Sitting here sipping my tea staring out the window at the rainy, gloomy day outside. The plants hanging down from the windowsill make me smile a bit as I turn back to my work.
I sit there for a while staring at the screen on which an animated character stares back at me. It doesn’t feel right. I pull up the game design document on the side and start skimming through. Maybe it’s the colors? I was going for a playful vibe but it feels… I don’t know… weird. Just staring back at me like that - maybe I ought to mess with the animation curves. And the eyes, do something about the eyes.
As I flick the design document back to its place I wonder if there are any color tools I can pull in — I vaguely remember there being some powerful color-manipulation components used in film. What was it called? color testing?
I push aside the keyframe editor and press the “pull” key and start typing “colo…”, color picker, color levels, colorizer, color randomizer (ooh that could be cool to check out sometime!), no… color grader — that’s it!
I drag it over the now-empty space on the bottom of the screen and it fills the space. Coloured circles and sliders all over — it feels truly like an all-purpose colour control panel! Maybe a bit too complex for my needs but I can always isolate the features I need to simplify the interface. Looking at the labels and colourful circles I think I can understand most of the controls and start playing with the dials. After trying out a few different colour combinations I settle on yellow and remap the green trident to be pink - definitely fits better with the playful vibe this way.
As I’m mid-swipe pushing aside the colour interface I decide that I might want to keep it around and place the colour grader on the bottom edge-bar near the keyframe editor to keep it around in the workspace.
The keyframe editor…
Right! I slide the keyframe editor back into the space to play around with the animation. I want the animation to have a bit more of a bounce or elasticity to it. In fact — I know just the thing. Clicking on the browser icon in the top-right edge-bar I start typing the name of a particular creature I remember from “Shadow Mop III: The Swiffer Sniffer” (a stealth clean-em-up) that has the exact kind of bouncy animation I need. Pulling the animation out of the browser panel it becomes a floating panel itself which I place beside the keyframe editor as reference.
While finessing the curves I notice the mop’s eyes and eyebrows “lag behind” a bit in the fastest parts of the animation. I switch the animation into frame-view to take a closer look at how they do it and tweak my own keyframes to create a similar effect. That looks nice! and it solves the problem about the eyes. It’s very subtle but gives a kind of warmth to the animation.
Feeling happy with where it’s at, I pull up the game-view panel and make it fill the screen to play around with the new character. Definitely see a huge improvement from before.
Pushing aside the game-view, the animation view springs back into place. Opening up the “character collection” I choose a character that needs some work. I haven’t even designed a graphic for this one yet. As I pull it into my workspace, the animation of the previous character fades out to be replaced with a text-editor and moodboard. I sigh and sit back in my chair, a slight smile on my face as my focus drifts back to the rain pattering on the window. I’d better warm up my tea again, it’s gotten cold!