Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Make Mine a Mini, Workflow

Previously, I posted this animated short featuring my illustrations.  In this post, I wanted to share my workflow in After Effects so that I could easily reference what I did, what I learned, and what I think could improve in my workflow moving forward.  This post is also to help my illustration friends who might want to try it, too!

Workflow #1
for the first half of the short
the "overwhelm" sequence

1. Complete final sketch for placement of all items

2. I used a light table to illustrate various elements of the final image in pen & ink individually (so they're not touching or overlapping).

Inked text and brain for final animation.
3- Scan and make a vector composition (placement of all assets/icons) use sketch for reference.

NOTE: Everything that you want to animate individually, needs to be on its own layer (head vs. top of head in my case) and use an artboard that is the size of your final screen to help with proportion.  You don't wanna draw in After Effects.  It's clumsy, and on my computer it's so huge it time-lags to do anything.

4- Bring illustrated assets into project panel of After Effects (file> Import, x-retain layer size> Import)
5- Make a new composition (ctrl+n) at the desired length and specs.
6- Drag your file from the project panel to the timeline area.
7- Convert your file from vector to shape layer (right-click layer in timeline> convert to shape layer)

NOTE: This will explode into 200+ layers in After Effects if you're a rough-line illustrator like me. It's okay.  We will get through this.  If you're a super-clean vector illustrator it's even easier-- also maybe look at Flash as a simpler solution than AE.

8- Carefully separate layers into groups (took a long time with such tiny pieces in my artwork).
9- Then form groups into Pre-Comps (mini animation canvases).  Assign the anchor point to the right part of each element (Y).  Make sure all elements are where you want them to be at the end.

Tips on Animation
  • Let your storyboard be your guide.
  • Work backward from your storyboard key images.
  • I think about the biggest movements and mark where I want those actions to hit on the timeline using the markers.
  • It's easier if you already have music to match the movement.
  • Then, I work between the markers.  I go through each pre-comp to animate each item individually, then as a group, and lastly, each section until satisfied.
  • To export hit Ctrl+m to render queue and click"render".
  • Lastly, I put the rendered clips together in MovieMaker... You do not want to do any real editing in MovieMaker so be sure your clip is the approximate right length, your transition in and out is the way you want it to look, and that your text is the correct size. Windows Movie Maker is really easy to use, but you cannot control details very well.

Workflow #2
for the second half of the short
the "ibis hideaway" sequence (as shown above)

1- Used my final pattern "Ibis Hideaway" as layout for my final composition
2- separated each layer (30+) into .png files with transparency exported from Illustrator

Note: I preserved the artboard size for each item.  I thought this would help with placement in AE and it did, but it makes anchor points really critical and you can't use the shotcut "ctrl+alt+home" to automatically center the anchor point for each object b/c it's the size of the artboard. Plus it's annoying to select items when you do this.  But, I did like that it created a more manageable series of layers and pre-comps.

See what I mean about preserving the artboard?

3- In AE, import files into the Project Panel and make a new composition.
4- Drag your files from the project panel to the timeline area.

5- Form layers into groups (took a long time with such tiny pieces in my artwork).
6- Then form groups into Pre-Comps (mini animation canvases).  Assign the anchor point to the right part of each element (Y).  Make sure all elements are where you want them to be at the end.

- - - -
I asked Jake Bartlett of the "Animating With Ease" Skillshare Class about his workflow after he's done animating, and here's what he had to say:
...I use Adobe Premiere for all of my editing needs. It works wonderfully with all of the other Adobe products and is extremely robust. For still titles, I use the built in title maker, and for anything animated or more designed, I'll use AE or Illustrator. The workflow depends on the project, but if I'm animating to music or a VO track I typically will edit the audio first in Premiere, and then copy and paste the audio clips directly from my Premiere sequence into a composition in After Effects. That way I have the audio reference inside AE while I'm animating. Hope that helps!
Thoughts, Questions, etc.

Moving forward, I liked the simplicity of the second workflow.  Pre-grouping the elements that I knew were not going to need individual animation saved me a lot of time.  It sacrificed control, and in some cases visual quality - one of the butterflies came in pixelated and I don't know why. I must not have used the same settings as with the other .png files.

If I do a character or puppet animation I would need to export each element of the figure as a transparent .png illustrated in either PS or AI.  I think it could work, and then I'd use the anchor points like the hinges we made in paper animation!  So excited.

If you know of a better way to get raster or complex vector images into AE, or if I glaringly forgot or missed something, please do not hesitate to e-mail or comment and let me know.  I'm just getting into AE and would love to use my time as efficiently as possible so any advice is welcomed!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Make Mine a Mini

My first animated illustration in at least 7 years.

I made the video itself over a few days, but the artwork had already been through a storyboard, script, etc.  Honestly, I had too many ideas and now resort to watching my own video to avoid repeating my own mistakes!  The purpose of the video was to present our favorite lesson learned in the Make Art That Sells course.

