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derpberd's avatar

ANIMATION : Cuphead - Mugman Idle

This is production work from Cuphead: Don't Deal With the Devil.   This is not fanart.

Here is my work on Mugman's IDLE animation!!!!!

For a very brief moment in time, I was contracted to do assisting animation work on MDHR's "Cuphead: Don't Dance With The Devil."   "Cuphead" was already on my radar due to an early teaser a year before, and I pretty much exploded when I found out what the animation project was going to be.  It is still one of the coolest animation gigs I've ever had.

At that point, most of the major animation for Cuphead had been completed.  So I got to essentially take the animation of Cuphead's body and put Mugman's head on it.  Their bodies are exactly the same with the exception of color of the shorts.  But if you look closely, there are many subtle differences in their faces.  As simple as this character look, it was challenging to keep him on model.  The characters are made up of nothing but ellipses, and if anyone has ever tried animating those things in perspective, on paper with no Photoshop Ellipse tool to guide you, I can assure's hard.  

Again, the animation of the body was -NOT-done by me and this all belongs to Studio MDHR.  I'm just happy I finally get to show some of these little tests to everyone.
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265d's avatar

I have a question.

How do you get the shape of the head so spot on?

I'm asking because I actually rather enjoy drawing Cuphead and Mugman but most of the time when I try to draw them the shape of the head is at a slight tilt.

RazorbillAnimation's avatar
I have major big respect for traditional animators, during my animation studies there was a small group of stop-motion, a smaller group of traditional, and a big group of digital. I mean, its a difficult trade, but the difference in traditional is such a cherishing experience. Every single animation task always had its payoff, something digital can only replicate from. 
derpberd's avatar
Ohhhh thank you so much.  I actually really miss animating on paper.  I haven't done it since 2017...went full digital to TVPaint.

I'm really lucky that almost every single one of my freelance projects have been on paper.  It's still out there, just super rare!

RazorbillAnimation's avatar
I'm glad more people are using TVPaint, that's what I use also to make my gifs- definitely quite fun :) (Smile) 
SmashingSteps's avatar
what are those circles on the corners for?
derpberd's avatar
Awesome question!  They're called registration marks.

Since we used two different layers for the head and body, those registration marks ensured that the two pieces lined up properly when it was scanned and put together!  

It's an oldschool thing. :)
SmashingSteps's avatar
so do you have to use a ruler to get the right measurements of where they should go, or do you have to guess?
derpberd's avatar
Any place is actually fine, as long as they remain consistent throughout. :)
KirbehClobbah1's avatar
PenWingStar's avatar
It must have been an honor to work as an animator for the game!

Also, in my opinion, one of the things that makes Cuphead an amazing game is this; it's impressive that the animation where hand-drawn, so that makes it really special!

I don't really know anything about animation, even I want to do animations some day, but I feel doing animations traditionally is harder than digitally, mainly for the reason that there's no such thing as ctrl+z/cmd+z when doing stuff by hand, mainly if you ink the frames, so, it's harder to correct those mistakes, being the best thing to do to redraw that frame, but when doing digitally, you can simply undo or use previous frames, so, it's easier to correct them & to avoid them...

Anyways, you did an amazing job on the Mugman animations you did! :3
derpberd's avatar
It -WAS- an honor!

I was approached about the project several months after seeing the very first teaser that MDHR produced.  I knew exactly what Cuphead was, and what it was going to be.  When the person contracting me said that it was for Cuphead, I screamed and ran around my apartment like a crazy person.  There was never any doubt in my mind that it was going to be incredible, although after years of delays, I was starting to worry that it would even be released!   In a way, it was one of the most special projects I've ever had, and I believed in every line that was drawn.   The game is without a doubt, a masterpiece, and I'm humbled that several of my lines are in there.

In traditionally hand drawn animation, there will definitely be mistakes and no time for adjustment.  The lack of CTRL-Z really makes you understand the value of the line, but in a very inspiring way, own your mistakes, and your handwriting.  Part of the beauty of paper drawn animation is actually the mistakes because unexpected things happen when the animation plays.  These mistakes can actually give way to new discoveries about the subtleties of acting.  With digital animation, you can make something perfect, but I feel that in many ways you can lose the spontaneous life.   This is just my opinion, but it is a well studied one!

Thank you so much for your kind words.  I am so happy to know how much this game is inspiring other artists.
MissGlim's avatar
Everything just looks so vivid and fluid with each movement every character made,
makes me want to also give it a try to traditional animation on paper.

derpberd's avatar
I'm always gonna push for animators learning on paper, despite the majority of 2d animation being done digitally. There are disciplines that can't be taught digitally, such a the value of a line. With no ctrl-z you have to make real decisions.

Mistakes happen, yes, but one of the coolest things about traditional animation is that mistakes often lead to undiscovered acting or even technique. You can put out a perfect animation digitally, because you can correct minor mistakes.

But I would ask are those minor mistakes what make the animator stand out and make the shot unique?

Tldr; definitely try it out. It's so maddening and gratifying.
MissGlim's avatar
There's that one saying "Learn from your mistakes" so you have a point.

