Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Basic Angel Animation in Adobe After Effects CC 2018

I'd been working on an independent film (The Holy Maple Tree) since last year, and I got promoted to do the graphics, motion graphics, animations, and editing.  So, the first graphics I made were for "Heaven & Hell TV", but the director wanted Hell graphics.

I actually made quite a number of them actually:

Incidentally I do not own the rights to these. The Rights are owned by the director Roland Khorshidianzada.

I'm actually NOT really an expert at Adobe After Effects at all. I'm always still learning. It's an overwhelming amount of things that can be done with the program. I had originally learned to use After Effects around 1999-2000-ish, and didn't fully use it until about 2001. It's definitely more advanced than Adobe Premiere. I had used it off and on in the GW Bush era, then I totally forgot how to use most of it. I had to start over in 2016, and it's NOTHING like it was back in the day, even tho' it can do most of the things it used to do, and way more. I'd originally only used it for text motion graphics.
It's also incredibly frustrating if you're coming strait form Adobe Premiere. But, if you stick with it, stay patient (because I've lost my temper a lot with it), it's actually my favorite program aside from Premiere. 
Photoshop is also good, and I have 5 versions of Photoshop on my computer, of which I mostly only use 3.

So, I wanted to do the Heaven graphics. In the screenplay there's quite a lot of spiritual type and Biblical type things mentioned, and this fake TV channel, ironically shot/filmed at an actual TV station studio, should have the Heaven bits as well. (Don't worry, I'm not spoiling anything in the film. It's still in production.)

Most people on the film enjoyed my graphics, but when I finally hunkered down and made the Heaven graphics I got strong reactions from people that were NOT on the film. I was actually REALLY surprised because it's so simple and basic. Anyone could do this.

Here's the basic Process: 

This is the basic "angelic being of light" I made. it's super simple, at least by my own standards, with minimal line-work and details. I doodled out a halo as a kind of mental note to myself as to how I wanted it to look, which make no sense to anyone else, because the main ideas are inside my head.
I ONLY drew ONE wing because I want it perfectly symmetrical.

The angelic being is also androgynous and genderless, and is robed & hooded like medieval &; Byzantine art styles. There are no real defined arms, legs, or facial features except for a few lines, which is almost Asian-like actually, and even draws from Buddhist Bodhisattvas, and even design tricks like Sanrio's (the Japanese design company mostly known for Hello Kitty products). And, I also drew inspiration from Stained Glass Windows in Gothic Cathedrals.

A common trick I have often used, regarding applied drawing theories, is that I trick the brain to see things that aren't actually there. When the human eye looks at the image, the brain fills in meanings that aren't even on the image. I also use a similar method with color theory applied to colors, that I will somewhat explain when we get to the colored versions.

(BTW this graphic is available on the Creative Commons license on DeviantArt is you want to use it. Just don't use the colored versions. Those are for the film, and I don't own the rights to those.

The reason I drew the figure this way is because I wanted to do a simple, basic, butterfly flapping style animation in Adobe After Effects CC.

Here's the first Clean up:

(This one is also available licensed to the Creative Commons if you want to download it and make your own version for free. )

After I cleaned this scan up, I had to chop it up to make the puppet pieces, because this style of animation is also a newer variant of "puppet animation" but in Adobe After Effects CC. Original puppet animation was done either as a flat 2D cut-out style puppets, or models that were sculpted, and shot in stop motion animation. However, now, due to digital CGI We can get a sort of "2 & a 1/2 D" hybrid that merges digital 3D animation with layering in Adobe After Effects.

I personally refer to this as motion graphics, but it's also puppet animation, but not the stop motion kind.

These are what the actual coloring of the wings looks like:

Even tho' I created a "being of light" I specifically DID NOT MAKE IT WHITE. The line-work here is actually a dark brown, and the feathers were actually painted in cool tones and hues that were unsaturated including: greens, blues, and purples, but slightly on the gray-ish side. NO bright colors. I also tilted the wings on the Axis so they are no longer slanted like the sketch is.

There are 2 applied glow effects on the wings: Outer Glow which is a pale unsaturated Yellow, and Inner Glow, which is a pale cyan/turquoise blue. I had played with a number of colors, but eventually went with these colors.

