Razar 5,6,7,8 Animation Process
Just letting you know that this post is quite long. It's more aimed at other animators/people who are interested in animation, so they can see exactly what I did to make this thing. If you aren't interested in that sort of thing, you might find it a bit boring.
And with that out of the way, let's get into it!
I was lying in bed one day when a song popped into my head. It was 5,6,7,8 by Steps and they used to make us dance to it when I was in Primary school, along with the Macarena, the Chicken Dance and the Nutbush. I started imagining my character Razar dancing to it, and thought it would be fun to animate.
Here's the original music video:
As you can see, they have this dance that goes with the song. I didn't want to animate it exactly the way it is in the video. The way I remember it, the one we did as kids was a tiny bit simpler, otherwise us ten year-olds would've struggled to follow it. Also, Razar isn't a human, so her version would have to look a little different anyway.
If you don't know who Razar is, she's an alien lizard with a dinosaur-like appearance and crystals on her head and tail.
Since the song has a cowboy theme, I thought she'd need a costume change, since her silver alien suit doesn't really scream Western in any way. I didn't want make the design too complicated though, as I'd have to animate it, so I thought maybe a hat and a bandanna. I then found out that I suck at drawing hats, so she only got the bandanna in the end.
Now, I've never made an animation this complicated before, and I was feeling a little lost, so to start off, I made the absolute roughest animatic ever, just to figure out all the poses and placement.
Once I had a better idea of what I was doing, I refined it some more, trying to make it look more like an actual creature and less like a bunch of scribbles. I now have most of the rough keyframes I'll need.
After watching it a couple of times, I went over it again, trying to fix some mistakes I found. I also decided I wanted the animation to be able to loop, so I added a bit at the end where she returns to her pose at the beginning.
When I was happy with the timing, I made a new layer and went over the keyframes to tidy them up. Trying to learn from a botched animation I'd made in the past, I wanted the the keyframes to be tidy so I can make sure the inbetweens are also tidy and accurate. Otherwise if I try to clean up a messy animation, the lines will wobble everywhere. In my opinion, making a messy animation and then attempting to draw clean lines over the top is like putting lipstick on a pig. It make be covered in makeup, but it's still a pig.
The same goes for animation. Your colouring might look nice on an individual frame, but if the actual animation is bad, what you'll end up with is a pretty character that wobbles around and moves in a weird way.
On a separate layer, I added the face for each keyframe. Looking back, I reckon I should've just draw everything at the same time on one layer, but I still wasn't very confident when I was making this, so it seemed easier to just focus on animating one element at a time.
When I was done with the face, I added the clothes. I had a feeling the pattern on Razar's suit was going to be quite time consuming to animate, but that's what she looks like, so I decided to just keep going.
With all the keyframes done, it was time to start tweening. Because I'd done everything on separate layers, I had to tween each layer separately. I started with the body, hiding the eyes and clothes so they wouldn't distract me. I then added one frame in between each keyframe.
If you know about the principles of animation, then you should be familiar with the concept of slow in and slow out. If you aren't but you want to learn, then watch this video, it's really helpful.
Anyways, I knew I'd need more than one frame in between the keyframes, especially for the slower movements. The reason I stuck with one on this pass was again, because everything was on separate layers, and so I didn't want to add too many drawing on one layer, because I was relying heavily on the onion skin and when I went to draw on another layer, I didn't want to be confused by all the drawings I'd done on the previous layer. If that makes any sense at all, I'm not too sure it does. Anyway, whatever. Let's move on.
When I was done with the body, I did the in-between frames for the face, lining them up with the body's inbetween frames.
I then did the same for the clothes.
Next I did the second pass, where I added more inbetween frames, inbetween the inbetween frames I'd already inbetweened. Inbetween. I'm sorry.
I decided to just show you all the layers on one video, as you probably get the idea by now and don't need to see all the versions. As you can see, the animation is now a little smoother.
Next I added the hairs on her head. I waited until the rest of the animation was finished, as these won't move at the same time as the body, due to follow through and drag. I recommend watching the Principles of Animation video if you don't know what I'm talking about.
When those were done, I added the crystals on the end.
Now we get to what was probably the most time consuming part of this whole process: Cleanup. Dun dun dun!
So yeah, with this, I wanted the lines to all be very nice and smooth and not at all shaky, and I wasn't going to be able to achieve that with my tiny cheap drawing tablet that amplified every wobble of my hand.
I exported the animation as individual png files and imported them into the Procreate app on my iPad. I'm really confident using Procreate, so I knew I would be much faster working on my iPad, rather than using the computer. I normally leave the colouring until after the line art is finished, but I made an exception for Razar's suit. I drew the lines for the grid pattern on a separate layer, so I could fill in the grey colour underneath in one go and then collapse everything into one layer. The reason I did this was so I wouldn't have to spend years filling in every individual square.
When that was done, I coloured in the rest of her, with the exception of her crystals. I had special plans for them.
Now, I can't show you exactly what I did, because I didn't have enough layers to do the whole thing and then export it (Procreate has a layer limit depending on the size of your canvas). So I'll have to just explain what I did.
First I drew this.
Next I filled the crystals with a plain pink colour on a layer separate from the line art. I then took the picture above, and used a clipping mask on it, so that it would only show the parts of the image that were directly over the crystals. I then collapsed everything into one layer. It took a while to do this for every layer, because there was something like five hundred of them, I figured it was worth it as it created a cool effect where the crystals looked like they were changing colour.
The main reason I did this, was so I wouldn't have in manually try and paint Razar's crystals on every frame. Those things have a gradient, so it would've taken AGES.
With everything finished, I exported the animation and brought it into Blender's video editor so I could add the music.
Aaaannndddd here is the finished product.
While this animation isn't perfect by any means, it's definitely made me a lot more confident. I made a ton of mistakes, but that's a good thing, because I'm now unlikely to make those mistakes again.
And that's all I've got for you. I hope that you found this somewhat helpfulful and/or informative, and if you have any questions or have some tips/advice you'd like to share, please feel free to leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you.
Well, that's it. Thank you for reading and good luck animating!