Welcome Animators or wannabe-animators!

I decided to create this free collection of Lessons, Tutorials and Tips about this AMAZING job, based on what I’ve learned in my career and experience as character animator! 😉
I’ve been working in the Animation Industry since 10 years and before that…3 years of Animation School! I really, really, REALLY love my job, I really do… I love animation and I like to share my passion (and why not? My knowledgments) with other people!
For any questions, topics that you would like to talk about, you can contact me!
If you want follow my Blog, or subscribe to my YouTube channel or Facebook or Twitter! 😛


About Me

My name is Chiara Porri, I’m Italian and I came from a lovely small town on the sea in Tuscany!

I always had a natural needs to pour out my creativity, I started with drawings, comics, paintings and much more…!  After the High School I attended an Animation Course in Turin, Italy (for 3 amazing years) and from that moment…I never stopped. 🙂
As Character Animator I worked for Tv Series, Movies and Videogames. Here you can find a link to my Vimeo Channel so that you can have an idea of my job as Animator: Chiara – Vimeo Channel

At the moment I’m working as freelance animator and I will try to find the time to add always new contents on this blog 😉

In my spare time I create tv series pitch, short movies, animation tests, ….this blog…, concepts for videogames, comics, I sew handmade puppets, I love cooking,  long walks in the parks and…I love to play with my American Staffordshire Terrier…Evy!evy01

COMING SOON: Exaggeration Lesson

Working on the next lesson, the ways we can use Exaggeration are infinite but the good result depends on our ability to use it in a proper way 😉 I’ll need a bit of time to finish this one, is not easy to find the best way to explain this complex principle! 🙂
#animation #learnanimation #exaggeration #lesson #beananimator #animationforbeginnerexaggerationPreview.jpg

Tutorial 11 – Maya Constraint RECAP

-Maya Constraint RECAP –

This is a more technical topic so I think is important to make a written RECAP of my last Turorial about the Maya Constraint:

Here the VIDEO tutorial



I want to show you how to create a parent constraint and how to plan the method to use based on the type of action you have

There’s a lot of different ways to constrain an object to an other and I’ll show you some of the more common situations using the maya constraintSchermata 2018-01-25 a 00.21.09.png

It’s basically a relationship between two ore more objects, one is the TARGET Object, the one that leads the movement or the position, and the other is the CONSTRAINED object, that is influenced by the target, so it doesn’t moves independently but it’s driven by the target objectSchermata 2018-01-25 a 00.21.23.png

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.21.31.png

The type of constraint depends on the axes you need to constrain to the lead object: translation, rotation or scaleSchermata 2018-01-25 a 00.21.38.png

In Maya, if you go in the Animation Tab

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.21.46.png

and then on CONSTRAIN

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.21.51.png

you find some different types of constraints: POINT – AIM – ORIENT – SCALE – PARENT

the more used are POINT / ORIENT and PARENT

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.21.55.png

As I said before the difference between this constraints are the axes involved:Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.22.04.png

So if you constrain an object with the POINT constraint you will constrain the translation axis that will follow the lead object but you can rotate it independently

Vice versa: if you use the ORIENT constraint you can translate it but the rotation is constrained to the lead object

And when you use the PARENT constraint both the axis (translation and rotation) are constrained and follow the lead object movements


When you open the constraint Option Panel you have the first box “Maintain Offset” that means that if you turn it ON: the object will be constrained maintaining his starting position, if you turn it OFF: when you will apply the constraint, the object will jumps on the target object pivotSchermata 2018-01-25 a 00.22.22.png

In most of the cases you will need to turn it ON, so…always check this option before apply the constraint!

Another thing you can check are the Constraint Axes: here you can choose which axis you want to constrainSchermata 2018-01-25 a 00.22.45

In the example we have the translation and rotation axes cause it’s a parent constraint

By default you have ALL the axes turned ON but you can turn off the ones you don’t need!

When you apply the constraint you will see that the axes constrained turned blue in the channel box, this means that you can’t animate this valuesSchermata 2018-01-25 a 00.23.00.png

Let’s now see the different situations where you’ll need to constraint some objects

This are the different situations we will go to analyze: Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.23.08.png

This are some common situations and it’s important that, before you go to start the animation and create the constraints, you have to plan the shot!

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.23.22.png

Do it in your mind or with some sketches, because is important to decide how to do the constraint and you need to anticipate all the actions you will do with the constrained object!

Let’s start with the first situationSchermata 2018-01-25 a 00.23.24.png


-Hands on Hip-

In this simple animation the character keeps his hands on his hip, so we need to constrain the hands to the hip in order to follow the hip movements, so… the hip will be the leading object that will drive the hands

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.23.28.png

In some rigs you could have the possibility to choose if the hands must follow the hip or other parts of the body (the Main control, the COG, the Head…) without manually create a constraint! Usually if this option is available, you can find it selecting the wrist control!Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.23.31.pngBut in case you have a very basic rig, without this option, let’s see how to manage it!

IMPORTANT: when we constrain the hands, this must be in IK mode, so switch both the hands in IK!Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.23.55

So we pose the hands on the hip, then…

REMEMBER THAT: to apply the constraint you always have to select the target control first, the one that will leads the movement and then the control or object you want to constrain!Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.24.07.png

So in this case: select the hip control, then -> shift -> and select the control of one of the hand, go in the Animation tab -> CONSTRAIN and choose PARENT

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.25.07.png

we choose parent ’cause we want that the hands follow the hip in both translation and rotation axes!

Open the Option Panel, be sure to have the MAINTAIN OFFSET turned ON and apply it!Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.25.15.png

So the translation and rotation axes turned blue in the channel box and now this hand is constrained to the hip, let’s do the same on the other one!

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.25.42.png

At one point he detaches the hands from the hip so we need to turn OFF the constraints in order to animate the hands!

To do that we simply select the hands controls, one at the time and we set a key


When you do this in the channel box you can see that the constrained axes turned green and you have a new attribute, the BLEND PARENT Attribute that you can animate! (scroll down in the channel box to see it)

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.25.48.png

So on the last key frame where you still need the constraint, set this attribute at 1 and add a keySchermata 2018-01-25 a 00.25.59.png

in the following frame where you want to turn OFF the constraint set it at 0 and add another key, so from this point you can animate the hands!
Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.25.53 copia.png


-Hand on another character’s shoulder-

An other similar example is a character that puts his hand on the shoulder of another characterSchermata 2018-01-25 a 00.26.20.png

In this case you do the same, you constrain the hand on the shoulder control, so select the shoulder ctrl first, then the wrist ctrl and apply a Parent constraint (Maintaining the Offset)!Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.26.28.png

Then you animate the blend parent before he touches him, turning the constraint OFF and when he touches the shoulder you set it at 1 turn it ON!

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.26.42.png

In this way, if you animate the other character, the hand follows the second character movements

-Two Characters holding their hands-Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.26.47.png

First pose the two hands, then choose the leading hand (this hand can be in IK or FK) and constrain the other hand to this one (the constrained hand must be in IK) and choose a Parent constraint!

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.26.52.png

An other situation…Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.26.59.png

Let’s say your character need to grab an object, like this ball, he takes it with an hand (in this case you can us IK or FK) and then he throws it!

