Making of: Hexels 3 Sidescroller Action Scene
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Making of: Hexels 3 Sidescroller Action Scene
16 October, 2017

Mark Knight continues to give tips and tricks on working with Hexels 3, talking about animated sequences. 

I’m Mark Knight from Marmoset. With this animated sequence, I wanted to create dynamic character movement in the style of the early 90s video game, Flashback. Flashback utilised rotoscoping techniques to achieve the fluid movement of its protagonist. In this article, I’ll explain my process for creating the animation.

I began by blocking out the layout for the scene on a pixel layer with a large brush and a few rectangular selections to create flat surfaces.

I created a solid white layer behind the scene and turned on glow in the Glow tab. I created a simple rock texture for the walls by roughly sketching light lines on a new Pixel Layer. I added a few details like electrical panels and hanging vines then created a new pixel layer with colour accents along the vines and alien pumpkins. This way I could apply multiplied glow (via the layer properties window) to help the colour layer stand out against the glowing white background.

The background elements utilised the same method of roughly sketched lines and reduced opacity. I made use of the gradient tool by adding a rising green transition and to suggest shape for the solid turqoise of Layer 3 (above).

To animate the characters, I used traditional keyframe animation. This is where the Onion Skinning feature comes in handy. Onion Skinning allows me to see the last few cel of my animation layer with decreasing opacities. This feature is great for working out positioning and momentum. The feature can also show frames following the current frame and be deactivated at any time. It is activated by selecting the double triangle looking icon (circled) on a layer.

I filled each character cel outline to stand out against the strong background glow effect. The kick to the guard is accentuated with a single white filled cel on its own layer, visible only during the impact. I approached the guard takedown with a ragdoll physics style collision in mind. I animated the heaviest part of the body, the torso, and added the limbs as loose attachments. I imagined how they might bounce when impacting the ground, and how they would be restricted by joints and muscle tension.

After adding a few video game overlay details, I decided to add an animated hue change to the scene. This was achieved by applying a Hue/Saturation effect to the document properties layer, which can be done by clicking the cog icon belonging to that layer. By adding the effect a Hue/Saturation sub-layer appears in the timeline. Highlighting the key icon on the new sub-layer will allow the effect to be animated.

The final part of the animation involved adding a slight video game style parallax effect. I placed all of my foreground and character layers into a group. I applied an animated transform by hitting the blue key icon on transform sub property of the layer to the foreground group properties. I moved the transformed group in the opposite direction to the runner character’s directional changes. I also added a slight frame jump when the runner impacted the guard.

The addition of Pixel Layers and the versatility of the animation tools really open up the possiblities for Hexels 3 and I’m excited to see what the community come up with.

Mark Knight, Marmoset

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