Wednesday, 30 November 2011

What I learnt.

I learnt a lot during this project. I learnt that my cats are useless....but I still love them.

And what I learnt during the work...It's hard. Very hard. I thought it was going to be difficult in 3D but I was not prepared for the work Id have to do for a 2D one. I had hoped to do a Leap animation as well but I seriously underestimated the amount of time it would take to do a walk. I am not a 2D animator, I really don't have the patience for it. I enjoy it but its very very time consuming. I'll really need to develop my skills if I want to do more 2D work.

I have learnt a lot about the animating process of a cat and I hope that I can reflect this in my final film animation. If I had more time with this project I would do some walk cycles of the differences between cats and kittens as I think that would be an interesting experiment.

I would also like to attempt these in 3D but I will have to wait until I get a cat rig for that. This has helped me a lot with timing and pacing and how many frames it takes to create a walk cycle.

I really should have managed my time better, I really did under estimate the time it would take me to animate the walk and I really had hoped to get a leap done.

This project though has been a fantastic excuse to watch plenty of cat videos on line, I do believe I have seen every cat video in existence now.

Couldn't not post some NYAN CAT!!!

Final Animation

So I "attempted" to clean up the animation and give the cat a face and a tail....

The legs look much cleaner but the head looks stiffer than before, which is OK, but it would be better if it rocked more and I don't even want to mention the tail. 24 frames later and a serious cramp in my wrist I really don't know what went wrong there. Guess its punishment for using Photoshop and After Effects.

But I tried to focus more on the walk that the tail. Which is evident. I'm happy with the outcome although I prefer the rougher animation to this one. I just like the way the lines wobble, just feels like its got more character.

New and Improved Walk Cycle

So here is the roughed out newer walk. I am much happier with this one. Its flows a lot better than the first. I had a few issues with the back legs with show slightly in the animation. I didn't know drawing back legs of cats would be so difficult.

I ignored the tail for now and didn't do much to the back or head as I was focusing more on the walk. The back legs were very difficult for me. as I had to keep them moving without losing their shape.

I am going to go back over the animation and clean it up, give the cat a face and a tail. Or at least attempt too.

Key Poses

So I went back to my animation. and thought about the key poses in this walk cycle. after my first walk I knew I needed to add more frames for a smoother animation.

Its a lot of work animating 4 legs. I don't want them moving in unison as that is not how a cat walks. Once one foot has been put down another foot get lifted up. All feet are moving all the time and I need to make sure they all move for the animation to flow. I have now begun adding more frames. I need to put at least 1 or 2 frames between my first lot I have done for a smoother outcome.

Walk Cycle

So on to animating. Had a little hiccup in the program department. Toon Boom decided that it didn't want to work and my images had an even worse quality before. I don't know if its because I'm running Vista or that it just doesn't like me but it did not want to work. So I gave up with that program.

So I tried Flash...and.. that didn't work too well. I'm not entirely familiar with Flash so I was slow working on it anyway then it kept freezing up and crashing....guess that's what you get for having a cracked copy.

So my final option (aside from freaking out and running away to a foreign country) was to use Photoshop and After Effects. Probably not the best option but it got the job done.

This was my first initial walk. I didn't use many frames and did each frame twice, I treated this walk too much like a human walk cycle, which can be completed in like 12 frames. This was 14 frames, shot twice, so 28 frames in total looped a little so that YouTube would play it.

As you can see its far too choppy. There aren't nearly enough frames in this animation. I need to go back and re work it. I treated my first test too much like a bipedal walk cycle.

I also found that its a good idea to colour the legs in the background in...because if you don' looks like he's moon walking.

Back to the drawing board.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Sketches and Images

These are the images I did for my final film. his is the character reference sheet for the Cat. I thought I should include this here as well as its relevant to this project too. I did simple poses here just to show her markings.

And here are some rough sketches I did for reference. I tried to find different angles and different poses seeing as I have useless cats I references these images from cat videos I viewed on line.

Because of my useless boring cats I watched someone else's interesting cats. I do love how I have an excuse to watch cat videos and actually have a reason to watch them rather than just to waste time.

I used this video to get references for the sketches.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Simon's Cat

I couldn't look at cat things without bringing up this guy. Simons Cat. Its a series or short animations and illustrations about a very hungry cat. This guys work is so simply drawn and has such a a charm to it.

I love the style he has for his animations and even though its a very simplified style he still manages to retain the cat like movements of the cat.

