Final Major Project Development Video

As mentioned in the last post, here is a collection of videos which I put together for tutorial sessions and for the presentation pitches that were held throughout the duration of this project.

This shows the progression of the initial concept idea from the start of the project in January, (Producing a game cut scene) to the last work in progress video on May 1st, before the final animation. (The idea developed into the production of a teaser trailer for a role play game.)

Further details on the video.

The final trailer:

Final Animation

Again thanks to everyone who has inspired me, suggested ideas, given me feedback, encouraged me and most importantly those that gave me the motivation and positive reinforcement that helped me complete this project.

Considering the time that was wasted and the frequently changing ideas that I had, I am quite proud of how this project has turned out.

I will be uploading another video in which I will combine all my test videos to show the development of my ideas.

The Past Four Weeks – 5) Extra Details & Background Research On Runes

The last few tweaks that I have done to the animation include; adding extra assets to the background and slight adjustments here and there. For instance now the skulls do not land on the head of the dragon, they instead keep falling till they disappear off the screen. The dragon then gets awakened. This was suggested by a fellow course mate because the original scene made an awkward pause in the flow of the animation.

I’ve also added a glaze to the eye of the dragon.


Glaze on dragons eye

It was suggested during the final presentation feedback, that I could use runes to fill in the empty spaces. I had to do a little research on runes before I included them into the background elements of the parchment scenes.  I was hoping to find runes that would mean danger or that would symbolise a creature of some kind.


I chose the runes;

  • ‘Mannaz’ meaning man or mankind.
  • ‘Eihwaz’ meaning Yew tree.  On another site called ‘‘ I found out that it’s a symbol of rune magic for defense. Longbows were also made out of yew trees. The bow is a weapon that’s used for defense of oneself.
  • ‘Hagalaz’ known as the rune of disruption symbolises nature’s wrath and destruction. Runemaker says that it can also mean hardship and suffering.
  • ‘Algiz’ meaning protection/shield, and according to runemaker safe refuge.

The runes that I chose have a relevance to elements of the game in that the archer represents mankind and he’s on a quest to prove his worth. He is armed with a bow. His quests take him into areas where the times are hard and he suffers with what nature gives to him. He must protect himself from the dragon.

This was just a bit of background research to help aid the use of the runes.

Eihwaz - Yew tree

Eihwaz – Yew tree – Defense

Hagalaz - wrath of nature

Hagalaz – wrath of nature

Mannaz - Mankind

Mannaz – Mankind

Algiz - Protection

Algiz – Protection

The Past Four Weeks – 4) Getting Work Done

I have been working the last two weeks solid, colouring in frames and just trying to get everything flowing properly. I realised one thing that I haven’t posted up is the animation that I showed during the final presentation. Whilst it is a long way off from what I have now, it is still part of my development.

Posting this here reminds me about the Sagittarian logo I’ve been working on.

I took some inspiration from other existing game titles, particularly questing games. I designed this logo so that It would incorporate the archer’s bow somehow.

With advice from Chris, the words ‘Rise Of The Archer’ were pulled out of the main logo which makes it both better to look at and easier to read. I went back over and sorted out the spacing between the hand drawn letters. I’ve also experimented with the colours slightly. I tried to add a slight bevel so that it didn’t look so flat.

In the end I took the beveled layer and placed it over the original flat layer. I took the transparency down a bit on the beveled layer.

I have also produced a DVD cover, which I’ve quickly put together with Photoshop.

sagittarian-dvd-coverMy printer didn’t do it justice for the real print out though.


A lot of experimenting has gone on through this project in order to advance both in creative skills and presenting the right look. To demonstrate, this is a gallery of certain things I have changed and experimented on.

First up is the panning motion and blur effect, done by changing each frame individually:

I had originally moved and blurred the individual layers as a whole but then as I got to the end of this test I realised that it was better to save out each layer moving as its own .png sequence.

