Disney’s Twelve Basic Principles of Animation is a set of principles of animation introduced by the Disney Animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas in their 1981 book The Illusion of Life.
The 12 Principles
- Squash and Stretch
- Straight ahead action and pose to pose
- Follow through and overlapping action
- Slow in and slow out
- Secondary action
- Solid Drawing
I will most definitely take as many of these principles into consideration as possible throughout the animating stage of my project. It will be crucial for me to make my animation as polished as I can make it to really sell the story and increase the audiences enjoyment. I’ve practised a few of these principles already in Flash with a couple of random characters just so I can practice using Flash again and improve my drawing abilities a little bit again.
I found this photo on instagram during my research and I think it will now become a perfect source of reference for this next stage in my project which will be digitally drawing the background for the title scene. It’s actually exactly what I want to achieve regarding the mood of the woodland. The fog may be difficult to do but I think it should be easy to accomplish if I play around with the opacity of the layers; increasing the opacity the further away into the distance the trees are will give the foggy effect.
This is a gif. of the process I went through to produce the background for the title scene. I had to watch a few tutorial videos on YouTube on how to paint in photoshop before I really got the hang of it. My Wacom Tablet was really useful and definitely sped up the amount of time that it would have taken me to draw with a mouse. I downloaded some custom brushes from the internet for Photoshop which really helped with the grass and the grass.
It took me a long time to produce but the feedback I got from it was good so I think it was successful.
It took me an extremely long time to animate all the fireflies. At first I just moved them in all in the same directions but it didn’t look good at all so I had to create a separate layer for each firefly and move them independently of one another. I think the results were rewarding and it means that I can just add them on top of the other scenes now without having to reanimate them if I just copy and paste the layers.
This was the test video for the title scene and really an overview on how successful the animation will be as a whole. If this scene hadn’t of worked then I wouldn’t have carried on with the rest of the animation. This video was also a really important reference for me to start thinking about what I want the background music to be. Thankfully I and lots of other people really liked the music because it complimented the animation really well.
The next background I had to draw was the outside of Harvey’s burrow. Reusing some of the trees from the title scene made the process a little easier and since I had already drawn a background before this one didn’t take as long as I thought it would.
The problem I had though was the positioning of the layers. I knew that later on the bee would fly into the hole and even further on Harvey and the bee would return out from it. To make sure it looked like the characters were entering and exiting a hole I knew I had to get the layers in the right order. You can see a visual result below when I finally got it right. This means I have one less thing to think about later on in the animation.
Once I had the background later all I had to do was animate the first scene where the bumblebee flies in the hole. However, it was not as easy as I thought it would be. I had about 10 drafts of the bees flight and none of them made it look like a realistic bee in flight. In the end I had to double check I was making full use of all the principles of animation which would be relevant to this scene. I found that the best way to make the bee look realistic was to master the use of blur, which created the illusion of fast movement, and apply the technique of easing in and out to create the illusion of acceleration and gravity. This was helpful for the loop because I eased out on the way up and eased in on the way down which made the bee look like it was being influenced by gravity.
When I finally made the bee look as realistic as I could get it I showed the results to some of my fellow peers and got some positive feedback which was encouraging.
The next scene was the burrow shot of Harvey crying in the corner. I had to get the balance right with the lighting because I had to make it look like a dark and damp whole; if I made it too dark then no one would be able to see anything and if I made it look too well lit then it would look unrealistic.
I used these photos as a reference when I drew the bumblebee. I knew that he wouldn’t be that visible but I wanted to make him detailed anyway. The way I got the wings to look like they were moving was by blurring the wings and then moving them rapidly in a loop
Another problem I came across whilst animating was that the pupils would roll out of the eyes instead of rolling around the eye socket like a real 3D eye. I wanted to make the later animation stages easier for myself by creating a mask which would prevent the pupil from not showing anywhere other than in the eyeball. This should hopefully make the eyes more expressive and realistic because they would better represent what a 3D eye would do.
You can visually see the problem in context below.
So I created a new layer above the ‘right pupil’ layer and then painted in a bright colour, so you can see easily, a green shape which reflects the exact same shape of the eye. I then made that layer a mask.
It was that simple in the end. You can see the immediate results below. This saved me a lot of time and will allow more possibilities in the future for better facial expressions.
I created a GIF to clearly demonstrate the results of the masking technique.
The hardest part for me was to get the timing of the eyes right when the bee came into Harvey’s view. It took some adjusting but eventually I managed to make them in sync and was pleased by the results and the feedback I got.
The next scene was difficult and took me a long time to get right. I knew that the two characters had to bond somehow in a cute way before they set off on their journey; otherwise it probably wouldn’t make much sense if Harvey started following the bee straight away because they only just met. Plus, it wouldn’t be very interesting for the audience so I knew I had to break up all the walking with something different. The bee wouldn’t be difficult to do because I could just make him loop a couple times but Harvey however would take me much much longer.
