If I was in Star Wars (Process)

The idea.

Back in December (2015), Timmy Allen tweeted asking if anyone was interested in contributing to his personal project of a monthly collection of GIFs showing what it would look like if I (you) was in a…[insert topic here]. Of course, since I can’t resist adding another thing to my plate, I contacted him to find out more. The theme for January was “If I was in Star Wars.” Just getting off my high of seeing The Force Awakens, I had to participate, and this quick project was born.




Breaking it down.

I’d like to think I would be a brave hero but more realistically, if I was in the Star Wars universe, I would be probably die really fast. I picked the Rathtar chase scene to focus on and decided in that situation I would be doing one thing: running for my life.



First thing I did was draw some quick sketches of my character and the monster that would be chasing me. I did some googling to find reference images of the monster to based my design on. You can also see a sketch for a gun that didn’t make it into the final version because of time.
starwars iiwia sketch


Next I hopped into illustrator and designed my assets based on my sketches. I also designed a spaceship corridor to use as a background.
starwars iiwia designs


I wasn’t happy with my corridor design so I took it into Photoshop to add some extra texture. I used various brushes and textures to add depth to the design. I also added texturing to my rathtar design.




Looping the background.

I brought my assets into After Effects and started to composite the layers. I added some light rays and animated my background into a loop.


Animating my run.

Next, I rigged up my character using Duik and started to animate my run cycle. I animated this using a pose-by-pose method: I went through and set keyframes in my main poses and then went through and added in-between frames to smooth it out and add extra life. After I had a decent run cycle, I added secondary animation with head bobbing and hair bouncing.


As you can see, there is a weird joint where my hip sticks out of my backside and doesn’t properly cover my torso. But given the interest of time, I decided to let it be and hope no one noticed 🙂


Animating the Rathtar.

I animated the rathtar in 2 main phases: the body and the tentacles. First, I added some looping squash and stretch to the body.


For the tentacles, I had two slightly different tentacle designs. I put each of them into their own compositions. Then I used puppet pins with null objects as controllers to animate them wildly flailing about. I duplicated the animated tentacle several times and placed them around and parented them to the body.

The results.

With all the elements animated, I brought the rathtar, character, and background into one composition. I added some extra animation and movement, shadows, tweaked some loops, added some lights, color, and rendered away!




Lessons learned.

Even when working on a little project, attempt new things. On this project, I attempted a new style with the texturing, painting, and lighting style. I wouldn’t consider the results perfect by any means, but I learned a lot about these techniques.


Done is better than perfect. My natural, prideful instinct is to work and work on something in search of perfection – which means it’s hard for me to finish anything. Participating in this challenge gave me a deadline and forced me to overlook some of the mistakes I made and to just put some work out there.


Don’t volunteer to animate a many-tentacled beast.


Until next time.

I hope this breakdown of my animation was interesting and helpful to you. Get out there and make something new!

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