Spine: Rigging and Animating Giga
I’d recently gotten access to Spine (Essentials Version), a Unity-based animation software for 2D character movement within the engine. All it requires is a couple of hours of learning the interface, drag dropping your images in, building the character rig and assigning each part, and then animating your character. As Giga here was already made into separate parts a while back, she was ready to go. By looking at Spine’s tutorials and examining the pre-loaded ‘Spineboy’ project that Spine comes with, I could quickly figure out not only how the images were loaded and assigned, but also how they could be swapped in and out during animation.
In Spine, you have have ‘slots’ that contain the images, that would be assigned to the bone which is used during animation. I am using Giga’s left hand as an example. It’s initially twisted like as she will be holding her gun when posed in the animation segment later. But what about moments where she’s hit, or waving her hand, and has to pose her hand naturally? Simple. As slots can show one image at a time, I can switch between the twisted hand and the open hand during animation.
Here’s a (very rough and piecemeal) example I made of Giga’s ‘hit’ key frames. By the third key frame, Giga’s hand opens as she swings her arm, as a reaction to the ‘impact’ in the second key. I could have left the hand alone with just one image. But to have Giga swing her arm and reach back for her gun in recovery, while keeping her hand in one solitary pose, would look odd. As I mentioned before, I didn’t want Giga to look too much like a paper doll restricted to spinning evenly on pivoted joints.
I created a second hand position to make the transition more natural, and switched between them – clicking them on and off, as a slot displays one image at a time – during animation. The fact that images can be keyed in and out of sight during has allowed me to add more frames and refined details. Spine can refresh any updated images into the project that I’ve edited, and assign new images into the rig.