A lot of this has to do with Color theory but regarding RGB pixels. When everything becomes layered, and composed within Adobe After Effects , the layers and effects I use will actually trick the human brain into seeing a bright light being, even tho' it's not white. If I had used white, it would get too white-washed by the time I was done with the layering, and it would be too faded, or too bright. But also that's why I don't use true black.

If you ever get the change to look close up at a Rembrandt painting you would be surprised at just how many colors are actually used, and yet trick your brain to see colors that aren't even there.

Here is the Angelic Being of Light colored:

This one has so many layers in it. The circle halo is actually 2 layers, that are the same layer, but 1 is flipped. Then there are more halo layers, aura layers, and a "blush" layer which is a favorite comic book trick I like to use. (I used to briefly work at Top Cow Productions Inc. in 2005 so some tricks I learned there, and other tricks I learned from an CALARTS artist on DeviantArt that used to run a website called that had a number of awesome tutorials, but no longer exists.)

There the blending options Outer Glow, and Inner Glow in the exact same colors as the wings, but the other layers (aura, halo, and blush) are using the Screen blending option with Opacity variations, and those layers are deep RED-ORANGE and warm tones that are VERY SATURATED and BRIGHT. This is why RGB color theory is much different than pigment painting.

Also, it's important to note that I have made these images set on a gray background so you can fully get the effect, and actually SEE it. If I had use a white background you would not be able to see it and fully FEEL the effect. But, I never actually USED that gray background in the animation. It's just for presentation, so I could post these images online.

Also, the digital coloring techniques I am using are NOT new, but very old and vintage techniques. I have also applied these techniques to photography and photo manipulation for years, as well as to video editing in Adobe Premiere.

As for the background, I made my own galaxy, outer space graphic.

(If you would like to use this graphic, I have also licensed it for a free download on the Creative Commons)

Making a space or galaxy in Adobe Photoshop is one of the OLDEST tutorials I can even remember, and is ultra common. If you type into the search bar on YouTube you can find a variety of many artists interpretations of how to teach this, and altho' they're all very similar they can vary incredibly.

I knew how to do  it, but I was so curious to see people make them in the new Adobe Photoshop CC versions and watched several for almost 2 days, because I wanted to follow along and see their way of doing it.

Here's one:

Here's another one:

There's so many. And lots of good ones!

Anyways, in my opinion I'd rather make my own one. But, if anyone wants to use mine, it's there if you want to use it for some project if you want it. Just go to my DeviantArt gallery and download it.

Then, I just imported the Photoshop files into Adobe After Effects CC 2018 version and played with it until I got what I wanted. I also used several layers of colors which I used blending options and opacity to blend the colors together. It keeps the color theory cohesive.

The first test in After Effects:

Here's the version with Sparkles:

I played with this a number of times. here's the first few renders:

Test with Texts Motion Graphics
1st Sparkles effects test

After a number of people eager to give feedback I reprogrammed the "flight path" so to speak, and here it is:

Based on the Director's input we're re-cutting it with the Hell Graphics. I just don't have that hard-drive at the moment. He's doing the dialogue audio in 2 scenes this will be a part of.

The fog was a set of free video overlays shot in 4K in a controlled studio. And, I used layering techniques with that as well.

I used: Particles, Wiggle-rama, Motion Blur, 3D layers, a virtual kind of camera layer and programmed the camera to my liking at a 50mm equivalency, and the video file is 1920x1080 HD standard size. And, the layers move, and are animated similar to an old multi-plain camera.

The halo layers spin, and the various glowing parts also shift opacity. I had to program/animate the flapping by had, because I cannot figure out how to program the slider feature, and no one else knows either.

Those are all pretty basic and standard things to do in Adobe After Effects, but if you are totally new to After Effects it's incredibly overwhelming. It took me a long time to figure this kind of thing out on my own, because many users of After Effects don't have a traditional animation (nor a 3D animation) background and don't understand what I mean, and even if I show them an outdated version of After Effects tutorial no one could answer my questions.

I had to sift through a lot of tutorials, message boards, and blogs since 2016 to figure a lot of the After Effects things out on my own. I spent hours and days looking up After Effects Tutorials in December & January. Oh, well, that's just how it goes.... C'est la vie.

