Art of the animated glyph


James Curran explains how he came up with a sword-toting pirate from a simple bracket.
art of the animated glyph

Most of my work involves transitions, but I prefer to do them in a way where reveals aren’t just out of nowhere so it feels like a solid object or a shape. The bracket felt like it could be a slice through the screen.

I didn’t really sketch anything out, but just started animating. I did things in reverse: I started with the finished path position for the bracket and then moved points individually to make it disappear. I did it a couple of times to get the timing right and refined the curves to make it really look like a sharp knife slice.

I added the knife next, masking it off over the animated slice path animation. Because you don’t see the handle, it needed to be really clear that it was a knife from the shape.

Most of my work involves transitions, but I like to do them in a way where reveals aren’t out of nowhere

Next I worked on the character. Originally he was a bit darker, more like a serial killer with a mask, but then I realised it could be a pirate as it was a good way of making the animation fun quickly. At first I added shadows to everything and found crazy ways to use the limited palette at different opacities, but it started to get a bit messy.

The last thing was the hand pulling on the bracket and making it stretch – again, to make the bracket feel like a solid object. My colleague Jeroen Krielaars came back to me and said maybe it would be better if I changed the colours, so I swapped them around and that was it. The whole thing took about a day in total.

art of the animated glyph1Step Two

art of the animated glyph2Step Threeart of the animated glyph3

Step Four
art of the animated glyph4Step Five

art of the animated glyph5

Words: James Curran

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