So the ball will be driven by the character but at one point it will moves independently

In this simple case, you could just constrain the ball geometry, it’s not necessary to have a locator or a rig for the ball, ’cause the animation is pretty easy. But if you have to do more complex actions with the ball I suggest you to use a locator or a rigged ball so that you could also have a squash and stretch!

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.27.26.png

So in this example I just constrain the geometry to the hand, as I show in the previous example, I pose the ball in the starting pose, then I pose the hand at the point where it grabs the ballSchermata 2018-01-25 a 00.27.43.png

Select the hand control -> shift -> and select the ball geometry and choose Parent constraint (Maintaining the Offeset)

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.27.51.png

To switch On and Off the constraint, select the ball geo (or the group, locator or control you constrained) and add a key, set at 1 the blend parent attribute on the frame where the hand touches the ballSchermata 2018-01-25 a 00.27.54.png

in the previous frame set it at 0, so the ball stays in the starting position!Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.28.01.png

When you need to detached the ball from the hand, go on the last frame where the ball must be constrained to the hand and set at 1 the blend parent, in the following frame set it at 0 and animate the ball!Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.28.17.png

SECOND OPTION: To have more control and have the possibility to add a secondary movements on the ball, you can create a group for the ball so that you can constrain the group to the hand and animate the ball geometry indipendently!Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.28.29

So we do just as in the previous example but we don’t go to constrain the geometry, but we constrain the group

Open the OUTLINER, select the ball geometry and press G, so you go to create a group and you go to constrain this group to the hand, so select the hand ctrl then the group of the ball and apply a Parent constraint mantaining the offset!

So now the ball follows the hand but you can select the ball geometry (that has no constraint and is free to move) to add further movements! When you want to turn ON and OFF the constraint just do as we have seen so far!Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.28.36.png

Let’s change the type of prop, let’s say he grabs a bottle

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.28.53.png

If you create a group from the bottle geometry and you go to constrain the group to the hand, you can still select the bottle geometry to add some overlap!

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.28.59.png

In this case I also need to move the pivot of the bottle geometry, that now is in the center and I wanted to move it on the top, where the hand grabs it! So to edit the pivot position just select the mesh and pressing D you move it where you want!

Now the bottle is driven by the hand (cause the bottle group is constrained) but we can animate the geometry to add an overlap!

If you have a rig on your prop, you can do the same: create a group that you will constrain to the hand and then you animate the prop control for the overlap!


Third situationSchermata 2018-01-25 a 00.29.54.png

There’s some situation where you will need to constrain the character to an object

-Character on a Swing-Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.30.18.png

For example: a character on a swing, obviously this is not a common thing you’ll have to animate, but it’s just to give you an example of situation where your character is driven by something!

You pose your character on the seat, both the arms are in IK, the legs must be in FK, and you constrain the COG of the character to the seat, so that when you move the swing the body follows the movements, except for the hands that are in IK!

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.30.58.png

So now we need to constrain the hands to the swing’s ropes, to do that we need to create 2 locators!

So we go to CREATE -> LOCATOR

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.31.16.pngSchermata 2018-01-25 a 00.31.20.png

We turn ON the locator visibility from the SHOW panelSchermata 2018-01-25 a 00.31.24.png

We move the locator on the first rope, where we have one of the hands and then with ctrl D we duplicate this locator and we move the second one on the other side

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.31.28.pngSchermata 2018-01-25 a 00.31.32.png

Then, select one rope -> shift -> the first locator and create a Parent constraint, and do the same for the other locator!

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.31.40.png

Or, another way is to just PARENT the locators to the ropes, so we don’t create a constraint but we create a permant relashionship parent/child between the rope (parent) and the locator (child), to do that: select the locator -> shift -> the rope and press P, and do the same with the other locator and rope!

Let’s quickly see the…

-Difference between PARENT CONSTRAINT and PARENT-

  • The PARENT CONSTRAINT is (what we have seen so far) an animatable relationship between 2 (or more) objects that you can control and animate. It can be turn OFF and ON depending on your needs and can be apply on some axes that you can choose between: translation rotation or scale! To create a constraint we select the leading object, then the constrained object, and we apply a Constraint (choosing between POINT, ORIENT or PARENT)


  • PARENT is a permanent relationship between a parent and a child that doesn’t changes! The child is subordinate to the parent, no matter what! You can still animate the child independently, but any time you translate, scale or rotate the parent…the child will follows. To parent an object to another, we select the child object first, then the parent object and we press P, in the outliner you’ll see that now you have a hierarchy where the first object selected is child of the second object

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.31.59.png

In this case the result is the same, so you can choose one of this two options and in both the cases the locators will follow the ropes movements! The only difference would be if you need to change position of the hands on the rope during the animation, in this case is better to choose to just PARENT the locators to the rope, so that you can use the locators (the are not constrained) to animate the hands!

So now the 2 locators follow the swing movements, but we still need to constrained the hands, so we select one locator then the hand control and create a parent constraint and do the same for the other hand!

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.32.09.png

Or, if the character is trying to lift an heavy object without success… so the object will stays on the ground…Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.32.23.png

would be easier for you to constraint the hands on the object

So we create 2 locators, that we keep in on the origin, so we don’t move them, then selecting the 2 locators we create a group pressing G

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.32.37.png

and we constrain this group to the object, so we select the object and then the locators group and we create a PARENT constraint, so now the locators group is constrained to the object

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.32.41.png

Now we need to position the locators where we have the hands, to quickly do that we create a temporary constraint!

We go on the frame where the hands touch the object, we select the hand control then one of the locatorSchermata 2018-01-25 a 00.33.17.png

and we create a parent constraint but this time we UNCHECK the MAINTAIN OFFSET, so the locator jumps on the wrist pivot (this is a very quick way to position an object on the pivot of another object) Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.33.29.png

and now we can delete this constraint from the locator, in the channel box we select the constrained axes and -> right-click -> BREAK CONNECTIONSSchermata 2018-01-25 a 00.33.42.png

Then we constrain the hand control to the locator, so select the locator and then the wrist control and create another parent constraint!

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.34.10.png

From this point you can forget the hand control and use the locator to animate the hand! Do the same for the other locator to pose it on the wrist pivot and then constrain the hand to the locator

In this way when you animate the object, that leads the movement, the hands follow but you can also add some further movements for the hands by using the locators that are free to move ’cause we just constrained the group of the locators!

Fourth situation…Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.34.38.png

This is also something very common and I’m going to show you 2 different options for this

The first and faster way is to pose both the hands on the object, constrain the object to one of the hand (the hand you chose as the leading hand, the one that controls the movement) and constrain the other hand to the object, so when you’ll move the leading hand, both the object and the other hand will follow

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.35.18.png

REMEMBER THAT: the leading hand can be in IK or FK, but the constrained hand must be in IK!

