By Ryan Plummer
I figured when I released the #jigsaw challenge people would shy away from it. It’s a little more challenging than just jumping in and animating. Rodrigo Dominguez really nailed the animation on his jigsaw piece. So I reached out to see if I could extract some of the thought process that he put into his piece. Demystifying it for others, and maybe presenting it as a challenge to try and utilize his techniques in upcoming 15minmograph challenges.
I asked Rodrigo Dominguez to share some of the things that went through his mind, helping guide him to such a great piece in such little time. Rodrigo walks through receiving the email, thinking, planning, and struggling with ideas. Then animating, messing up, starting over, and so on.
Please enjoy the following read of Rodrigo Dominguez sharing his jigsaw animation process.
Right, so, first thing was that I wasn’t sure what a Jigsaw was so I started by searching the term, some synonyms, etc. Then I compared that with the references you sent and my first thought was ‘I don’t know how to approach this’.
The purpose was to understand different approaches I could take on the topic. A quick Jigsaw search had me with more Saw references than puzzles, so I wanted to make sure how I should approach the term. Also, comparing it to the references gave me a better understanding of what you meant when you chose it
The references were more ‘random’ animation than a graphic approach, but they also had a clear plan, and an ending frame that made sense in order to communicate a message. So I started by thinking ‘what could I design as a cool ending frame, and then pull apart.’
Needless to say I failed with this approach, I was drowning in work last week, and not even the frames I was designing made sense for the challenge.
So, for a couple of days my mind was a mess. I didn’t make sketches because I was busy, but still trying to come up with something in my head. I wish I would have started sketches earlier that way I could have had a couple more ideas, or discard them quicker if that was the case.
I was having a walk at lunch break, thinking about the prompt, when I started thinking of all the things I had to do that week. That’s when I realized I had to do many things if I wanted to finish everything in time, and started to visualize the design as a fragmented face. Then, when I was looking at my situation it just hits me. Jigsaw… puzzle… my head started overflowing with stupid ideas, then I woke up early feeling overwhelmed.
Life was spontaneous due to all of the things I had to do in the moment, and luckily it was in line with the topic. I don’t think it could work for a different project actually.
I started thinking how I could translate that into a design. I thought of a puzzle like face looking through a mirror, a puzzle face being put together in a table, etc. Finally just kept coming to a puzzle-like face design.
I watched a few references in my free time, searched for cubism paintings, and started to sketch something in Photoshop, just really rough lines. Tried a couple of perspective scenes but they didn’t work because I still didn’t know how I would animate it. The idea was too much work for the little time I had left.
I think it’s important to know the limits of what you can do. If I had to stuck to the perspective idea, I would have to spend more time than what I had, just to plan the animation to be as solid as I wanted. Limiting the design allowed me to focus on the parts I needed most to work with the topic.
Finally, on Saturday I decided I’ll start coloring the sketch and just see what happened from there. When the colors were in I thought in the fifteen minute deadline, so I knew I couldn’t make anything too complex, and I left it without a scene. I traced it again in illustrator, and decided that fifteen minutes was just enough to pull all the pieces apart in two fast movements each. I knew how many things I wanted to move, so I created a layer for each one.
So I prepared the layers, put the timer, and started pulling everything apart. Timer rings, I had the animation done, but I was missing the eyes details. I wanted to make it look ‘alive’ and with the pieces moving wasn’t enough. Once the 15 minutes were over I went for the blink. I thought it would add a lot to the animation; and it did (I think).
That’s about it. It sounds really complex but it wasn’t, haha. Just thinking for a few days until I had an idea I liked, just then I started the sketch. It was really spontaneous when I realized I could make a puzzle from a face, then things just started flowing easily.
I would encourage others to research the prompt until you understand it enough to explain it. If you don’t even understand the topic it will be harder for the viewer to understand it.
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