His animations are good because they are based on actual things and quirks that cats do and have. He owns three cats himself and is completely obsessed with them so it that obviously helps. Simon Tofield has a fantastic way of capturing the cats fantastic characteristics as well as adding comedy and really pushing his animation.

As much as I'd like to animate similar to him. I think its best if I stick to a more realistic walk as it will benefit me in my final film.

I just had to add this in as I love the difference between the walks of the Cat and the Kitten and the fantastic iterations between the characters. If I had time I would like to explore the walk cycles of a Kitten as well. Kittens are a lot less confident on their feet and walk differently to when they get older. I love how this is captured in this animation.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Cat videos

I never thought I'd see the day that watching cat videos on YouTube would be for my uni work.

So to start I thought Id look at some other 2D animated cats. I wanted to look at them more as I have gone from 3D to 2D so I though it was a good idea to have a look at what is out there and done already.

Where better to look than Disney?

Oliver from Oliver and Company

I chose Oliver as he is a kitten and has more clumsy moves. His legs are shorter and he doesn't have the "elegance" an older cat does.

The Siamese Cats from "Lady and the Tramp"

These two have some interesting movements in their song. Especially when they brush up against the dog.

The Cats from Aristocats

Probably the only Disney film that is predominantly about cats.

Sergeant Tibbs from 101 Dalmations

(cover your ears. TERRIBLE fan dub) Tibs has some very good posing in this clip. The push his animation when hes sitting. Hes elegant like a cat but still retains character.

Chesire Cat from Alice in Wonderland

This is a rather extreme animation. The only thing cat like about him is the way he looks, kind of.

Lucifer from Cinderella

Lucifer is very cartoony. Almost like Tom and Jerry in some aspects. I'm not too fond of this animation but I wanted to look at a variety of things.

Lucifer and the Cheshire cat are a lot less realistic than the previous 4. The don't act like much like real cats.

Gotta shove some anime in here somewhere :P

The Cat Returns

Obligatory anime video :)
In all seriousness this anime does have a lot of cats in it and has very good references. The cats (for the most part) move realistically. I love this film and I have seen it a million times... I'm going to go watch it again...

Saturday, 12 November 2011

More Eadweard Muybridge

I drew over the 2 previous Eadweard Muybridge cat images. I simplified them down so I could see the spine and leg placements.
 You can see the extent to which the spine stretches and how it bends when the cat brings its back feet in to push off for another jump. You can also see how the back foot is placed in almost the exact same place the the front foot was. Cat are very sure footed and use this to  keep balance and so they know its safe to put their foot there.

This one is a good one to see leg movement and foot placement. All the legs move independently when the cat is walking, but as the cat begins to pick up speed the back legs begin to move in unison to push the cat forward.

Eadweard Muybridge

Finding references for cats its a lot harder than it seems. There's plenty of information on Dogs and Horses but very little on Cats. Fortunately for me Eadweard Muybridge had a few images on cats.

From what I've looked at I think he has three different shots. There could be more but these are all I could find.
This one is of a cat doing 2 small jumps/leaps. I love the second line as you can see the cat clearly has all its feet off the ground. You can see the squash ans stretch the cat has. The stretch when the cat is leaping in the air and the squash when it lands, the force of the jump coming in behind the cat as its feet hit the ground.

 This one is of a cat starting a walk then turning into a run, as the cat starts to run his body gets longer and stretches more as it gains speed.

This image is interesting.  The cat starts out walking and is startled by something that then causes it to run. The main thing to note here are its back legs. Like I've mentioned before cats are not running creatures. They are built for pouncing. Notice the cats back legs push itself into a run. While his front legs are working independently, left then right. While the back legs are working together almost as if he is jumping or pouncing. You could liken these back leg movements to that of a rabbit almost.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

My Cats are boring....So I'll use someone elses

Seeing as I own the two most lazy cats in existence I am fortunate enough to know someone who has 7 cats. four of which are lively bouncy kittens.

Look at that little ball of fluff!!! 

Unfortunately they didn't stay looking like that for long. They had to grow up.

All grown up and bouncy balls of energy now.

Here are some shots of my friends cats. I like the 2 bottom images the most as they show action and interesting posing.

Drawing over them I can get a feel for where the bone placements are such as hip placement and spine angles. This is a good way to learn about the feline form. 

Got some stalking and pouncing action here. You can see how the legs bend for the cat to jump. How they nearly all their strength comes from their back legs.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Cats are weird.

As the title says. Cats are weird.

Dante has a habit of  "getting in things". I cant come home with a box or a bag without Dante begging to get in it.

