Sometime in March I saw the 36 Days of Type project announcement circulating, and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to make something outside of my comfort zone and push myself.
Normally, for months at a time I jot down ideas for projects which result in endless lists on the notes page of my phone, only to overthink them to death and discard them later. Many of these lists consist of broken sentences or words which I'm sure made sense at 3am.
But as I considered ways I could create 36 letters & numbers, it made me think back to one of the projects I had enjoyed the most which was when I created 101 Alphabets in 7 Days. Something in both projects that I was drawn to was the fact that deadlined challenges force you to be spontaneous. You try something, it does or doesn't work, then you move on to the next thing. There is no time to overthink what you are doing which is the beauty of doing these kind of projects, I find this allows me to be uninhibited and enjoy the process a lot more.
I decided to animate each letter, illustrating every frame, which has been something I have wanted to experiment with again for a while. Each letter was to reflect a word or action associated with the letter, I had vague ideas about what each letter would animate like but until I put it together I couldn't tell if it would work or not. *Cue another GIF*
After sketching out a small storyboard for each letter I tested out the letter "A" first before the 36 days had started to make sure I would be able to create at least one letter a day, and I managed to do it with plenty of time. I then continued to make a letter a day during the run up to the start of the 36 days so that I could fit the project around other work.
The way I animated the hand drawn letters was by illustrating each frame on Adobe Sketch with an iPad pro & Apple pencil, each layer would be used as a frame when animating it later. I then saved each layer as a jpeg image, numbered them in order of the sequence I wanted them in, and added them into an Adobe After Effects composition, added sound and then exported them out. It was largely guesswork and intuition on what felt right in terms of when to speed parts up or slow parts down, as until all the frames were all together in the composition I couldn't tell what it really looked like. For a few of the letters I added extra frames in or took some out to create the desired effect I was after, sticking to 13 fps. There are probably easier ways to do this, but I love the effect you get when illustrating every frame.
A great alternative to using an iPad or drawing tablet is to simply draw every frame on paper, tracing over the previous image you drew using a Lightbox, then to scan the illustrations in. It may be more time consuming but the effect you get is inimitable.
Animating the letters felt much more natural as the project went along, the progress you make by the end of these kinds of projects make you see it is well worth doing. See below for the full series of animated letters & numbers.
To view the full project, click here.