Greg Gunn TLDR #15 - The Process Issue

Hey gang! Welcome to the 15th issue of TLDR. Missed something or need a refresher? Here’s a link to the last couple of issues to get you caught up:

TLDR #14 - The Faux Glow Issue
TLDR #13 - The Back To Basics Issue

Now, let’s talk process.

Process Schmocess

When I think “process” I think about the sequence of thoughts I have and decisions I make while doing something. Through that lens, you could say that everyone has a unique process for how they do the things they do. Wash dishes, brush their teeth and make animated gifs.

Animated gif of Link holding up the master sword while deflecting Cuccos.

This is my contribution to Back to Bits Level 2: Super 16. An homage to my favorite game developed for SNES—Zelda: A Link To The Past. I’m going to walk you through my thinking and the steps I took to make this gif. Mistakes and all.

P.S. Do yourself a favor and watch all the entries for Back to Bits Super 16 and last year’s 8-bit. They’re so cool!

Start With Reference

Before I make or do anything, I like to immerse myself in the material. That means educating myself about as much as I can, as quickly as I can. And pulling plenty of reference along the way.

Reference image collection from SNES Zelda: A Link To The Past

To get reaquainted with the game, I watched a speed run of someone beating it. Then, I started pulling images of the most notable moments that I remember encountering when I played it.

Two things that came to mind were acquiring the Master Sword and the Cuccos attacking you if you bothered one (this game introduced Cuccos to the franchise). And also, Link had pink hair. I like it, but it always felt like an arbitrary decision.

Translate Your Ideas Into Drawings

Sketches of Link shapes and heads

Okay, so I knew I wanted to do something with the Master Sword moment. Which meant I needed to figure out how to draw Link. I started by sketching heads and ended up hating all of them (see right side). And to be honest, I really disliked drawing this character altogether lol.

After getting frustrated, I decided to refocus my efforts on proportions. Should I do a tall, tiny-headed Link or a short, cute one? I didn’t love either, but the shorter one felt like it was heading in a better direction.

Poses & Proportions

This where I struggled the most. I liked the basic proportions of my Link, but his hair and face were killing me. Big eyes, small eyes, mouth, no mouth, big hair, emo hair. I couldn’t decide what to do.

So I moved on (again) and started working out a pose, leaving Link’s face blank and sans hair. You can kind of see my indecision in these sketches. In hindsight, I like the first, rough sketch the most.

Sequence of images for Link's pose

What Happens, Why And
Does It Make Me Laugh?

Acquiring the Master Sword is a big moment in the game. There’s a crescendo in the music and Link raises the blade into the air in celebration as a glint of light runs across its edge.

At this point I'm thinking, “Okay, this is it, but how do I make that funny?”

Enter the Cuccos.

I sat around playing the “what if” game for a while with Cuccos. What if Link provoked a Cucco and a swarm engulfed him leaving a Link shaped skeleton in their wake? Fun, but darker than I wanted and A LOT of work. Plus, this thing needed to loop.

Rough animation for animated gif

Ultimately, I opted for the persistent, flying, Cucco that Link makes light of by deflecting with his trusty shield.

His face was the very last thing I settled on. I went for the big, pointy chin head with a tiny face nestled between his hair and arm :)

What Is Your Process?

Now that you’re familiar with mine, take a moment and think about yours. What are you thinking during each step and how does that influence your decisions.

I know I’ve said this before, but I plan on making a video. Maybe even streaming. Is that something you’d watch? If it is, let me know. And let me know what you’d like to see!
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