Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Crazy golf- Easter holiday tasks

Over the three-week Easter holiday, I have been set a range of tasks relating to the planning and pre-produciton of my CG crazy golf animation. These ranged from the initial research to the design stage, and over the past few weeks I have developed my idea for the animation and completed the set tasks accordingly.

The first was to create a mood board using Photoshop. From experience creating digital drawings (check out my 'Digital art' page here) I already understood the use of layers and most of the basic tools, however the mood board related more so to the manipulation of images- something I had not really tried before with this program. This meant that there was a need for me to look into various new tools, which I shall detail shortly. My final crazy golf mood board is below:

The images showcase a range of appropriate obstacles and equipment that I considered for my animation, showing consistently vibrant colours which is a common feature of crazy golf. As you will see, many of the above images were translated into my subsequent designs, some more directly than others. 

This version of my mood board is saved for the web, meaning that I have found what I feel is a strong balance between quality and keeping the file size as low as possible. This was a requirement of the task- to save the image both for print and web. Naturally, the print version is a much higher resolution.

As for the tools utilised for this mood board, the magic wand tool and the erasers were used throughout to remove any elements I did not want from the images. With making selections, I found the CTRL and ALT keys very useful to add and subtract from the selection. As you can see with the blended image at the top right of the mood board, I also looked at tutorials to add layer masks, in order to blend two images together with the gradient tool. Numerous other effects have been added such as textures, lighting, shading and blurs. Overall, I feel I have learned some useful new skills with Photoshop as a result of this task. 

The second task required me to create a visualisation of my CG animation using Adobe Illustrator, and to save the work as a '.ai' file. I was pretty comfortable creating this piece since I have ample experience working with other vector graphics software such as CorelDRAW and Inkscape. In fact, I was surprised to find that for the most part Illustrator works identically. 

Nevertheless, I must say that I found some of the tools poorly implemented and perhaps a little cumbersome- particularly changing the colours of a gradient fill, which involves dragging colour swatches directly onto the gradient window from another window. Not too complicated when you get the hang of it, but certainly not obvious (I had to look online for help). For this I much prefer Corel's simpler interface, which does seem more user-friendly. Bear in mind however that I was working with the CS3 Illustrator, so it is likely this is different for newer versions.

The image was created using the pen tool, a bezier tool, enabling you to plot nodes joined automatically by straight lines. This was a lengthy process, requiring a lot of tweaking, so you can imagine the image above took a few days to complete. Adding textures was very useful- I originally planned to use solid colours for the entirety of the image, though after discovering the textures I decided to apply these to the grass and green matting of the hole. A great deal of time was spent adjusting the lines to ensure the perspective looked just right. 

All in all, I think the most difficult part was deciding how to draw everything. I knew from the onset that I wanted a dynamic camera and for the course to have some shape to it (i.e. not a linear path). I was unsure at first how to show the whole course as a single image on a page, particularly after viewing some of the student's work from previous years- one of which featured events taking place around a room, utilising all four walls. How could you depict the entire animation as a single image? Of course, multiple images would have been necessary. For my design however, I wanted to be able to show the entire sequence as a single unbroken image. This need gave rise to the twisting path seen above, going some way to dictate how the animation should play out. 

Whilst this shows the entire scene that I will need to construct in Maya however, it does not show camera angles or the sequence of events as the viewer would see them. To demonstrate this therefore, I created a storyboard.

This storyboard was created in Photoshop based on the template I have used for all my storyboards so far. It was relatively simple, using just a few layers and basic tools such as the brush. It is certainly useful as you can now see exactly how the animation should play out to the viewer. 

I am now at the point about to begin implementation of the ideas expressed above. Definitely, further training with Maya is required to be able to build the assets and ultimately create the animation- and as usual I will post walkthroughs to any tests that I create. A further task set for me is to begin a texture library, of appropriate texture maps to use in my animation. It does seem that some of these objects will however require me to create custom textures myself. I suppose I will find out in due course! 

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