My name is Jordi but I prefer to use my nickname, Cartoon Shaman. I'm an independent artist from Barcelona. I'm mainly a character artist, but after several years using Blender my goal is to produce my own cartoon animations. Just one person doing all stages of production sounds crazy, but simplifying every aspect (shading, armatures, compositing...) seems possible. I'm using Twitter to exhibit experimental pieces like this one. In all of my work I put the accent on content, style and expressivity. This is my Twitter account.
I mainly learn from other artists. From outside Blender's community, Mindbender studio is probably my first reference, and Aardman as well. From inside the community, the well-known Daniel M. Lara is so important to me. He introduced the concept of “easy rigging”, which was a kind of catalyst for me to start performing my first animations.
Since I began producing animations I have worked on different content. But at some point I felt the need to touch some epic content stuff :)
My first thought came from watching early reference videos.
But then I realized that it is more fun and interesting to challenge the world's physics and go for a more cartoonish style of animation. That moment is when I remembered a classic piece from 1937, “Popeye the Sailor meets Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”. So finally I used it as a reference. This is evident watching the horse legs, for example. Again the pioneers of animation still have a lot to teach us :)
I combined Blender 2.8 (97%), Photoshop and Crazy Bump (3%). My first animation attempts were with the Rigify add-on. Despite liking its simplicity so much, I started to make my own armatures, which was even simpler. I’m talking about no switch FK/IK system, for example. Just a pure IK system with bendy bones with stretching constraints for deforming.
As I said, simplicity is the philosophy of this workflow. Not only for economizing efforts, but because any additional detail becomes “noise”. This is so evident with texturing. At some point I added some textures to the model, but finally I removed them. The reason? textures are extra visual information unnecessary to explain what is happening.
The meshes are so basic, so I did not need sophisticated retopo or modelling tools. But if I like a specific tool, it is the “pie menu editor,” which allows me to create, in a manner of speaking, my “personal tool box.”
Many other elements, like FX, clothes, and hair animation are based on shape keys. Again, simplicity is the main mantra. There are animation loops made of eleven shape keys, but others with only four shape keys, which is quite enough for me.
Much of the work happens in NLA editor. When you have an animation loop like walking or running, it is good to use an extra strip to start adding variations in combine mode.
I use Blender also for compositing. In this case, composition is based in four layers: character, ground, shadows and fire/FX.
And the last stage of the process, and the most fun, is video editing and adding the sounds. This was also done in Blender's video sequencer.
About the Author
CARTOON SHAMAN, There is a crazy comedian in Spain, that calls himself the shaman of comedy. Can 3D art also become something more chaotic and spiritual? Yes! I don't make 3D art, I make 3D rituals :)