How to simulate classic hand drawn animation style

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Daxel
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How to simulate classic hand drawn animation style

Post by Daxel » Wed Jun 05, 2019 4:50 pm

Hello!
I searched for a topic like this but didn't find anything.
I love the rigging tools that Moho provides and all the possibilities they give you, but I like the traditional FBF feel more. To clarify, I'm not talking about an exagerated sketchbook effect, only the most common FBF feel that the majority of animation movies and series have. To simulate this style (without actually drawing frame by frame), I'm messing with the frames per second of the animation and with the noise settings of vector layers, but I'm pretty new with this software so I would love if you comment how would you try to simulate this FBF feel, tips and whatever you like to say! Thanks! (:
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Greenlaw
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Re: How to simulate classic hand drawn animation style

Post by Greenlaw » Wed Jun 05, 2019 6:05 pm

IMO, what gives away a rigged puppet is that weird floatiness that happens when the animator fails to hit strong key poses and hold them. A well-constructed rig is important but ultimately it's all about how you animate it.

In my experience, getting that 'fbf' look with a rigged puppet comes from the animation itself. In other words I try to hit clear key-poses, animate transitions with appropriate eases and follow through, hold the poses for proper timing, etc.

In a nutshell, when the same rules for FBF (i.e., the twelve principles) are applied to the rigged character, you get the same 'feel' of FBF animation in the puppet's movements.

To see examples of rigged animations that look 'almost fbf', check out some of our work in Boss Baby: Back In Business. Moho was our primary animation program for all the 2D segments in this show, and I think some of it occasionally does look like traditional FBF animation.

If you don't have Netflix and can't stream Boss Baby, I'll be posting a new demo reel with some Boss footage soon. In the meantime, you can look at some fake 'fbf' examples in my 2017 demo reel, particularly the 'multi-verse' scene from All Hail King Julian (the one with the talking planets at 1:45.) These characters are rigged fairly simply but they have a nice 'TV quality' FBF look to them. Most of this animation comes from just bones and group transforms, and I don't think I even bothered using point animation for that scene. As mentioned above, it's about hitting good poses and timing.

Tip: if you're unsure about the key poses and timing, I don't recommend 'winging it.' You'll get better results by storyboarding the scene and cutting the images as an animatic with sound in a video editor beforehand. When you get that looking good, you can use the animatic as timing reference for the final Moho animation.

Bonus study: An extreme example of getting a puppet rig to look like traditional 'classic' FBF is the Robin Hood demos by Majid ShirAli. Check out his YouTube channel here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNB8Iy ... BrYSdlqcoA

He has only a handful of videos there but they are worth studying.

I hope this helps. Good luck!
D.R. Greenlaw
Artist/Partner - Little Green Dog | Little Green Dog Channel on Vimeo | Greenlaw's Demo Reel 2019 Edtion
Lead Digital Animator, Dreamworks Animation

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alanthebox
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Re: How to simulate classic hand drawn animation style

Post by alanthebox » Thu Jun 06, 2019 4:11 am

Although I haven't experimented with it myself, I'm wondering if you could create looping cycles for each element of a rig. For instance, isolate each facial element on a head rig as frame by frame layers, draw 3 keyframes per layer, and then create a looping cycle for each element. This would probably give the character a more hand drawn feel, without having to frame by frame the entire animation.

Worth a shot!

Edit: I threw together a super rough/quick test just to see if this method is possible. It looks like it is! I think the effect would be more convincing if I had done a better job tracing and possibly added more frames.
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slowtiger
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Re: How to simulate classic hand drawn animation style

Post by slowtiger » Thu Jun 06, 2019 7:50 am

"classic hand drawn animation style" is not a thing which could be done with the press of a button. As the suggested solutions show, the "style" consists of several elements on different levels.

- Design: your character must look hand-drawn. (Family Guy doesn't.)
- Drawing style: cel look, or something not too far away (outlines and fills).
- Animation: Strong poses. Nothing can compensate for good drawing.
- Good timing, holds - exactly as greenlaw says.

Anything else comes from the department "ancient technology had flaws, so let's simulate that":
- Frame rate is such a thing: first animations (Disney and Fleischer) were done on one's, only later they used two's and larger intervals to save money. We're culturally conditioned to understand "not many drawings per second" as "hand-drawn" by decades of cheap TV animation.
- Wriggly lines: poor tracing of holds and shifting feet indicate hand-drawn.

