Animation – Response to Critique

Last week we were given constructive critique on our short animations. We do have quite a few bits to tweak. Overall the critique pointers were expected apart from a few which we overlooked. It was great to be given the chance to adjust a few things in order to try and perfect our short. I will include a list below of the things we need to address and document our progress on the changes.


Title Change – Due to  running out of time we had quickly inserted a title We were advised to look into science fiction movie title sequences and take some inspiration from them.

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As we don’t have much time to spend on making these adjustments, I feel it might be best to go with a simple solution.

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Lighting – Overall our lighting was working ok but we hadn’t spent enough time figuring it out before the rendering stage as more of our attention was fixed on textures and cameras. We have been advised to make some colour adjustments, mainly because the astronaut’s suit colour is too dark in comparison with the dark starlit sky. I feel that lighting will fix these issues. A light added inside the lander will help silhouette the astronaut when jumping from his lander whilst another spotlight parented to the astronaut will help light him up within the scene, increasing the contrast between his blue suit and the environment.

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Camera Angles/Opening scene – In our opening scene the lander lands beside a mountainous hillside. This is to be centred with the hillside not being visible as having it land so close is quite unrealistic. To fix this we have decided to change the positioning of the lander and camera whilst also smoothing out the terrain to prevent any further difficulties.

There was also a staging error which is hard for the audience to read. This is when the astronaut plants his flag and looks over to see who had opened a beer nearby. To fix this we may have to reposition the adversary astronaut along with his assets.

Billboard Readability –  Our current billboard design is currently not readable with the logo’s text being the wrong colour and the text too close together. These factors along with the neon glow has made it difficult to read and not clear enough. To fix this we have  changed a few colours, this is to make it clear of the brand’s identity. The font has been changed to coca-cola’s font to make it more easily recognised and readable.



There is a part of our scene where the shadow of the build building comes over the adversary astronaut. We were advised to make the transition of his flag into the billboard more clunky, coming out in different places etc. This was our original idea but I guess we got too caught up with other details to spend more time on this.

The updated final animation is below. The main difference is the light.

Character Development and Ideas

When thinking about astronaut designs we have decided that our characters will have smaller proportions with slightly larger heads. The concept artwork by David Correa depicts a little astronaut which looks similar to how we have been imagining our design. As a group we all did a few character design drawings and brought them together, then decided upon a design we could work from.

Initial Ideas

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After we had sketched out a few character ideas we had decided that Michaels drawing of the Russian cadet was more what we had imagined. More character ideas can be found in my sketchbook.


Jack went ahead and started modelling the astronaut in Maya and since then has done a great job with texturing and rigging him also. Below shows a 3D turnaround Jack put together of the final character design.

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I had taken this image and done a few colour variations in photoshop for the two brands. From here Jack chose which colours to use for texturing.



The rig of the character can be seen in the screenshot below.


The texturing of the astronaut turned out really well, thanks to Jack. The colours are quite dark though than I had imagined but hopefully lighting can pick them up a bit. Overall our character turned out great, our main task now is to give him some personality through body language whilst animating. This will be a tough job as he doesn’t have a face, but fun…hopefully. 🙂

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Moon-like Terrain Process

For the making of the terrain I went through a few different stages and although it looks simple it took me a while to figure some things out, especially when it came to texturing in substance painter. The maya to substance painter workflow took plenty of tutorial watching to figure out some simple instructions.


The image above was taken during the Apollo 17 Moon Landing in December 1973. Johannes Hevelius had depicted this type of rough terrain in his map of the moon, made in 1647. (shown below)

WIKIMOONMAP                                                 Image Courtesy – wikicommons

‘There are two primary types of terrain on the Moon: the heavily cratered and very old highlands and the relatively smooth and younger maria. The maria (which comprise about 16% of the Moon’s surface) are huge impact craters that were later flooded by molten lava.” – wikipedia

moooooon                                                  Image Courtesy –

I started the base model with the idea that we could have mountainous areas and a flat area near the lander for the astronaut to jump on, to help make things easier for animating. I also thought it would help a little with showing the scale of the environment. The general idea is that the planet is quite small, smaller than our moon anyway.

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I had been advised to create a low poly mesh first and then to create a high poly over this. From here you would use the low poly for UV mapping and then once textured you would bring this back into Maya and place over the high res model. I had tried this multiple times and then decided to just take the high poly mesh into substance painter and texture from there. It might not have been the right way to do it, but I will hopefully get more time to spend learning these techniques soon.