Another experimentation was the colour tone of the character. I asked opinions on whether what I’d done was too light or too dark and developed my way through:

The Past Four Weeks – 3) Motion Paths & Key Frame Animation

Motion Paths & Key Frame Animation As Well As Refining

I decided to abandon the use of motion paths. Even though I had wanted to use them at the start of this project I realised that in order to get the objects to move across motion paths smoothly, I would have to slow everything down. I’d already run into trouble for using the motion paths early on in the project. My trailer has to be short and snappy and it shouldn’t focus on a scene for too long.

For shots which zoom in or pan across the screen, I have exported every frame individually from Photoshop moving it each time in the way which was required. I also concentrated on putting in more key framed animated shots. For instance I’ve animated the dragon moving its head from side to side and now the dragon rises up onto the frame through frame by frame animation instead of before where a motion path and blur effects were used.

This is the video I presented at the final tutorial and shows a lot of the key frames. I went back and redid the dragon scenes neatening them up.

They went from these:

Original Dragon Heads

To this:

The Heads Final Presentation

The Heads Final Presentation

To finally this:

Final Dragon Heads

Final Dragon Heads

I only post these because I’m particularly proud of them and they were the longest part of the animation to do and draw up. I ended up getting so frustrated drawing these frames again from scratch so I decided to just stick to the heads that I had done earlier.

Another area of key frame animation that I spent some time doing was the dragon breathing fire. In the test examples, the scene had looked like this:

Original Dragon Breathing Fire Frames

Original Dragon Breathing Fire Frames

Latest Dragon Breathing Fire Frames

Latest Dragon Breathing Fire Frames

The use of colour on these frames makes more sense when the animation is played because the fire I have created is used as an overlay layer.


Fire Frames

I used After Effects to composite the dragon frames and the fire frames (both which I’ve set up as png. sequences) to look like this:



The Past Four Weeks – 2) The Backdrop Scroll

The scroll in background was another one of the main causes for concern for the graphics of this animation piece.

Maya Made Scroll

Feedback from my tutor Chris Bent suggested that more of the scroll should be seen in the shot. This scroll also seemed visually uninteresting as there were no rips or signs of wear and tear.

I tried re-creating the scroll testing out the deformers in Maya

A-New-Maya-ScrollBut whatever I did I could not recreate what I had before and this turned into a mess of wasted time.

I took to the drawing board and went into Photoshop. Using references from the internet I set about making my own parchment by drawing it instead of modelling it.


Basic outline for the scroll, essentially I drew over another scroll had tried to produce in Maya (That scroll didn’t work out so much either) I then used different brushes to apply texture. Below I add further details.

Making-ScrollBelow is the finished scroll.
New ScrollI used GIMP 2.8 to create a drop shadow before I created a background to go behind the scroll. I exported these as two separate layers and have them layered on top of each other in Adobe After Effects.

New Scroll With Backdrop

New Scroll With Backdrop

Now the font was another issue. I’d been talking with Chris about the type of typography and I had been thinking about the typography long before I’d created a new scroll. I’d debated over four specific fonts which could work although some seemed to be more suitable than others.  For instance the top right was hard to read at the speed my animation was playing at.

Chris suggested that the top left would be more suited to the trailer I was producing.

Different Typography

Different Typography

It was mentioned by several people, the text didn’t sit right on the page and that it looked far too super imposed.

The benefit of creating the new scroll in Photoshop meant that I could also attempt to make the font look more like it was supposed to be on the page instead of using the title presets in  After Effects.


Text Development

I started off with the normal font on its own, changed the colour to a dark faded ink kind of brown and used some filters. I tried the paper filter in Photoshop’s filter preset list but it didn’t really do much even when trialing different filter values.

The sponge filter produced a really good inky effect but in order to make it look old and worn I reduced the opacity of the eraser tool and rubbed out parts of the text so that it looked more faded than other areas.

Text On Top

Text On Top

The H.264 codec for quicktime has sort of changed the colouring here but this is the end result :)

Extra Items On The Scroll

During feedback it was also suggested that the backgrounds to the animation needed more elements to them to make them look more interesting. However the background details should not take away from the animation taking place.

