Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lil' Red - The Making Of

Welcome to my 'Making of Lil' Red' Post.

When I set out to make Lil' Red I had a couple things in my mind I wanted:

A) I wanted it to play alongside the song 'No Think You' by the band Panurge
B) I wanted to keep it very simple (as I have a habit of making things grow and get ridiculously complex).
C) I wanted the style to be very graphic. Relying on simple shapes and colors to sell the mood and
D)I wanted to animate it in Photoshop.
E) I wanted to be able to finish it.

 I created the Short using Photoshop, a little Flash for roughing animation, and After Effects for compositing.

To say the background style doesn't have a heavy Scott Wills influence would be like saying cows don't moo. Scott's work (ie. Samurai Jack) has been a real inspiration to me and in many ways I used Lil' Red as a way to develop/explore my skills in background art.

These couple quick little color keys are what first got me excited about doing the short in the simple very graphic style.

These rough little storyboard thumbs below pretty much remained my final vision for the Short through-out the entire process. I could picture the shot order/timing in my mind and just wanted to get it down on paper fast and out of my crazy overflowing brain.

Once I actually began to work on the Short, a Shot-List was definitely needed to keep things organized as well as motivate me in what I needed to do (plus is feels AMAZING to check off things you have done on the list!).

I do tons of thumbnail sketches in my art and Lil' Red was no different! Here is just a lil sample page from one of my Field Guide notebooks, planning out some of the later scenes. Thumbs always help me plan out layout, poses, and ideas without getting too caught up in any details.

Once I started getting into working on the background art for the Short I usually starting with a small rough Color Thumb. Here I played with layout, color and mood ideas. Here are many of the Color Thumbs as well as a couple completed backgrounds that I cut or altered in the Short.

I even played with real paints a little bit when doing color idea! It's a scary world out there in no 'undo' land.

Even though the short has a very limited amount of animation I still wanted what little it had to be very fluid and thought out. Here you can see a bit of the planning going into Lil Red's simple turn.

I also wanted to use the Short as an opportunity to play with roughing some animation traditionally on paper. Most of the animation in the short started on paper, though some moved into roughing on the computer in order to move the short along quicker.

This uber rough little pencil test was the first thing I did re: animation for the short. It was just a fun loose attempt at throwing down some lines on paper and playing with how Riding Hood could look as a character more. The frames are just photos I took with my phone so please excuse the quality.

I roughed the 'Keys' of her turn on paper then finished the rough in Photoshop.
I wanted all of Lil' Reds movements up until her 'jump' to be very calm, slow and gentle.

The Cleaned-Up version
(I accidently made her pupil pop a little at the end here :O)

Here is the attack in a very early rough stage (done in Flash). Prior to this I sketched a couple basic ideas for poses and timing.

Once I felt the Flash rough was enough to go off of I brought the frames into Photoshop and tightened the rough up.

The rough was then cleaned up and colored in Photoshop.

Just for fun I also included the clean-up of the Wolf entering Lil Red's scene.
Funny how in the end most of this was lost due to the darkness of the scene, tis the way it goes sometimes though! :)
For the Wolf I wanted to play with a very 'harsh' brush look. Something rough and aggressive to match the deadly beast on the hunt.

Once the backgrounds and characters were finished I brought all them files into After Effects to composite and put them together with any camera moves. Most of the backgrounds were broken up into a 3D space to help push the depth.

Mix all that together with a lot of late nights, many cups of tea, an amazingly supportive lady and BOOSH you have Lil' Red! :)

I hope you all enjoyed my little peek into the making of Lil' Red!
If anyone has any questions regarding my process making the Short please feel free to leave a comment and I will answer it as soon as I can! :D


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great work man! A question about your use of photoshop...when you exported the roughs from Flash, did you make each frame a separate photoshop file? And from Photoshop, did you the photoshop files into after effects to see how the frames sequenced together?
Thanks for the insight!

