Hi, boys and girls! An old fart needs a mentor of ANY age!

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Ira7
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Hi, boys and girls! An old fart needs a mentor of ANY age!

Post by Ira7 » Tue Jul 14, 2015 10:48 pm

Hello, everyone. Back in the day in NYC (80s through 90s), I worked for one of the greatest, funnest ad agencies in the world in old-fashioned print production, being one of the first to move to digital/desktop production.

Since moving to South Florida in 1994, life was good workwise for awhile, but for the past 5 years, it's been a joke. Not only are decent jobs few and far between in this market (I live in the Ft. Lauderdale area, Coral Springs), but at 58, I'm a dinosaur. And no one really gives a crap about Quark anyway. And I'm no longer young, thin, and handsome.

So I'm now delivering pizzas three nights a week, but I know my life isn't over before I even hit 60. I am a creative, inspirational and valuable marketing asset to today's internet market, especially since I saw a Facebook post that said I am. I'm a proficient writer, as well as creative conceptual thinker for marketing.

So...

Sorry for being so long-winded here, but can you Anime experts please review my talking points below, and comment whether you think I'm heading in the right direction?

Thanks!

1) I have zero drawing talent, but I understand that via Anime, I can create my characters and character parts without having to hand-draw them each time. I can make necessary adjustments within the the program, or import PS layers.

2) I have a few cartooning books to guide me, and I want to develop my own LINE ART character(s), in line with animations done in the late 40s and 50s. Simple black strokes on a white background, and animation similar to the old Piel's Brothers commercials shown here:

Image

And here is a link to some of these actual Piel's Brothers commercials:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHroxyoCwV4

3) So one would think that what I want to do is "easy," but the simplicity of these characters is actually incredibly complicated. And of course, I can't simply COPY these characters, but have to create new ones based on this "style." There is pure genius in the simplicity of the animation here.

4) I'm going to start my work first modeling on Bert, the short guy.

5) Between now and the first of the year, I want to just create MY version of Bert, no one else, and learn how to manipulate him in Anime with everything else that entails in the Anime environment.

6) I am now learning Audacity first, because my first "real" project will be a 10-second animation as a logo. My projects will be using 1940s popular jazz and swing as soundtracks, although, of course, this Piel's style animation was mid-50s. Hard to explain here, but in the future, I think you'll understand where I'm coming from, and why it works.

7) I only have Anime Pro 8, and if I deliver enough pizzas in the next few weeks, I'll upgrade to 11. But as you can see by my visual examples above, my needs are pretty limited. However, I understand the importance of communicating with other Anime users via the latest version.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Well, that's it.

Your thoughts and insights are appreciated!
Last edited by Ira7 on Wed Jul 15, 2015 4:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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jahnocli
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Re: Hi, boys and girls! An old fart needs a mentor of ANY ag

Post by jahnocli » Tue Jul 14, 2015 11:37 pm

I love that style! Be interested to see how things develop. Good luck to you from another old fart...
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Re: Hi, boys and girls! An old fart needs a mentor of ANY ag

Post by funksmaname » Wed Jul 15, 2015 12:18 am

Ha! A well written post. Welcome to the forum!
You will find all the info you need here (and people to tell you the info you can't find).

You've picked a nice style and project. I do think, if you can afford it, an upgrade would really help (were smart bones in v8? I can't remember now :/ but they are essential)
What HASN'T changed all that much is the drawing tools - learn them, line width will be your friend. Just concentrate on learning drawing and construction with the least number of points right now. The fewer the points, the easier point animation will be - just make them as dense as needed to give you the detail you're after.

The nice thing is once you have learned how to draw and rig Bert, you can probably just change his dimensions, shapes of eyes, nose, clothes, and make him your own. Trace and adapt is probably a good way forward for someone without drawing talent. When I already have a sketch I use the mouse for construction - you don't need a drawing tablet if you can't draw (though it does help with RSI, don't get into an acquisition disorder)

IMHO, much of the success of an animation is the planning and sound recording, actual animation can be pretty limited.

Good luck! and please share your progress.
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Re: Hi, boys and girls! An old fart needs a mentor of ANY ag

Post by hayasidist » Wed Jul 15, 2015 1:13 am

A hearty welcome from the other side of the pond.
There's often a good deal to be had on the latest version (AS11) every now and again if you're patient, so good luck with the pizza deliveries!. In the meantime, as Funks suggests, hope you get the feel of the UI and drawing tools in AS8. When you're stuck, just ask away!
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Ira7
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Re: Hi, boys and girls! An old fart needs a mentor of ANY ag

Post by Ira7 » Wed Jul 15, 2015 3:58 am

Thanks, guys. And yeah...

