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Winner Tips & Tricks Interview: The Making of Takeyoshi Sugihara’s “Pekoten”


The “Winner Tips & Tricks ” series covers practical workflows and techniques shared by winners from the “2022 Animation At Work Contest”. To let users see the full spectrum of the Cartoon Animator pipeline, we are introducing projects that received attention and credit from the community. Let’s now take a look at Takeyoshi Sugihara’s: “Pekoten”, and see how he works his magic with Reallusion Cartoon Animator (CTA).

About Takeyoshi Sugihara

When I was in elementary school, I came across a wrestling manga called “Kinnikuman,” and I was always copying the drawings of the characters from that manga. The manga is still being serialized today and has had a great influence on many manga artists and martial artists, and because of it, there was a time when I thought I would become a manga artist in the future. 

When I was 22 years old, I entered the Visual Illustration Department of Yoyogi Animation academy. It was a very exciting two years for me as I had been away from drawing for a while. At that time, I was drawing only cats with pastels. At the same time, I was also drawing a few illustrations that led me to my current style. Little by little, I began to draw illustrations with stories, like picture books, and although I did not get published, I also started to draw picture books. At that time, I did all my illustrations by hand, but since I was born with red-green color blindness (For example, I painted human faces in green), I was made aware of my limitations with hand drawing, so I began to use computers to create my illustrations. 

I wanted to create something with a story rather than just a single illustration and it became a natural progression. Although I could not become a cartoonist, my childhood dream came true when I started using Cartoon Animator. I am a morning person, so I spend about two hours creating cartoons before going to work. In addition to making use of my off-hours and holidays, I have grown a lot by communicating with Japanese animation creators and participating in film competitions.

Why choose this entry topic? 

My mother is a single mother who has been a dorm auntie in a high school baseball dormitory for over ten years. Growing up watching her work, I began early on to draw the character of a mother in an apron. It is my longing to portray her living happily together with her family on the island where she was born. The title of this animation: “Hara Pekosan Tenshi” has been on my mind for more than ten years. Because I had many opportunities to cook with three of my best friends — going shopping, putting on an apron, and sometimes making mistakes has helped me in the creation of this work. The character design had changed several times but settled on the current form.

Why choose Cartoon Animator?

There was a lot of other animation software out there, but for me, at the time, with no animation experience, the simple and visually appealing control panel and the ability to apply animations for actors with a simple click were very appealing.

How I did it with CTA

Step 1: Scripting and storyboarding

I wanted to create an animation in which the characters move in time with the background music and song, so I started by drawing a storyboard. I drew up a storyboard and wrote out what the lyrics of the song would be. I picked out a few songs that I liked and tested them by singing along to see if the lyrics and tempo matched. Once the lyrics were adjusted, I asked the singer to sing the song. Until the song was ready, I sang the song myself and adjusted the timing and choreography.

Step 2: Character creation and sketching

To draw “Hara Pekosan Tenshi”, I took a character I had previously drawn and modified it for CTA. When I create a new actor, I reuse an existing actor from CTA and replace the images in Clip Studio Paint.

Because I learn a lot from the embedded actors, I often refer to their structures when I create an actor with similar elements. It’s also important that I pay attention to the way the actor’s arms are built.

This is because many of the Actors I create have two or three heads, and sometimes the neck is not visible in the design. When animating actors, I am careful about the order of the layers of each body part and whether or not the shoulders and elbows move in a way that is impossible for the skeleton.

Also, since the same actor cannot put on and take off clothing, it is necessary to know how many directions (0 degrees and 45 degrees) the actor needs to be facing. However, the mesh planes can be controlled to be visible or invisible on the timeline, so we did not need to increase the number of actors for this purpose.

Step 3: Animating the character and sprites

To animate the characters according to the lyrics, I would apply various dance animations from the content library. Then I looked for the best fit by watching the actors in action. In many cases, we applied existing animations to the actors, and we also used items purchased from the Reallusion 2D Marketplace.

Then I adjusted the speed of the actor’s animation (the length of the clips on the timeline). If necessary, I would arrange the movements by breaking down the clips by sampling motion clips.

Step 4: Creating and structuring the scene and setting up the camera

The creation of the scene was divided by the changing themes of the music, and because of this, there were some major changes from the initial storyboard.

Originally, the storyboard was about an angel washing his hands under a faucet. Although I had created the image material for this scene, I didn’t want the screen to be too busy switching between scenes, so I switched to an animation of soap bubbles being rinsed off.

Step 5: Selecting background music, sound FX, & voice acting

Some people may choose the background music later, depending on their preference. But in this case, the animation was to be set to music, so I chose something that would help the viewer visualize the enjoyable process of cooking. I used After Effects to add shadow, light, and atmosphere. And I used Shadow Studio 2, which made lighting very easy.

The book I referenced is “動画でわかる After Effects 教室” (“Dōga de wakaru After Effects kyōshitsu”). I hope you can also try to use some of the mentioned techniques, and hope you will enjoy doing animation as I do. See you next time!

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