The animation process starts with creating a script. In BEAST the ones responsible for creating a proper storyboard are animators themselves. However today we want to explain to you the animation process behind the travel cutscene.
First you have to think about what you want to achieve. Animation is a very time-consuming process, especially in a project such as BEAST, whose story and mood is created by 2D art and animation. We consult the storyboard with our directors and together we come up with the best solution for the story. In the travel animation for example the goal was to animate carts with oxen and horse riders.
Our work as animators begins, when the illustrators are done. Here we have created a piece made by Katarzyna Malinowska, our illustrator and concept artist.
PREPARING FOR ANIMATION
First we have to take the illustration apart. Today we will be working on horse riders. To animate those we use puppet animation. That means we animate still images cut in bindings so first we have to check if everything is prepared properly and make changes if necessary. Then we have to export all body parts and name them correctly so we have everything in order. For example, we have different folders for legs, different for accessories etc.
For puppet animation we use Dragonbones Pro. First we import all the necessary body parts then create bones and new bindings. At this point we create a mesh, which helps us combine different parts of armature and animate small changes in the structure of the illustration itself.
Before moving to the animation it is important to check some references. Animators also need those to make the movement believable. For this piece we were looking for some videos of horses walking, then we analyzed it. We watch it a few times, even in slow motion. Then we drew the most important frames creating a full walking cycle where need be. But not only do you have to watch the way a horse walks, you have to check how the rider behaves on the horse, to make their movement right.
After all those preparations it is time to animate. It might seem quite overwhelming but it is the best way to make the animation process easier. We set the horse armature in the right position, then by using keys we change the position of the bones, make their angle right and by that, create a whole walking cycle.
Some might think that animation is the end of the process, but in reality it is not. To achieve the best results, we use classic hand-drawn animation for tails, laces and hair. At this point we also introduce fixes and make sure that everything looks good. In the end we put everything into After Effects to do some final corrections. We add a few details and for the last time check if everything is going right and finally, we export our sequence into real-life animation.
This is the final piece of horse rider animation:
Thanks for reading! In the end you have a small sneak peek from the BEAST game showing how the whole scene and characters in motion look like!
We hope you enjoyed it. Soon more information from the work on the game!
Aleksandra Łojowska - BEAST animator