Last time I did any sort of real animation was 7+ years ago through elective classes at RISD which I adored.  You can see it here if you're curious (the lady was my puppet).  And, while I'm parading my freak-flag, I might as well share my old animated .gifs which you can see here.  Those were done using Photoshop layers.  I blame my brother for that.  He got me into pixel art (you can see his work here & here -- he mainly works in 3D).  This time, though, after going through all the prep work: writing a script, drawing a storyboard, starting my illustrations, scanning them in, ready to start animating... I froze!  I psyched myself out!

I knew I needed to use something else to help me get the results I wanted because I wasn't going to do traditional animation.  I thought of using either Flash or After Effects, but it seemed like such a huge task.  I chose After Effects and started exploring it through various tutorials trying to chip away at it and taking the skills I needed to get the effect I wanted.

- - - -
Helpful Tutorials:

First, I started with the Adobe.TV tutorials here which are fine (a little dry, but efficient).

Then, I watched this tutorial series from Phil Ebiner on Skillshare called "Complete After Effects Course" to familiarize myself with the skeleton of the software.  These tuts run somewhat long and you can skip the first 15-30 seconds of each.  These could be condensed.  I recommend with reservations - pick and choose what skill you need to know more about.

Next, I watched Jake Bartlett's "Animating With Ease" Skillshare series and this is where the meat is.  He masterfully edits all the episodes into 100% content.  Have a notepad ready.  Have After Effects open in the background or separate screen.  Be ready to go.

For very specific tasks like the walk cycle or lip-syncing, I really like Fraser Davidson's tutorials also on Skillshare.  The "con" to the walk-cycle course is that he uses strokes to make the limbs.  This makes most people's projects from the class look very similar.  I do like his tutorial-style and he does illustrate the concepts clearly so they're still valuable.  Also, he's humorous and his tutorials are fun to watch which is often not the case with tutorials.

Also, I dedicated an entire post to sharing my workflow in detail in case you were interested!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Toddler Streaky Legs & Moneta

That felt really weird typing the title to this blog post, but yes, admittedly my son is now a toddler and most definitely not a squishy baby anymore!  I finally finished one of his "Streaky Legs" poofy pants this weekend!

The Facts
⁃ Fabric: <1m single jersey, <0.3m ribbing for cuffs
⁃ Pattern: Ottobre "Streaky Legs" pattern
⁃ Year: 2014?
⁃ Notions: waistband elastic
⁃ Time to complete: 1 day for tracing and cutting, an hour for sewing
⁃ First worn: May 16, 2015
⁃ Wear again?  He has no choice! hahah!
⁃ Mods? Nope, they fit great on him.

and I finished Moneta from Colette Patterns for me!

The Facts
⁃ Fabric: 3m soft interlock, maybe french terry in turquoise
⁃ Pattern: Colette Pattern 1028 Moneta
⁃ Year: 2014
⁃ Notions: Framilon clear elastic
⁃ Time to complete: 1 day for tracing and cutting, 1 day for sewing
⁃ First worn: May 17, 2015
⁃ Wear again?  YES!
⁃ Mods? Yes, I would like to make the shoulders wider so it doesn't fall off my shoulders... or expose my bra straps to everyone.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Floridiana: Behind the Scenes Part 2

I first signed up for Bonnie Christine's Surface Pattern Design 2.0: Start a Career Skillshare Class in April, but I kept a diary of my process, and thought it would be nice to share with you all, my readers.  This is Part 2 of 2 explaining my process behind the Floridiana surface patterns.

May 4, 2015

My first go-around at putting the patterns together with Palette #1(warmer colors)... I think I need some with more patterns with open space.  I see now that I tend to make very "busy" patterns.

 May 6, 2015
I tried my hand at doing  a room mock-up, and yes, confirmed that I need some patterns with less "stuff."  Okay!  Will do!

May 6, 2015: Finals Uploaded
May 7, 2015 - Edited Images for naming consistency
With so many patterns in the collection, I found that I had to go back and re-check to see if they were all exactly the same in all the final documents.  Maybe next time I will choose simpler names!

Color Palette 1: the Everglades (warm colors)

Color Palette 2:  Night & Day (Cooler Colors)

Some are better than others, that's for sure!  Here are my attempts at trying to pull a room together and  mocking up products using the patterns in the Floridiana collection. This is an area where I absolutely have room for improvement!

Phone Cover
Are custom i-phone covers really a thing?  I'm a bit behind in this trend.

This mock-up excited me the most! I love paper and stationary!

I think the KeyDeer print would make a lovely t-shirt... and dress, and skirt, and lots of other stuff too, but this post is waaaay long as it is.

Thanks for stopping by and making it through the entire project!


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Floridiana: Behind the Scenes Part 1

I first signed up for Bonnie Christine's Surface Pattern Design 2.0: Start a Career Skillshare Class in April, but I kept a diary of my process, and thought it would be nice to share with you all, my readers.  This is Part 1 of 2 explaining my process behind the Floridiana surface patterns.

