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  1. #1
    Devoted Veteran Strider's Avatar



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    Advanced Stick Figure Tutorial

    Making a good stick figure can be just as difficult as making a good animation. Therefore I will try and give you some examples of how I work, and give you some tips you might find useful.
    This tutorial is only for stick makers that have some knowledge in making stick figures already. If you are totally new at stick making and don't know what a static or dynamic segment is, take a look at some of the basic newcomer-tutorials, which can be found in the tutorial section here on the forum.



    List of content:
    • Detailed guidelines and rules[/*:m:3i8dzq6p]
    • Making a base[/*:m:3i8dzq6p]
    • Filling in detailed stick figures[/*:m:3i8dzq6p]
    • Tracing[/*:m:3i8dzq6p]




    Detailed guidelines and rules
    I will not tell you exactly what to do, but these tips should be able to make your stick making better.
    Note that all these guidelines only count for detailed stick figures (non base)


    #1 - Outline
    When making a stick figure, you will want to make an outline for the stick to have a shape to work from. Always use segments with a thickness of 3 or less for this. Otherwise the stick figure will seem blocky and poorly made.

    Example of a blocky outline
    [spoiler:3i8dzq6p][/spoiler:3i8dzq6p]


    #2 - Holes
    When making a stick figure, make sure no holes exist. There is many ways to do this, but they will be mentioned in Filling in detailed stick figures.


    #3 - Invalid Floating Point
    This glitch is the most hated thing about stick making. I know two different types of this glitch. One that happens when clicking on a stick and a popup comes up saying "Invalid Floating Point". The other one is more mysterious. When trying to move a segment, it will spaz out the stick segments (also the static segments attached to the glitchy one) and become unable to be moved how you want it.
    I do not know how the first one appears, but (thank you animeone) apparently the "mysterious" one sometime appears if you add a dynamic segment after you've added a certain unknown amount of static segments.
    The only one I can help with, is the "mysterious" one. When you find the glitch, find out which of the segments have the glitch (it will almost never be all segments). Then you just have to delete all the segments with the glitches, and save the stick like that. You will have to make the deleted parts all over, but in a new stick figure. Any dynamic segments added to the old stick will be glitchy again. Therefore you have no choice but to make the stick a fullbody. Or you could remake the whole stick figure, and hope that it will not be glitchy again.

    tl:dr - Glitches suck, avoid them by placing all the needed dynamic sticks before adding any static sticks.


    #4 - Patience
    Don't make a stick figure unless you want to, or really REALLY have to. Because if you don't want to or don't need to, the stick figure will be half-assed and done as quickly as possibly. Patience is a very important thing in stick making, just as it is in animating.
    Take your time, think about where you place every single segment, and your stick figure will come out much better.



    Making a base
    A base is a plain looking stick figure without any detail added to it at all.


    #1 - Making the base
    When you are making your own base, there are some things you will want to take into account.

    #1.1 - Proportions
    Yes, your base has to have some kind of proportions that makes sense. This is very important for both looks and for animating quality. A base with bad proportions will not only look bad, it will also make the animation harder to make.

    Here is an example of a base with terrible proportions
    [spoiler:3i8dzq6p][/spoiler:3i8dzq6p]

    As you can see in the base above, it looks completely wrong. Let's take a look on the issues.
    1 - The arms are not the same length as each other, same for the legs. This will make the base seem unstable and lack symmetry.
    2 - The arms are much shorter than the body, the lower legs are too long compared to the upper legs and the feet are too long compared to everything else.

    When you make your base you want the arms to be the same length as each other, and the same with the legs. You wouldn't see a human running around with one leg much shorter than the other (at least not very often...). So in stick making it should be the same.
    It is of utmost importance that the limbs match it's matching limb within single pixels. Preciseness is vital in building a base.

    Last part of proportions is the actual proportions of the different limbs. You usually don't want an arm that is shorter than the main body, it makes it look bad. You need to have an image of the human body when making the base, as you want the base to look more or less like a human.