But if you want something more complex, for example if you want to change the positions of the hand while grabbing the object you have to do something similar to what we have done in the example of the heavy object

Creating 2 locators, PARENT the object to one of this locator, so we select the object and the first locator and we press P, and PARENT the second locator to the objectSchermata 2018-01-25 a 00.35.45.png

Selecting the parent locator we move the object in position, and then we constrain the parent locator to the leading hand control, (the leading hand can be in FK or IK, but the other hand, that we will be constrained to the object must be in IK)

So we select the leading hand control then the parent locator and we create a parent constrain maintaining the offsetSchermata 2018-01-25 a 00.36.32.png

Now we need to position the second locator on the other hand pivot, so we select the  hand control -> then the second locator and we create a parent (or point) constrain (DESELECTING the maintain offset), so the locator moves on the wrist pivot, and now we delate this constraint!Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.36.40.png

Then we select again the locator -> then the left hand control and we do parent constraint again!Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.36.54.png

So now you can use the right arm to lead the movement, the object and the left arm follow, but using the left locator you can add further movements for the left hand and change position during the animation!

The last situation…Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.37.09.png

In this case, when you plan to grab the same object with both the hands in different times, it means that the object must be constrained to one hand first and then on the other hand in a second time!

To do that: first let’s set up 2 locators on the object

So we create 2 locators that we rename left and right handSchermata 2018-01-25 a 00.37.34.png

then we need to PARENT the locators and the object . At this point we should plan which hand holds the object first and based on that we create this parent hierarchy:

  1. select the locator of the second hand that will holds the object -> then select the locator of the first hand and press P (so now the left hand locator, that is the second hand that holds the object, is child of the locator of the right hand)
  2. now select the object and the left hand locator and press P (now the object is child of the left hand locator)

So if we move the right hand locator we move everything but if we select the left hand locator we move just he object while the right hand locator stays in position


Now, selecting the parent locator, the right hand locator, we position the object in the right hand (that holds the object first), and then we constraint the parent locator to the right hand control, so we select the hand control -> shift -> the locator and we create a PARENT constrain Maintaining the offset!

Now we can move the arm and the object follows!

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.38.23.png

When we want to switch the hands, we move on the frame where the object is grabbed by the left hand and we select the left hand control -> shift -> the left hand locator and we create the PARENT constraint Maintaining the offset

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.39.16.png

then we add a key and we set at 1 the blend parent on this frame but we set it at 0 on the previous frame

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.39.25.png

Sometimes can happen, for different reasons, that you don’t see the Blend Parent attribute in the channel boxSchermata 2018-01-25 a 00.39.35.png

if this happens you can just select the Constraint Node from the Outliner, select the object and in the outliner press F to find the constraint node (the one with the red exclamation mask) Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.39.44.png

and animate the Weight Value, set it at 1 or 0 to manage the influence of the constraint on the locator!Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.39.49.png

So now you can pass the object from an hand to another just turning on and off the constrain on the left hand locator!

A similar situation is when the character passes an object, like an hat, from an hand to another and then he puts it on the headSchermata 2018-01-25 a 00.40.03.png

In this case the process is the same but we need to add a third locator, that is the one that will be constrained to the head in the final part

So we start setting the locators on the hat, we create 3 locators, that we rename as the body parts they will be constrained to

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.40.18.png

and we go to PARENT this locators and the hat with this hierarchy:

  1. we select the right hand locator then the left hand locator and press P
  2. select the head locator and the right hand locator and press P
  3. and last, select the hat geometry then the head locator and press P

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.40.34

So now selecting the parent locator, we position the hat in the left hand and we create a parent constraint (Maintaining the offset) with the hand control

Then we do as in the previous example, we animate the constraint blend parent On and OFF when we switch the hands and we constrain the right hand to the other locatorand the same when the hat is on the head, so that in the final part the hat is constrained to the head and follow the head movements!

This were just some examples of how to manage constraints on maya, there are a lot of different way to do them, it’s really depends on what you need in your scene and it also change depending on the type of rig you have

There are also scripts and tools to automatically create constraints, especially in production, but if you are beginners this should be enough to start to manage props in you animations

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.41.05.pngSchermata 2018-01-25 a 00.41.17.png

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.41.26.png

When you want to delate a constraint you can select the constrained control (or group or mesh) and in the channel box select all the attribute constrained and right-click BREAK CONNECTIONS

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.41.39.png

Or… select the object constrained, press F in the outliner to find the constraint node and… delate it!

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.39.44


Or, if you want to take off the constraint but you want to keep the animation… you can BAKE the curve

selecting the object constrained and, in the graph editor, click in CURVES – BAKE CHANNEL

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 00.41.57.png

so it will converts the the entire animation in keyframesSchermata 2018-01-25 a 00.42.00.png

and now you can delate the constrain, as I showed before, without losing the animation!

In the last lesson I explained the principle of Secondary Actions and props are a good way to add this actionsLesson010_Secondary_Action2.png

So now you know how to manage the constraints and you can create an animation with a secondary action following this exercise to put in practice this principle! 🙂

Animators Corner #3 – The Illusion of Life

-The Illusion of Life-

Here another Animation Bible “The Illusion of Life”, a book that you really must have if you want to became part of this world and you are animation fan!


Written by Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas, two of the Disney’s “Nine Old Men”, 1981

Schermata 2018-01-25 a 12.27.11.pngSchermata 2018-01-25 a 12.27.30.png

This book is really a magical and marvelous trip to the past, a nostalgic dip into the Disney Animation world!

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Schermata 2018-01-25 a 12.27.19

Starting from the paper cover which portrays an illustration from Pinocchio, if you take off this one you also have a very cool blue fabric cover with an other illustration from the same movie!

This book will keep you company for quite some time, 575 pages of history of animation!Schermata 2018-01-25 a 12.27.50Schermata 2018-01-25 a 12.27.57

From the concept of animation and how everything starts…

The birth of the Walt Disney Studio, from the very first works to the creation of Mickey Mouse, full of incredible and inspirational stories!Schermata 2018-01-25 a 12.28.05Schermata 2018-01-25 a 12.29.06.pngSchermata 2018-01-25 a 12.29.09

A chapter about the Principle of Animations, that were mentioned for the first time in this book, clearly and perfectly explained! This is absolutely the best and more fascinating description of the principles!Schermata 2018-01-25 a 12.29.20.png

The 4th chapter is about the mentality behind Disney and the approach that Walt and his men had to animation! Anecdotes and fun stories of the first Disney Animators and their works, that are really a source of inspiration for new animators!Schermata 2018-01-25 a 12.29.32.pngSchermata 2018-01-25 a 12.29.39Schermata 2018-01-25 a 12.29.44

The entire book is full of iconic old pictures, illustrations and sketches!

You’ll bring into the Disney Studio organization, how they were used to work and other stories regarding the productions of the Disney success!Schermata 2018-01-25 a 12.29.49

The birth of the Burbank Studio and the Nine Old Men!

An incredibly detailed trip into the creation of a Disney Movie!Schermata 2018-01-25 a 12.29.53Schermata 2018-01-25 a 12.29.58Schermata 2018-01-25 a 12.30.05Schermata 2018-01-25 a 12.30.41 From the choice of the Team, to sketches, to the description of all the different departments jobs: Layouts, Animation, Background Paintings, Special Effects etc…

A chapter for the hard work behind the sound of a Movie, the research of the perfect sounds effects to support the animations!

The use of Live Action references from humans and animals, the studio of the anatomy at the basis of a good and convincing animation!Schermata 2018-01-25 a 12.31.02Schermata 2018-01-25 a 12.31.07

Walks that emphasize the characters personality!

The creation of a great and magical story!

