– CARTOON ANIMATION by Preston Blair –
A new suggestion for your Animator’s Bookshelf, “Cartoon Animation” by Preston Blair!
– CARTOON ANIMATION by Preston Blair –
A new suggestion for your Animator’s Bookshelf, “Cartoon Animation” by Preston Blair!
In this quick video I want to give you some tips for that moment when you’ll apply for a job, trying to boost your chances to gettin hired!! 🙂
Let’s see how to approche an animation shot and what’s the best method for you! 😉
In this lesson we will see the two possible approaches to an Animation!
As the name suggests STRAIGHT AHEAD means to start to animate from the FIRST KEY POSE adding all the other key poses in sequence order.
So you animate from the start to the end of the shot going ahead, adding key poses, breakdowns, and all the other poses in-between one after the other!
POSE TO POSE means start adding just the main KEY POSES (that are all the poses necessary to describe the action, the more significant poses)
WE DON’T HAVE TO FOLLOW A SEQUENCE ORDER!
We can create the first and last key poses and the…add the other in the middle, or we can choose to add them following an order we prefer, it’s up to us and our inspiration!
When we finished to create the key poses we go back adding some breakdwons here and there, where this are necessary to better read the action and to have a more precise reference of the timing we will have in the final result!
When we work on Pose to Pose is recommended to keep all the CURVES IN STEPPED so that when we pass from a key to another we don’t have any interpolation but we just skip from a pose to the following one!
This two different techniques have a very different approach!
When we animate in STRAIGHT AHEAD the approch is MORE INSTINCTIVE, you’ll animate following YOUR IMPULSE!
With the POSE TO POSE animation you’ll PLAN your animation concentrating on the keyposes and the timing, in this way you’ll have an idea of the finale result even with few keys!
If you are BEGINNER I suggest you to go for a POSE TO POSE approach, in general is the best way to start and even I usualy choose this approach, especially for complex and long animation!
With the STRAIGHT AHEAD you risk to:
In production, when a supervisor have to look at your animation, it will be more difficult to tell you what change and you’ll lose a lot of time doing this changes, due to the high number of keys we have in a STRAIGHT AHEAD approach!
With POSE TO POSE you avoid all this problems ’cause:
In this example I’ll show you the same animation but done with the two different approaches!
First, let’s see how we would create this animation following the STRAIGHT AHEAD approach!
As I said before with straight ahead we start from the first key pose…
…and we proceed with all the other poses (key poses and breakdowns) following the sequence order
So, when we do this, we add as many keys as we want, just following our instinct! So we don’t just focus on the main poses and the timing, but we already adjust the spacing and create the moving holds, the settle, the offset of some parts but…as I said before there’re no rules! So you could also choose to go for a blocking approach in straight ahead and add the offsets and other little adjustments in a second time!
I usually use STRAIGHT AHEAD when I work on less complex and hight quote production like:
For this shot I go for straight ahead animation, animating directly in spline and skipping the blockin phase! BUT AS I SAID BEFORE, I DON’T SUGGEST YOU THIS METHOD IF YOU’RE BEGINNER!
Let’s see the example with the POSE TO POSE! So first we go to create all the key poses or the extremes!
We know that he starts sitting at the table so this is the first key to create
and we know that the shot will finish with him going out from the door!
So let’s add a pose around the end of the shot of him opening the door, in this way we also set a rough timing of the entire action!Now we know that in this range he will have to do the other action, so let’s add some other key poses
At one point he looks towards the door so we add the pose of the turning head:
We also add three key poses for the standing up, the hands contact on the table, one where he stands up and another of him turning with the body:
Last…we add three keyposes to show the steps towards the door:
That’s all for the FIRST PASS OF BLOCKING, and it’s enough to check the action and the timing
If we are fine with what we’ve done so far…we can add some breakdowns (the passing poses between the key poses). We decide how the character moves and reacts to reach the following poses. Based on where we put this breakdowns we also go to roughly decide the spacing (the speed variations during a movement)
This blocking would be READY TO BE SEEN BY THE SUPERVISOR and he could give you some simple tips to enhance it! And would be VERY EASY for you since you have FEW KEYS TO MANAGE!