2:28 PM  
Anonymous Kirbi Fagan said...

Thanks for sharing. Great work. I really love the illusion of space in your work!

4:49 PM  
Blogger Cale Atkinson said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the short!
When I used flash to rough out a shot (such as the wolf attack), I exported every frame from the rough as separate jpg or png images. Then I imported each image into 1 photoshop file as different layers. After that I made a new layer on top of each flash rough frame and cleaned it up. I used the 'animation window' in photoshop (I believe in CS3 and up) to roughly see how the animation would play and then once content with the rough would clean it up using the same file, just adding layers above the roughs to color in. Once all the frames were cleaned up I would export each final animation frame into After effects to line up and re-time to satisfaction! Phew... I hope that answers your Q ! :) Thanks again for the comment!

Kirbi: Thanks so much for the kind words! I'm really glad to hear you enjoyed it :D

12:11 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

That's really super. Great look and feel and I love the ending. Thanks for sharing the film and especially how you made it.

5:56 AM  
Blogger Revefilm said...

I really like your background art! I have two questions. First, why did you rough in flash and then move to photoshop? Why not animate/color completely in photo shop, or conversely animate/color entirely in flash? Second, how are you getting those brush streaks in photoshop to look so painterly? Did you make those brush presets based on scanned images or what?

2:49 PM  
Blogger Fot said...

fantastic work Cale...wicked designs and animation style.


4:40 PM  
Blogger Cale Atkinson said...

Mike: Thanks Mike! I'm so glad you enjoyed the film as well as my novel of a post for the making of! Really appreciate them kind words :)

Unknown: I'm glad to hear you digg the backgrounds!
To answer your Q's:
1) I roughed a couple things in Flash merely because I am faster at animating and seeing results in Flash than I am in Photoshop. I also found that photoshop could lag in animation playback, so it was nice having a real rough timing in flash to reference once in photoshop. In the end though I knew I wanted to use photoshop in order to get the textures and brush stokes I was imagining.
2) I do have an array of brushes in photoshop, some made by myself, some from friends. When I make them I do use real paint splatters/strokes on a canvas paper, then scan them in and experiment making them a brush (it can be pretty fun!).
I hope those help answer your questions!

Alex: Thanks a ton man! Really appreciate them kind words! :D Cheers!

5:44 PM  
Blogger paublo said...

Thank you so much for sharing the play by play. Your short is amazing...I can stop watching.

7:08 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Love your short! Bookmarking your blog now.

6:33 AM  
Blogger Ted Hobgood said...

Thank you for sharing such a delightful take on the Red Riding Hood story. The tale has been done nearly to death, but you've definitely made an original look at it and put your creative stamp on it. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

And ESPECIALLY thank you for taking the time to write up and share such a wonderful "making of"! I really enjoy this sort of thing, and yours was particularly enlightening and inspiring. I'm *just* getting into drawing with hopes of animating a personal project someday, and I'm squirreling your post away to help me in the future. Thanks!

I'm going to link to your post on my blog in hopes it can help others as well.


7:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome Job Cale! I love the short, especially when lil red jumps onto the wolf. I especially love all of the design, lighting and though that went into this whole short!

Fantastic Job!

7:42 AM  
Blogger Henry R. Frew said...

Awesome short Cale, loved the style and the story twist!

8:17 PM  
Blogger AK said...

This is so beautiful. I like the music, the design, the color-schemes and the feeling. I love especially, that you wrote "oma" : )
So many nice ideas in the landscape. Thank you for this insightful making-of. I read it with hunger.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Cale Atkinson said...

Pauly: Hey man! Thanks so much! Really glad you dig the short and appreciate the kind words! Cheers!

Ellen: Thanks a lot! Yes please do Bookmark thy blog! And I shall promise to update it just for you :D

Ted: Thanks so much for the really nice words Ted. The compliments on the short always mean a lot, but knowing that it (as well as my making of) may have inspired you to work on your personal project means so much more to me. I really hope you keep at it and please feel free to message me if need any opinions or crits! :D

Adam: Thanks a lot man! I'm really glad you liked it! Lil' Red jump-punching the wolf was my favorite part to animate on the short :D Cheers!