A character development!Schermata 2018-01-25 a 12.31.29.png

A chapter about the Villains in the Disney Movies!Schermata 2018-01-25 a 12.31.33.png

Tips to animate expressions and Dialogues!

Blinks, Lipsynch, Acting and Emotions!Schermata 2018-01-25 a 12.31.40.pngSchermata 2018-01-25 a 12.31.47.png

And final, an analysis of different animation styles, experimentations and animation in the future!

So, I really suggest you this book, is AMAZING and…

any Disney animation fan will love it! 😉

Exercise #6 – Secondary Action

In the Lesson 10 we’ve seen how to use Secondary Actions to add more depth to you scene and to give more informations about your characters feelings!

And in the Tutorial 11 I showed you how to use the Maya Constraint to be able to interact with props, so now you should be able to do this exercise to practice with Secondary Actions! 😉

Tutorial 11 – Maya Constraint

– Maya Constraint –

Let’s see how to use the Maya Constraints analyzing different situations 😉

Schermata 2018-01-23 a 19.10.57.png



English subtitles available!

From now on you’ll have the possibility to turn on the subtitles on my next videos and I’m working to add subtitles also on all my previous lessons and tutorials! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFH3EZs1BE4&t=4s


Lesson #10 – Secondary Action “RECAP”

Here the written recap of the Lesson #10 based on the animation principle “Secondary Action” 😉

here the Video Lesson



Schermata 2018-01-10 a 16.21.29

Secondary Actions are the kind of things I like to put in my shots to add details regarding the character’s attitude and personality, and ’cause I really like to have some “natural” movements that we usually do in real life but that we probably don’t notice!

This is not the easiest principle, you really have to learn how to use it and when the shot requires it, otherwise you risk to add too much movements in your shot that would result confused and unreadable for the user!

Schermata 2018-01-10 a 16.21.39

In a piece of animation you have the PRIMARY ACTION, the main action that is necessary to describe the story

But, you can add SECONDARY ACTIONS to give more depth to the scene, to add more informations about the character’s personality and make the scene more entertaining!

Schermata 2018-01-10 a 16.21.50.png

Example: in a scene we have to see a character sitting at a table, this is the main action, but we can add the action of moving the chair forward and some adjusting movements to make it more natural and interestingSitting01.gifIf we take off the secondary actions, the main action is still clear and it works, on the contrary, we couldn’t take off the primary action ’cause the secondary ones are subordinate to the main one!Sitting02.gif

  • MAIN ACTION + SECONDARY ACTION = tell the story and perfectly work together
  • MAIN ACTION – SECONDARY ACTION = tell the same story

Schermata 2018-01-10 a 16.22.34.png

Secondary actions are just a plus, something we add to:

  • support the main action
  • to make the performance stronger and appealing
  • to add realism and authenticity to the scene

IMPORTANT: This secondary actions don’t have to “steal” the attention from the main action, but just fortify it!

The secondary actions are strictly connected to the characters in the shot and they are based on the character’s personality and mood in that moment

But they are also specific to the location and props in that environment!Schermata 2018-01-10 a 16.23.10.png

Tip: study the body language to add the right gestures to well describe the character’s feelings!

 -Examples of secondary actions created using BODY MOVEMENTS-

  • A character sitting and waiting for someone could be a bit nervous and you can add a movement of the foot to better show this feeling

Schermata 2018-01-10 a 16.23.39.png


  • Or… someone uncomfortable could scratch his head while speaking <- secondary action Scratch2.gif

  • Or… a sad and resigned mood could be emphasized with the body shape but also with a secondary action like kick a pebble, so we add this little movement of the foot kicking a little stonePebble.gif

     -Examples of secondary actions created using EXPRESSIONS and FACE MOVEMENTS-

  • a character crying could wipes a tear with an handSchermata 2018-01-10 a 16.24.30.png


  • A character that moves his eyes left or right while talking to someone…shows his embarrassmentRight.gif

  • A fast look up during an acting to communicate disappointmentUp.gif

  • During a walk, that is the primary action, you can add the head movements looking around and changing expression according to the character’s mood


-Examples of secondary actions created using PROPS INTERACTION-

I personally love to add props the characters can play with during a dialogue or in many other situations!

  • A character playing with a pen while speaking to someone, the pen is a prop connected to the location (we have a desk so this is a common prop for this type of location)Pen.gif

  • We could do the same with a prop connected to the character like his glasses, he could take them and use them to support the actingGlasses.gif


  • In this case… the character is eating and he just stands there, because he’s thinking and probably someone is speaking to him, but we could add a secondary action of him playing with the food to give the idea that he’s thinking about stuff or just annoyedeat.png

  • If your character is sitting on a sofa, he could bring a cushion to make the action more realistic and interestingSofa

  • If he’s drinking he could touch the glass while speaking or thinking, just to avoid moments where the character doesn’t do nothing and again, in this way it’s easier to have a connection with the character’s feelingsdrink.png

This are just some common and easy secondary actions, with the experience you’ll be able to add more complex secondary actions

Workflow tip: Start blocking the main action first, watch the shot several times and ask yourself…how you could make it more interesting in terms of rhythm, entertaining and to better describe the character’s feelings and mood?

Then decide where to add this secondary actions and watch it again and again to make sure that they …don’t overshadow the main action!

In that case…is better to avoid too many secondary actions! 😉

That is all about this principle! See you for the next one “Exaggeration”! 🙂

Lesson #10 – Secondary Action

One of my favourite animation principle: SECONDARY ACTION! How to play with props (and not only that) to make your animation more interesting 😉



Alya https://www.facebook.com/AlyaRig/

Ink https://iwanttobeananimator.wordpress…

Lesson 10 “Secondary Actions” COMING SOON

I’m working on this new lesson right now, another explanation with examples of the anination principles “Secondary Actions” 😉

Tutorial 10 – Breakdown of a Dragon Animation “RECAP”

Here a detailed RECAP of my last Tutorial “Breakdown of a Dragon Animation”

here the Tutorial



In this tutorial I’ll show the breakdowns for this animation I made recently



I will explain STEP BY STEP my process starting from CONCEPT to the FINAL RESULT

In my last lesson I explained the principle of  FOLLOW-THROUGH AND OVERLAP (here the Lesson #09) and I also made a little tutorial “Animate a tail” and a simple exercise for beginners!

Now I want to show you something more advanced: in this shot I have two characters that have parts that perfectly show this principles!


We have the tailed head/ball (that I used for the previous tutorial), this character has a very simple and basic animation and then I have this awesome and much more elaborated and advanced rig made by Josh Sobel, called ARC, that has a more complex animation. Arc is a customizable Dragon, with huge wings and big tail that is really perfect to show you the concept of overlap, drag and follow-trough applied to a more complex animation


So, for this shot, I started from a SKETCHED ANIMATIC – the 2D animatic is very important to study the rhythm, the story and how to represent the personality of the characters!

TIP: I’m not a good drawer so for the dragon I first studied the rig and tested some poses that I used as reference for the sketches. It’s a sort of blocking but with very few rough poses that you can exaggerate in 2D and have a better idea of what you need



The story of this shot is basically a “Dangerous-playtime” between this little bouncing creature and a young dragon that play with fire!