I definitely plan to go to 11. (Wish I had done it when they had the reduced price upgrade offer last month.)

I figure I would take this slowly, to keep me going and keep me motivated. Basically, I want to invent this ONE character for now...learning the best way to organize my character parts, rigging, etc. ...and to integrate my audio. Coming from an advertising background, my first pieces will be 30-second ad spots. (Spec spots for existing brands, if you will.) So I'm looking at creating my own version of Bert as creating this same kind of celebrity spokesman.

Going to put my first efforts into Audacity, taking MP3s and chopping them down to 30 seconds, standard commercial length. Then, I'll tune my animation to that music, and use supers (text supers) to communicate for now, as opposed to trying to add actual vocal audio.

I figure one step at a time.

Again, thanks for the encouragement. I'm going to need it!

--Ira
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strider2000
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Re: Hi, boys and girls! An old fart needs a mentor of ANY ag

Post by strider2000 » Wed Jul 15, 2015 6:08 am

Hi Ira7,
I'm sure you'll love this forum. Everyone is very helpful and share great ideas. I'm just a hobbyist (would love to be able to do this all day :)), but I've learned a lot from this group and the webinars.

If you're serious at all about animation I'd strongly recommend Anime Studio Pro 11, especially if you aren't good at drawing. The reason is mainly about vectors. The extreme value there is that at any time you can move the points. You don't have to be able to draw a straight line (or nice curve:)), because you can move the points to the place you want when you want. You'll do that in character creation and in animation.

Typically in animation you'll connect those points to bones so they can then manipulate points to, in essence, change your drawing. You want to really get a strong understanding of the relationship between the bones and points (and the different ways of binding). That will save you ton's of time later.

Smart bones are introduced in 9, I believe. They are extremely powerful. Watch any you tube videos on smart bones and you'll see that they make animation much easier. However, if you understand points and binding well enough you can do much of that on your own. It's just that smart bones save a lot of repetitive work.

However, the reason I'd strongly recommend Pro 11 is that the tools for creating vectors have vastly improved over the last few releases. AS Pro 11 is much improved even over 10 (for example the point reduction tool will be your friend and it's much better in 11, you also have trim tools for freehand). Become familar in particular with select point, transform point, add point, freehand curvature and delete edge. You'll be glad you did. Even so, creating vectors can be difficult especially _if you're going to add fills_. So no matter what version you go with you should practice with simple shapes, then move to combining them. If you're always having black on white, you don't need to do fills (or not many anyway). Just do strokes and then have a colored square vector on a background layer and that can save you quite a bit of headache.

Before I got 11 I had 10 and I wasn't sure there was really that much to upgrade for. After all, Frame By Frame seemed to be the biggest deal and you could do that anyway with switch layers. However, once I got 11 I was very glad I did. Frame By Frame is best if you're good at drawing, but even if not you can use it for planning. (I put up some examples where I found it useful viewtopic.php?f=8&t=27797 and viewtopic.php?f=8&t=27705)

Regarding budget, I haven't used Debut, so I can only assume that the drawing tools are the same (doc says they are). Smart bones are a tough one to give up, but I think I'd do it in order to get the better vector tools in 11 (even over Pro 10). With proper binding and tweaking during animation you can get by without smart bones, but if drawing is not your strength I'd really hesitate to do vectors without the new tools. Try in 8 and see what you think.

The other thing I'd suggest is to get your hands on books by Tom Bancroft, because he explicitly deals with the subjects of creating our own characters.

Those are just my ideas. I hope it helps some. Have fun and welcome :D
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Re: Hi, boys and girls! An old fart needs a mentor of ANY ag

Post by slowtiger » Wed Jul 15, 2015 10:03 am

Finally somebody older than me! Welcome. And I like your choice of style, it's one of my favourites too, although I never was able to sell something like that to my clients.

I'm sure you'll be able to manage learning all the AS tools and tricks nicely. That's the part without problems.

But animating something in the line of Piels Brothers without being able to draw is a different thing, and I'm afraid this is close to impossible. You only see the outline moving smooth and nicely, but what you don't see is the amount of 3D thinking and sketching underneath.

The late Michael Sporn quite often wrote about Piels Bros. and the like, and collected numerous images here: http://www.michaelspornanimation.com/sp ... mit=Search. There's lots of actual animation drawings there, and just this model sheet alone should prove my point:
Image

But don't give up! First, there's a plethora of other styles of that period, many of them on Michael's blog as well (I'm so glad it's still up and running, it's one of my favouite ressources). Second, have a look at "Cartoon Modern", a book about that subject by Amed Amidi.