    Image of a good looking base with 'correct' proportions
    [spoiler:3i8dzq6p][/spoiler:3i8dzq6p]

    Now, you just need to remember that stick figures aren't always meant to be realistic. Sometimes it looks good with arms that are longer than the legs, and so on. But these bases still have some kind of proportions that make sense.


    #2 - Bases for different animating styles
    There is one very important and useful guideline in stick making and animating. NEVER make the stick figures for a specific animation. Make the animation for specific stick figures. Same counts for different animation styles. If you want to make and heavy-spaced animation, you could then use a base, and try and heavy-space with it. Not always easy, because different bases reflect different styles. No style only has one kind of base, and vice versa.
    The best way to start off an animation, is making the base. Of course, you'll need some kind of idea what you want the base to do, but don't think about the style. It will eventually come by itself when using the base you made.
    It'd be very difficult to make a list to show what kind of bases work good for a special style. My only tip is to try everything, and choose the one you like, if you find any.

    As an example, I don't have a specific style. I change style as much as I change bases. Which I do with almost every animation I make.

    Here are some examples of different styles found in my animations, and the base used.
    To find more different styles and bases, browse the forums' animation section.

    [spoiler:3i8dzq6p]
    .piv file[/spoiler:3i8dzq6p]

    [spoiler:3i8dzq6p]
    .piv file[/spoiler:3i8dzq6p]

    [spoiler:3i8dzq6p]
    .piv file[/spoiler:3i8dzq6p]

    [spoiler:3i8dzq6p]
    .piv file[/spoiler:3i8dzq6p]



    Filling in detailed stick figures
    Very often, I see really cool detailed stick figures, but then when I try and use it, I discover a massive amount of holes. I have some small guidelines to prevent this.
    Every guideline will use this stick figure as an example:
    [spoiler:3i8dzq6p][/spoiler:3i8dzq6p]


    #1 - Corner filling
    The holes most often appear in sharp corners, where the maker was lazy and just filled it with one or 2 segments. If you want a better result, make sure you make many segments from the corner and inwards into the stick. Note that the line must not be of a bigger thickness than the corners' segments' thickness.

    Here is an example of how to do this:
    [spoiler:3i8dzq6p][/spoiler:3i8dzq6p]


    #2 - Side filling
    In my opinion, this is the most difficult. There is only one way (that I remember) to kind of easily do this.
    Make a little segment from a corner (recommended) or any other place, and make a new segment that is parallel with the outline segment. The important thing now, is to make sure the filling segment is a pixel or two inside the outline segment. This can be difficult if the outline is a thickness of 3 or less.

    Here is an example of how to do this:
    [spoiler:3i8dzq6p][/spoiler:3i8dzq6p]


    #3 - Checking for holes
    There is two ways to check the stick figure for holes. The rough one, and the sensitive one.

    #3.1 - The rough one
    The rough one is really simple. When you're editing the stick figure, make a new segment (duplicating won't work) anywhere on the stick. When you do so, the joints will disappear until you've placed your segment. And as the joints disappear, you will be able to spot holes that could have hidden themselves beneath joints.

    Here is a filled stick figure that haven't been checked:
    [spoiler:3i8dzq6p][/spoiler:3i8dzq6p]

    Here it is when I am checking it:
    [spoiler:3i8dzq6p][/spoiler:3i8dzq6p]

    As you can see, I had two holes I couldn't see before I used the rough checking method. I then just memorize where they are, and add segments to fill them. You might want to check multiple times, just to be sure.

    #3.2 - The sensitive one
    This one will take more time, and quite some patience. What you do now, is you add the stick figure to the animation. Then slowly tilt the stick figure to one side, and watch for holes. You will always find some holes, and then memorize where they are, and fill them out in the stick figure builder. You will want to edit the stick figure multiple times before it is perfect. A good way to keep record of which ones were edited and such, is by naming the first cast of the stick figure "1", the next one "2" and so on. This helps me anyways.
    I have never tried not finding at least 5 holes when doing this.