I imagined that they are actually friends, so…the dragon doesn’t wants to hurt him is just that he’s too ingenious and he has no control of his dangerousness!


For the dragon’s attitude I got inspired by my lovely/crazy dog. I had in mind my playtimes with her, that usually gets so excited when we play that she literally loses her control and the play-time becomes actually a “fight”!


So, with my little crazy dog in mind, I decided to animate the dragon with a doggy attitude in the first part, when he enters in the shot and when he smells the ground trying to sniff out his friend. And in the final part, when he jumps in the air with his wings and when he goes out of frame, I switch to a more classic dragon attitude

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.33.47.png

-Set the Scene-

So starting from this animatic, I set the scene on maya

For the background I just have a plane and some rocks, something very very simple

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.34.03.png

As usual I use a surface shader so I don’t have to worry about lighting and I have the 2d effects that I personally love.

I set the camera, with the same frame of the animatic

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.34.14

I add a plane in the background where I import the animatic video so that I can use it as reference during the blocking, in this way I can see the timing and the main poses

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.34.26.png

-Tailed Head/Ball BLOCKING-

So now… I import the tailed ball character and I create the blocking

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.34.31.png

I start to pose the “body/head” so I go to hide the tail

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.34.46

I go to animate the creature like a classic bouncing ball but very cartoony, I follow the animatic key poses so we have the bounces at the beginning, I squash it and stretch it and I check the contact with the plane, this pass is very fast cause I have the animatic as reference


So, he’s running away from something, he also looks on his back in few frames just to see what’s going on behind him, to check where is his friend and in time to see the flame coming towards him (I add a place holder fire effects just to have an idea of the timing)

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.35.05.png
When he bounces behind the rock he trys to hide himself super frightenedtrying to be as smaller as possible, using his tail as protection

The tail is not very big, I don’t have a lot of control of the shape so what I can do is just to give the idea that the tail covers the body

I also add a very fast shake any 2 frames ’cause he’s trembling



He hears the dragon coming closer so he has a reaction turning in the opposite direction

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.35.40.png

and…when the dragon jumps on the rock he has a bigger reaction jumping hight in the air (I imagine him screaming here so I add a little shake), and the he just runs away faster then light


In a second time I add the tail poses. I follow a path, just like I showed in the previous tutorial, I draw a line on my paper so that I can better follow the arc and I just do this for the length of the shot

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.35.16.png
So this is the ball blocking, I mixed the principle of the bouncing ball but I also added some cartoon movements, it bounces with physic but it’s a character, so it has life and we can break some physic principles or exaggerate them to make it more appealing



Let’s add the dragon

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.36.34

As I said before, this rig has some customizable options, we can change the face design and the texture colour


I choose the young version for the head and the black textures

(If you want to know more about this rig I also created a post on the blog or you can just visit the official page

I start to create the main poses, this part it takes most of the time, the character is quite complex, it has a lot of controls and parts to pose, so I take my time….

I use some reference from dogs and dragons

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.37.37.png

I try to make him cute enough: at the beginning he has a very innocent expression


He just stands there for a moment, very calm and apparently harmless, his raised leg helps us to catch that he’s looking for something, trying to be quite

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.38.00.png

I continue to block the shot using the animatic as reference for the timing and this is the first pass of blocking for the dragon


There are not too much poses: there’s the first part “the entrance”, we see the forefoot coming in first and I keep this pose with a moving hold

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.39.40

Then we have the reaction, he knows his friend is near there so… before moving forward he makes an anticipation with a jump in the air

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.39.52

First I create the key pose with eyes closed, squashed head, both the legs flat on the ground and the opened wings that he will use as push for the jump within the legs

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.39.57.png

When he moves upward we have the overlap of the wings, we don’t see them cause they are out of screen, but we can imagine that they are pointing downward as reaction to the drag movement of the leading part, the body, same for head and arms that are dragged so they point downward

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.40.09

He makes this arc jumping high and straight first

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.41.32.png

and then he lands forward creating this arc with the body, the tail and the wings

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.41.41.png

Then we have some steps while he’s sniffing the ground

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.41.49.png

I create this curve with the body, the typical exaggerated classic dog sniffing pose, with the upper part of the body almost flat on the ground and the backside pretty up

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.41.54.png

The tail is pretty long so it really has to be soft and smooth and overlap for the entire shot. It always moves creating a nice curve and following the follow through principleSchermata 2017-12-10 a 22.42.42.png

I move each section of the tail with a delay

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.42.47.png

To make the sniffing action readable I add just 2 poses in the blocking, increasing the size of the nostrils, moving up and down the nose and the eyebrows. Is enough to make the action clear in the blocking and then I will smooth it and add more details in the refine

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.42.58.png

He felt something so he turns in the super excited mode

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.43.09.png

I add this big anticipation before he moves forward, just to emphasize the reaction and to create a nice path of action

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.43.39.png

The anticipation is made with the eyes, cause he already looks towards the point where he want to jump

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.43.21.png

and also with the body movement, ’cause he moves backward raising the back, the tail and the wings

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.43.34.png

Then we have the jump poses, always creating a path with body and a different one with the tail

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.43.39

He turns upward the head following his friend movement

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.43.53

And then another jump in the air, flying in place with a couple of movements up and down with the wings, staring at his “prey”

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.43.59.png

l add an anticipation moving backward before going out of frame very fast creating this line of action and with a very aerodynamic pose with the wings closed to the body

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.44.05.png

As I said, in this first pass of blocking I have very few poses but for this kind of animation I want to add some other keys just to make the refine easier

I add some breakdowns here and there and some moving holds, for example I added the leg poses at the beginning:

1) one pose with the raised leg with the toes pointing backward

2) one pose of contact with the toes upward

3) one pose with the leg flat on the ground

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.45.00.png

I add more breakdowns and in-betweens during the steps and others for the rest of the shots and this is the second pass of blocking with more keys:


During all this process I help myself using the silhouette visualization to adjust the poses and check if everything is readable

So… in this phase I focus on the timing and the poses and I watch it and watch it several times to check if everything works well or… if I can do something better or add some poses if necessary 😉

-Tailed Head/Ball REFINE-

The blocking is done and now I can turn off the dragon and refine the head/ball

As before, I hide the tail and I refine and polish the ball, for this character the refine process is pretty easy, there’s not much to polish, I just use a lot the graph editor to make the ball movements clean and smooth, I check the arcs first for the ball/body, and then for the tail


I also adjust the tail poses frame by frame in some parts, where I want to exaggerate the shapes or add some further movements

Here the Head(Ball Refine


-Dragon REFINE-

Then I turn on the dragon again for the refine

I switch all the curves in auto tangent and this is how it looks like (I didn’t touch anything, this are just the blocking poses switched to auto)


and ….it defenetly needs a lot of work! 😀

I start splitting the scenes in different sections, for example: I start to refine the part when he enters in the screen and I stop before the jump. So… I reduce the range of the time slider

I go to adjust spacing, contacts, breakdowns for the entire shot but moving forward by a range of frames, splitting the scene following the different actions, refining them one by one

I draw the path on my transparent paper so I can easily follow the path with each part of the body, frame by frame I go to adjust the poses where needed

When you refine an animation can happen that you just realize that you need to change a bit the timing or the spacing of your blocking! It happens, some movements result too slow after you switch from stepped to spline or vice versa, so in this cases…just move your keys to reach the better result or add more breakdowns that were not necessary in the blocking but that you need in the refine!