Third, it's not about a certain style, but about a certain story or emotion which you want to deliver through adequate graphical means. Have a close look at the Piels Bros. and see how much of their performance depends on all the small gestures of head and hands and body people do while talking. This is the core of their charme, the design only emphasizes it.
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Ira7
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Re: Hi, boys and girls! An old fart needs a mentor of ANY ag

Post by Ira7 » Wed Jul 15, 2015 12:35 pm

Thanks for such detailed and lengthy replies! Their impacts and meanings aren't lost on me.

Yeah, I knew the seemingly simple Bert was probably incredibly complicated, but it's something to shoot for anyway. In addition, I have two books on creating characters and expressions, so perhaps with Bert as my ideal, they''ll bring me to my first character.

I'm on the iPad now, and will type a few questions shortly when I'm on the computer.
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Ira7
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Re: Hi, boys and girls! An old fart needs a mentor of ANY ag

Post by Ira7 » Wed Jul 15, 2015 9:28 pm

My God--it's hot in South Florida this time of the year! How the hell did people LIVE here before air conditioning was invented? And how do some of you Europeans do it?

Anyway, back to cartooning!

Here are the two books I have. (Well, one is coming tomorrow.)

Image

Image

1) Although I can't draw at all...and understand the importance of varying line thicknesses best achieved in AS...doesn't it make sense for me to still begin my journey on paper, with pencil and a good supply of erasers and beer (HAH!), and then scan and bring into AS to finetune by tracing over that layer?

2) Has anyone here ever taken a photo, converted to line art in PS or upped your contrast to a ridiculous level, and traced lines around that in AS to create a character, or a background image?

3) Any hints on the best YouTube tutorial out there to get started? I seem to recall that there's not a WHOLE lot available, and there sure isn't any current printed material.

I say YouTube and not website because I just set up my new corner computer workstation right next to the huge TV in the living room, where I can stream YouTube via AppleTV. (A lot easier than trying to work in AS and also view a tutorial on just one monitor.)

That's it for now, guys! Time to watch some more of those anarchists trying to take over Greece.

--Ira
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Re: Hi, boys and girls! An old fart needs a mentor of ANY ag

Post by dkwroot » Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:11 am

Ira7 wrote: 1) Although I can't draw at all...and understand the importance of varying line thicknesses best achieved in AS...doesn't it make sense for me to still begin my journey on paper, with pencil and a good supply of erasers and beer (HAH!), and then scan and bring into AS to finetune by tracing over that layer?
YES! You have the right idea here. You want to learn how to draw first and foremost. Pencil and paper is fine if that is what you feel most comfortable with, but I would highly suggest getting a drawing tablet and learning how to draw in an art program.
Ira7 wrote: 2) Has anyone here ever taken a photo, converted to line art in PS or upped your contrast to a ridiculous level, and traced lines around that in AS to create a character, or a background image?
If you're just going to trace the drawing in Anime Studio, you can skip loading it into photoshop and just bring it to AS. There is no reason to do clean up work on a reference sketch. This will save you time.
Ira7 wrote: 3) Any hints on the best YouTube tutorial out there to get started? I seem to recall that there's not a WHOLE lot available, and there sure isn't any current printed material.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... MrvQ-amS0V

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/544 ... torial.mp4

http://www.floobynooby.blogspot.ca/2015 ... ation.html
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Re: Hi, boys and girls! An old fart needs a mentor of ANY ag

Post by strider2000 » Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:07 am

Hi Ira7,
I'd encourage you to think like the 7 year olds :) Pick up the technology and play :)

Make sure you make a distinction between the thinking/seeing/understanding (ie the foundation) that people are pointing out here
slowtiger wrote:what you don't see is the amount of 3D thinking and sketching underneath.
dkwroot wrote: You want to learn how to draw first and foremost.
and what you may think is a _requirement_ to go through the older _steps_ that the rest of us old guys :) used to _have_ to do just to get a digital image.

As dkwroot says
dkwroot wrote:Pencil and paper is fine if that is what you feel most comfortable with, but I would highly suggest getting a drawing tablet and learning how to draw in an art program.
I'd strongly suggest you look quickly at lots of different books and videos to learn two key things

1) The foundational principals of 3D construction and movement. Don't focus on how to draw a particular character. Focus on seeing how real objects are constructed from basic shapes. (Being able to draw a round head that can rotate in all directions, is a good starting point that any good book shows).
2) What techniques work for you.

Your local library and bookstore is a great place to find lots of help on these things.

