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:
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:
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:
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:
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 Nethersphere.com 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.
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 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.