It started off being just a little lean on his back legs and a wiggle of his arms but I knew that it wasn’t enough. So I decided to tackle a jump animation just to see whether it would work or not. I knew that if it did work then it would make a world of difference to this scene. The hardest part by far was having to make Harvey look like he was under the influence of gravity just like I did for the bumblebee. I found that once I had managed to line up the legs with the body throughout the jump all I had left to do was ease Harvey’s body trajectory out going up and then in going down. The 12 principles of animation definitely came into play here as well. I managed to make Harvey looked like he weighed something by making his legs stretch out from his body and stretch into his body on the way up and on the way down.
To get the four seasons shot animated all I had to do was adapt the title scene’s background to look like each of the seasons. For summer I increased the green channel of the entire file and increased the brightness of the sun rays.
Winter took me the longest because I had to draw snow on top of each of the layers. I used photos like the one below as a guide to how the snow settles on the trees. Once I had completed one tree the rest was just repeating the same technique until all the trees looked like real pine trees in the snow. At first I painted way too much snow on each of the trees and it didn’t look very realistic so it took me a while to get the right balance to make them look like this photo.
Autumn was fairly easy to do because all I had to do was increase the red and yellow channels on each of the layers and then paint lots of leaves all over the forest floor. I also dotted around some branches to achieve that autumn look.
As the background was going to move and Harvey and the bee were going to stay in the centre I knew that I would have to study the parallax effect and what it looked like in a pine tree forest. I went out and recorded multiple videos of me moving across a pine forest which I could use as a guide to make sure I had got it right.
Here’s a tester a made before I placed Harvey and the bumblebee on the scene. I got lots of positive feedback again which meant that I had been successful.
The rest was easy all I had to do was do the same for each of the different backgrounds and then copy and paste the bumblebee on top. I changed the bumblebees flight around a bit so that it wasn’t obvious it was a copy.
The next scene I had to paint was the background which Harvey would meet his love for the first time. I decided not to do a pile of leaves as I had originally planned because it would take to long to animate the individual leaves. Also, someone gave me the idea to have another female bumblebee come into shot as well. Therefore, the bumblebee would have a mate as well as Harvey. The only difference I had to make for the second bee was to add a big pink bow on her head to make it obvious she was a female bumblebee.
Something which I changed during post production was the entry that the females would make. Originally I had both the bee and the hedgehog enter the stage at the same time. However, someone correctly suggested that instead I should have the bee enter first and then the hedgehog a few seconds later. That way the audience get a double reveal instead of one making the scene a little more interesting. This was an example of how important feedback is.
The next thing I did was to animate various hearts falling down gently in a loop. That meant that I could just layer it on top of the next few scenes that would need it. The hearts would emphasise the love the Harvey and the female hedgehog are feeling towards each other adding to the mood of the scene.
Taking into account what I had learnt during the thinking stage of the project I knew all I had to do for the next two shots was to greatly increase the size of the eyes and make the water marks much larger to make the two hedgehogs look as cute as possible. I also added some little sparks around the eyes which I drew in Photoshop.
The montage scene was actually quite enjoyable to do. Once I got into the rhythm of drawing Harvey and his hedgehog companion in various scenes it got easier and easier as I went a long. Thankfully I had my Wacom tablet, otherwise it probably would have taken me ages. I decided to reference scenes from: Anything goes, Spiderman, Dirty Dancing, Titanic and Lady and the Tramp. I ended up exporting them with a Polaroid frame around them so I could simply place them one by one on Flash.
It took me a while to sort out the animation for the photos and the order they would go in but judging from the reaction I got from people I can call it a success as well.
As I was inspired to make this scene after watching a clip from Shrek the painting didn’t take me very long because I was just working from the background you can see in the clip. I only had to draw this scene once because I could just flip the entire background horizontally and it worked fine for both skipping scenes.
The animating actually took longer than I thought it was. First off I had to redraw Harvey and the female hedgehog in completely different positions and angles which wasn’t as easy as drawing it in Photoshop because I had to think about which parts would have to move. The hardest part was making it look like the hedgehogs had weight; I achieved this look by making the legs squash and stretch at the right time to imitate acceleration and a force of thrust. Once I had animated Harvey skipping all I had to do for the female hedgehog was flip horizontally everything and then redraw the eyes and give her a bow.
The next background was going to be the scene which Harvey and the female hedgehog slowly get closer and closer to each other just before the shock. All I had to think about was lining up the horizon with the tree line in the previous woodland backgrounds and then the rest was easy because I had done it before.
I knew it would have been easier for me to add a dramatic zoom in on this scene in post production so I didn’t have to over complicate the process.
In the end I decided that it would be much better if only the female hedgehog got taken away. Originally I was going to have a bears eyes open behind them but when I started drawing the eyes and the bush the bear would be hiding in it didn’t work. What I needed was something fast moving and unsuspecting. Thankfully I looked at the ‘Bunnies can fly… proof’ YouTube video previously and so I decided that an eagle, just like the video, would very quickly swoop in and pick up the unsuspecting hedgehog; shocking the audience was what I wanted to do so this fast paced eagle and a loud sound would work perfectly.
The final scene took me a long, long time to get right but it’s something which I tackled in post production and had to come back to later on several times. Thankfully I had left myself plenty of time at the end to allow changes like this. I wouldn’t have done that if it hadn’t of been for the planning I did before I started.