3 Hit Fight Combo
Research: 2 hours
Started off with a two hours of research, trying to decide what kind of fight combo I was really interested in doing. Pinterest (link to my board here) and YouTube were my main sources.
As I started narrowing down what I wanted to do, I kept returning to the idea of making a shot with a weapon. And as I kept going further, I kept coming back to the idea of making a shot with a dual sword wielding fighter. There are some really beautiful and powerful poses that come out of this style of combat.
The fluid way that Dirk Strider moves around and goes from hit to hit was particularly striking to me when I found his videos. This feels kind of insane for my first attempt at a fight combo. Going to try it anyways.
Reference and Sketches: 2 hours
Once I'd reached a particular threshold and had a clear idea of the sequence of strikes I wanted to implement in the 3 hit combo, I tried making a reference video. As I don't have swords or sword experience, getting something that was remotely satisfactory took... quite a few tries.
I tried exaggerating some of the poses, which ended up being somewhat harder than expected.
Posing and Blocking: 5 hours
I decided to use the free Psylocke rig provided on Gumroad by Truong CG Artist because she comes with swords, and there's some fun opportunities later for the detail on her face and hair. I hid the hair while working on the blocking so that I could focus purely on the body mechanics. Hand posing on both of the katana took a little longer than expected.
Some things changed from sketches/reference to blocking in order to make the movement more powerful and fluid. I think the timing is also roughly there, we'll see what happens when I start splining. I also added the dummies for reactions to the hits; the fluidity I'm aiming for takes away some of that visual impact otherwise.
Blocking with Hair: 1.5hrs
Figuring out Psylocke's hair controls was... rough. I ran into an issue with trying to find where exactly how the first hair control was being keyed, but it worked out. I got some basic hair positions in but that won't be the focus of the next few days; I'll be focusing more on body mechanics.
I started cleaning up the movements to get more of the slicing movement of katanas in there, and adjust timing and foot position to get rid of some of the floatiness.
Spline Pass - 2hrs
I also changed the timing of the whole thing from 24fps to 60fps. The next things to do are to clean up the movement arcs and tweak the timing so that these movements are less floaty, and more fluid and powerful. Two days left!
Body Cleanup and Hair - 6 hrs
Lots of focus today on cleanup and polish:
- Foot pivots
- Jump cleanup (subtle slow in, slow out, making sure her feet aren't unintentionally sliding)
- First hair joint movement with her head
I referenced videos of dancers, figure skaters, and speed katana challenges to try and infuse the whole action with a smooth flow of motion.
Feedback and Polish - 9 hrs
I sent around the above video to a number of my peers and asked for feedback before I started work on this for the day. The points I heard the most were:
- It feels a little too flowy / floaty
- The movement of the dummies doesn't feel natural and is distracting
- The leap doesn't feel particularly natural
After considering these things and watching yesterday's progress several times, I addressed the issues the following ways:
- Emphasizing the change of rotation speeds around hips, shoulders, and elbows to increase the impression of each strike
- Changed the dummies to simple spheres that moved along the XZ plane to avoid distraction from the real animation
- Minimal attention paid to hair apart from what would be acceptable for the movement
- General attention to little details