Whether its when I get a new pair of shoes and Dante tried his very hardest to get into the box and make himself comfortable.

Or to the bag the shoes came in. He has to get in it. He's partial to a good paper bag. mainly Primark bags as they are big and have strong handles. He loves to be carried around in the bag. Who needs a fancy cat basket when I have a paper bag?

Cats love small spaces. Im unsure exactly why they like them. It could be that boxes and bags are warmer and they block out the air, its why they like the little cat houses you can get. or going under the bed. The other reason is that they may feel safer in a small area. Knowing that no one can get them there. Or... they are just odd like this awesome cat here.

Meet Maru. The cat that will get in any box he can get his paws on.

Again there is a point to this post so do bare with me. Cats like small spaces because some of the spaces that cats get into are spaces that ONLY cats can get into. Its a defence mechanism in a way. Back before humans were around to keep cats as pets they needed a way to escape from predators. Now most predators would naturally be bigger than a cat so a good defence is to be able to fit inside a small hole, to do this cats have a special skeleton. As I mentioned in an earlier post, cats have a free floating Clavicle bone (collar bone).

 Clavicle on a human

Clavicle on a feline

A humans clavicle is fixed. The cat's clavicle does not connect with other bones but is buried in the muscles of the shoulder region. This lack of a functioning collarbone allows them to fit through any opening the size of their head.

This odd little bone helps them fit under small spaces. As long as their head fits so will the rest of their body.

Friday, 4 November 2011

My Cats are boring...

So I thought when doing this project that I would get a good deal of reference footage and photos as I own 2 cats. I thought that I would have endless resources with these two.

Oh how wrong was I...

In the 4 years we've had these cats only now have I realised how LAZY they are. They don't do anything! I want them to walk....they run away from me. I want them to play with a toy....they lie down. Only when there is not a camera to hand are they actually interesting....I have therefore concluded that my cats are plotting against me.

All the photos I own of my cats are of them asleep. My cats are useless.

So here are the two little monsters. Nero (left) and Dante (Right). I can safetly say they will never get a job in acting. These are the two laziest cats you will ever meet.

So even though most of the photos of my cats are of them sleeping they can still be interesting. Dante has a lovely habit of sleeping in what seem to be very uncomfortable positions for a cat. But Dante is out like a light most days.

As he sleeps like, for lack of a better word, a mong, we get great enjoyment out of laughing at him. We have dubbed his odd sleeping positions. Kitty Yoga.

 This one just looks like he ran into my door and this was the aftermath.

 This is "the stretch" Dante rolled over and had a little stretch but his legs didn't seem to relax and were like this for a good 20 minutes before he moved.

 This one is crying out for a belly rub. I really dont understand why he finds lying on his back so comfortable.

 This is probably the most interesting of the lot. He was like this for ages. It cant have been good for him I just do not understand how his spine bends that way.

 Another one of him precariously bending in a way that no human can. It looks like he is going to snap in two!

 This photo just makes him look rather fat...he kinda deflates when he's lying on his back. You can see here how hard it is to tell a cats structure behind all the fur, muscles...and....fat.

 We call this the "superman". Blissfully unaware that he is falling down the side of my bed.

He then rolled over. Still slowly falling down the side of my bed. He looks like a mummy, just needs a sarcophagus.

I couldn't help my self. Look at how cute he is! He looks like he's smiling :3

There was a small point to this post. I'm not whoring out my cats. Honest! You can see in these photos the extent to which a cat can stretch and how long their bodies are. How deceiving  the cats body is under all that fur.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

More Anatomy of Cats

Front Legs
The front legs for a feline are very "rigid" compared to what people think of them. You would think that an animal as flexible as the cat would have a more freely placed front leg, but they are more like a stiff stick rather than something moldable.

When we see the bones underneath it becomes apparent as to why a cats leg looks the way it does. However its not just bones that shape their legs its the muscles too. Most of what we see on the outside is shaped by bones and muscles under the skin; which is flexible and abundant.

Back/Hind Legs
The hind leg are the cats main asset. They are jumping animals and their hind legs are what propel them forward, or up a tree, (Or after your feet in the middle of the night).

Cats hind legs are built strong and look powerful.

Compared to another four legged animal, such as the dog, the cats hind legs may seem a bit too short, but they are just right for the way the cat moves. Cats aren't built to run. They are built to stalk and when they do run it isn't for very long, usually just short quick bursts.

The most prominent feature on a cats hind leg is the way the hock or ankle is set. It is usually lower set than the knee, but should fall perpendicular to the knee.

