Motion paths

Motion paths

  • Motion paths follows the object and draws lines behind it.
  • Always start with the hips to track
  • Then hands and feet
  • The Motion path tool in Maya creates a path behind the object allowing you to see the motion behind/ previous actions before the object.


  • Ghosting tool
  • Ghosting a image/ images that lags behind the object showing the previous key pose or frame from the objects motion path.
  • This can help with posing inbetweens/ break downs in animation, kind of like onion skinning allowing you to pose the character in a suitable pose between the key poses.

Good Reference, Storyboards, Staging, Exaggeration and Appeal principles

Good Reference

  • Filming yourself rather than using someone else’s
  • You cannot feel the movement from someone else’s reference
  • Body Mechanics are visible/ clear
  • Film multiple angles (Front, side, back) how you would animate
  • Good lighting
  • As little going on in the background as possible
  • Understanding body language
  • You can feel the movements of your reference footage


  • Key poses
  • Break downs/ inbetweens (anticipation)
  • Timing
  • Beats
  • Phoneme shapes (mouth shapes)
  • Frame numbers!
  • Camera shots/ angles

Staging Principle

  • Should be able to look at a scene and get a feel for the overall animated piece
  • Beats- animate to a beat ( 1….2….3….4….)
  • Rhythm of a song in a way
  • How you place things in a shot
  • Stage environment
  • Pose to camera
  • Never have characters next to each other (side to side)

Appeal Principle

  • Charisma
  • Anything can appeal as long as it’s interesting
  • It’s all from the pose
  • E.g. Wall. E is like a soft innocent character

Exaggeration Principle

  • Level of exaggeration depends on how realistic
  • Presenting reality in a wilder or more extreme form
  • Avoid confusing the audience by keeping the scene in balance

Staging, Exaggeration and Appeal

  • Squash and Stretch
  • Weight, flexibility (sense of)
  • E.g. Bouncing ball
  • Volume doesn’t change when squashed and stretched
  • Elasticity
  • Motion paths and motion
  • Following path of action
  • Track individual parts
  • Ghosting (ghosting tool)





Ball and tail squash and stretch feedback/ changes

After getting some feedback I found that I had a small issue with the tail animation as it was coming up from the squash. This is the feedback notes I took from the lesson;

  • Nice work with the bounce but the tail animation is lifting to early after the squash
  • The tail is like a snake it will follow from the previous point

After showing me in one frame I went through each of the poses that related to the feedback in my animation and made the tail much lower than before on the way up from the squash. This made the animation look so much nicer as the tail looked more natural rather than jumping from a pose in the follow through.

After fixing the issues with the help of my feedback I was able to re render the animation so that I had a refined rendered copy with the better changes that I added after the feedback. However unlike last time I was able to fix the issue with the batch render, it still took a long time on my computer but I managed to get it to work after a few attempts.

looking into the issues in autodesk forums and other sites I found that there were no render layers in my scene which made it difficult to batch render the scene properly. So to do this you go to Windows> Rendering editors> Render setup. Next you click the small icon(square with plus next to it) and add a new layer. Inside that layer you need to add a collection which will allow you to store all your models, rigs and lights in the layer. So on the right hand side of the menu you have to change the drop down menu from transform to all, this will allow you to add the lights.

But the issue was because I knew very little about this I realised after rendering it was going way quicker than it normally does. It wasn’t until I put into premiere that I realised the scene only had the lights rendered. Therefore I had to go back and fix it. To fix it I found on the autodesk forum you have to go into the outliner and add the different objects you want. In this case I needed the rig and the blocks. So I simply went into the outliner selected them and pressed add in the render setup menu. Now it rendered fine and I had the batch render working as normal with mental ray lighting.

Ball with tail squash and stretch Polish and Render


After splining the squash and stretch for the ball with tail rig, I went through an made sure that some small details in the tail looked natural and did not move in certain frames that would be unnatural. In the playblast below I have edited the graph editor just to edit those arcs where some of the animation didn’t flow as smoothly as the others for instance the end of the tail.


Below is the final render for my squash and stretch animation with the ball and tail rig. I have decided to use mental ray with the sun and sky light as it brings a refined look to the animation that makes it clear to watch and see the key movements of the ball and tail.

However while rendering I did come across a large issue which was that the batch render was not working, I thought it was Maya playing up but I think it had something to do with the mental ray plugin for 2018. Anyway having trouble finding a solution I was able to sort a temporary solution, this was rendering each frame at a time by going to Render> render current frame. This was defiantly more time consuming as it took a lot longer than a batch render would have. But I managed to render all 250 frames and I exported it in premiere pro.

Now I shall ask for some feedback to see if this animation needs any changes. As although I see nothing wrong with it someone else may find something I missed, allowing me to refine my animation further. Plus I shall look into fixing this batch render issue so that I don’t have to go through another time consuming render.