Henry: Hey man! Really glad you liked the short! Feels great to actually finish it and get it out there :D

Annelie: I'm so happy you enjoyed it! I had a lot of fun playing with colors and ideas in the short and it's so great hearing others liked them too :D
Writing 'Oma' worked out great as I didn't have a lot of room on the sign but really wanted it to indicate she was continuing onward to grandma's :)
Thanks so much for the comment!

11:42 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Inspiring to say the least! Thanks for sharing the process. Pure gold

11:46 AM  
Blogger Alan Stacy said...

Ditto to everything said!! Incredible work; thanks for breaking it down. I've been importing my animation pencil tests into photoshop for cleanup, etc.

5:07 PM  
Anonymous Giulia said...

A small new World... Simple and great!
I'm speechless.

2:21 AM  
Anonymous Cody Walzel said...

This is truly Inspirational! Please offer some design wisdom sensei!

I am in production for my senior animation, and I am roughing everything with a loose palette, but I am having a hard time finalizing color decisions. I've been drawing out the BGs and characters with placeholder colors, and I know I want a kind off constructivist palette in the end. Can you talk a little bit more about your color design process? Should I put the scenes next to each other on a board? How use a limited palette well?

12:55 PM  
Blogger Miranda Meeks said...

This is beautiful. Definitely worth all the hard work you put into it.

8:56 AM  
Blogger Joe Sutherland said...

Hi, I think you have a very unique style and really enjoyed your lil Red short film, I feel the use of colour worked really well in creating the ambience of the animation. I am in my 3rd year of uni and have to write a dissertation and was wondering if you would answer a few questions about colour in animation, since that is what my idea is about? I haven't started writing it yet but would like to know if I could use you within my research? Thanks.

8:47 AM  
Blogger Cale Atkinson said...

GhettoFab: Thanks a lot! Glad you enjoyed seeing my process!

Alan: Thanks for the kind words! I find PS is great for getting pencil tests in fast and seeing how they are working. :)

Giula: Thanks so much! :D

Cody: sorry for my late response! I think it definitely helps to lay out color keys side by side to see how they look/feel next to each other. I am a big advocate of doing loose color keys before moving into the final art. It really allows you to try new things without putting up too much time to get there and see what works or doesn't work. Otherwise I would say to just keep in mind what colors you want your characters to be and ensuring the background art works with the characters as well as works with the mood you want to communicate.
I hope that ramble somewhat helps your questions! :)

Miranda: Thank you very much for the nice comment! It was no doubt a good amount of work but I definitely would/will do it all again! :D

Joe: Great to hear you enjoyed Lil' Red!
I would be more than happy to answer any of your Q's! Maybe just shoot me an email at caleatkinson@gmail.com with them :)
You can definitely use me in your research.

7:56 PM  
Blogger brandon said...

do you have future plans for this short? extending it? To me, it looks like a pitch for a 2D game! When she rides the wolk, it reminded me of Intrusion 2 - I'd love to see a game like that but with you art style!

9:14 AM  
Blogger Jeca Martinez said...

I LOVE your short! And now that you mentioned it, it DOES have a lot of Samurai Jack influence not only in the art style but also in the pacing of the story :) I have a bunch of short animation ideas in my head but have been feeling a little unmotivated lately, so thanks so much for your short film and this making-of post :) I'm now itching to start animating and drawing :D

5:24 AM  
Blogger g1toons said...

thanks for sharing, see this helps a lot as working on a short can get over whelming, and keep it simple always seems to run a stray

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey! I love your take on Little Red Riding Hood! It's inspirational!

Do you have the process videos uploaded on youtube? If so, could you please tell me the name of the channel as I cannot access them here.

1:01 PM  

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