Before we get into the guts of this post, we have something to confess. We, pause for dramatic effect, used computers to animate. We know, blasphemy. How can we claim to be making a game inspired by InkTober then use computers for the heavy lifting? Time. Time is an inescapable factor. One we had to consider heavily when attempting this challenge. A factor that led us from paper, back to screen. Here’s why we chose this route.
It’s no real surprise to anyone in the industry that animation is time-consuming. Or at least it was when it was done on paper. That’s not to say hours aren’t spent on the computer to animate properly. More so a simple fact that paper adds several unnecessary steps to the process. That and, well, none of us have animation tables with traditional disks. So we opted for a tradigital approach. A cringe-worthy word to those who have a deep-seated hatred for it. Now, let’s have a look at how we created the animations you will see in Luminky.
Our animations began in ToonBoom Harmony where we blocked out each action. It’s fast and allows us to test real time what the cycles look like, how they link together and what needs to be tweaked. We balanced hand drawn animation with puppeted. The face was not redrawn every frame, rather it was just moved and keyed until a new expression was needed. Unlike the legs or body which often needed new poses each frame.
The next step was to take all of the cycles and create a mini scene to mimic a moment of gameplay. In this test, we had the “player” run left, jump, fly up, freefall, land, turn, run right. This helps us determine if the animations are working together, or need further refinement. For longer productions, this is often where additional animations are added. For example, several run speeds, stop speeds, jump landings, etc.
Once we’re happy, we print out the sequences and get ready for inking. Each frame is hand inked using a light pad and DIY animation bar. These frames then get scanned, adjusted in Photoshop and voila. Our final sequence is ready for sprite sheets.
Here are some examples of finished animations.
We’re happy with the pipeline we’ve established. It allows us to previsualize quickly, then lock down final art on paper to get the texture and boil only paper and ink produces. As for the purists out there who feel we are cheating. Sorry.