Ball with tail squash and stretch Splining

Here I have moved on from blocking and started splining the animation for the ball with tail. As you can see below I stated with play blasting the animation straight after being changed from blocking to spline. The reason for this was because I wanted to see if there were any noticeable issues or mistakes that I had previously made in blocking that have been affected when splining.

From what I could see there was no big issues that needed fixing in blocking. However looking at the graph editor there was some issues that needing fixing. For instance in the translate Y there was a lack of arcs in the bounces so I went through and added some arcs for the ball animation to help make that natural curve. However I did stumble upon a big issue, which was that the ball seemed to be hovering in the air before going down. At first I thought it was the translate Y being too wide in the arc, but then I realised that the translate z was the issue.

Looking though translate Z I discovered the tangents where curved rather than straight diagonal lines or straight lines. So going through the graph I was able to figure out a suitable position for the tangents allowing them to make some natural bounces. Furthermore I was able to make some natural arcs in the graph for the tail which allowed me to create some natural looking tail movements that were not robotic looking.

Below is the final playblast for the spline pass, here I have gone through the entire graph editor after selecting each control one at a time. By doing this I was able to add some natural arcs and curves into the animation to help make the ball and tail look both appealing and have natural timing. However there is some small details in the tail that I will need to go other in polishing just to see if I can make the animation a bit better. But I am fairly pleased with how the animation turned out as the bounces and tail look quite appealing to me.

Below is the graph editor screenshot after the spline pass was finished. As you can see compared to the previous blocking screenshot the graph has a lot more clear arcs that help to make the natural looking animation. But some of these arcs may need further editing just to make the animation more appealing.


My next task will be to polish this animation and render the final animation with mental ray to make that appealing lighting system.

Ball with tail Squash and Stretch blocking

After animating the pendulum my next task was to create a simple jump animation from one cube to another. The reason for doing this was to recap the squash and stretch principle of animation for the ball, while adding the follow through and overlapping action principle for the tail part of the rig. Below is a image I found on google to help with animating the key poses for the animation. So this basically is my reference image for the animation allowing me to get some natural looking movement.


Below is the first playblast for my bouncing ball with tail animation. Here I started off with a simple bouncing ball animation. However I did have to restart after this point, this is because I rushed too quickly into the animation and I didn’t key my poses with suitable timing making the bouncing ball squash and stretch without thinking of the basic movement first.

Below is a new version of the animation where I have considered more about the basic key poses before going into the different details. However to challenge myself this time around I decided to go with animating a bouncing ball with tail, jumping on different levelled steps. This allowed me to push myself on making some extra animation rather than a simple jump. Furthermore after blocking the key poses for the ball movement I decided to add some squash and stretch to help bring the bouncing ball some more natural looking movement before adding any inbetweens.

As you can see below I have edited the blocking from the previous playblast, as here I have added some rotate x keys allowing the ball to rotate on the way up and the fall down. The reason I did this was to help build the arc that would be made up when I add the inbetween frames. Plus adding those rotates helps to make a more appealing animation rather than a ball at the same position bounce around.

In the playblast below I have continued with the blocking pass, but this time I have added the inbetween frames into the scene. Therefore I have added some smear frames to help make the stretch part of the animation more natural. However I have also added some frames where the ball goes back to it’s original shape, the reason for this was to help show those smear frames over a small number of frames allowing those smear frames to make some exaggerated poses in the bounce.

Below I have begun refining the bouncing ball animation (while still in blocking) allowing me to build a more natural arc in the stepped animation. This will make it easier to spline at a later stage as the arc will be in the animation it will just need some more refinement. Anyway my next task will be to start animating the key poses for the tail animation. The reason I blocked the ball first was so I had a basis to work from, as the tail will follow the ball.

Below I have used my reference image to help start blocking the tail animation. As the key poses from the image relate to me scene, therefore I was able to use the reference as a guide to pose my tail in the key poses that I had made for the ball animation. This allowed me to get that natural looking follow through animation.

Furthermore in the final blocking playblast below I have added some further poses for the tail animation into the scene. By doing this along with the ball poses I was able to build a natural looking animation that seemed to flow quite nicely. Although I haven’t splined the animation yet I can still see the basic movements in the animation meaning that when I do get to splining the animation it will be a lot easier to sort in the graph editor.

Speaking of the graph editor this is the graph editor in the blocking stage from the previous playblast above. Here all the tail and ball poses have been blocked out and are ready to begin splining. Once again I had the graph editor on my Cintiq allowing me to see the animation and graph at the same time.


Now my next task will be to spline the animation making all the blocked poses into smooth arcs allowing the movement to flow more naturally than stepped. Looking back so far I have had some issues with getting the tail poses right as some of the rig bends unnaturally if bent too much which made it difficult sometimes to get the poses I needed, but other than that it has gone fairly well so far.