April 10, 2015
My hometown is a place full of contradictions.  I grew up in South Florida mostly in Miami, and being far away from it gives me some perspective on what a beautiful place it can be.  Lush, tropical plants grow everywhere: palms, hibiscuses, bougainvilleas, banyan trees, vines, orchids, and old oaks with Spanish moss hanging from them.  Wild parrots, ibises, and all kinds of birds made it their home along with the tiny, adorable key deer. It's not completely unheard of to find a gator in your yard, and/or see celebrities with their tiny dogs in their handbags.  Summer in Miami usually meant a long stay at the beach with your family... sardines on crackers, collecting seashells, water out of the cooler, running to the shade to avoid burning your feet, and do NOT feed the seagulls...
I'll see what kind of journey this reminiscing takes me...

April 15, 2015
First, a snapshot of our family.

All of these photos are from my family's albums.  Unfortunately, my grandma is not in any of these since she was usually behind the camera.   See what I mean about the palm trees?  Our backyard faced a canal that frequently had gators floating by.  We always had family over the house, and there was never a dull moment growing up.
If anyone else is working with family photos, isn't it hard to stop looking through all the photos?  I had to stop myself before I got too emotional.  I just wanna reminisce!  I miss my grandparents very much (they've all passed).   But, after mulling it over, I think I know what I'm going to draw now.

But first, an exploration in color.  My 2 (preliminary) palettes with colors directly from my family photos...
I've divided my colors between past and present which, in turn, created a warm and cool palette.  Handy!

Next, it's sketch time!

April 25, 2015
So I've been researching local Florida wildlife, flora, and fauna and started to sketch!  

I think I'm going to need to make a moodboard to help guide the style before I go digital.

April 29, 2015
I most definitely needed a style guide!  So I made one using my favorite print heroes.

April 30, 2015
And then I digitized and refined a lot of icons including lettering...

May 1, 2015
Working on the "hero" or main pattern, I chose to work with the ibis (instead of the key deer).  I may still do a repeat with the deer, though, since it's so cute.  But, here's what I did so far with the main one.  It really helped to have my style guides to help me figure out how I should lay out the ibis.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day!

I painted these flowers for my mom, but thought you all might enjoy them too.

With love,


Monday, May 4, 2015

On the Sewing Table and Post-Pregnancy Body Reckoning

Do not fear, my fellow sewing enthusiasts, my sewing table has not gone unemployed these last few months; not entirely unemployed at least.  I signed up for Kid's Clothing Week which was two weeks ago and also Me-Made May as inspiration to get my sewing-mojo back and... wait, let me backtrack here... What happened to my sewing mojo? SEWING mojo, where are you?!  I don't yet have an answer for that.

I have been tracing patterns and cutting fabric, but haven't really finished anything!  I start a project, and then migrate back into illustration and leave these projects all folded in their little plastic tubs for days, and then weeks, and now months.  (sigh)

I have taken the first step, though, toward welcoming new projects and completing them.  I went through my closet and started the daunting, and somewhat sad task of separating clothes that will never fit me ever again. And, this (really sadly) included a lot of my homemade clothing.  It was pretty depressing to see the Bombshell Dress in the pile of clothes going to charity alongside all of my homemade jeans and trousers, and several dresses.  You see, my 3 main measurements (bust, waist, hips) are no longer the same as before pregnancy (no surprise to many of you), but I was totally in denial.  I thought that things would at least get pretty close to what they were, but there's no way that my waist or hips are gonna shrink in that way ever again, and it's been almost a year since the little guy was born.  So, it's time.

Oh, I want to tell you it's been so positive for me, and that I can easily see the silver lining -- that it's a way to start fresh and make space for projects and clothes I love -- but it's been hard.  It's been really hard actually, and if you follow my blog, you know that I'm a pretty positive person.  And well, my self-esteem has taken a pretty big hit.  I finally broke down this past week and bought new bras.  Not a single one of my old bras fit anymore, and it was a big first step toward acceptance of the new me.  Okay, I do have a silver lining, and it's that I'm now a pretty standard bra size which means I can find them in my size in pretty much any brand!  Yippee!

And, here's where I end my own pity party... right here! Done!

So, what am I working on?

Pattern: Streaky Legs, Ottobre 1/2015
Fabric: in sweatshirt, single jersey, and microfleece

Pattern: Moneta, Colette Pattern 1028
Fabric: Dark Turquoise knit

Pattern: ??
Fabric: all kinds of quilting cotton already cut into squares

Remember these?  These were the remnants of the zig-zag quilt I made almost exactly a year ago!  I cut waaay too many squares thinking I was doing a rainbow HST quilt, but instead went with a zig-zag.  I have no idea what to do with them.  I've got colors ranging from brown/tan to bright yellow-green.  Do you have any favorite quilt patterns to suggest?  Let me know. :)

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Funky Fresh Hat

My son finally fits into the hat I made him last year!

Remember the yellow and blue reversible hat (letter E in the photo)?
It was from the Hat Shop book, and was a great way to use up scraps.

It took nearly a year after his birth, but it finally fits...

We certainly make a funky fresh duo!