Cats legs are a lot longer than you think, you just cant see how long. Hidden under all their muscles and fur they actually have very long legs. Especially the back legs. With these strong back legs cats can jump 5 times high as they are tall and can jump up to 7 times their tail length.

Canine chests are built differently to Feline chests. Canines tend to have a wide broad chest, this is because their ribcage is further up then that of a cats. If a cat is drawn with a wide chest it will look unbalanced and clumsy.

Differences from Canines

Cat                                                       Dog 

You can see here how different a cat is to a dog. Most people think that they are similar because they walk on 4 legs. But even that makes them completely different

Even though dogs are bigger animals their legs are much shorter that cats (in comparison to the size of their body). Dogs are built for running. Cats are built for pouncing. This shows in their skeletons

Their spine is more curved and much longer than that of a dogs. This helps the cat to be as flexible as it is. Even more so with the "rag doll" breeds of cats.

The tail of a cat is a lot longer than a dogs (in most cases) and this helps the cat with balance.The domestic cat is the only species able to hold its tail vertically while walking. You can tell a lot about a cats mood by observing the posture of its tail.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Damn Blogs

Now its been a while since I last blogged on here. I have been keeping a lot of research on my computer I just haven't had the time to post it up here. I was frantically trying to get the animatic done for the Cat and Rat film and EnE took a lot of my time too getting the designs done for the market. Now they are done and out the way I can finally put all the information I have collected up on here.

After deciding there are no decent Cat rigs available for a reasonable price online we thought that it was in my best interest to forget 3D altogether and go down the 2D route. Now while my film wont be entirely 2D it will have some 2D aspects and I can still learn about timing with doing my quadruped walk cycles in 2D. It will also help me practice drawing cats which I have been struggling with lately....they seem to look more like horses >.<

Thursday, 27 October 2011


I have had A LOT of trouble finding an appropriate rig. There seems to be no cat rigs available for Maya that are free or aren't hideously expensive.

I have been searching for ages now and the few rigs I do come across either NEED rigging or are for a program other than Maya. I have finally a rig that somewhat resembles a cat. It was supposed to be a "panther" at the very least I can use this unless I find a better rig.

So this is my "panther" rig. Its simple enough to use and hopefully I wont come across too many trouble using it. It is very primitive though so I will really need to push the animation to help character show through.

I also found this rig. While its not a cat it is a quadruped. And I have found there is a severe lack of quad rigs on online that are easily accessible.

Anatomy of the Cat

Cats are very flexible agile creatures and have a certain elegancy about them...most of the time.

Cats are capable of walking very precisely because like all felines, they directly register; that is, they place each hind paw (almost) directly in the print of the corresponding forepaw, minimizing noise and visible tracks. This also provides sure footing for their hind paws when they navigate rough terrain. The two back legs make the cat able to leap far distances and fall from high places without getting hurt.

Cats possess rather loose skin; this allows them to turn and confront a predator or another cat in a fight, even when it has a grip on them

The tail is used as a counterbalance to the body during quick movements. And to keep balance for the animal.

Cats also have free-floating clavicle bones, which allows them to pass their body through any space into which they can fit their heads.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Reference Videos

This video shows a cat jumping up a fence in slow motion. In this video you can clearly see how the cat goes about jumping up a fence and that it doesn't do it in one jump. But instead does it by pushing itself off the fence before finally pulling itself up. You can clearly see here how the back legs and the front legs work together to pull itself up.

This is another slow motion video of the same cat but this time jumping down from a tree. This video really shows the extreme point the cat can contort its body. It also shows how the cat lands from a small height and how it keeps its balance when landing.

I also considered looking into something other than domestic cats. While bigger, big cats also can act the same way as domestic cats they are just bigger. While this video is just an animation test, it is a good example of a run cycle and I might consider looking into more videos for big cats. I just wont be able to get primary research on it as I don't own a would eat me.

I recently saw The Lion King 3D in the cinemas and it reminded me of this scene. As soon as I saw this I was reminded of my project and decided to look the scene up online.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

My Aim

In this Blog I am going to focus on Quadrupedal animation. I have done a lot of bipedal animation work in the past and I'd like to improve my skills as an animator.

I have always been interesting in animation but I've never been able to do much in the way of animating 4 legs. And this will be helpful towards my final film as I need to do a lot of animal walk cycles.

This will focus mainly on the Cat. I own two cats myself so I will be able to get good references with my 2 cats as they are insane.