On every front, Leylines is making gradual progress as a game. Jean Giraud's Moebius series serves as our principle inspiration for this game. That being said, we're also taking artistic influences from Alex Toth, Lara Croft Go, and Matteo Bassini. Now that we have an increasingly better foundation for the artistic style Leylines will be heading towards, animation research has now commenced!
As the animator for the Leylines game, I've approached my animation research by heavily considering both character and enemy personalities. Our producers have been hard at work crafting an imaginative, engaging, and intriguing world. In turn, our artists have been pretty skilled at conveying that world into their concept art. Call it a trickle-down effect because I've been influenced by those concepts!
Vala is our protagonist (that we swear is not named after Steffen). She can be briefly characterized as being brave, pure-hearted, and righteous.
As it's planned now, her animations will likely be done through motion capture. A good chunk of the members on the Leylines development team have taken (or are currently taking) Motion Capture lessons to either record MoCap animation data or direct a MoCap session. Despite the fact that we're using MoCap, there's still some animation influences I plan on referencing when I get down to editing and personalizing the data.
For Vala (and any other human in Leylines), our first animation reference will be the work of Hayao Miyazaki. His characters' body movements lean more to the realistic spectrum in comparison to other animation styles. His animations manage to be expressive, fluid, and natural with only enough exaggeration to really push the poses and truly embody the emotion they're expressing rather than become a caricature. Miyazaki's animations are littered with more subtle transitions, takes, and body language unique to each character.
Miyazaki's animations only lacks in facial expressions. The eyes - which tend to be the most expressive part on a face - remain static for many of the facial expressions.
While Miyazaki pushed the body poses of each of his characters, Dreamworks' accomplished the same with facial expressions in Rise of the Guardians. Much of the character's personality and feelings can be told through their eyes alone. Jack depicts mischievousness, Pitch depicts a minor level of despair, and Tooth embodies joy.Their feelings are depicted by more than their mouths. Their eyes, brow, head, and body movement all unify to convey whatever they are feeling at the moment. This is all accomplished in a way that refrains from being a caricature.
Centipedal Main Boss
Currently under development is our main boss, which is based off of the absolutely lovely centipede. Roselyn is currently developing both 2D and 3D concepts for this being. Based off of those concepts, there's a vision that I'm having for this boss' movement right now. It'll be slow, deliberate, conniving, and arrogant. Despite that, it'll be easily triggered into erratic, snapping, and violent motions.
For this not-so-little guy, The Tale of Three Brothers from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - most specifically, the Death character - serves as an inspiration for the Centipedal. Death's precise movements indicate experience, wisdom, and power. We're currently considering the Centipedal to have snake-like movements. So it'll have motions that are more graceful, deliberate, and flow-y. This will aid in conveying a more looming, threatening, and arrogant personality in its body language alone.
Continuing on with that ...
Eris from Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas is a mischievous, sensual, and malevolent troublemaker. Death in The Tale of Three Brothers is not portrayed as a villain but - instead - an inevitability that can't be run from. Eris, on the other hand, is the Goddess of Chaos. It's in her very nature to cause trouble.
Similar to Death, Eris' animations are very flow-y - following constant arcs. A great deal of her movement is captured in her hair alone (and the wispyness of her body, with her constant appearing and reappearing). Due to her more sinister facial expressions (laced with mischievousness), Eris comes across as far more malevolent and foreboding. In terms of her flowy, foreboding, and subtly powerful movement, she will be used as an inspiration for our main boss.
In terms of accomplishing this ... I'm happy to say that the entirety of the Leylines team have been sitting in on Animation & Technical Art classes, or have previous experience in rigging & animation. Our current idea is to rig the Shallek enemies like mechanical mannequins to save us time on skin weight painting and perhaps lend that extra time to creating more enemies. Our art style is leaning more towards simplicity now to enable us to accomplish a greater volume of work. Because of that, everything else is needed to be on point.
What's on the table in the midst of this additional research? Storyboards & animation tests of the scenes the producers have already laid out! This was the very video that reminded me that's what I should be doing rather than treating this like a finished product. I truly admired the storyboarded animation work done here.