Sketching Out the Character
First of all, I'm gonna start with a blank canvas. So when you start to sketch out a character, okay, what you need to think about is the actual structure. Now that's kind of difficult, and I'm gonna help you through that in a moment when we look at a puppet. But, you need to break things down. It sounds deafeningly simple, but it actually is really simple. So you start out by thinking about the head, obviously you start with crude shapes there, and then you draw a sort of a body structure, like so, okay, and then maybe put the legs on there. And if you're going to draw something that's going to walk, you'll need something like a 3/ or a side-on view as well , but you'd best to develop a frontal version first. So just get the basic positions and basic structure and relationships mapped out between those like that. So you'd start with that. What I typically then do is move up and add more layers. And I actually group these at the very beginning. So I select both layers like so, and then...
group them. They'll group in a minute. Okay I'll put a folder on just there. I've got something active, that's why. Let me just come out of that a second, and come back to that and flow that out to a layer. Now I can group those. Like that. And then I give the puppet a name. So I'll just call this one puppet, for example. And that's the top-level group of the puppet, and even at the sketching stage it's a good idea to think about that. And then I start to separate things out. So I'll use this as a sketch. So I'll drop the opacity down like so. So I'll go way down there like that, and then on this layer here, I'll actually group that layer itself, and call that layer head. Like so, and then start working on that. So I start developing the head, and what I'm after here is just the basic structure. Forget about the features of the head. Forget about the nose, the mouth, all of that stuff for the moment. Their positions is fine, but actually work on just the structure of the head. So again, I'm only gonna sketch this in for the moment. So let's have some hair. Just here like so. I'll just come out and draw that. And put some ears on there. The ears don't really move, so that's just fine. I think what we're gonna end up with here is a really, really young Tony, and I'm just gonna choose a different color. So I'm just gonna hold down control-option-command on my Mac and click. Then I can choose a different hue. Here using this ring just there like so. And then come out and choose a variation from the picker there. So you see if I go toward that red range and just across like that, then I can start to color up just here. And sometimes I do a bit more coloring just while I'm thinking. And the great part about this is that what I'm doing here is processing this information as I do it. You don't have to use a whacking great centique like the one I've got here. If you can stretch to it, it is the best way to work, absolutely the best way to work. And once you've had one of these, you really don't want to move to anything else. But I still carry a tablet when I'm traveling. This isn't my own Wacom. This one was kindly put in the studio for me by the lovely folks at Wacom, which is really nice of them. But it's great to work this way because you're thinking and processing at the same time as you're actually building this stuff out, and that helps you to sketch out. Never ever go straight to the character. Never ever, because you just won't think about the actual structure. So I'll choose another color here. I'm just gonna use the default way of doing that. In fact, I think this one should have sort of bluish hair, I think. There we are. Like so. So I sketch like that, and then start to add other layers. So I've named this particular layer once I've sketched there, like so, just double tap that, and I'll call this one face, for example, or background, whichever. That name doesn't really matter. It's the head group that is the important bit. I'll add a new layer on top there. And the next feature I might want to add would be something like the eyes possibly. That's a good way to make sure a character looks the way you expect it to look. I'm just gonna hold down the alt key here, sample my pencil color ...
As you're building these characters with Character Animator, ultimately, could you make like little cartoons? What would be the final sort of output for this type of a project.
Absolutely, well you can use it as part of a broadcasting workflow. So if you wanted to do something that was going to be part of a broadcast project, and I mean that in the widest sense. So that could be anything from internet broadcast, TV broadcast, being used all over. You can also, and this something that YouTubers are catching on to, use it in livestreams, so you can have the character replace you in livestreams, and I've done that with my Design Ninja character, that's done livestreams where I've not been visible on the camera, but the puppet has during the broadcasts for me. So there's lots and lots of uses for it. But yet you can record cartoons, absolutely.
Okay, great. And as far as your steps right here, you're going to be slowly developing this character throughout the morning, correct? Right now you're building the head and the eyes, correct? Go ahead.
No, no, no. This is still just sketching out. This is the process.
I'm just describing that part of the process, and then what we're going to do in a moment is we're actually gonna use another puppet, and we're gonna analyze more closely that perhaps the most important part of your character is the face. Because that's the part that brings it to life.
So we're gonna work on that. But this is really just working through my sketching process. Describing how I think while I'm putting these things together.
That's great. And you encourage our students out there also to sketch their characters out.
Yeah, absolutely. In fact, that particular stage is invaluable. They can sketch while they're doing this, and if I get the chance to see any of those things, I would love to see them. If that's possible at some future point, I would love that.
Cool. All right. I'll let you keep going, thank you.
Okay, right, fabs. So I'm working here on just sketching out the eyes, and what I also do is, I normally work on one side because of course I'm working in the digital environment. You can work in a sketchbook, by the way. I'm working here in the digital environment, so I can use the power of that to help me accelerate what I'm doing. And I can flip things over. So for example, if I've got that eye, and typically, I might call this, in fact I would almost certainly call it right eyeball. So I call it like that, and then maybe duplicate that layer either by dragging it down to the layers here in the layer panel, or using the command-J or control-J shortcut to do that. Just think of that as somebody from the East End of London in England saying the word duplicate because it wouldn't sound like it began with a d. It would sound like it began with a J. It would be like juplicate it. So command-J, control-J to do that. Then use the transform command, command-T, like so. Move the registration point. And what I'm going to do is just zoom up on their head a bit here. I've moved this registration point across to where the middle of the face would be. And construction lines can sometimes help with this. Then right click there, and choose flip horizontal. And so now I've got the other eye. And what I typcially do is I build out the whole structure of the eye and then do that. And then just rename it. So just a word very, very quickly on this. Now I called that right eyeball because I changed the side which I was going to do that. But the important thing here is that when you're building a character, while your sketching out is fine, but when you're building a character, it's like stage left, and stage right. So this would in real terms be the left eyeball here. Okay, it would be the character's left, and not your left. And that's important because that is how the program understands it, and I make that mistake frequently. I quite often do that. Start out naming something, and then forget that I've done it, leave it on one side, or don't actually copy the name across. But it's easy to resolve that. So I call that the left eyeball, like so. And if I just swap the color out here that I'm painting with, and then I have to kind of fill that up like so. And then of course the character's going to need a pupil, so that will be another layer on top of that, so I might draw and sketch that out. And so I just get my color picker just there, and bring that out like so. I can always add another bit of color there. I think I'll add the derivative of the hair color there. Okay, and I'll just tap d to set the default and x to swap out what I'm painting there. And then I'll just carry on segmenting that. So the next thing I'll build would be an upper eyelid and a lower eyelid and so on. And you'll see more of that inside of the Goldbeard puppet that we'll be doing very, very shortly. So yeah, sketch all that stuff out, create another group as a child of the puppet. So I'm gonna just collapse the head here, and I'll just get this layer, and I'm going to group this layer at the bottom here. And I'll call this one body, and then work out from there. And of course the body would have children itself. And what you're thinking about is the connection between the different parts of the anatomy. And I'm sure sound are going to really thank me for just patting on my microphone just there. In fact, someone just waved at me for it, so that was very nice. So of course your arms are typically connected to your body. So if my body moves, then my arms move as a result. My head will move also, but I've got some control over the position of my head, but there's a certainty with me as a bipedal human, that my eyes are going to move my head. My nose is definitely gonna move my head. My mouth is gonna move my head, even if it's moving independently as it is now. If you understand that it's start with building out that particular structure.