Wow! Can you believe we’re at the final step of our fantastic voyage through the animation process? We’ve made backgrounds, designed characters, made an animatic of quick thumbnails, keyframed and tweened the character. We only have 3 steps left to go! Clean Up, Colouring and Compositing or the 3 C’s as I have never called them. Because we’re testing the patience of our readers as it is by writing a six entry series about 10 seconds, I’m going to compress all these steps onto one quick entry.
When the Keyframes and Tweens are 100% locked down and approved it’s time to clean it all up. You probably noticed that the Tweens and Keyframes are very sketchy looking and by no means appear to be a finished illustration. Well, now it’s time to put on some Enya, drink a cup of tea and slip into the sweet trace-like state of being a clean up artist. In this step, we get nice digital brush (or in this case, grab the pen tool in Flash) and trace over the rough frames we created in the previous steps. It also gives us a second chance to check the spacing on the character and add Follow Through to various parts of the character. It also takes MUCH LONGER than you would think.
Remember when you were a toddler and you had to colour INSIDE the lines and now you’re an adult and your mum got you on of those adult colouring books and you’ll probably get around to using it eventually but oh crap it’s July and maybe you can re-gift it? Yeah we basically just do that now.
This is my favourite step. We use a program called After Effects to add some lighting and shadow to the 2D Character. This makes it blend into the environment much better. I also added a Line Boil effect to the characters outlines. It’s an effect that is intended to take the ‘digital’ look from the animation and hopefully make it look a bit more textured. You can see the effects from this step at the very top of this post.
So that’s it, the animation is finally complete. In the final installment of this series we’ll take a look at the finished piece!