Devlog 26 — Sayuri Animations

Spent most of this week doing animations for another new character! I figured if I can put my pet ducky in the game, then maybe I can put “myself” into the game too. Here’s Sayuri in action:

Character Background

Sayuri is an original character of mine and a “spiritual inner self” of sorts, I guess you could say. You may recognize the character design from my avatar, and various album covers I’ve done over the years:

Sayuri’s basic design was heavily influenced by a friend of mine, but the teal/peach color palette came from the album design I did in March 2020, where I decided to use the Pollen8 palette that I found on Lospec. The colors are modified a little bit in the in-game sprites to be more vivid, but I really enjoyed this color scheme and think it works well.

Animation Breakdown

Sayuri’s animation set is probably the nicest-looking one that I’ve done. There’s quite a lot going on and it actually manages to come together pretty well! Let’s take a look at each of the animations, slowed down a bit.

The main thing going on in the run animation is the hair motion. Drawing hair like this is always an interesting challenge because it’s more about drawing larger “clumps” of hair rather than thinking about individual strands. I tried to imagine waves of motion travelling down a rope or ribbon to get the back and forth effect. It’s easy to go overboard and make it look like a tentacle, though…

Something else I’ll point out is the motion in her dress, particularly the little bit of shading on the bottom hem that suggests little furls. I put a basic shape down first, copied it over for all of the frames, then animated the feet next (the foot motion is similar for other characters I’ve done). Then I tried to imagine how the fabric would react to wherever the feet are placed…

Finally, even though Sayuri’s head and face mostly stays static, there’s some subpixel motion going on throughout, especially on the upper-right, which I think bring the animation alive a little bit more.

This was a fun one! I wasn’t really sure whether my idea for a hair / dress flip attack would work well, but I think it’s working nicely! There’s a lot of smearing on the frame right before the impact, and then a lot of stretch on impact, which helps it feel more snappy. Again, for the hair I tried to imagine how a whip or rope would behave, where the tip lags behind but also accelerates quickly.

There’s some secondary motion going on in the dress too — waves rippling down the length of the fabric. Finally, there’s a cloud of dust for some added motion and effect. This also helps convey the actual range of the attack (which extends a bit further than where Sayuri’s hand reaches).

The jumping animation is pretty much the same as the running animation, with a few changes — no side-to-side motion, and her feet stay in the same place. I have her arms reaching upward mostly because I wanted to have them in a different position than when she’s running.

Sayuri also has a crouching frame before she jumps! I’m experimenting with tossing this in as a way to accentuate the jump, since otherwise there’s not really any silhouette change from running to jumping. In-game, there’s no “jump squat delay”, meaning your character leaves the ground immediately rather than waiting for the crouching frame to play through, so I’m making this crouch frame play relatively quickly to avoid looking weird. You really don’t see it on its own, it’s more just a quick visual flash to show that an action is happening. I could maybe experiment with a little more horizontal squashing here, but for now this is what I have.

The flying animation is more of the same, except Sayuri’s arms stay down this time. For most of the other characters I have both wings facing left (more of a profile view), but since Sayuri is facing forward a little more, her wings face in opposite directions. She has the same little one-pixel bump when her wings flap, like the other characters.

The layering between her hair and wings is a little odd, so for some frames of the flying attack I just don’t show the wings. If you think about it closely it probably doesn’t make sense physically, but it’s such a quick animation in-game that it doesn’t matter too much. The outstretched wings here synchronize to the stretch frames of the base animation.

I was originally supposed to work on more levels this week, but this was a welcome change of plans! Sayuri’s animations turned out well enough that I went ahead and set her as the default character of the game for now, so she shows up on the title screen from the start:

Most of the other characters have color palettes that aren’t really as vibrant, so it’s nice to have a new set of sprites that’s more eye-catching.

Learn more about Rhythm Quest at https://rhythmquestgame.com/

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