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The first image above is the high poly mesh rendered with a sky dome light. The second image is a screenshot taken while working on the model.

Texturing in Substance Painter

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Above show the results of terrain texturing in painter. I think it turned out well in substance painter but when its transferred into Maya  the settings vary therefore it doesn’t have the same look. More practise getting to know how the programmes work together is needed for a good transfer. Despite the terrain not rendering exactly how I had imagined I still really enjoyed trying out UV mapping and texturing in both Maya and Painter.

Michael found a great tutorial that goes through the texturing process of substance painter in simple steps.

Another 6 part video series Jack had found on youtube was very helpful in showing where to plug in maps that I had made in Substance Painter. It also went through how to change and add nodes to help the specular lights show up correctly on your model. Iv’e learnt a lot which is great. 😀

As aforementioned in the rendered images, no texture is really present when brought into Maya, which is a shame but at least I tried.

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References (2017). Wikipedia. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Apr. 2017]

CityLab. (2017). This Old Map: Johannes Hevelius, Bright Side of the Moon, 1647. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Apr. 2017].

3D Galaxy in Maya

A realistic looking Space environment might be a difficult task to produce in Maya. I’m unsure how many lights I can include to give the illusion of stars or if there are other way of getting around this. I have come across this article which has a good tutorial on how to create a 3D galaxy/space scene within Maya. I will give this a try and if I fail I will try a different approach.

I have followed some tips from this article (link here).

After having read through this tutorial I realised that creating a galactic environment full of stars is actually quite simple using Maya 3D brushes. Below are some of my first experiments with these brushes. I think they turned out ok, maybe not as organic as I would like, but the colours are pretty. Once we get the overall feeling of our light sources and colour for the animation as a whole, I feel we can then decide upon a definite colour scheme for the stars. I feel the red stars are pretty cool and could be used to help with the overall fizzy juice symbolism that is present in the animation.

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Below are some photographs I have taken of quick space watercolours I had done before trying it in Maya to see if I could make load a painting in, but this definitely wasn’t going to give the finished look we needed.


From here I then decided to try a digital painting but this was still to no avail. When I loaded this image into Maya and set it up for Image Based Lighting it looked quite pixilated.


References (2017). Creating a galaxy in Maya using Paint Effects – Page 1 – Paint FX Tutorials for Maya. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Apr. 2017].

Storyboarding and Animatics

Our first task for the new assignment was to present a pitch of our initial ideas for our animation. To start off we decided to come up with an environment and character and work from there. After some discussion on various ideas we decided to settle on a story set in space with an astronaut. From here we spent an evening coming up with possible story lines. For our pitch we had done a rough sketch of a storyboard, with nothing finalised. We had realised we didn’t have an ending so we decided to not rush into a pointless idea at the last minute and wait for feedback.

Other  story ideas which we had can be found in my sketchbook along with some doodles to illustrate them. Our storyboard can be seen below, since then we have received feedback and have altered some compositions slightly and also character movements as things were off in places. The feedback was brilliant, you can see the updated version of this storyboard run in the animatic below.




Since the limit for our animation short is from 15 seconds – 25 seconds we needed a quick snappy story and we wanted some sort of gag. We came up with the idea of a little spaceman landing on this planet, very sure of himself in knowing that he will plant his flag, advertising a particular drink company. In the midst of planting his flag he hears a beer can opening and looks over to see another spaceman who had already took residence with his own companies flag. The first spaceman then smirks and takes out a control switch and switches it on, his little flag suddenly unfolds into a huge lit up, in your face billboard with the drinks company name being the main gag or joke.

Putting the animatic together was great fun. After some feedback we realised that timing was off in an area so we will re-work whilst also trying to make transitions a little smoother between frames. This is a great learning experience for me and I am so happy to have this chance as I have never worked on a storyboard before. Finding sound effects was another great mission which ended up not being too much of an awkward task. I feel I will continue to enjoy working on animatics in the future as it is a new realm and a great way to quickly see your stories come to life.

We had been suggested to check up a website named floobynooby which had so much relevant content for this part of the project. Again I was very grateful to have been directed to this site by the tutors. It’s always great to find a site which condenses information together in one place.


References (2017). Ron Doucet | Animation Director. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Mar. 2017].

Bloop Animation. (2017). How to Make an Animatic (Making an Animated Movie). [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Mar. 2017].