Smith Micro is launching a series of weekly Featured Artists to promote skilled digital artists who use our software; Anime Studio, Poser, and Manga Studio aka Clip Studio Paint. These featured artists are also promoted on our Twitter & Facebook Pages. A piece of their work will be shared on these platforms every day of their featured week. Thanks for reading. Enjoy!
Bus Stop and Other Travels in Animation
My name is Paul Fini. I have always been interested in telling visual stories and I have found that the best way to achieve this is through animation, film and comic illustration. Whether it's a simple observational story or a longer “epic,” I find that working in an illustrative medium makes it easy to bring these stories to life.
My inspiration for Bus Stop was to experiment with a limited motion style of animation, like one you would see from maybe the late 50's or early 60's. I always liked how simple those character designs and animations looked, yet still told wildly fantastic stories. My other inspiration, besides having waited for the bus through many Chicago winters, is Paul Kirchner's ‘The Bus’ comic strip.
When creating an animated short such as Bus Stop, I use whatever tools and applications I have at my disposal to achieve the look that I am going for. For example, I sketched out most of my Bus Stop characters with old school pencil and paper. From these very rough sketches I transfer them over to a digital format. These days, I tend to work in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop before porting elements over to Anime Studio for the final animation process.
I don't usually storyboard simple sequences, but rather work them out in my head. I do storyboard longer sequences and clips with lots of edits. It helps me figure out all the elements that I need to create, some of which I draw out in Illustrator and some in Anime Studio. The storyboards also help me figure out the timing of sequences and movements, which I finalize in Anime Studio and then tighten up in an editing software like iMovie. I do as much planning ahead of time, before I actually begin working in Anime Studio.
The most complicated facet is figuring out how all the various layers, layer groups and switch layers will work together to achieve a desired sequence. It can be quite challenging to get all of this worked out. Knowing how to work best in Anime Studio to achieve what you want can take time, but the time I spend in this stage will save loads of time down the road.
Once all the digitally drawn elements are in Anime Studio I begin the process of bringing these drawings to life. In most instances, rigging various elements with bones will do the trick, but I also animate objects on individual layers if I have to. I also draw out specific movements of a character or object and import them onto separate switch layers and animate them to achieve the desired action. In other words, I use whatever method or technique I have at my disposal to get the look, action and character that I am going for, even if it means animating individual points.
Although all the previous work and planning is important, it's when I'm in Anime Studio, building the sequences and animating the movements, that I have the most fun. It's when I first begin to get glimpses into the drawings that they become living and breathing creations.