With a loooot of patience I finish the refine of entire shot, I can’t show you each step ’cause it would take too much time

For the entire shot I spent 5/6 hours for the blocking (for both the characters) and around 15 hours for the refine

I add the motion blur in the render, the the 2D fire effect I made and…that’s the final result!


I hope you enjoy this video, show the entire process for the creation of a shot is not easy and I tried to show the most important steps for me.

When you plan a good and efficient blocking, the refine process will be easier so… see you for the next lesson and tutorial, thanks for watching! 😉

Tutorial 10 – Breakdown of a Dragon Animation

-Breakdown of a Dragon Animation-

Well…after a big break I finally uploaded a new tutorial (it has been a bit hard to finish it…I didn’t have a lot of time to spend on it) but I hope you enjoy it 😉

Schermata 2017-12-03 a 23.59.38.png

In this Tutorial I show the breakdown of a Dragon Animation, step by step I’ll show the process for the creation of the shot. I made this animation in 2 days and this tutorial is based on the principles explained in the Lesson 09 “FOLLOW-THOURGH AND OVERLAPPING” https://iwanttobeananimator.wordpress.com/2017/08/29/lesson-9-follow-through-and-overlapping/

Halloween Break

The life of an Animator is also this… have fun doing anything handmade! ^^ Halloween is coming and so my birthday 😛

What is needed:

– a patient dog

– an even more patient dog ^^’

– a black hoodie and colored felt! 😀


I would definitely need longer days….I’m so busy right now that I can’t create new contents for my blog as much as I would like to! I have so many ideas in mind…but no time to realize them!! 😥

As you know, my tutorials and lessons and all the time I dedicate to create them and give feedback etc….is totally free so… for most of the time…I have to work on other stuff 😀

Besides this, there’s my life: complicated sometimes, there’s my lovely dog that deserves my time, relationships that end, relocations, new jobs….but I really want to continue what I started, so…keep following my blog and I’ll try to do my best to post as mush as I can! 😉ioWORKING

Coming Soon

I really didn’t had enough time for this channel in the last days, I’m having big changes in my life so… sometimes it’s really hard to find a little “moment” just for my stuff 😛

BUT…. I’m working on a new video tutorial/breakdowns based on a shot connected to the last lesson “Follow-through and Overlap”!

Schermata 2017-10-04 a 13.42.32

This is just a little preview, a wip of the blocking, showing part of the shot! Just few poses… DragonBLK_Wip01.gif

I used two rigs for this shot: my Tail ball/head and Arc the Dragon by Josh Sobel!
Both the rigs have an element like tail and wings that show the principle of follow-through and overlap applied to an easy basic tail animation (for the ball) and a more complex animation of tail and wings for the Dragon! 😉

In the video I’ll show you how I concepted the shot from 2d sketches up to the refine version!

So…I hope to be able to continue to work on that and…post it as soon as possible! 🙂

In the meantime you can follow this blog (just clikc on the follow button on the right :P) so that you’ll receive an email when I will post something new, and….. like and follow my: Facebook PageTwitter and Youtube Channel! 😉

I Like to present: Arc the Dragon

I want to present you a very cool rig I’m “testing” right now for a shot, Arc the Dragon, created by Josh Sobel 🙂



Arc is a really well done and pretty complex rig with some customizable options: you can choose between different “personality”: 6 in total! That is pretty cool! 😀

I’m animating the Young version and is really nice to pose and instantly appealing! 🙂

You can also change the texture and eye color between this 7 variations:

The rig comes with a very useful picker where, in addition to the customization options, you can easily select the rig controls, splitted in Body and Facial (extremely useful for a complex rig like this one) I usually don’t use pickers, I like the direct approach with the rig but …. in this case I use it a lot 😉


In the picker is also available a little set of expressions and poses:

The rig has a very affordable price 18,00€ for a standard license and is available on this link http://www.joshsobelrigs.com/arc-the-dragon

So far I didn’t find any issues with the rig that works pretty well!

As I said, it’s not an easy character to animate for those who are just beginners, but is absolutely a good character if you want to test your skills with a quadruped, or in some flight cycle, acting shots or action! 😉

It’s really funny to animate and soon I’ll post a tutorial/breakdown for the shot I’m working on, so that I can show you my approach with the rig and my workflow! 😉

So… if you are looking for a new and original character for your next acting/action shot, Arc could be a good option! 😉

Here all the links:

Official site: http://www.joshsobelrigs.com/arc-the-dragon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joshsobelrigs/

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/227662496


Exercise #5 – Animate a Tail

In the Lesson 09 I explained the principles of Follow-Through and Overlapping and in the Tutorial 09 I show you how animate a ball with a tail, so now you should be able to do this simple and basic exercise to practice with this concepts! 😉

Tutorial #09 – 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


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


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! 😉

Lesson #9 Follow Through and Overlapping

I had quite busy days during the last month but I finally find the time to create a new lesson … ready to learn how to “section” your character? 🙂

Follow Through and Overlapping RECAP

The principles of follow-through and overlapping will help you a lot to refine your animation and make it more realistic and fluid


Behind this principle there’s a simple rule:follow_through01.png


Follow-through is the principle that a parts of the body follows the movement of an other part (the leading one), with a bit of delay

Example: when you have a stop a part stop first and an other one has a delay, so it will stop in a different timeFollow_Through02.gif

Overlapping action is the principle that some parts have different timing or speed compared to other parts, so they overlap the main actionFollow_Through03.gif


– We can use them to delay each parts of the body:

  • for human characters we can apply this principles on several parts: arms, neck and head, upper chest, legs, hair…


All this parts will move with a bit of delay compared to the main part of the body that leads the movement, they are offsetted and they OVERLAP the ACTION

  • for animals or anthropomorphic characters we can also have some different elements like long ears or tails to animate using this principles


Is quite simple, if you analyze for one second the movement… you should be able to recognize which part leads the action, here some examples:

When you know which part leads, you just have to delay the other parts

Don’t forget that… at the beginning of the action, this parts react to the movement of the leading one, by moving in the opposite direction!

