This week in Belladonna
I have spent a long time working on an animated 3D character for Belladonna. The idea was to build a character in 3D and pre-render it in several different angles, because it is easier to make one 3D animation and render frames, than to hand draw every single frame in a 2D animation.
3D does however give a whole bunch of other problems. For one thing, the 3D renders need to be done from a specific camera angle and the scenes in the background are not locked to that exact a perspective: the character blends fits in the environment to a different degree in different rooms.
Another problem is that the animations do not blend into each other. In a real time 3D engine the computer will automatically tween between for instance a walk cycle and an idle animation when you star walking. But since these are pre-rendered frames, the animations will just snap.
The big problem is that we are so used to see very good 3D animations, so when they are not top-notch we expect them to be. 2D animations are more limited, in a way, especially when it comes to perfectly realistic lighting and other details. This means a 2D animation can look good, even if it is not perfectly realistic.
The point is, I have now totally remade all characters in 2D. After five month of work on the 3D character and animations, I just sat down one weekend and made all the animations in 2D instead!
That’s game development for you. But the truth is, I could not have done these 2D animations so quickly had I not spent the months working with the 3D character. Because I did, I know every detail of the characters body, and I am intimately related with all the issues and tricks I have found along the way. I am by no means a good animator, and as far as animations go, the ones I have created now are not very good. They are stiff and twitchy, and most part of the body is completely static. Chances are I sit down again and brush up as many animations as I can, making them more lively and getting more limbs to move around.
Belladonna is from now on completely made in 2D. It looks more indie, more artistic and a lot better. Even if the animations are a bit wonky and stiff.