Friday, July 24, 2009


I have just been trying out another drawing app on my iPod Touch. I have been using Brushes a lot and I find I'm only just getting the hang of it. I think if I were a painter, I'd get much more out of these because I'd have the know-how and experience to apply. As it is, I'm not a painter so I'm sort of just stumbling along.

But I was beginning to get somewhere with Brushes.

Now there's a new one - Layers.

Layers offers, obviously, layers. So what I do on one layer doesn't blend in with everything else. So, with this doodle, I could do a definite line over it all. I could do that in Brushes, but it would be a little messy and would require more advance planning. So Layers gives me more control to treat it like a drawing rather than a painting.

I'm more used to that.

But already I'm wondering if that extra tool becomes a crutch. The more tools I have, the less I have to work at it and I think somehow that shows in the results. I see that with animators. It's why I have rejected programmes like Toonboom. The more tools an animator gets, the greater the distance between them and the final result. The less actual control they have.

I wonder if I should buy some paints and try the real thing. Rid myself of the undo button...


susan said...

I am such a Mac Geek! My ipod is 4 years old, and I would love to get a touch! Or an iphone!

Bitter- I thought you and your friends would be at Comic Com..... reporting live from there.....

Bitter Animator said...

I'd love a Mac right now. All the drawing apps I use on my iPod have the ability to export hi-res images, but only by going through a Mac. No PC versions.

I'd love to go to Comic Con just to see all the cool stuff and presentations but it wouldn't be my market in terms of work so could never really justify it.

Andy Latham said...

Earlier this year we upgraded to Maya 2009 at work, which has animation layers. For anyone who doesn't know what these are, they basically allow you to do a simple animation like a standard walk cycle for example, and then layer on extra animation on top of it, making it more and more sophisticated. People at work keep asking me "have you used animation layers yet? Thery're great!". I haven't used them yet. I can see the advantage of having them but I can see them easily turning into a crutch. I wouldn't have a luxury like that if I was doing animation with a pencil, so I'm not going to allow myself to use it for 3D stuff.

While I have to think more about how to make my animations, I feel I'm learning more as a result. There's a lot to be said for limiting oneself.

Red Pill Junkie said...

"I wonder if I should buy some paints and try the real thing. Rid myself of the undo button..."

I know exactly what you mean. Back in college I was really lousy with the mockups of my projects; but when it came to the renderings I made with markers and color pencils, I was actually pretty damn good. The reason for this is that I was daring, and if I made a mistake, since I always left the rendering to the very end and so had mere hours to complete, it called for tough but wild decisions.

I kept remembering what Bob Ross used to say: "Mistakes are happy accidents"; maybe that's a silly way to view it, but it is true that a mistake or a big problem during the execution of a project can be the source of a really creative solution, that you wouldn't otherwise had come up with on your own.

Speaking about tools, be sure to watch that video I linked on my final comment of the previous post. It's kind of interesting that you decided to write about tools just when I found that video; then again, once you accept synchronicities in your live, they start to occur more often :)

Toole said...

Andy, aren't you afraid that these avoiding these crutches is going to put you at a disadvantage when your coworkers produce acceptable video game animation faster than you and you just look slow.

Andy Latham said...

An interesting point Toole, but if I may for one moment blow my own trumpet, I am about the fastest animator they have working on cutscenes, still producing a high quality of animation. Not my words, but those of my superiors.

I'm not sure using animation layers necessarily speeds the process of animation up, it just requires you to think less. If it does speed things up, then the amount of time I spend learning the classical way of animating must be serving me well as I am not falling behind. If I was hell-bent on staying in 3D animation then maybe I would embrace technology like that more, but as my dream is still to work in the traditional realm then I'd like to keep my workflow as traditional as possible. Does that make any sense?

Bitter Animator said...

Makes sense to me, Andy. And, ultimately, most animation tools can contribute only to make animation faster. I don't think anyone has yet to show me one that can make animation better.

And that should always be the end goal.

The most important thing in animation is the animator.