Sofia Dominguez


The big monster, the final boss, the last and biggest project of the Freestyle Elective classes. It’s a project that spans over the last two and a half months of school, where students can choose to create whatever they want, as long as it’s a risk and it furthers their skills and it’s something they are passionate about.

Watch my Zenith presentation here for all the information below in VIDEO MODE!!

Turn on your audio!

The pressure was already so high in the beginning that I decided to work with my friend Rye D. I have not done a single group project in Freestyle without Rye, so we know each other really well, almost like a duo team. Coming out of the Worldbuilding project, we were both very burnt out but very sure we wanted to do a 2D animation, and that we didn’t want to design new characters or a new story, so we stuck to our main cast of the Worldbuilding project and decided to go from there.

In the first couple days, we tried to get our creative juices flowing by just putting aside all of the pressure that comes from a ZENITH project and started sketching our characters with different outfits or just hanging out, as if they were in college (probably because we were both really thinking about college at that time). While doing this, we asked each other what skills we’d like to focus on the most: technical ability to do difficult and smooth animations? Producing a professional-looking animation with a lot of After Effects techniques? Having a good story? Or simply doing something that felt fun to us? How much work were we willing to put onto ourselves at the end of our Senior year of high school? (spoiler alert: a lot)

We also defined each character’s color palette and design more. We made a simple style reference sheet so that we would know how to draw the characters.

We researched a little bit on different intro animations (specifically “Fork and Knife” intro animation from youtuber memedokies), but not that much because we wanted to get animating. We spent a whole class period trying to find the perfect song to animate to, and luckily we found “Bad Set of Moods” by Soul Low, a band that has 390 subscribers on Youtube. We figured copyright wasn’t going to be an issue. I did some quick storyboards in my notebook, thinking of how to display all of our characters to the lyrics of the song.

We went over them together and made the actual storyboard. Storyboarding is such a gruesome process because of how intensely you have to think, but doing it with a friend is so much fun. (you are basically creating motion and rhythm and images out of thin air. You have to think about composition, timing, flow, physics, logic, and story all at the same time. yeah. it’s tough)

We decided to make a rough animatic with the keyframes instead of just animating each scene fully, because it allowed us to have a sneak peak of what the final product would look like very early in the process, and it helped smooth out a lot of kinks in timing and transitions. Also, we thought that if we didn’t manage to finish in time for the Zenith presentations, at least we would have something complete to show people.

Screenshot of keyframes in Photoshop (drawings of simple actions)
Rough animatic: Please turn your sound on!

And then, the toughest part: in-betweens. In other words, drawing 80 more drawings to make the animations smoother and making the characters come to life. I keyframed the Tala and Sol scene, the Lazarus falling from hammock scene, and the ending part with everyone laughing. Rye keyframed the other parts. It was a gruesome process.

Screenshot of in-betweens in Photoshop: look at all of those layers on the right, each of them is a single frame…

For the lineart and coloring part, we swapped photoshop files. Why? Because we figured that if we lined each other’s sketches, our different art styles would cancel out, and it would look a lot more consistent as a whole. Also, it was so that we didn’t get burnt out of working on the same animation and could switch things up. I think it helped a lot.

And finally, we imported it all into After Effects. We added some effects, like the beginning animation that traces the sigil, animated the mask of the title screen, did some color adjustments so that the characters fit with the background more, and Rye did a lot of work on lighting for the first scene.

As a side note, me and Rye both learned how to do post-production for After Effects in our Digital Media class with a project called “Advance Learning Techniques”. Afterwards, we both made a tutorial video for that project. I applied my techniques on my old Lip Synch project, but Rye actually did theirs on this Tala scene above, so if you want to learn more about that, be sure to jump over to their website.

Listen to me read my Zenith Reflection below!