Graphics How do you animate your 2D characters?

Mert

Member
Sorry, but this may sound like a dumb question.

I've just started drawing my characters, and I wish to animate them(movement, jumping etc.)
It's a platformer game.

Do you draw the animation frames by yourself, or do you use a software?
 

Yal

šŸ§ *penguin noises*
GMC Elder
I draw everything myself.

Currently the only thing that supports reusing animations for 2D art is skeletal animation programs like Spine and Dragonbones, and the consensus among players is that games just look cheap and bad if they have that animation style.
 

Vxss57

Member
If you are going for more realistic animations, you could use mixamo page to import one of their characters with the desired animation into blender, than export the frames as pngs. Then rough trace the images to get the right poses, then finally draw your characters skin on top
 

Khao

Member
I'm currently using Adobe Animate (Flash). Not exactly happy with the software for several reasons tbh, but it's by far the best thing I actually have access to. If you got an adobe license and you wanna do Hi-res animations with flat colors, I recommend it.

Generally speaking, this is my animation process:
First I sketch out key poses:



Then I let my artist fix them because she's so much better at poses than me it's kind of hilarious:



Then I kinda loosely start planning the animation:



Then add in-betweens:



Then clean it up:



Then shade:


It's a ton of work per animation, but I think the end result speaks for itself!

As for the colors, I just paint-bucket everything white and separate the colors in parts (head, body, hat, hair1, hair2 etc...), then I export them separately so I can define colors in-engine. It's a lot of extra work, but it allows for some ridiculously easy palette swapping. Could use a shader for that I guess, but I haven't found one I've been fully satisfied with, and so far, with three fully realized characters, it's working great.

For pixel art? I honestly usually just use Game Maker's own image editor. Buuuuuuuut I haven't done a pixel art game since GMS2 released, and I still genuinely think it was a MASSIVE step back in literally every single aspect. Aside from layers I guess. I'd probably wanna look into other software for pixel art on GMS2. Graphics Gale always looked nice to me, but I never tried it.
 

pixeltroid

Member
I use different methods to animate different things.

For smaller characters/objects with simple animations, I just do it all in the Gamemaker image editor.

For bigger characters that have more complex animations, I can't do it in Gamemaker image editor, because it would be too tiring. So I just draw it in a vector software. That lets me pose each limb as if it were a "puppet". Once I get all my poses, I export the frames individually and sequence it in Gamemaker (and maybe do some re-touching here and there, because this process sometimes causes pixels to distort). But the major advantage is that I get some really fluid, smooth animation.

This is how it looks when I pose the character in Vector:


This is how the character looks as a sprite:
 

pixeltroid

Member
Currently the only thing that supports reusing animations for 2D art is skeletal animation programs like Spine and Dragonbones, and the consensus among players is that games just look cheap and bad if they have that animation style.
Yeah, something definitely feels "off" about skeletally animated sprites, especially the way the sprites rotate. It reminds me of the animation style in some "dorkly" and "college humor" video game skits.

I'm not saying it's "bad", but it just doesn't feel right to my eyes.
 

muki

Member
Whatever you're comfortable with.
Be sure to check out the miniboss tutorials, they are absolutelly fantastic!

I've been modeling and animating my characters in 3D and rendering them to low-res sprites, original DKC-style. Partially because, even if I get by with pixeling environments, I struggle with the design and movement of characters as pixel art. I was already comfortable with 3D so figured it would be worth a try. I found this article useful to get me started:
Results are okay so far, but will need work.
 

Yal

šŸ§ *penguin noises*
GMC Elder
Yeah, something definitely feels "off" about skeletally animated sprites, especially the way the sprites rotate. It reminds me of the animation style in some "dorkly" and "college humor" video game skits.

I'm not saying it's "bad", but it just doesn't feel right to my eyes.
Now when you mention it, there's always the middle ground where you only use keyframes (so you get the benefit of skeletal composition / reuse while still avoiding the uncanny valley rotation syndrome... a bit). You still lose out on a lot of the expressiveness of pure pixelart, though.
 

kburkhart84

Firehammer Games
The last time I was making my own sprites I was also doing them as 3d models pre-rendered. Doing things in pixels has a massive freedom(unlike Vector and Skeletal rotation to an extent)...and that same freedom can be found in the 3d realm as well. I see someone else like me above too. I'm already used to 3d assets(though I'm not really an artist)....so its much quicker for me to get something closer to "acceptable" in 3d than trying to pixel it out in 2d.

EDIT*********

I forgot to mention that having actual 3d models available makes changes much quicker, both in look and in animation. And, you can easily get normal maps out and use normal based lighting if it fits your game and you make(or acquire) an appropriate shader for GMS.
 
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