Friday, July 25, 2008

Head haunting poetry and how to blink...

I've had this little three-line poem thing in my head for, I kid you not, over a year. Today, inspired by another artist's moleskin visual poetry artwork, I decided to go ahead and do something with the haunting in my head... I'm calling it "Weather Regret" because I have always visualized it as something you write on a wet window pane...and then walk away from, and "whether" or not I regret the fact the poem narrates is something that depends on the shift of moods in my the weather in the skies, if I'm gloomy I may regret this, and if I'm not...I'm almost glad of it.

I recently animated a drawing of myself to "blink" and each time the eyelid opens, different text is written on the eye instead of an iris and pupil, with a little fact about who/what I am. Eventually, it cycles back around to a normal eye again, perpetually looping. A blink is a very basic animation, but it is a good one to learn from. I thought I'd show what I, personally, use as steps in animating an eye blink...

Step 1: Open eye. Have the eye as open as it's going to be.

Step 2: On a new layer, recolor the skin (in this case it was just a green background color) over the eyelashes slightly. On a second new layer, redraw the eyelashes a little lower this time. Include an eyelid crease. My eyelid has two creases, so I have them squished against each other in this step.

Step 3: Repeat step 2, but lower the eyelid even more, and this time I separated the eyelid creases ever so slightly, as the skin is now starting to stretch a bit and be less squished together.

Step 4: Repeat step 3, but also start making the eyelashes a little longer. As the eyelid lowers, you can see the eyelashes from an increasingly different perspective and should be able to see more of their length as they are no longer pointed at the viewer. Note that this is the halfway point, and so only half of the eyeball is showing.

Step 5: I always think this one looks a bit creepy. The step after the "middle" stage of the blink tends to have very separated eyelid creases that are almost parallel lines and relatively straight, very much longer eyelashes, and less than half of the eyeball showing (which is the creepy look, in my opinion).

Step 6: Repeat step 5, but by now only the slightest glimpse of eyeball should be showing under the much much longer eyelashes. The lower eyelid crease should know curve just sliiightly the opposite direction of the upper eyelid crease. This helps to give the impression that the skin is being pulled downward.

Step 7: At this point, the eyelid is completely down. Your eye is closed. Your eyelashes are at their longest and should overlap the lower eyelashes. The lower eyelid crease should be more strongly curved than in step 6.

I then open the photoshop file in ImageReady and use the animation toolset to create a frame-by-frame sequence. The "Step 1" eye gets 3.5 seconds to show before the "Step 2" frame begins, for this particular animation, because it needs to go fast enough for people to still be looking at it when the first text appears instead of a normal eye. However, if you're doing a more natural looking blink, I recommend keeping the eye on "Step 1" for at least 5 seconds. Step 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 get .01 seconds to show each. After "Step 7", I then "climb back down the ladder" by putting in "Step 6", then 5, 4, 3, 2, and then that's all. I set the animation to "loop forever" so that when it gets past the second showing of "Step 2", it cycles back to the first frame, the one of the open eye in "Step 1". This creates the illusion of perpetual blinking.

Then I save the image, optimized as necessary, as a .gif, and have an animated blinking face doodad. Woohoo.

For added variety, create more frames with alternative eye behaviors, such as gradually moving the eyeball to look to the side, or perhaps make it "roll". Here's an example, an icon I animated for a friend of a wall-eyed kitty she'd drawn.

1 comment:

Dave said...

All it needs is a second loop where the eye turns up gray. >>

Also, holycrap you're making some great work here. Hope you're doing well!