Other contributing factors that also added to this was the Art History class I took at UMASS in the fall 2017 semester.

As it turns out, Art History tends to be a cultural documentation of the history of Religion(s) as well. I learned about how images, lighting, the use of space, and certain motifs effected the human experience of a religion start from Cave paintings in Europe, to Zigarats and the City of Jericho, to Pyramids, to Egyptian Mausoleums, Greek & Roman Temples to Cathedrals, and funerary art.

There are so many things that I incorporated from that class into creating this. You can actually go through the timeline and see where each style and technique came from, and were incorporated after that, and passed on. Eventually it became ingrained into the human psyche that certain motifs actually evoke specific reactions in the observer of the art.

Another thing to point out is that it also has a New Age-ish & Hippie vibe. I'm not a New Ager anymore, I'm a Secular Agnostic Apostate Heretic Philosopher, but I actually quite loved a lot of the things they go ga-ga over.
AND, after I made the thing, I'd realized it kinda looked a tiny bit similar to Doreen Virtue angel artwork. WHOOPS! Totally didn't intend that!

I mention this, because everything I'd incorporated is pretty standard basic knowledge, techniques, styles, motifs, etc. yet when I shared the images and videos, I was surprised at the comments I got from even non-religious folks, and fellow artists.

Friday, February 02, 2018

I just got robbed by Cafe Press

I just got robbed by @cafepress

I got an email telling me to sign if  I was owed under $25 and still wanted it, so I did, and they robbed me anyway.

I've sold a number of things over the years there, and even had promoted that site to my friends and fellow artists since the GW Bush era.

But took my art down. I won't be allowing them to use my work anymore.

Might have to file a W-9 w IRS.

This is actually a breech of contract, and violates income laws.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Black UniGryphon Logo Effects Motion Graphics Animation

 Messing with Adobe After Effects 2018 to do an animated Logo for my videos/films etc.

 I'd lost the original files of the re-colored version... in fact, I've had a persistent issue with these files. I'd colored & re-colored this sketch so many times, and had to start over multiple times over the years. There's multiple color versions of this in my gallery.

The lighting effects were done in several layers in various versions of Adobe Photoshop:
6.0, CS5, CC 2016, CC 2017, CC 2018.

But, this one started with a partially colored version, which was the only one I still had left on back-up in CD-ROM  DVD-ROM. I thought I had it on my thumb-drives, but couldn't find it.

Pretty much all these are Photoshop techniques that can be applied in layers in Adobe After Effects. I can do it in Premiere also, but After Effects is MUCH BETTER.

I wanted to play with particles, so here's the first one:

Adding fog/mists effects:

The Still Image:

Published here on DeviantArt.

I've also done similar Adobe After Effects motion graphics/effects animations with other old Photoshop artwork files. I had to re-paint and edit them for HD in the new Photoshop CC 2018.

I will most likely re-cut this, for a more graphical looking video/animation.  It's a bit to dynamic yet frozen in mid movement for such a slow piece. This is the downside of my art/drawing style... I'm kinda dynamic.

Misc. Notes:
* My Fursona is the Black UniGryphon (BlackUniGryphon) but she actually has a name: Valour Nikee. I just often don't use her name.
* The Black UniGryphon, Valour Nikee, is actually a shape-shifter character.
* She also had a Goddess shaped version

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Finishing up at UMASS Boston

As far as I can tell, I'm basically DONE at UMASS Boston. I have an exam on the 19th. And, I will still finish up my Work Study job in the Biology lab probably for Winter & Spring semester. But, basically I'm NOT enrolled in ANY classes. This stuff is so exhausting, and very expensive in both money and physical energy. I was trying to get an RA position job. But, they never called me, nor interviewed me, and I'm more than sure I was the 1st one. I got stuck with a debt of about $6K on my credit card which included a massive tuition charge and fees. I'd only JUST paid off my AIPH student loan from 2001 in July of this year.

Taiji Chuan Class at UMASS Boston
But, I ended up with so much B-ROLL, and I'm working on an independent film in Brockton, and 2 of my own Animated films with my daughter. So, It's all good.