And ... just to try to show you how easy it is to create objects (rather than trying to scan and tweak contrast levels in PS and get some automated nice line art for example) I've throw together a quick video on using Anime Studio with just a mouse to create characters your interested in. Note I'm not saying that you want to copy characters, I'm just showing that you can use a reference, which could be a scanned pencil drawing that you've created and directly create vector lines using the tools in Anime Studio. Hope that helps some.

Again, just my thoughts.
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Re: Hi, boys and girls! An old fart needs a mentor of ANY ag

Post by drumlug13 » Thu Jul 16, 2015 1:33 pm

Welcome to the forum Ira :!:

I put off learning how to animate for a loooong time because I could never sit down at a sketch pad and whip up a perfect drawing like the comic book artist or animators that I was always so fascinated by. The good news about having "zero drawing talent" is, if you are like me, you will find that drawing with Anime Studio will actually improve your artwork. Drawing vectors with a mouse is a more deliberate process and you can really take your time to get every curve and angle just the way you want them. When I'm done my artwork in to Anime Studio it always looks better than it did on the sketch pad or in a drawing program.

I definitely recommend taking a little time each day to work your way through the manual. And learn the keyboard shortcuts... "CONTROL+Z" will be your closest, dearest and most reliable friend for the near future.

As far as youtube tutorials for version 8 I'm pretty sure Chad Troftgruben started his series "Incredible Tutorials" around version 7 or 8 (if somebody has a link)

Best of luck!
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Re: Hi, boys and girls! An old fart needs a mentor of ANY ag

Post by djwaterman » Fri Jul 17, 2015 9:38 am

Hi and welcome, we're all on that road to being dinosaurs unfortunately. My problem with your post is that you say all the right things and the style you aspire to is a great direction, but I'm troubled by the statement that you can't draw. If this is really the case, then I think you are doomed because that style is all about the drawing. There are plenty of other animators using Anime Studio to do cookie cutter type work, using the character wizard and making Family Guy type episodes, where they are probably relying more on the scripts and voice work and the look is random and not important.

I simply don't believe you when you say you can't draw, I don't believe you'd want to try to do that type of animation if you can't draw, and certainly ASP will not make it any easier if you can't do it on paper first (another of the "right" things you said).

Having said all that I wish you luck if you carry on, you might also consider doing this type of work in Photoshop, I just discovered a couple of video tutorials by an Australian animator that uses it to do all his frame by frame work, but for that you really need to be able to draw (plus PS doesn't yet have audio for lip sync).

https://vimeo.com/80851591

https://vimeo.com/39659667
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Ira7
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Re: Hi, boys and girls! An old fart needs a mentor of ANY ag

Post by Ira7 » Tue Jul 21, 2015 8:58 pm

Thanks, guys.

For some reason, I didn't get any email notifications on these latest replies. I apologize if it seems like I ignored them.

Yeah, I basically have to go simple because of my poor HAND drawing skills. And when I first played with AS a few years ago, I did indeed just copy a South Park character(Butters!) in various poses, expressions, etc., to get familiar with the interface. So I want to basically start by doing the same thing now with my invented character. I understand that I'll never be able to accomplish the Piel's-style animation, but at least it will be a beginning.

I'm kind of comfortable with PS, so whether from a scan of something I hand-draw or creating from scratch, I figured PS was the way for me to go, especially with its transform perspective options. I also thought from an organizational standpoint (organizing my many files and/or layers of regular eyes, bored eyes, scared eyes, etc.) it would be easier for me in PS. But I'll reread the posts above a few more dozen times and review the videos to see how I'm going to proceed.

But if I make a simple line element in PS for example, just a black outline ear with no fill, when I bring that into AS, does AS automatically convert it to vector, and how should it be saved in PS, as bitmap?

EDIT:

After taking a quick look at Strider's YouTube video on creating characters with just a mouse, I think it makes more sense for me to do everything directly in AS, especially your control of line thinknesses and line end options.
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strider2000
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Re: Hi, boys and girls! An old fart needs a mentor of ANY ag

Post by strider2000 » Tue Jul 21, 2015 11:15 pm

Ira7 wrote:... if I make a simple line element in PS ... does AS automatically convert it to vector,
The answer is no. You'll need to think of the drawings in PS as either
1) A bitmap image that you want to control with bones
2) A sketch that you can create the vectors on top of
Both are good approaches they just depend on what you're wanting. The first will give a more "organic" artist look. The second will be more flexible for animating.

One really good thing is that if you're actually using a version of photoshop, changes you make in PS will be updated in AS.

Have fun :)
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