Concept Development Artist and creature research

In today’s concept development lesson I researched and developed some more ideas for my creature in the dark crystal universe. So expanding on my previous ideas in my sketchbook I developed my idea by continuing with a amphibious creature but added some bug like features as well as other animals such as birds, frogs, cats, platypuses and many more. Below is a slideshow of the multiple animals I researched in order to add some different features to my work.

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I also looked into fish tails and dragons in order to help me create a creature with both mythical and natural creatures. The idea of researching fish tails was because I thought about adding a fish like tail to my amphibious creature in order to help it swim. I also looked a snakes to help me think about a possible tongue or skin texture making the design more appealing. I also looked into various other animals just to help me think of new features or ideas that I could add to the design.

Another big feature that I considered was making the creature humanoid allowing it to stand on two legs. I looked into a lot of Brian and Wendy Froud’s work for fairy and dark crystal creature references to help inspire my design.

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Firstly I looked into Brian Froud’s work to help me design some creatures that could walk of two feet and that would relate to the dark crystal. Looking into his work I decided to make a sort of changeling design where the creature is a humanoid puppet but has animal like features that make it look inhuman.

Next I looked into Wendy Froud’s artwork for reference on fairies as I thought that by having these designs as reference I could try a fairy like creature that has wings as well as being quite small in the woodland environment.

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After looking into fairies I thought about looking into last weeks artist of the week that Steve suggested which was Janen Baptiste Monge. Looking into his work I found a lot of creature like characters from both games and films which would be suitable reference for my development of my character.

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This artist also drew some natural creatures such as birds that were ridden by fairies. This allowed me to think of more ideas for my creature as I thought about making a design with wings that could be interesting to try out.

Next I looked into this weeks artist which was Claire Wendling who also draws fairies and other humanoid and animal creatures.

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These images I have collected will be good reference to look at when designing my creature as I could consider making a fairy like creature or perhaps and four legged creature that has large wings and different proportioned features.

Finally I looked into some crystal creatures on google and Pinterest, the reason for this was because as this is for the dark crystal so creatures could have crystallised features after being experimented on by the Skeksis  or were formed from the crystal. So having these images could help me with future development in my creature’s design.

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My next task will be to use these artworks/ references to help inspire my own designs allowing me explore new ideas and concepts for the dark crystal, while also expanding on the ideas and designs I already have so far in this project.




Workshop: How to create a Scene

These are notes from today’s narrative animation lesson, today I learned how to create a scene using shapes, colours and some other ideas. Today’s first task was to analyse this image.


The notes I got from looking at this picture was that it was representing different times of  the day. Furthermore there is some different temperatures that help show the different times of day as the first image is quite cold that shows the morning with perhaps fog. Then the next image has quite a warm feel like the middle of the day as the sun is shining through the window. Then the final image is that is the evening and it is supposed to be dark. However the lights in the room make the warm feeling in the room even though it is dark outside.

My next task today was to redesign my previous drawing from yesterday for the word runaway. My idea was going to be something different entirely by adding another word which was experimental disaster. But I decided to stick with my original idea to challenge myself.


So this is a spin off from the original idea where I have made the pumpkin creature runaway from the human. However I made this drawing more comical as the human has made a nuclear fart cloud that the pumpkin is terrified of. Therefore I made the pumpkin a very light/ pale orange to show he is scared, while also having a blurred green cloud to show disgust. However some elements of my drawing could have been changed but I got some feedback to help improve later on.


  • Darker silhouette in the cloud for the human (perhaps a large butt)
  • Cross bone to show nuclear
  • Cloud shape lines could be thinner to show a cloud
  • Fart cloud could be a hand that is trying to grab the pumpkin
  • Maybe make this a side view
  • Pumpkin could hold his nose but the nose has runaway.

Creating a Scene

  • Cannot stress enough the importance of working from actual reference.
  • I don’t mean looking up images on google! Stop that right now
  • Go out and look at the environment around you
  • Create a top view of your environment for layout
  • Think about;
  • Shape
  • Layout
  • Colour
  • Carpet
  • Ceiling
  • Floor

Firstly I created a basic layout of the classroom in Photoshop, By making this top view I was able to see how to help set out a environment by positioning specific elements of the room.


So as the room is a computer room I have made the large rectangles for tables in the center and ends of the room. Then I added some smaller rectangles and squares onto the tables to represent computer screens and the actual computers. Then around the room I have added chairs, a monitor, small tables in the top right and bottom right and a door in the bottom right and bottom left. All of this has shown me how to make a basic top view for a room/ environment.

Next I was tasked to draw a perspective view of the room from what I could see while sitting at my area of the room. So below is the perspective view of the same room I drew above.


