Gong bi painting – After Effects animation // Ewa Oberska

For that assignment, we were supposed to create an animation using After Effects. After dismissing all my previous ideas I decided to base the animation on the history of Chinese traditional painting, gongbi to be exact. One of the main reasons was that this is one of my favourite painting methods. I started with gathering my assets and photoshopping them. I downloaded approximately 60-70 high quality photographs of gongbi paintings (from approximately 700-1400). I meticulously cut out all the characters in photoshop and edited all of them as well. That was the moment when I spent hours and hour learning both Adobe Photoshop and After Effects – especially the broad range of “Effects and Presents” that they provide, and that I had never had such a great need to use.

I managed to apply on average 3-4 effects on each image, so they were more visible, and looked quite alike. In my animation I played with lights and cameras a lot. The final version of my animation was not like I intended it to be, but through the process of creating it, I learnt definitely the most After Effects skills that I have now.

I wanted to intruduce the characters from the gongbi traditional painting method, according to the period they were created in. It was hard mostly because of the workload, and the fact that my After Effects skills were very basic at that time, while after finishing that project, I believeĀ I became quite an experienced After Effects user. Although, there was still a lot learning for me to do.

My worst mistake about this project was that I did not have a plan, a storyboard, or anything like that. I had an idea, but from what I’ve learnt, ideas are great, but they are never detailed and organised enough to replace a good plan or storyboard, especially with this kind of animation. I found myself figuring out new and new ways to introduce my characters, while a plan would have made things much more simple. Once I realised that, half of my animation had already been done, so I just kept going with what I had.

Overall, I believe my animation looked quite good. Some parts better, some parts a bit worse, but I’m satisfied with what I did. I cannot emphasize how much that project taught me, probably because for 1.5 week I did nothing else rather than just animating in the morning, evening and night. One thing that I would change at this point, mostly because it’s quite easy to change and doesn’t require going back to the After Effects project file, is the soundtrack, it didn’t really match the animation.

I am going to upload screenshots and the final animation later this week, as I do not have the files at this moment.

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