    Here is an example of how the checking should look:
    [spoiler:3i8dzq6p][/spoiler:3i8dzq6p]

    There is an extended version of this checking method. But you will only need this if you are a perfectionist, or are going to re-size the stick multiple times throughout the animation (if you're going to use it to animate, that is).
    To do this technique, you have to add the stick figure to the animation again, and make it smaller one point at a time. You most likely will find even more holes when doing this, and you can then try and edit them away. This is more difficult and can take a long time.

    Here is an example of how the checking should look:
    [spoiler:3i8dzq6p][/spoiler:3i8dzq6p]



    Tracing
    Sometimes when you are trying to make a realistic looking and detailed stick figure, tracing can help a lot. Tracing is the word used when you have an image of the figure you are trying to make, and then doing it in pivot.
    There are 2 types of tracing, transparency tracing and two-windows tracing.


    #1 - Transparency tracing
    As I have never used this technique before, I don't know much about it. All I know is that it uses a program that can make the open window transparent and allow you to also see the window 'below'. This can be very helpful as it gives you the possibility to have the image of whatever you're making in pivot behind the actual builder, so you can trace the segments 'onto' the new stick figure.

    If anyone knows more about this technique, please tell me and I will add it. Some images could be nice as well.

    So far the only programs I know about are these ones (thanks to Jojishi and Cavolia).
    http://www.elgorithms.com/downloads/chaoscrystal.php
    http://glass-2k.software.informer.com/


    #2 - Two-windows tracing
    This is a technique similar to transparency tracing, but without the program that makes the window transparent. The concept is you have two window open, one of the image you're making and one with the stick figure builder. When having these two windows next to each other, you have the possibility of copying the image onto the stick, so to speak.
    The downside about this is that you can't get it 100% perfect compared to the transparency tracing, because you can't overlay the image with the stick.

    Here is an example of doing this
    [spoiler:3i8dzq6p][tn=450:3i8dzq6p]http://storage.darkdemon.org/15746/1295930761.png[/tn:3i8dzq6p][/spoiler:3i8dzq6p]
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  2. #2
    Veteran Enthusiast Liam's Avatar

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    Re: Advanced Stickfigure Tutorial

    This is a pretty good tutorial, I'm sure it'll help a lot of people. It helped me figure out the invalid floating point glitch, thanks man.
    [center:1h4aebo3]
    You want to know the difference.. between a weak burger, and a burger that has STRENGTH?
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  3. #3
    Devoted Veteran Strider's Avatar



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    Re: Advanced Stickfigure Tutorial

    Thanks!
    If anyone thinks I forgot to tell something, please tell me. I'll also gladly accept ideas for what to make this tutorial about.
    Behaviorally Related Neural Plasticity in the Arthropod Optic Lobes

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  4. #4
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    Re: Advanced Stickfigure Tutorial

    Hey, cool. It's short at the moment, but fairly useful too.

    Can't wait for the rest
    [center:276dk9et]:I[/center:276dk9et]

  5. #5
    Veteran Enthusiast Krustalien's Avatar


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    Re: Advanced Stickfigure Tutorial

    If you ever need help with examples on how not to do stuff, I'd be willing to help .


  6. #6
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    Re: Advanced Stickfigure Tutorial

    Paul Mitchell - Thanks, the other two things will be quite original and extraordinaire. I've got some great ideas

    Krusty - Lol
    Behaviorally Related Neural Plasticity in the Arthropod Optic Lobes

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  7. #7
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    Re: Advanced Stickfigure Tutorial

    I found out that if you add a dynamic stick after a static stick, sometimes it forms an invalid floating point error
    add that in

  8. #8
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    Re: Advanced Stickfigure Tutorial

    Hmm, I'll try and see.

    Edit:
    I added it, as you might be right.
    Behaviorally Related Neural Plasticity in the Arthropod Optic Lobes

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  9. #9
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    Re: Advanced Stickfigure Tutorial

    Small update, I got a more clearer version on why the Invalid thing is there by Glenn.
    Behaviorally Related Neural Plasticity in the Arthropod Optic Lobes

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  10. #10
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    Re: Advanced Stickfigure Tutorial

    Added the whole "Filling in detailed Stickfigures" part. I'm quite proud of it.
    Behaviorally Related Neural Plasticity in the Arthropod Optic Lobes

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