In this example we have a simple arm movementFollow_Through05.gif

the shoulder and the upper part of the arm lead the movement, so when they start to move forward, the forearm reacts moving in the opposite direction, then we have the same reaction on the wrist and the fingers

When the leading part arrives to a stop, the forearm, the wrist and the fingers stop with a delay and different timing

So the arm and shoulder drag the lower part of the arm and during this movements you can also break some joints and use some deformers to emphasize the delay and the arcs

So… at first animate the upper part, the leading one, then the lower arm, then the wrist and last…add the fingers animation

You can also delay each finger from the others or even the single parts of the finger

To complete the movement you can add a…follow_through20.png

to avoid a sudden stop, keeping a slight bit of motion for all this parts for more frames


or add a…follow_through21.pngafter the stop all this parts go back and forth for few times, always decreasing the motion, keeping the delay between a part and an other. The leading part could have just a small and short settle, and the other parts a longer settle


or just the…


In this Lesson I explain more in detail Moving Hold and Settle

How to manage follow through, overlapping action, moving hold and settle depends on:

  • -the type and speed of the motion
  • -the length and weight of the parts that follow the movement


An other situation where you need to apply this principles is when your character has some cloths like: an hat, a scarf, a coat, a skirt, etc…

This elements will have the follow through and the overlap just like the body parts. The body movement drags this elements and they will react in different ways, depending on the type of cloths, the material’s weight and the speed of the movement

A good way to manage and animate parts with follow-through and overlap is to visualize the body as sections


In this way will be more easy and fast for you to manage all the delays 😉

Also a tail can be visually split in section:follow_through27follow_through28

the upper part would lead the movement, moving first, the second one would follow this movement, the third one would follow the second one and so on…Follow_Through08.gif

Compared to the main section, the second one has a delay of 1 frame, the third one a delay of 2 frames, the forth one of 3 frames and so on….

in this way your movement would result smooth and realistic! 😉Follow_Through09.gif

Do the same for objects or parts of the character and the practice will help you to naturally apply this principle in the right way!



How I became a Character Animator

become an animator.png

I was the typical super creative and dreamer child, with a wild imagination! I liked to play with conventional toys but….I liked most to play with the ones “invented by me”.

My nick name as child was “Blonde devil”….you can imagine 🙂scansione0003

When I was really young I started to draw (actually….retracing Mickey Mouse books), or…another of my pastime was to re-create the planimetries of the tv shows I was used to watch (I scansione0002ccshould still have the planimetry of the house of Brandon and Brenda Walsh or the cafè of “Saved by the Bell” somewhere….
I was so detail-oriented that I even had the list of menu’s prices! Don’t ask me why! Kids… 😀

Then I started to read comics, especially manga: Ranma 1/2 and Video Girl Ai my favourites! And that’s just stimulated more my creativity… so I started to write and draw my own comics tavo012

I created comics in secondary and hight school (of course, my only readers were my classmates and my sister, but they were always looking for next episodes! 😀

During my Art High School I also discover a passion for paintings and for a small period I was used to withdraw in my “studio”…painting my plywood covered by acrylic colors, sterile gauze pads, vinyl glue and stylized animals and human figures!


During High School I followed a super interesting course in Cinema and that was the time that I became a movies addicted (I think I’ve seen something around 2000 movies in one year :D) I also started to write movies script on my own

Then…was time to decide what to do: University? I wasn’t so enthusiast, no one of the courses was really convincing me… so I started to make researches for some private course or school for cinema (my primary passion at that time) and I found an interesting school (actually was pretty famous in Italy but I never heard about that before) the “The Experimental Center of Cinematography” based in Rome, the oldest school about cinema art, with courses for: directing, photography, acting, scripting etc…

“Ok! This is the school for me! I’ll be a movies director!”

But… there was only one “huge” problem, my age: the Director course had a minimum age limit (I was 19 and the limit was 21…. I should have wait 2 years…)

So…I had a look on the other courses of the same school (with lower age limit) and I found a new course (based in a different city, Turin, in the north of Italy) about “ANIMATION”

At that time I had no idea of what this was about, yes of course…I watched all the Disney classic movies but I never thought to became an animator… but … I decide to apply for the course!

Then… there was another little obstacle: only 1 class per year, max 16 student would have been admitted…

“What???? Just 16 students?? I will never be one of them!!!”

I was a bit negative about my possible admission… I would have to overcame 3 “selections” to pass (the first one was the portfolio) so, I sent my application with my portfolio (some of my drawings and comics) but in the meantime I signed up for a University course in “Art of Cinema”…. just in case…

I was waiting for a response. I went to my first day of University and…just in the way back home I received a call:

“Hi Chiara! I’m calling from the Experimental Center of Cinematography, you passed the first selection, you are admitted to the second one!”

I was in the train and I think I started to cry! 😀 😀 😀

The second selection have been place in the school, it was an interview with the teachers and some test to do. I passed this selection as well 🙂

And then…the last one: the preparatory course, some days in the school with the other students to test our skills and attitudes!

After that…I was officially an Animation Student! 🙂

How the courses were organized? Well, the first year they teached us the History of Animation, the main softwares used, life drawing sessions

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mime/acting class and …of course…the basics of traditional animation (yeah…I animated on a light table for a year 😀

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The second year you had to choose which path to follow: 2D or 3D Animation. At that point I was still more oriented on directing and VFX, not on the animation part, so I chose 3D cause it seemed the one more closed to me and my interests

(me having milk time in the school/bedrooms floor kitchen)1196200303_adc12536df.png

The third year (absolutely the best one) was dedicated to the creation of a short movie, in small teams. My team was composed by me and other 2 classmates. We realized an “horror” short movie named “Rampicante – Hederae Sicarius” – for this short I was responsible for: directing (of course) and animation (I wasn’t really good at that time… :D)


(me working in the diploma short movie’s room)

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(and … in XMas time)

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Watch “Rampicante – Hedeare Sicarius” here

That were my 3 years of Animation School. The best years of my life…still miss that place! And as any animator…I started to dream to work in Pixar one day 🙂


(drawing of me, made by a friend)

Time to find a job!

-First steps in production-

Finished the school I went back home and I started to look for a job opportunity.

I live in a small town, in Tuscany, and I found an animation studio in Pisa, around 1 hour by train, that was looking for animators for a tv series.

I gave it a try! I wasn’t yet sure of myself and my skills, so I proposed me for a stage as 3D generalist

“We need animators! So if you want to do animation we can offer you a one year contract”

I was a bit hesitant, I didn’t feel ready to work as animator (my skills were really poor ’cause in school I focused much more on other aspects of production) and the supervisor of the studio was an animator with 20 years of experience in dreamworks… I definitely was a bit scared but….I accepted the offer!

The series was “Bird Squad”Schermata 2014-05-31 a 00.01.24.png

The protagonists were: a crow, a penguin, a bat, a flamingo, an hummingbird, a lady owl, a woodpecker, a blackbird and 5 ducks!

They fly around the world on a zeppelin to save other animals who need their help!

It wasn’t so easy to animate for a totally beginner, (at that point I was used to animate everything in LINEAR tangents, never touching the graph editor and without knowing the difference between FK or IK …Now I can confess it!! 😀

But… I won the challenge and I animated the series for 6 months with an amazing team of talented animators!

Watch some of my animations for “BIRD SQUAD”

After this series, I started a new one in the same studio: “Taratabong – The world of Meloditties” a crew of musical creatures that communicate through sounds and musicbfa0ecb6d577a1cbf322110c6948bb00

The challenge here was setted a bit higher: characters with no voice, no mouth or eyebrows, no arms… but… it’s still absolutely the project I loved most!

Watch some of my animations for “Taratabong”

This projects and the studio itself will stay in my heart forever, they were the first to believe in me and gave me the opportunity to start to work as animator


(me and the meloditties made by a friend)

And… I can’t explain it with words but… in that studio there was a unique and great atmosphere…


(me, wearing the awesome hoodie of the company)


(playing Ping Pong during a break)


(me and collegues in a cafè…an other break :D)

During that period I also started to create and sew (100% handmade)foto_chiara a series of puppets and portraits for my friends, you will hear about the PUPPETS again in my story 🙂

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volkswagen (puppets on the yellow van)

(friends and sister’s portraits)

– Moving in the capital: ROME –

After this second experience I moved to Rome with most of the team of Taratabong, for the production of an Animated Movie about an ogres family

It was my first movie and I had the chance to improve my skills, especially in acting

Unfortunately the production dealt with some problems and the movie was stopped.