I first started off producing a compass found on treasure maps. This is fitting because the game is of a questing nature so a compass would have relevance particularly on the game map.

Testing The Compass

Testing The Compass


Worn Compass

Worn Compass

Even More Worn Compass

I used different blending modes when I was trying out the colours to use on the compass (I took reference from old treasure maps on the internet)  I used an overlay mode which created a really nice orange colour.

Use of The Compass

Use of The Compass

This was still not enough so I went into GIMP and started experimenting more with brushes. Back before the tutorials I’d discovered the brushes that GIMP 2.8 provided and one was a vegetation brush. I used this brush to create background trees which added to the scene subtly.  I’d also conversed with friends (on the same animation course) who quite liked how it was turning out.

Background Trees

Background Trees

The same goes for colouring in the frames in sepia. I deliberately coloured the characters in slightly different shades.


Mysterious dragon keeper waiting at the top of the castle turret.

The Past Four Weeks – 1) Colour Scheme & The Final Idea

You’ve probably noticed the lack of updates for the past four weeks or so but I assure you I have been far from slacking! :) I will split all the log information across several posts to divide up stages in the process and to make it easier on the eyes.

Onwards to the show, hope you’re ready for it because there have been some massive changes to the project since the last update!

So what have I changed:

  • The colour scheme
  • The final idea
  • The backdrop scroll
  • Use of different fonts on the scroll
  • Backgrounds
  • Use of motion paths
  • Key frame animation
  • Layering
    I’ve also ended up doing a lot of experimentation


When I got back from Easter I realised that I only had three if not four days left until the final tutorials. At this stage my idea was still uncertain and I was behind on the animation of my frames. I was talking to two of my friends and they agreed that I was quite behind. Last year one of them had completed a project in monochrome, whilst that treatment worked well for his project I figured taking on a monochrome colour scheme wouldn’t be right for my current project.

The scroll that I’d been using as a backdrop throughout my animation severed as inspiration to use sepia tone. Sepia tone would allow me to use colours to fill the animated outlines but only a set of colours from a specific range would be required.

I converted the frames that I’d already coloured using RGB colour into sepia tone.


Sepia Colour

I also neatened the frames up a lot too. If you saw in the last post, I’d gone back and put more detail into the archway. I’d also experimented with lens blur which I’ll mention later on in the posts.

I had found in experiments that the colour scheme of blue, grey, brown and peach used in my original character design, were quite difficult to use when colouring individual frames. One sequence of my key animation had at least 16+ frames which was a disaster trying to colour and tone. It was too time consuming!

Coloured Archer

RGB Colour Archer

I moved on to concentrate on the animation of the key frames as my time was really being wasted here.

For the final tutorial I ended up showing the line test for the animation that I had done. It had taken three days and I presented them on a white background to best show off the outlines, that and they were yet to be coloured.

Rough Dragon Outline

Rough Dragon Outline

The feedback from this tutorial delivered the news that I deserved: I was behind and I needed to catch up quickly. I was given suggestions for dragon references by peers too :)

This made me take a step back and think. “I have little time left, I should just roll with what I have”

Terrible Rough Sketch

Terrible Rough Sketch

The dragon was by far the hardest challenge I would definitely have to go back and revisit these frames.

The final presentation (The Friday after the final tutorial) was looming round the corner and just to ensure that all of the animation was not merely on a white background, I temporarily coloured in some of the outline frames using a set of paper texture brushes that I downloaded from was created by Bill Scott and he’s created a numerous amount of brushes free to use :) Thank you!


Brush Texture

This was temporary for the final presentation but I wanted to try it as an experiment too.


Brush Texture on Scroll

This frame was part of what I showed at the final presentation.

The video which I showed at the final presentation:

It was agreed that the white did not suit what I’d already had with the sepia tone at the beginning. I should try to recreate the same effect as the beginning of the animation.

