An Experimental Video On Bringing Animation To Life

Quirky, colourful and amusing are three words that come to mind when watching Gavin Edward’s video or more aptly, experimental task, Character Studies.

A freelance illustrator and motion designer, Gavin had been creating stagnant characters for a long time. That’s not to say the characters lacked life or imagination but movement – they were static. “I decided to learn a plugin for after Effects called Rubber Hose in order to bring my creations to life”, he told us, “I set myself the task of completing 8 character studies in order to learn about the process”. And so, Character Studies was born.


And character studies is exactly what the short video is, it is a study on how to inject character and motion into illustrated figures. We spoke to the theatre-designer turned illustrator about after effects and animation.

TP: How did you choose the characters to feature?
I wanted to do a cross section of characters performing a variety of tasks, the better to practice the principals of character animation to see what the plugin (and my skills) were capable of.


TP: How did you create it – what was the process and how long did it take?
I began by coming up with the visual ideas in Illustrator, adopting a style similar to my own and one that complimented the boundaries of the software. I then rigged and animated the characters in After Effects, more or less making up the action as I went along. All-in-all the 8 characters took about 2 months to animate. As I am a freelancer I would fit in time to work on it when I had down time on other projects.

TP: Talk to us about Rubberhose – why do we need it?
I have used other character rigging software for AE before but was introduced to RubberHose recently and I have to say it is a joy to work with. Compared to other rigging systems it is a lot simpler and user friendly and because it uses native AE shape layers and strokes it has great versatility.


TP: What draws you to animation? Why do you think it is so powerful?
I’ve had an interest in animation since I was very young, a passion for kids cartoons that has never gone away. I think it is fantastic at portraying an engaging narrative in a style unique to each artist that no other medium has.

TP: Tell us about yourself – what’s your background?
I trained as a theatre designer and worked as a prop maker for several years before moving into design and illustration. I picked up motion graphics about 6 years ago as a way of bringing those designs and illustrations to life and realising a long held passion for animation.

TP: What are you currently working on and what’s next?
Being a freelancer I’m constantly on the hunt for work, ideally with studios that I admire – it would be good to utilise these new character skills on a real job. My next personal project will be something 3D and stylised I think.