those pressure-sensitive monitors, basically the tablet built into the monitor so you can actually see what you're drawing.

Well, pressure-sensitive monitors are expensive - a Cintiq costs $2500 (although the small one costs$1000). A regular tablet costs as little as \$50 for the truly entry-level models, and getting over the hand-eye dissociation is a matter of practice/training. But different strokes for different folks.

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This is a fancy goldfish (specifically an oranda with telescope eyes). Aside from being purple it's supposed to look like an actual goldfish. Any suggestions?

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It's not bad at all! Depending on just how realistic you want to be, I might said to try to add the sensation of buoyancy or weightlessness that floating in water would suggest - the movement of the fish has a tiny bit too much "weight" to it. Watching some goldfish videos on YouTube, I notice that the fins have this floaty feel to them until the fish makes a series of very quick, very slight movements to navigate or propel.

I don't know what context this animation is to work in, so I really can't say too much that's probably useful. But it does look good. Keep it up!

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Thank you. ^_^ The context will be an aquarium where captured fish are displayed and bred, part of a larger game which includes fishing. I think it will seem more floaty if I make it bob up and down a bit. I was looking at movies of goldfish, and also noticed, they don't move steadily like this at all - they tend to hold still except for stabilizing themselves with their fins (and maybe making munching movements with their mouths), then burst into a wriggling forward motion starting with half a tail swing before getting into a full tail-swooshing motion like shown here. And that doesn't even take into consideration that they can angle up or down, or turn to face toward or away from the viewer. @_@ But yeah I hope to use this animation as one of a set of movements the goldfish can smoothly change between as directed by a simple AI.

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