Learning Animation for Game Development

Like I mentioned last time, I decided to start my game dev journey by learning more about animation. I had messed around a bit with Procreate’s animation tools on the iPad, but it seemed pretty limited compared to other programs I saw people using.

On the learning front, I picked up The Animator’s Survival Kit by Richard Williams, which is widely regarded as a kind of ‘animation bible’, and an online course by Disney animator Aaron Blaise, both of which helped me grasp the fundamentals of timing, keyframes, squash and stretch etc.

Then my research for a good animation program led me to Blender, which I had heard about, but never used. Being free, it seemed like a good option, and despite being primarily a 3D graphics program, I was hearing about how great it was for 2D animation as well.

So I downloaded Blender and started watching tutorials to learn how to use it. This led me down a bit of a rabbit hole of learning 3D modelling as well as animation. I discovered Grant Abbitt’s YouTube channel, and also picked up a cheap bundle of his courses on GameDev.tv.

From that I learned how to do some basic low poly modelling to make things like this lighthouse scene:

I also started experimenting with Blender’s ‘grease pencil’ tool, which allows you to create more traditional artwork in a 3D space. I learnt a lot about this from artists such as Dédouze and Łukasz Rusinek.

My first completed animation project in Blender was this looping video of Guybrush Threepwood in the swamp coffin, which taught me a lot about 3D modelling, grease pencil, and animation.

When I initially started thinking about making an adventure game, the concept in my mind was using traditional art methods I was familiar with (oil painting) to create a unique art style for a 2D point and click game with frame by frame animations.

However, the more I got into 3D art, the more I started thinking that 3D might be an option for my game. At this stage I was thinking that the game itself would be 2D, but I’d use 3D models to create the backgrounds, and animate the character sprites using 3D models with grease pencil artwork. The next step would be figuring out which game engine to use to achieve this vision.

Meanwhile, sticking with the Monkey Island theme, I modelled a 3D LeChuck character with some grease pencil flourishes, just to get an idea of the workflow. Check out that wriggly grease pencil beard!

What do you think? Are you a fan of 3D games and artwork, or do you prefer the traditional 2D look? Let me know in the comments.





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