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Hour 5: Animating on a mobile phone.

Over the past few days I have made a dramatic change to the technology I keep on my person on a daily basis by moving away from my trusty iPhone 6 which I purchased on launch day back in 2014 at a random 02 store in the City. I am now rolling with a Samsung Galaxy Note 8. It’s a massive phone with dual cameras and most importantly for this blog, a stylus.

The S-Pen is a small stylus, shorter than a pencil and with a thin nib. Less like a byro or sharp pencil and more like a thin ball point. Having spent the first two days on the phone fiddling around with the stylus for typing and taking notes in work, I decided to see if there was any animation software in the Play Store. I knew for the iPad Pro there were some feature packed software packages to be used with the Apple Pen but I’ve never had the pleasure of playing with that. It’s £100 and the household iPad pro isn’t strictly mine.

I settled on a software package to try out called flipaclip which offers a drawing animation package with similar features for drawing as the built in Samsung Notes app, but with added tools such as layering and animation. There is also a ruler tool, a really useful lasso select tool. There is a premium version of the app that you can download for £5 of you can unlock certain features one at a time for £2.99 a piece. It’s almost certainly a better deal to pay the full fiver.

So with that in mind I dived right in and made my first ever animations from hand drawn images. I knew they weren’t going to be works of art, Disney level quality or anything like that, I’m just starting out and I’ve not even learned any decent drawing techniques yet. I don’t really have an eye for it either but I do have a lot of ideas that I’d like to work with.

Below are the first two I made. The first was the stick man falling in a portal one. This software to my knowledge does not have sound capability but even so, I’m not ready to look at that yet anyway. The images are poor, this is something I imagine a child might come up with but nonetheless it was a good way to dive right in and learn the software. This actually took me almost an hour as I cut and pasted numerous layers and adjustments to make the final result. I actually sent it to a couple friends and the feedback was that even though the drawing sucked, it was funny. 

Good start! 

The second was the Haunted Knight one. I spent about 30-45 minutes designing “the set” realising that to draw a good set of bricks that have a castle feel, you don’t actually want to draw all the corners of each brick as this would look too rigid and formed for a mediaeval building. I then zoomed right in and put the candle lantern there just for effect. I actually thought it bought the room together a bit. 

Then the character himself, I kind of wanted a useless Knight who would be scared of anything. The undo button and the availability of a colour selector in the app came in really useful here. There were countless revisions of nearly all the elements of the character. 

I added the ghost in later frames to make a point of his cowardice. Over time, I will animate the scared Knight to run away properly but I haven’t nailed running yet and will study my book to get a good understanding of the shaping of the legs. 

I also need to understand how many frames it should take to get the right level of fluidity between shots. So called tween shots between the as is and to be position of the character. 

Overall I’ve had great fun playing with this tool and it’s good to know I will always have this animation tool in my pocket going forward. I’d like to see what a full fledged application would have on a desktop perhaps with a graphics tablet. That and maybe the iPad pro as a fair comparison. It’s pretty impressive what can be achieved on a phone though and I’m sure the software available will only get better and more powerful over time. 

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