December 4, 2015

Happy Holidays From Molly Weasley!

Okay, okay, I know I said I wasn't going to take on any more illustration work this year, but when my friends over at The Harry Potter Alliance asked me to draw a holiday eCard for them this year, I couldn't say no!  I ended up drawing one of the unused ideas that I had pitched them for last year's holiday card.  This concept was originally pitched for a printed card that would open, so it has two parts.

The first part is Molly Weasley, sitting comfortably in The Burrow, doing some knitting:


The second part shows the fruits of her labor, as displayed on the members of her family, and some of their friends:


Since this was going to be an eCard, however, we had to figure out how these two images would work together online.  Since this would all be digital, I thought it might be cool to post the first image as an animated .GIF file, instead of just a static image.

The first variant that I animated had a secret "Alohomora" message that appears in the bottom corner, allowing the user to "unlock" the image by clicking on it, thus revealing the second image.  I animated this by drawing six frames on paper and then bringing them into Photoshop.


This was the option that the HPA eventually chose.  You can see how it all came together (with music!) on their holiday fundraising page.

For the second variant that I animated, I got a bit carried away...  I thought, "Wouldn't it be cool if everything in the scene was animated?!"  Really, it was an excuse to experiment with Anime Studio, a 2D animation tool I recently bought to help me with another project.  I tried out a bunch of different techniques and came up with the crazy scene below.  (WARNING! Big file: 2.7 MB)


At the size the HPA was going to use this on their site, the file was actually 5 MB, so it was a no-go.  Still, I had a lot of fun building this, and I learned a bunch of new techniques which will serve me well in the future.  Since it's kind of small here, I thought I'd do some "zoom-ins" on each of the elements.

Here is the garden gnome that Fred and George put a tutu on, painted gold and tied to the top of the Christmas tree:


The snow falling outside the window of The Burrow was probably the most complicated aspect of this animation.  It was only a 4 second loop, so I couldn't get a whole double-window's worth of snow to fall through in that amount of time - too fast!  Instead I took a tiny loop of snow falling past a single window and duplicated it.  Because they are identical, it appears that the top window snow falls into the bottom window snow (if that makes sense).


I wish I had spent a bit more time on the knitting hand poses, but as it was, I had already spent too much time on this animation.  Instead of drawing them on paper, I drew them directly into Photoshop to save time.  It's a pretty clunky 6 frame loop.  If nothing else, at least the needles cross over in different directions each cycle!


It wouldn't be the holidays at the Weasley's without some Celestina Warbeck on the wizarding wireless!  For this one I utilized a visibility "fade in / fade out" preset that was built into Anime Studio.


I was very excited to have an excuse to design and draw Mrs. Weasley's family clock! I used some "ease in / ease out" tweening on the pendulum and then had Arthur and Charlie Weasley's hands snapping back and forth between "traveling" and "work."  Everyone else was either safely at home, or at Hogwarts!


The fire was super fun.  It's just a quick 4-frame loop that I drew directly in Photoshop.


For whatever reason, my favorite part of this whole piece is Errol, perched up on the mantelpiece.  I think this drawing of the Weasley family owl is very funny, and it was fun having him breathe very, subtly and slowly.   Every time I look at this it cracks me up!


Thanks again to the Harry Potter Alliance for giving me a chance to work on this.  Please donate to their great organization if you are able to!