Friday, 17 April 2020

Why Animators Should Avoid a Flat Horizon

Flat horizons are one of the curses of 3D animation - nothing gives the game away faster than a blank, flat ground plane extending into infinity. One of the most common mistakes made by junior animators is to animate a character on a flat ground plane - the sort of situation that occurs only in 3D - never in nature. After all, in life, our horizon lines are broken up by landscapes, buildings, trees - the jumble of modern urban and rural life. Watch the short video above for some tips on how to avoid the curse of the flat horizon.

Interior shot by Joris Van Lear
Of course, if you're animating an interior shot, this isn't going to be a problem. Your character is located inside a set, and you don't have a problem. But, step outside, and you have to start thinking about horizon lines.

Fill your landscape with stuff
Once you create a set, you are going to need to fill it. But be careful - every new polygon slows down Maya. You don't want to add so much stuff that your scene becomes impossible to animate. So, stick to low-poly buildings and objects, and avoid complexity.

Create a ramp
One simple way to solve the problem is to bend your ground plane behind your character, creating a ramp. Then you just light the character itself, and the background will fade away into nothing, with no horizon line. Lighting like this is very simple - but it can work very well.

Joris Van Laar
Bend the horizon - be playful
In a cartoony world, you can bend the rules. Animation Apprentice graduate Joris Van Laar shows how it can be done - check out the still image on the right, taken from one of his shots completed at Animation Apprentice. Joris has bent the horizon line in a playful, cartoony way that works visually and aesthetically.

To find out more about Animation Apprentice, click here for a link to Frequently Asked Questions. To sign up for our next classroom at Animation Apprentice, follow this link.

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