”This month, dive into our character animation process with Jérôme, Guillaume and Wilhem, 3D Animators on the project! They are the one infusing life into the various characters we have in Othercide, from the Daughters to the deadly monsters. Learn more about their work with our new development update!
3D Animators are at the end of the production chain regarding character creation. They first receive the 3D models from our Character Artists, Christophe and Antoine – whose work was already discussed in the development update of July!
Before starting the animation for the characters, they create a skeleton which allows them to move independently the different parts of the characters’ body. This skeleton is created thanks to a tool that eases the process, putting a dot at each joint where body parts move. It then links them to each other, creating a unique skeleton system for each character.
There is a step called skinning that assigns a bone to each body part. It determines which area of the body will move with each bone. The warmer the color, the more the area will be affected by the movement. 3D Animators have to smooth the colors between each area to make the movement look natural.
They also have to meet with Game Designers to understand the gameplay intention. Is the movement frequently used by the character? Does it deal a lot of damage? Is it a visual feedback or purely aesthetic? From this, 3D Animators determine how they will design the movement, the key poses of the animation, its length and rhythm, its feeling.
Then starts the animation!
Animating Characters For The Game
Depending of what they need to create, they start searching for references to better understand the movements. For the monsters we have in Othercide, they took inspiration from horror movies and deconstructed, compulsive movements.
The blocking phase follows, determining the animation’s key poses. It allows them to have a quick look at how the movement will look like in its final version. At this step, the animation is not fluid yet, the goal being to validate the rhythm of the movement.
When approved by the team, our 3D Animators move to the spline phase where they add other poses in-between for a more natural and authentic movement.
And this is also done with clothing – we want to see it move!
Finally comes the polishing step where they clean the animation and focus on small details such as the fingers and the eyes of the characters; when validated, animations are integrated in the game engine and it is ready to go!