I took the colors from the start of the animation to redo these later frames. Using the sepia tone became far easier because the colours required were all in the same area on the colour chooser. It saved a lot of time as I was able to duplicate the coloured layer, move it up to the new frame and simply re-adjust the colour on the screen to a new position.


Sepia Tones Archer

This was also far better for time and because the colour layer has some transparency to it putting it on top of the scroll background brought out a deeper colour.

Sepia Archer on Scroll

Sepia Archer on Scroll

*I will talk about the scroll developement in the next post.


It was silly to stray away from any base line idea I had but this time I had to stick with the ideas that I had. I’ve struggled so much with maintaining this idea.I am no longer going to have motion paths and I’m going to stick to 2D key frame animation.

The idea is that  the game is about a young hunter gather  who feels his skills as an archer are wasted on the peasant life. He desires adventure, glory and riches. He declares that he wants to be a warrior but as a result he is laughed at by his peers. In order to prove them wrong he goes on a series of quests to test his skills, courage and desire for vindication against his peers.

The game will be of a fantasy/adventure genre, it has multiple choice options for several role play scenarios set in a medieval era.

The trailer I am producing for it will demonstrate aspects of the game showing possible outcomes which happen within the game, for instance a fight with a dragon closely observed by the dragon keeper.

Dramatic Change of Appearance

Week 29? More Keyframe Animation

So now that I had the basic idea down in a new animatic and now that I’ve been given the go ahead to move on with the animation project, I have started drawing up more key frame animation.

A hand clenching into a fist (I had to loop these videos to make the files big enough to upload)

The archer standing up with camera at a low angle. This needs more inbetweens but I’m happy with the key frames.

I’ve also started work on the graphic features such as this scroll of parchment at the beginning of the animation.

In order to get a proper scroll appearance and feel I used Autodesk Maya to model a scroll shaped object. I used a bend deformation to curl the edges of a thin cube.

scroll2 scroll

At first I was happy with the tears in the scroll but then when I rendered it out the rips looked unnatural and odd.

I assigned a lambert to this object and used a parchment like texture which I had painted up in Photoshop earlier on in the project. Below is the parchment like texture:.

Parchment (2)I then Planar mapped this texture onto my scroll object before setting up some lights to create the model below:scroll I also added a black and white copy of the parchment texture as a bump map:


I wasn’t too happy with it so I tried experimenting with how the parchment would look, for instance below you would only be able to see one side of the scroll and the other side looked like it continued off the screen.

scroolIt was agreed that the first option looked better so I went to develop the first parchment scroll some more. That and I’d spent too much time doing that.

scroll I took the image of the parchment scroll into GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Software (which is pretty much a freeware version of Photoshop))  and adjusted the brightness and contrast as well as the hue. I then went and enhanced the shadows so that they looked more defined. I also made the scroll bigger and around the outside I painted some brown colour to look like it was resting on a desk or wooden table.I was having a look at fonts as well and I came across the free font EmporiumCapitals listed under Celtic Fonts.Below is an example though I will make the font size smaller and try experimenting using a different colour for the capital letter at the start of each sentence in a similar way to medieval texts.scrolleg I’ve also been working on some of the backgrounds for my animation- in particular the scene in which there are various jump cuts of the main character.
Example from my storyboard: coloured-stills3To make it look like this teaser trailer is focusing on more than just the Archer vs Dragon scene I’ve digitally painted up a background for this that would suggest a different time and place.Tree Layerbg for archerTree Layerbg for archer testJust as quick demonstration as to what I mean, the background for this particular shot will be blurred as all the focus is on the loaded bow.Tree LayerI’ve also used the same brush in GIMP (It was the foliage brush) And I’ve created a kind of forest image which will be a png layer. (Layer which has invisible parts) I’m thinking this could go behind the cliffs to add more to the shot and so that when the view-point turns towards the side (when the archer rolls/fires an arrow) there’ll be something else in the background other than the sky scape.
I’ve also started to colour in animated frames I’ll need to go back and add tone to them now.