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Animating Warwick Hays Skateboarder Ed Character for Cartoon Animator - Can Ed Kickflip?

Skateboarder Ed. Character by Warwick Hays.
Warwick Hays has built quite a sizeable collection of characters, props, and backgrounds for Cartoon Animator that I've yet to really explore, however, being the tragic skateboarder that I am, it was surely fate that I would buy his Skateboarder Ed G3 character as my first purchase.

Now I don't know a lot about Warwick but, based on the design of the skateboard prop that comes with Skateboarder Ed I'm fairly certain Warwick doesn't know much about skateboarding, and/or probably didn't use a good reference when designing his skateboard.

Bart's skateboard has changed over the
years, though curiously, even later
versions, barely get closer to what an
actual skateboard looks like.
To be fair, Warwick's holding up a tradition of animators who clearly haven't seen a skateboard or noticed how skaters actually ride them. Just check out Bart Simpson's flat plank of wood with wheels from the opening intro of The Simpsons. Skateboards didn't even look like that in 1989 when the show first aired.

Bart also has a very unique riding style and is somehow able to get a lot of air time without popping the skateboard's tail and keeping both of his feet mostly in the middle of the board.

This is what a modern 'trick' skateboard looks like:

This is how I draw a skateboard typically used
by street and skatepark skaters.

Anyway... back to Warwick, and Skater Ed.

As a fun project I thought I'd see if I could animate Ed kickflipping his skateboard. The character comes with two versions of his skateboard, a 'riding' version, where you can see the top of the deck, and a 'carrying' version, that shows the underside of the deck.

Initially I thought I'd need to make more custom versions of Ed's skateboard to show it at different stages of rotation but, as it turned out, I was able to fake the different angles just by distorting and stretching the width of the board. Check out my completed, looping GIF animation below.

Skateboarder Ed is just so consistent at kickflips he
can do this all day. 

Stills for just the flip part of the animation. Notice how Ed is
'popping' the tail and dragging his front foot up the deck
in the third frame. Physics not magic!
The animation has a little bit of squash and stretch going on in Ed's torso but mostly it's fairly accurate to the actual movement of a real skateboarder performing the trick. Check out the stills to see the steps Ed's feet go through to perform a kickflip.

I also did quite a bit of hand sprite swapping and facial sprite swapping too.

I did forget to correct the layering on his ear - which is behind his head. It's not a big problem if you don't look too closely. I'll make sure it doesn't happen again next time.

Overall I'm very pleased with the final result and am looking forward to animating Ed doing other tricks, and perhaps giving him a bit of a skate crew with some other skateboarding characters I have in my Cartoon Animator library.

I'll forgive Warwick for Ed's inaccurately designed skateboard too. It does look kind of cool with the character, and you've gotta give Ed props for being able to kickflip such a challenging board shape.

Comments

  1. I saw a comment about the ear layering problem on one of the Facebook sites. But as I look at your GIF animation, I don't see what you and the other commenter sees.

    Did you fix it on this page or am I just blind?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The problem is still there, you'll see it if you click the link in my article to the page where you can buy Skater Ed. You should be able to see his full ear attached to the side of his head. Currently you're only seeing half his ear.

      Delete
    2. Aha! Yes, thanks for making it clearer.

      Before seeing the original character, I thought the ear in your GIF looked fine. Still think your animation looks good as is, though the original ear has more detail. I now see your technical point about layering, though I wonder, since the head doesn't really move much horizontally, how did the ear become hidden?

      Delete
    3. I've just done a test of placing the original character on the stage for the first time and his ear is layered exactly as it is in my animation, behind the head. That could be a problem with Warwick's file or it could be a quirk of my copy of CA4.

      Which is why I didn't notice the laying was incorrect. You don't expect the laying to be out, right out of the box.

      None of the animation required me to adjust any laying on the character, and, as you pointed out, the ear doesn't really look wrong until you know how should look. I just wasn't focussed on it until after I'd finished and published the animation.

      Delete

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