But I still have a good memory of that experience!

– Taratabong 2 –

After this production I went back home, with my family. My dad (the greatest and best man I met in my life) passed away and I needed to stay home for a bit

So, I went back to the studio in Pisa for the Second Season of “Taratabong”!


(some meloditties puppets I made for fun)


(lunch time on the beach)

(snowy weekend with colleagues)

– Animating Gladiators –

Finished Taratabong 2, someone needed animators in Rome, in the Rainbow studio (best know for the creation of the successful tv series WINX)

I moved there and I started the production of another Animated Movie “Gladiator’s of Rome”. Set in the ancient Rome, it tells the story of a unusual gladiator!

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We worked first on the Layouts and then on the Animations

Watch “Gladiators of Rome” Progression Reel


(me and my Gadiators Stickers Album :D)

(movie’s posters around Rome)


(first preview in the movie theatre)

We had great times during the production


(swimming pool in our residence)

Awesome team, funny moments to remember!

In the sparetime, I started a personal short movie “Felt in the Box”, using my puppets design for the characters


The idea was pretty cool but in the meantime…things started to be a little too complicated and I had to stop the production

-The magic of Winx-

Just after the end of the movie’s production, I started the Season 5 of the very successful tv show for kids “Winx”

First we animated the Transformation Sequence, I made part of Stella and Tecna sequence! Very funny to do! I loved that rigs, so well done, full of controls in order to don’t put limits to an animator’s imagination! 😀

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Schermata 2014-01-10 a 16.27.53.pngWe were responsible for layouts and animations and the production was like….5/6 months long

Watch “Winx” Progression Reel

And here other Animations I made


(me and my lovely Winx air mattress :P)

(me and my sister in the Rainbow Magic Land Theme Park)

– First time abroad –

After Winx, I felt to be ready to try an experience abroad and I moved to France

I found job in a studio placed in Angouleme, a small town in the Charante


(my first day of work…under the snow)

The series was pretty complex, “Foot2Rue Extreme”, a lot of human characters playing football, parkour, roller blades and other crazy stuff! 😀


Watch “Foot2Rue” Animation Reel

Very challenging and tought experience! With a GREAT ANIMATION TEAM



– Back to Italy –

At one point, I felt the needed to go back to Italy and stay close to my family

For a while I stayed home working on a new personal project (with an other collogue), a TV series for kids with the Puppets as protagonists

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We created the Opening Theme (whatch it here), the scripts of some episodes, a pilot episode and a super detailed graphic bible

Here a Making Off Video (watch us working :P)

We developed two apps, connected to the series that have been available on the Apple Store for a while. An Alphabet App, a Coloring Book, a Puzzle and an Interactive book

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Here you can watch the Spot of the “Interactive Book” app

(my Awesome Puppets Birthday Cake :P)

And wee also participated to a famous event in Italy “Cartoons on the Bay” to pitch the series, but unfortunately…nothing happened! 😦

So, I went back to Rome, in Rainbow, to work on another successful tv series “Mia&Me” and this time I had to deal just with layouts

The only animation I made was the transformation of the main character, re-used for each episodes

MiaWatch “Mia&Me” – Transformation – progression shot

(colleagues :P)

– The big switch to VIDEO GAMES industry –

I had the chance to apply in a very big company based in Hamburg, GOODGAMES STUDIO in the extreme north of Germany!KIA01ENG

At the beginning I was a bit scared, I never worked in video games before

But…after some technical issues I just get used to it and I worked for 1 year and half on a puzzle gamesnow1


(my workstation with the main character puppet made by me)

Watch my “A Little Lost” Animation reel

I was responsible to manage the animation team, we had several little cute animal/fantasy creatures to animate and make them interact with the gameplay

I’ve done so many idle, attack, win and lose animations…..that it’s hard to remember all of them! But I’m extremely proud of the work we have done! 🙂

(findind cooking on my desk in the morning ❤ …for those who don’t understand italian… stronza=asshole, with love of course 😀 )


(me with Elisa, from the Onboarding team, those who helped us in burocratic stuff and relocation)


(and our daily match with MARIO KART after lunch time 😀 )

You can watch other pictures about my experience in Hamburg here

– Life changes –

After the german experience, I had to deal with an other family lost, my great mom…. so I went back home to take care of our family stuff, that’s the main reason why at one point of my life I decided to work as freelance remotely

Right now I work as freelance for other italian and foreign studios, and in the spare time…I have this blog!

I was thinking to create this blog since a while but never find enough time to do it! I love this “project”, I like to teach and share what I’ve learn so far with other animators, so… I hope you appreciate it! 🙂





My Work Experience

For those who wants to know the studios and the project I’ve worked on, here’s my past experiences 😉 MyJob

  • Senior 3D Character Animator

    Company Name: Goodgame StudiosSchermata 2017-08-14 a 15.38.26.png

    Dates Employed: Jul 2015 – Sep 2016

    Location: Hamburg Area, Germany

    Responsible for the in-game animations of the 3D characters of “A Little Lost” – puzzle game. In my role I had to deal with: set a workflow and the animation style, deliver animations for most of the characters in the game. In addition, I was responsible to guide and supervise other animators.

    My first experience in game started with this cute and fun puzzle game! I was responsible to animate the little 3D creatures that help you during the game…it has been a challange to find a way to keep this high quality of animations for this type of game, where you have technical limitations (limited bones, characters interaction with the gameplay, animations in place…) but looking at the result…I can say we have done a great job! 🙂

    We’ve been brave, we wanted to keep a quality comparable to a Tv series animation, and…we won! 😉



  • Senior Character Animator/Layout Artist

    Company Name: RAINBOW CGISchermata 2017-08-14 a 15.48.03.png

    Dates Employed: May 2014 – Nov 2014

    Location: Rome, Italy

    Working as Animator / Layout artist on the Tv series “Mia&Me – season 2”

    Between elves and unicorns! 🙂
    I came back to Italy after the French experience and I worked for several months on the second season of this successful tv series, a Germany / Italy coproduction.

    I took care of the layouts, and I also animated the transformation of the protagonist.



  • Concept / Script / Design / Art Direction / Layouts / Animation

    Personal Project

    Pitch for a TV Series for Kids “Puppet House” I developed with Emanuele Leoncilli





  • Senior Character Animator

    Company Name:  2D3D AnimationsSchermata 2017-08-14 a 15.59.58

    Dates Employed: Feb 2013 – Dec 2013

    Location: Angouleme, France

    Working on the Tv series “Foot2Rue Extreme”

    Moved to France for a year, in Angouleme in the region of the Charante, I worked on the most challenging (but really funny) series in my career, the 3D tv series “Foot De Rue Extreme” (produced by Télé Images Productions).
    I won the challenge with “action shots”, also a girl can animate people who play football and do a lot of other crazy acrobatic stuff! (Yeah, ’cause I was the only girl in the team^^)