2D Visual Effects for Animation
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2D Visual Effects for Animation

Christophe Jacques Bouchard
by ceeboujee on 1 Jun 2021 for Rookie Awards 2021

A collection of 2D VFX for animated film including concept designs, breakdowns, and animation.

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Heavy-Particulate Smoke Concept | 2D Incendiary VFX

This ribbon-esque, incense-like cigar smoke was designed for the antagonist of a 2D animated short film currently in production.

Image 1:

This illustrates the pipeline for the smoke's creation within an isolated context.

When produced for film, to apply alpha gradients, glows, and other such effects to an entire animation, an additional process that involves pre-setting actions in Adobe Photoshop and then batch-rendering in Adobe Bridge to apply said set actions to an image sequence is used. The rendered sequence is then ready for import and compositing.

Images 2 & 3:

The quality of the cigar smoke will change in tandem with the character's mood. (This character was intentionally designed without a face). When "the Don" is thoughtful or focused, the smoke is soft, elegant, and rounded. When he is confused, the smoke becomes irregular. When he is agitated or furious, the smoke's shape language is more akin to lightning.

(NOTE: please do not consider the Mafia Don character in images 2 and 3 to be a part of my submission. I helped design the character, among others on the team, but I did not produce the drawings of the Don that appear here. However, I did draw the smoke that accompanies them).

Image 4:

A page of gestures -- an initial exploration of feeling.

Plumy, Lacy Fire - Process | 2D Incendiary VFX

As with the smoke design seen above, this image illustrates the pipeline for 2D fire's creation within an isolated context.

Likewise, when applied to film, the addition of alpha gradients, glows, and other such effects to an entire animation are done so through a process that involves pre-setting actions in Adobe Photoshop and then batch-rendering in Adobe Bridge to apply said set actions to an image sequence. The rendered sequence is then ready for import and compositing.

Fire Shape Language Concepts | 2D Incendiary VFX

Reading from left to right: Curved, Curve-Linear, and Pure Linear.

The center concept was created first, followed by the left, and ending on the right.

The goal was to create a lineup of fire designs that each use the same post-process treatment yet are distinctly different from the others in their shape language (and potential mechanics).

Lightning and Fire Animation Project

A lightning bolt strike, flame burst, and igniting flame encompass the VFX explored in this project.

This was my first time animating each.

My intention, (as always with VFX), was to err on the bold side when blocking in the animation. In consequence, you'll see that the fire (especially its flamelets) was too extreme until its final adjustments and simplification near the project's end. Conversely, the lightning bolt was made bolder and more dynamic as the project progressed.

The lightning bolt was preceded by an anticipatory spark. Because this spark felt too stylized, it was later omitted (after more exploration and play).

The process used for applying additional effects (in this case, glows) to the animation is the same as the one described elsewhere in this submission (Smoke Concept, Fire Process): Pre-setting actions in Adobe Photoshop and then batch-rendering in Adobe Bridge to apply said set actions to an image sequence. This process was undergone three times; once for the lightning, another for the flame burst, and a final time for the ignited fire. After importing each rendered sequence as footage into Adobe Premiere, the project's final assembly was practically drag-and-drop.

(PLEASE NOTE: I do not claim ownership of the illustrated environment, which was provided by Peter Moehrle).


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