Animating My Imagination

Once I had come up with the idea for Asha Loves Science, I had to figure out how to bring it to life. I once took a Multimedia class at my time at Wellesley College where we used Adobe Director (then Macromedia Director... am I dating myself??), so I knew that I was capable of animating. After looking around and trying different software, I decided to use Smith Micro's Anime Studio Pro. While no software will ever be perfect, I really enjoy working with Anime Studio Pro. 

I think character creation in Anime Studio is really fun. Instead of drawing with a Wacom Tablet or something like that, vector shapes are created. A vector shape is made up of points which are connected by lines. The curvature at each point determines what the shape will look like. Switching from traditional drawing to vector drawing has a learning curve (get it? get it?) but I had done it before. Still, to consistently get the images to look like what I pictured in my head, I had to practice. Now I really prefer to draw this way. It is fast and precise. For complex characters, I like to hand draw sketches on paper and then scan them into the program to use as a guide for my drawing.

Creating a shape with vectors in Anime Studio.

Creating a shape with vectors in Anime Studio.

When you create a character in Anime Studio, they have a hierarchical skeleton made up of bones. 

Asha's bones in Anime Studio Pro 11.

Asha's bones in Anime Studio Pro 11.

Once the characters are created, the scene is created by assembling a collection of layers.

Layers in Anime Studio.

Layers in Anime Studio.

Layers can be manipulated in lots of ways, like being rotated or flipped. Layers can contain sub-layers. For instance, Asha is made up of a head layer, torso layer, mouth layer, etc. As you can see in the above example, the background layer is made up of the sun, ground, sky, and clouds.

Anime Studio uses a timeline, just like many other software programs. Keyframes for each layer are created at the correct times. If you have ever worked with software that uses keyframes on a timeline, such as Adobe Flash, then Anime Studio is not difficult to learn.

There are also more advanced techniques in Anime Studio such as actions, scripts, and masking. I personally learned the nuances of Anime Studio from helpful YouTube videos and forums. There is a lot of information out there. All in all it has been a great experience working with Anime Studio and I'm glad I chose to work with it.  If you want to create your own animations, I would definitely give it a try!