However unlike the top view this time I was able to add a lot more detail to help build up a scene that shows all the computers I could see. Then to make the design more appealing I made a apocalyptic room where the computers were on fire or broken and the room had lots of cracks and shatter windows to help bring the piece together. In addition I added a picture of my tutor as a shadowy spirit that was haunting the room.

Creating a Pipeline

  • Establish a clean/ clear pipeline
  • Don’t want to be searching for hours
  • Draw out environments around you
  • Previsualisation- making storyboards and animatics
  • Variation- Creating environments can be multiple images of the same environments with different variations.
  • Variation- gives life to your world and no one thing is the same
  • A variety after all is the spice of life

Narrative animation ideas 

Now I came up with some different ideas for my animation idea for the narrative animation module. I created a basic mind map that included a variety of different ideas, including; a Jack O lantern creature, split personality, glitches, etc


I also created some simple what if statements to help generate some more ideas;

  • What if a boy had a glitchy personality
  • What if a Jack O Lantern haunted your world/ a forrest
  • What if a forrest was hiding something
  • What if a mountain held a great secret
  • What if a Halloween creature was scared of you
  • What if Power corrupted your personality
  • What if a split personality caused a glitch in your mind

These were just some ideas I could expand upon later to help me make a few ideas for the narrative animation module, which I could discuss with the class to help make a final idea.

Concept Development Assignment 1 &2 notes

Assignment 1

  • Audience
  • Inform-what the creature is about
  • Pitch visual product
  • Character product
  • Method- what methods to create the creature
  • e.g Sculpting, design, puppet, paintings, drawings, digital work.
  • Prep work- could be short storyboard
  • Plan of action- from pitch to final product
  • Animation or sculpture for product- maybe both
  • Colour script
  • Storyboards
  • Animation
  • Previs storyboard/ animation
  • Puppet (maybe)
  • Short presentation- for concepts including any preproduction materials
  • Jim Henson and Brian Froud are very important

Assignment 2

  • Production pipeline
  • Final product
  • More developed work from assignment 1

Keywords for assignment 1 and 2

Now I had to put each of these keywords into a column of either assignment 1 or 2 or both to help me sort my work into each assignment,


What is concept development?

  • Experimenting
  • Design
  • Development
  • Body of work to develop designs
  • Exploring new concepts/ ideas
  • Expanding on new ideas
  • Different forms
  • Creating a potential language to a potential director
  • Capture feeling

Now I shall continue to develop my character and research into different artists that could help me develop some ideas for my creature that will be in the dark crystal universe.

Workshop: What is Visual Narrative?

This is today’s notes from the art fundamentals lesson where I have learned about visual narrative in animation. My first task was to analyse this concept art piece from Disney’s Moana. Then after we talked as a class to see some different ideas that this piece is trying to show to the audience through colour, composition and overall design.


  • Looks like a god in the distance
  • Moana’s hand pose in the air- getting attention
  • Showing the creature the ball of light
  • Angry expression from the creature
  • Colours from the monster are evil- red, orange, fire
  • Jewel is bright
  • Environment is dark colours so jewel stands out
  • Moana in the foreground is a over the shoulder shot
  • Moana represents a podium for the jewel
  • Conversation like positions for characters, shows the characters might be having a conversation
  • Dark colours show evil, maniacal
  • Taming the beast

My next task for today was to draw my own interpretation of the phrase “Rat Problem”. The instant thought I had was the scene from ratatouille where the inspector finds all the rats in the kitchen. Below is my Photoshop drawing that I made to represent my idea for rat problem.


In this drawing I have a chef in the foreground who is shocked from seeing a huge number of rats in the kitchen showing a huge rat problem. Furthermore I have tired to make some thinner lines in the background to help show the perspective of the kitchen equipment being in the background. But to make it a even bigger rat problem was to add a large silhouette of a monster rat that makes the representation of a rat problem.

My next task for this lesson was to draw a image based on the chosen word that I got. My word was Runaway so I drew this image below.


Inspired by a drawing I made earlier that day and the inspiration of it being the Halloween month. Furthermore I made a drawing of a man running away from a huge Jack O Latern monster/ spirit that is chasing the human in a haunted forest. The colours I chose where supposed to represent the fear from the monster. So I made the sky have bright oranges and red to make a almost burning sky effect to add to that fear. Plus I made the monster have the orange pumpkin head with fire on top to give some more Halloween type elements to the piece. Finally I made the man have spiky hair to represent shock as he ran away.


Here are my notes from the feedback that my peers gave me to help improve me piece to represent the word I chose.

  • Could make face white (scared) like in Scooby Doo cartoons
  • Could make t-shirt yellow to represent a coward rather than blue which represents sadness.
  • But other than that the composition of one point perspective works well with the piece and theme.