This whole approach is a bit frustrating, you need to have a very good reason to imitate a look which was fashionable in 1930. (Oh, just wait for somebody asking how to achieve that horrendous Flash look of the late 90's ...)

As far as simulation goes, have a look at "Broken Down Film" by Osamu Tezuka (1985) https://vimeo.com/154598333

Here a master uses/simulates all the technical quirks of the past, not as an arbitrary design choice, but a means to tell the story.
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Daxel
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Re: How to simulate classic hand drawn animation style

Post by Daxel » Fri Jun 07, 2019 1:00 pm

Thank you all! Very nice examples, answers and tips! I will try to apply them all.

Alanthebox that's a good idea. You can achieve something similar with the noise settings on the layer settings. But I'm looking for typical modern FBF look, and those are more like the sketchbook effect or old style. This video shows how to do it if someone is interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l71jsqixry4

What I see in my tests is that sometimes what gives that modern FBF feel is a little bit of variations and imperfections on the lines when they are moving, like a little bit of noise effect but only a little and only on the lines that are moving, that are being animated in that moment. In this modern FBF style that I'm looking for you don't see any noise or imperfections on the parts of a character that are not being animated. If he smiles, everything (the face, the shoulders...) remain still, only the lines of the mouth that are being animated suffer those "variations and imperfections". Because automatic inbetweening calculates the position of the moving lines so well and the lines remain so perfect, that can give a non FBF feeling, more like 3D animation, that it's not worse or better, just different. So I want to test aplying the noise effect only to the lines that are being animated in that moment.
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Lukas
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Re: How to simulate classic hand drawn animation style

Post by Lukas » Fri Jun 07, 2019 1:51 pm

We once made a short film in 2010 (so probably in Anime Studio Pro 6?) in exactly the style alanthebox suggested. Here it is:
Daxel
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Re: How to simulate classic hand drawn animation style

Post by Daxel » Fri Jun 07, 2019 9:20 pm

That's very good Lukas! I see that only the animated parts have that noisy effect, right? so that's almost what I was going to try but with a different drawing style. How did you achieve the noise?
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Re: How to simulate classic hand drawn animation style

Post by dondo » Sat Jun 08, 2019 10:02 pm

Slowtiger, was "Broken Down Film" created in moho? Lovely style.
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Re: How to simulate classic hand drawn animation style

Post by synthsin75 » Sat Jun 08, 2019 10:05 pm

dondo wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 10:02 pm
Slowtiger, was "Broken Down Film" created in moho? Lovely style.
Looks like real frame by frame.
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slowtiger
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Re: How to simulate classic hand drawn animation style

Post by slowtiger » Sun Jun 09, 2019 8:43 am

Oh please. Broken Down Film is from 1985, as I wrote. I'm not even sure if Mike Clifton took up programming at that point in time.

It's worth to look up https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osamu_Tezuka who besides his vast amount of studio work (manga and anime) created a number of personal shorts. I saw them in a tribute program in Annecy 1991, you should look out for:
Jumping (1984), h[url]ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zBqKj1XOXs[/url]
The Legend of the forest part 1 (1987), a history of animation as a parody, it starts with victorian-style stills and evolves finally into anime. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADW7iBPjY4w
Muramasa (1987), told mostly through still images. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1ZkgPdJWtg
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Lukas
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Re: How to simulate classic hand drawn animation style

Post by Lukas » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:05 am

Daxel wrote:
Fri Jun 07, 2019 9:20 pm
That's very good Lukas! I see that only the animated parts have that noisy effect, right? so that's almost what I was going to try but with a different drawing style. How did you achieve the noise?
Every element is drawn three times in Photoshop. When elements in Moho move the switch layer was key-framed by hand. It was a lot of work, for a barely noticeable effect... Maybe the images should have been redrawn less careful for a greater effect. To be honest, considering the budget and result, it was too much work. Static images would have been fine too.

If I recall correctly: a few years later someone in our studio wrote a script to automate that process. So when one of the corresponding bones was moving, the switch would flip trough the images, and when the image was still, it would not switch images. We did some R&D tests, but never used it in an actual production.

My advice: If you want a hand drawn feel, hand draw your animation. Especially if you are the only one on the team.
If there's multiple animators it might be beneficial to use bones and tricks so it's easier to have it all match the same style. But otherwise, just draw it.
I'd recommend TVPaint, or if you're up for a challenge: OpenToonz. Photoshop is also capable of FBF, the workflow is a mess, but it's do-able and has the best drawing tools by a long shot.
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