It is actually, one of favorite animators is Glen Keane. I'm actually watching a
compilation of his animated clips, I adore the ones he did for the Beauty and the Beast :heart:

Mm, did you any type special of sheet when you are animating ? Just asking because if I'm gonna
do this, I want to do it right :D
derpberd's avatar
Glen Keane is seriously the kindest man I've ever met.  

And he's arguably the world's best living animator.

I'm not gonna lie, when I started out I used regular old copy paper, with a 3 hole binder punch.  I kept it in a 3 Hole Binder, and then used a regular scanner to animate it.

This can definitely work when you're beginning and have a ton of mistakes to make.


If you want to know what the good stuff is, let me hook you up.…  This is a safe link, and it's an old website, but these guys are the best resource for 2D Animation supplies.  This paper is Special.  It's super durable, so it can allow lots of flipping, and it can handle erasers.  (kneaded erasers are best).   But this paper is MEGA SEE THROUGH.  So you can literally see any graphite drawing underneath it, even without a light.

It's definitely the good stuff.  One thing to note is that I would recommend you get it "punched" versus non-punched.  But if you get it punched, you need to have pegs.  A peg bar will keep the animation in place.  You can get a cheap one and just tape it to a surface.  I'd do that.  You can get a real fancy one too, but at that point we're getting into animation desk territory, haha. 

Bottom pegs, not top pegs.  :)  Do it right!   hahaha
MissGlim's avatar
Thank you so much for the tips !! You're such an angel to share this with me,
the last time I tried to animate something was some gif in paint, I was a teenger :lol:

But still I want to improve a bit more on my skills, you know kinda varied, a few
weeks I was giving a try into painting in some canvas and right now I'm learning
to use my drawing pad more too :XD: Now I want to try animation.
derpberd's avatar
If you have photoshop, it has an animation tool.

I for one find the interface appalling, and I can't stand how inefficient it is.  Yet, I know a ton of people who are Industry Animators who -ONLY- use photoshop for animation!

And I'm glad you enjoyed my rant / rave.  Animation is my entire life, and I can talk about it forever, and I have and will until I'm dead. Haha.
MissGlim's avatar
Is okay, I understand your point on today's animation.
I feel you in some way :XD: 

I manly have photoshop so I can use for backgrounds,
the problem is that the program takes a lot, A LOT of time to open
because of all the resources I have download. 

But then again...I been working on downloading some tools in Sai,
textures and brushes you know, and the program doesn't take
too much time to open, I just click it and BOOM the program open
PenciltipWorkshop's avatar
who you worked on cuphead? that's awesome. I love the game. The animation really brings it to life.
derpberd's avatar
Yes, I was one of Mugman's animators.  I am super glad to hear resonance all throughout the community.  I will always feel that hand drawn animation pulls a type of feeling out of people that can not be replicated by any other type of art form.   

I'm glad you love it.  We all cared very much about this game.
Skeledopts's avatar
oh mai gerd
i am trying to learn how to hand animate myself owo
also, um, what are those 2 circles at the top for?
are they for reference or something?
derpberd's avatar
Hey, that's a great question! 

In short, they are registration points used for keeping the animation layers consistent, so it doesn't wobble around.  

Cuphead was animated first, so we reused the animation of the body for Mugman.  So I had 2 layers, the body layer, and then my new drawings which were Mugman's head.  The body level had the registration marks.  Then on each Mugman key, I drew the registration marks where the intersection was on the bottom layer.    When you compile the two layers together in animation software, you can make sure that those two layers always line up.

The OTHER reason for registration is for the use of the technique called Shift & Trace.  You can actually make a timing chart on the vertical line of the registration mark's intersection.  I'll explain this visually. 

Here is what a very basic timing chart looks like:

| - Inbetween
| - Breakdown (passing pose)
| - Inbetween
Here's how I did it:

-Draw Keyframe1 including the intersection.   Draw a DUPLICATE of Keyframe1 including the intersection.
-Move the Keyframe 1 Duplicate down the vertical line of the intersection until the drawing location is where it needs to be 
-Tape down Keyframe 1 Duplicate
-Put down a new piece of paper for Keyframe 2 and trace the location of Keyframe 1 Duplicate.

What you get is very controlled spacing, and consistent volumes.

Skeledopts's avatar
XD The first part made sense to me. The
you lost me there XD
But that makes sense. When I hand animate, I almost always accidentally move the paper and then spend like 10 minutes trying to line it up again. Then I give up because I'm lazy XP
(I actually copied your comment so I can look up the stuff in it that I don't get.)
But this really helped! Thanks!
derpberd's avatar
Yeah if you're animating on paper, you need some type of object to hold the animation down.

If you're using *official* animation tools to do this, they're called Peg Bars.   You can buy 'em real cheap at Cartoon Colour (…) Safe link, crappy image, but this is a reliable source.

When I was a freshman, I didn't have access to this stuff, so I used regular copy paper, and then held the animation down with a binder.  All I needed was a 3 hole punch, a binder and animation paper.  It was super peasant, but it worked!

.....Shift and trace is a pretty easy concept once you do it right for the first time, but don't feel bad at all.  TBH, I didn't fully understand shift and trace when I animated THIS.  Mugman.  And I had to do it.  This is how I learned, by doing.  If I remember, I'll draw you a guide on what this all means.  

Yeah, HMU for any questions.  I'm so down to answer them.
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