Saturday, 29 May 2021

Dragon in Flight Animation Tutorial

Dragon in Flight Tutorial 
Our MA animation students are currently tackling Module DA703 - Animals and Creatures, the third module on our Online MA in Animation.

We've been adding new animal and creature tutorials to our animation library, to offer as wide as possible a selection of teaching materials for animal and creature animation. 

This latest tutorial shows how to animate a dragon in flight. The tutorial uses the free Jaemin Dragon rig by Truong, which can be downloaded here.  The dragon flight tutorial can be found here (it is password-protected), and is free for all our currently enrolled students. 

Dragon in Flight
The tutorial, which lasts just under half an hour explains in detail how to animate a dragon in flight.

Jaemin Dragon Rig by Truong
The tutorial uses the free Jaemin Dragon rig by Truong, which can be downloaded here.

Komodo Dragons
Dragon Flight tutorial at Vimeo
You can find the Dragon Flight tutorial at Vimeo:

Live action Reference
One of the challenges of animating fantasy creatures like dinosaurs is the lack of useful reference. You can't import live action reference of a dragon or a dinosaur into Maya, so we are forced to look for inspiration in the creatures' modern relatives, such as lizards, crocodiles and birds.

Anatomically speaking, dragons are hard to animate because their physics don't actually make a lot of sense; they are too heavy by far to fly and their wings are where their front legs would be (think of the anatomy of a bat or a pterosaur, for example).

Back to basics
What animators should always avoid doing is copying someone else's animation; it is important to go back to basics and find references in the natural world.

Dragon Animation at Dreamworks with Simon Otto
Below is a great video interview with DreamWorks animator Simon Otto on animating dragons - and on animation in general.  If you want to be a great animator, following in Simon Otto's footsteps is a great place to start.

Dinosaur animation with ILM
Fallen Kingdom
One of the highlights of last year's VFX Festival at Escape Studios was the presentation by Jance Rubinchik, animation supervisor at ILM on the making of Jurassic World, and Fallen Kingdom.

The talk was a masterclass in creature animation, demonstrating how much careful research goes into the creation and animation of the dinosaurs.

The Jurassic World series of movies as are a "balance between science and entertainment", as the film-makers try to keep both audiences and paleontologists happy.

From the point of view of animators looking to tackle realistic creature animation, the lesson is simple: use as much reference as you can, and make sure you use live action reference that is as close as possible to the anatomy of the creatures you are trying to animate. 

BNU Links
To see some more useful resources on how to learn the art of animal and creature animation, follow the links below:

For more on the experience of studying at Bucks New Universitycome and visit us at one of our Open Days, take a virtual tour of one of our animation studios, check out what our students think of our course, and see why we're ranked in the top 12 creative universities in the UK.

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