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In the last part of this series I talked about the breakdown process for creating each shot in my Criminal (Panopticon) animated music video. This week, I can take all that information and start drawing!

Design Time
Since I decided to build 3D background sets in sketchup, my design work for the backgrounds were already figured out in the process of creating those. But in order to also stay consistent with the characters and objects throughout the video, I needed to have some reference sheets drawn up for them, too.

So, I did some look development (or “lookdev” for short). This helped with determining a colour scheme and working out design details such as what parts would be glowing – elements that need special effects need to be broken out into their own layers, so this is important information to have.

Once I was happy with a design, I would create a reference sheet which included a colour palette for easy picking. For characters and complex objects, I created turntables, or reference sheets that show a front, side, and back view.

With these, I could always know exactly how each object or character was supposed to look from any angle, making it so I wouldn’t miss any details when drawing a new shot.

Because of the amount of time I knew it would take me to draw everything, I decided that doing the bulk of the drawing work on my iPad using the Procreate app was the way to go. This way I could take it with me and not be bound to my home desktop computer.

Upon opening a new project in Procreate, I’d name the file, then bring in the thumbnailed storyboard as a bottom layer for reference. Then, I’d import the background reference screenshot from Sketchup on a separate layer. Finally, I’m all organized, and I’m ready to draw a final shot!

It’s Drawin’ Time!
Here’s where I really get into the nitty gritty of each shot and use all the prep information to get what I need to animate everything.

Generally speaking, I would lightly sketch out a rough layout for whatever element that I was creating first on it’s own layer. Next comes the fine line work, also on a fresh layer. Under that layer was a colour pass, and between those two layers would be either one or two passes of shadows. If there were any glowing elements on the object, that also would get a separate layer.

In the version of Procreate that I was using during production, grouping layers was not an option yet – that feature came in a later update to the software. So to stay organized I used a very specific naming pattern to help keep things together until I could export it all to Photoshop for texturing.

From there, I would do that same process for each of the elements in the scene – characters, objects, foreground elements – anything that I wanted to be able to move, apply a special effect to, or have handy in the scene to help create depth in a 3D space would get its own set of layers.

Textures and Finalization
Once I got as far as I could with a shot in Procreate, I would export the file as a PSD and send it to Photoshop on a computer to do the final tweaks. This included adding textures to walls and grouping the layers in a more organized fashion.

Once everything is done, I’d save a copy and label it FINAL, then proceed to flatten some of the groups, being careful to leave any elements that needed to stay separate, separated. At this point, it’s ready for animation.

Next week we’ll talk about how I started animating everything in After Effects, as well as talk a little bit about how I was inspired by traditional animation techniques when making this video.