Several people have asked about the updates I’ve been making to characters for TJS Season 2, so I figured I’d make a post to show what’s different and explain the logic behind some of the changes. The short version is that I’ve been fixing things that have always annoyed me and just generally making everyone prettier to look at and more versatile / easy to work with.
For the long version and a peek at Season 2, hit the jump.
Taka and Aki haven’t changed too dramatically, but they’ve both been completely redone. They’ve always been pretty fun and easy to work with, so they didn’t really need to be “fixed”. It’s mostly just a visual update to freshen them up for a new season.
Whether my artistic ability has improved any since I started this project is debatable, but I’ve certainly learned a lot. Most of the updates are just a case of me applying that new stuff to my asset library, which is long overdue. This was mostly why I put so much time between seasons rather than starting the new one immediately after ep6 — some of the characters were still using art from Episode 1, and really needed to be updated.
Mrs. Beedog was the most dramatic change, so we’ll get that out of the way. The simple truth is, all throughout Season 1, Mrs. Beedog was an absolute nightmare to work with. And to be completely honest, I’ve never been happy with the way she looked. I make fixes and change her up a little every time I do a new episode, and it has gotten a little easier, but it’s always sucked. I’m already very bad at drawing human beings, and having to make them movable compounds the problem several times over.
One of the things about symbol-based animation is that you’re basically working with drawn puppets a lot of the time instead of drawing everything anew each frame. This can save an immense amount of time, but it also has its disadvantages — one of which being, (at least for me), that you get lulled into working with something in a certain way for so long that it tends to numb your senses to the fact that it looks like shit, and that there’s probably a much better way to do it.
This was the case with Mrs. Beedog moreso than anything else. I spent a lot of time before and after each episode trying to fix things and make it easier to work with what I had, instead of taking a step back and really looking at her. I resolved to do this after Episode 6, and when I did it became very clear to me how awful she looked.
And when I got down to how she was constructed, it also became very clear that she was designed by a guy who’d never made a Flash animation before. The Kimiko on the left there is effectively just a heavily spit-shined version of what you saw in Episode 2. I’ve learned a lot since then, and for some reason I never applied any of that to Kimiko. I just got so used to her that I’d unconsciously convinced myself she’d always be a pain in the ass instead of trying to correct the underlying problems.
So instead of trying to further patch her up with more duct tape and bubblegum, I threw the whole thing out and started from scratch. The result is much cuter, I think, and it’s exponentially easier to work with. She’s far, far easier to move around and pose now, and much more versatile. I’ve done a couple of test animations with her, and it’s a whole lot easier to make her movement look smooth and natural instead of stiff and awkward.
Some people don’t like it, but haters gonna hate. There will be more Mrs. Beedog in the show now, and she’ll do more, because she’s no longer such a nightmare to animate. And more importantly, after all this time, I’m finally happy with how she looks. You may not know it, but I’ve never been able to say that. Now I feel like I can finally be somewhat proud of her.
Beedog really hasn’t changed much since the first episode, and I didn’t feel like he needed much work. I mostly just cleaned him up a little overall and fixed the things which have always bugged me, like his ears and eyes. His mouth annoyed me as well, so I fixed that and built something much more versatile that will allow him to make crazy faces and do some of the stuff he likes to do without me having to draw a bunch of 1-shot temporary pieces every time he wants a popsicle or something. His construction hasn’t changed much, but I’m much happier with how he looks now.
Patches got the same eye/mouth/nose makeover and some minor fixes, but he hasn’t changed too much either. It was mostly just a once-over to clean him up a little and try to fix some of my shitty art. Which is still pretty shitty, but like… less so. I guess. Hopefully.
Same with Eleanor. (S)he’s more recent, so it wasn’t that bad, but when I took a good look there were a lot of really bad lines and general roughness that i wasn’t happy with. ‘Sbetter now. You’ve probably noticed at this point that I’m getting away from black outlines, and that’s partly so I can get into doing some things with lighting, but also because I don’t like how stark and high-contrast everything was. Especially in the case of Eleanor, because (s)he’s basically made of squishy goo and it looks stupid when it’s in motion.
Marikon didn’t need to be fixed so much as she needed to be finished. She didn’t do anything in Episode 6, so she just needed to kinda be there. Season 2 is getting into the part of the story where she will definitely be doing some things, so it’s about time she had a real head. Like I mentioned before, with Flash characters you’re not drawing a picture so much as you’re building a 2D puppet, and she was really fun to build.
Her hair can sway and swish around, her clothes move, and she can even be held upside-down without looking too much like a paper cutout. I think she’s become my favorite character to work with, which is good because I’ll be working with her a lot over the next few episodes. Sugary violence incoming.
The Telecaster also needed a serious update, since it’s going to be showing up a lot and I hadn’t changed it since Episode 4. It’s been completely redone and can now be shown from different angles and close up without looking terrible. I also recently upgraded to CS5, which includes some new tools that will allow for much cleaner and better-looking effects when the Telecaster… does things. ¬.¬
And last but not least, here’s Joe! This is the more or less final version of him after the several drafts I’ve put out there. Joe makes his first appearance in Episode 7, so I can’t tell you much about him without spoiling anything. He’s a good dude, though, I think you’ll like him.
And there you have it. That’s what TJS Season 2 will look like. Episode 7 is currently about 1/3 finished overall, with most of the really difficult stuff already out of the way. Its release date will depend on whether or not I’m doing a panel at MAGFest again this year, but it’s coming along pretty smoothly. It’s a bit later than I originally planned it to be, but as I said above, most of these updates really desperately needed to be done, so hopefully it was worth pushing the episode back a little in order to improve the quality.
Anyway, thanks for checking things out, and as always, all the discussion and the truly interesting stuff around here is happening in the forums, so if you ever come around and wonder why this site is so rarely updated, it’s because you’re knocking on the front door while we’re all busy partying out back. Come join us if you want. <3