Tutorial #09 – How to Animate a Tail


– HOW TO ANIMATE A TAIL –

How to Animate a Tail RECAP

If you watched my Lesson 9 you should be able to put in practice what Follow-Through and Overlap mean and how to use them

We will start from a very simple example:Follow_Through10

I will use this super simple rig of an head/ball with a fluffy tailTail01

Tail02

To approach an animation like this, I usually start animating the body

In this case…the head/ball, ignoring the tail for the moment

So I hide the tail mesh and I animate the ball up to the refine and polishingTail01.gif

When my animation is finished, I go to animate the tail

At this point you should already know that I’m used to use different shaders to simplify my workflow so I create a sort of rainbow tail assigning different colors to each section of the tail connected to a jointTail04.png

So, I set the first pose for the tail…Tail06.png

…and then I go to animate the first section, the ones directly attached to the ball, that is the leading partTail05.png

that will drag the rest of the tailTail07.png

but in turn, the first section is dragged by the ball headTail08


 

So, following the main action of the ball, I go to animate just the first section that would react to the ball movementTail09

It’s important to determinate if the tail will be just dragged by the ball movement or if will also moves independentlyTail10.png

In my case, the tail is mainly dragged by the ball, but also has an independent movement when needed

For example: at the beginning I want to use the tail to have the “push” for the jump! So, even if the ball has a very small rotation and the squash to gain energy for the jump, I move the tail right and left to increase this push and have more power for the jumpTail11.png


During the jump, when the ball is stretched, the tail must point downward, ’cause it has a delay compared to the ballTail12.png


Also during the spinning in the hair, the tail overlap the main action, the ball rotation. As you can see, here I rotate the tail on the right, dragged by the rotation of the ballTail13.png


When the ball stops his rotation, the tail will stop with a delay of 3/4 or 5 framesTail14.png


For all the time that the ball stays in the air, the tail will continue to move upward, with a very slow spacingTail15.png


When the ball starts to fall, the tail is raised up Tail17.pngand just as before, after the ball landed on the ground, the tail will arrive with 3/4 frames of delayTail18.png

Don’t care about compenetration for the moment, cause we will go to adjust the position when we will animate the rest of the tail!


Then we have the following little bounces so, we go to animate the settle, moving the tail up and down for a couple of time, decreasing the movement up to the complete stopTail19.png

This is the animation of the first section of the tail:Tail02.gif

After that we go back to animate the rest of the tail, one section at the time, and following the order starting from the topTail20.png

Each section will have a delay of 2/3 frames compared to the previous sectionTail21

What you have to remember is that each part would first react to the movement of the part that drag it, moving in the opposite direction

 

Let’s see an example with less tail’s sections:

when this section moves forward…Tail23

…the following part is dragged but it turns in the opposite direction due to the delayTail24

and then it will follow the first section movementTail25

The last part would have the same reaction but it’s dragged by the second section, so at the beginning it would rotate on the right when the second one rotates on the leftTail26


 

Even during breakdowns and in-betweens you have to be extremely careful to create a nice and rounded shape

Avoid straight lines, except when its completely stretched like during the fall, in this cases a straight line is allowed!


Keep attention to the arcs that you will create with the tail action!Tail30

A nice tip is to use maya tools or script to create an onion skin that shows you the previous and following poses or to draw on maya…

…but I prefer the old school transparent/celluloid paper that I put on the screen (that is always attached to the back of my Mac and I easily turn it on when I need it) Tail31.png

Tail32I can quickly draw the arc I want for the tail movement and then, frame by frame I go to adjust the positions, following that path

Tail03.gif


With this simple rules and if you well understood this principles, your final result should be something like this:Follow_Through01So, this was a simple tutorial for a basic tail animation, with a straight ahead approach! 

I will do an other tutorial with a more complex rig but if you are just beginners…

I suggest you to start with a short and simple animation and became familiar with the concept of drag, follow-trough and overlap!

You can follow the Exercise 05 based on this tutorial! 😉

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8 thoughts on “Tutorial #09 – How to Animate a Tail

  1. Mauricio Botero says:

    Hi Chiara,
    I wanted to ask what are the tools that are you showing to draw the arcs. I know you mention them but what kind of paper do you use in front of the computer and if the marker that you are using is a dry erase marker or what kind of marker do you use for that?
    Thank you for the lesson!

    Like

    • i_want_to_be_an_animator says:

      Hi! It’s a celluloid sheet, you can find it in some art shop or on amazon, must be enough soft but not too much, otherwise it’s less precise and you risk that it moves too much when you draw on it, and you can easily attach it with a couple if tape strips. The marker is just a simple dry erase marker, I have 3 of them with 3 different colors in case I need to draw multiple things 😉

      Like

  2. Man gerz says:

    Hi chiara 😀 i i was wonderered if theres is a way i can have this rig. i search on google, but i dont know if there are well rigged, and i don’t like the model either >.<… thanks :3

    Like

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