This instructor had a film demo day, Eric Levine, in my Experimental Film Class and he had a comment about not just studying and majoring in Art, but BEING AN ARTIST, and he said don't bother doing it unless you really NEED it, because as an artist, the whole reason for doing art, and BEING and Artist, was because you really MUST DO IT, or you will DIE.  WOW! That is SO TRUE.

Anyways, since I'd shot SO MUCH B-Roll and footage, and several ideas burning within me, I came back to an earlier project  that I'd cut, re-cut, and re-edited so many times, due to sheer pickiness. Most of the footage was stuff I shot in the winter of this year (Jan-March 2017) . The Full story/stats are HERE.

I'd managed to finish it up in Sept/October when I was sick.

Production Still from my Video

I'd also managed to do a short animation based on some Ancient Greek Art: the Dipylon Krater:

And I also ended up making a Jack-'O-Lantern based on the Ancient Greek Artist Exikias' Ajax & Achilles:

I have no idea how the heck I pulled them both off, because I could barely even fit any of it in. imagine what they'd have been like if I'd had more time, and didn't rush.

Then, I got to also come back to revisit some older works and go from there in After Effects animation Experimentation:

Part of the reason I did these was because I figured I could use it in my Experimental Film Final. So, I did. The Full details are HERE.

Here's the Documentary footage:

Here's the clip I did for the presentation:

I also managed to go back to my old footage I shot in Fall 2016 (for UMASS Boston) and I edited it with some ambient music I made this year to make a mediation video which was a dream of mine for a few years. Full Details are found HERE.

I would like to also cut some of the other leftover footage/B-Roll and audio design a new version of this song for an evening setting.

I also managed to shoot a few photographic things also:

Eclipse Bokeh (August 2017):

New England Eclipse Bokeh

New England Eclipse Bokeh

July in Mount Laurel New Jersey:

Tiger Butterfly NJ Summer 2017 001

Tiger Butterfly NJ 2017 002

Water Wheel 002

Water Wheel 001

July in Weymouth, MA:


DIY Boho Decor Lanter Pot

DIY Boho Decor Lanter Pot


Glass Pumpkin

Boho Whimsical Lanterns
New 6 point star/cross filter for SLR Photography

Boho Whimsical Lanterns

Boho Whimsical Lanterns

Glass Pumpkin Decor

Glass Pumpkin Decor

Glass Pumpkin Decor

Glass Pumpkin Decor

I also shot some Cosplay of WottyX ^_^ at the UMASS Boston Anime Club.






Taiji Chuan Class at UMASS Boston
I didn't do as much creative things as I would've liked. The muses were tugging on me a lot. 

Some massive drama also went down on the Film I was working on. I'd started as just a Production Assistant (PA), and had been promoted to an Editor by Summer, and also Graphics, and often had to stand-in for the DP. Well, the DP fired herself in a blaze of glory because some bad stuff happened to her. It was another dramatic moment on the film, and we'd already had a number of those with cast. It resulted in my being Promoted to the Director of Photography (DP). 

The entire drama was so traumatic for the Director, and since I was fulfilling the semester at UMASS, the entire film mostly went on hiatus. But, since being promoted I changed a few things. I can't disclose much, but I will be insisting on a Lighting Director hence forth. Production will resume in Spring of 2018, however, the Producer/Director & I will be starting to Edit footage soon. I'm also putting in a lot of creative input for audio as well now even tho I'm DP which is more visual. I'm STILL 1 of the main Editors.

"Ying Qilin" promotional Graphic

Barefoot at UMASS Boston

Doing Homeork Outside at UMASS Boston
Other than that, I still want to peruse more Life Drawing practice, and wish to also wrap up "Maple Bacon" animated short with my daughter for my Qilin Animated Film project I started in the summer to learn Adone's Animate program. 

I also still have several experimental animation ideas I'd like to play with in Adobe Effects. I really want to get ALL of that stuff out of the way, before I can fully move onto my Qilin project.

UMASS Boston Art Department
I'm very much torn between working with cameras & video like Filmmaking, and Drawing and Animation. Animation and drawing is my GREATEST LOVE & PASSION, but I soooooooo enjoy cameras, and video editing, and all that stuff. I don't believe I will ever give them up. The other things I do creatively are just supplemental because I'm an artist.