by Zach Soares @voxels
Below is a set of pieces I made on my own time which represent the most recent styles of my artwork.
The above piece initially started out just being a telephone pole. I was initially inspired by the kind of work Cheryl (@cysketch) would do in their illustrations. I thought to recreate something they drew as practice but ultimately decided to just take their work as inspiration/reference alongside other things I gathered.
The focus was that I was in love with the clutter that builds on telephone poles (more specifically Japanese telephone poles) in urban areas. After making the pole itself, I felt like something was missing in the backdrop. I needed something to make it feel full. I did a sidewalk and a bit of a street, but it didn't feel quite right so in came the building.
Once the whole piece was made I, naively, decided to animate the whole thing in Unity. In part the choice here was i wanted to use as few tools as possible and see how well I could animate a whole scene in unity. Ultimately it was a pain since I had many parent and child objects connected to one another. Also, unlike my other works below, i hadn't planned on ever using this for a production of some kind, so i had no reason to care about the usability long-term. Ultimately i very much loved the result and you can see it in motion on youtube.
Note: play the video on loop for the full effect.
You might wonder, "blend 2 styles?" and what that implies. With my idealized voxel style, I want to mix typical character animation using bones WITH frame animation, something more common in Pixelart.
As you can see below, I had made 9 frames of animation for the first fraction of a second of the total bunny tank animation. This was actually the last step of the process but made the whole thing feel just perfect.
The BunnyTank itself, as I'd like to call it, was rigged in Maya. And it being the first rig and major animation I had made in a few months, I wanted to practice new techniques. Specifically getting a simple quadruped rig working nicely, which I managed!
While the presented gif shows 1 animation, i had made a total of 4 thinking that "maybe, just maybe I'll make a game with this" but obviously i didn't 😅 A fun habit of mine is making everything "Production ready" so that all my practices will be beneficial to any future work challenges.
In the end with proper timing set in unity you can see the animations playback in sync with one another. It can be a long process but it's a lot of fun and the results speak for themselves.
After having done some fun character animation work with the bunny tank. About a month later I thought it'd be fun to test out facial animation using the same technique, but instead hook up the frames onto the character rig itself, this way I could control not only the expression but the motion cleanly.
(timing frame animations to already built character animations is a tedious process I wanted to circumvent)
The first big step was to create every possible facial expression I can think of. The basic idea is that if i were to make myself into a youtube animated character, more recently known as a Vtuber, then i need to have as much to work with as possible. Soo i made a base head model and alongside it many faces 😁
As you can see, the rig wasn't all that glamorous - heck - there's no rig, just bones! But you can see the weird overlapping of models at the head? Those are all the variants hooked up together on the same neck bones so they'll all cleanly follow whatever motion I choose.
The last step of the whole process. Similar to how I did the BunnyTank, I just need to edit the animation i made in Maya to include the changing head models at given frames in the animation! This made the process in Unity much easier. And this way, you can even hook it up to a dialogue system so that the character speaks accurately to what we make them (in this case, myself) say!
Zach's work is amazing as always! Looking foward to this course c:
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