Same thing if it’s a personal work, you can easly adjust poses, timing, spacing in few moves!
One of my personal method for for the POSE TO POSE avoiding to create too many poses is to start adding the KEY POSES in SPLINE (without breakdowns)
In this way we will have the SOFTWARE INTERPOLATION between the key poses
Scrolling back and forth in the timeline I choose some interpolation poses for my breakdowns, so I turn this frame in KEY FRAME and these keys will be my BREAKDOWNS
Now I take this BREAKDOWNS and I adjust the keys created by the interpolaion, making better poses, adjusting the spacing, the way he moves, the silhouette etc…
If we like the result….at the end WE SWITCH ALL THE KEYS IN STEPPED TANGENTS AND OUR POSE TO POSE IS DONE!
IN THIS WAY WE CAN KEEP A LOW NUMBER OF KEY POSES AND BREAKDOWNS TO MANAGE AND DECREASE THE CHANCE TO HAVE BAD SURPRISES DURING THE REFINE PASS!
WHEN YOU’LL SWITCH AGAIN YOUR TANGENTS FROM STEPPED TO SPLINE THE ANIMATION WILL BE ENOUGH “CLEAN” AND WILL WORKS PRETTY WELL!
Here the written recap of the Lesson #11 based on the animation principle “Exaggeration”
here the Video Lesson
When we talk about this principle we actually also talk about the other principles we’ve seen so far, because …
It means to go out from the limit of the realism and exaggerate the actions and the poses to make the final result more instantly readable for the users!
But as animator we have to focus just on some of this:
But it’s not as simple as the word would suggest!
When we exaggerate we must be sure that it helps to:
Exaggerate doesn’t means to do something completely out of any physic principle and realism, BUT it means do something starting from realism and exaggerate it to make it more interesting, enhancing and push an idea!
And it gradually increases depending on the level of cartoon style of the animation!
I’ll show you some of this example but this principle would really requires long talks and practice to really understand it and know how to push it!
Do it in KEY POSES pushing your poses to cleary show the mood, always based on the style you need. You have different solutions depending on how much of realism you want!
In this simple example we can see a normal jump:
…and this other one more cartoony and exaggerated!
If we compare the two jumps, we can see that the first one is more close to reality: there’s a small anticipation, the jump distance is not so long, so this is very close to how a real jump looks like
In the second version: I made a bigger anticipation (the hip goes much more down, the arms raise more) and the spacing is different, there’s more preparation to the jump so during the anticipation there’s a longer pause, then I over stretched the body during the push (especially the legs and the chest), the jump is higher and there’s a slower spacing when he stays in the air so he jumps very fast and then decelerates in the air. Then he accelerates when he falls, I stretched the body again and when he lands I made the feelings that he’s heavier making a stronger lands, with the hips that goes very low and a big pause before he stands up again! Also the jump distance is exaggerated!
You also can use it in BREAKDOWNS: for example when you broke a joint during an action, this is not reality but it’s an exaggeration of the arc that you will create with this movement!
You can use deformers (if there’re in the rig) to accentuate the curve of the arms and give (for just 1 max 2 frames) an innatural flexibility to the “bones” to give more energy and create a nice arc and it also help to create a smoother transition in a very fast spacing whenre the arms moves from point A to point B in few frames!
Use it in EXPRESSION you can exaggerate the organic feel of the face, make it super flexible. Exaggerate the asymmetry, exaggerate the lines of action, just as for the body poses, to make the acting and the feelings more convincing!
When you stretch a face, push it to give the idea that the head and the muscles could really stretch as a balloon of water! Stretch the eyes, the mouth and the neck and use the shoulders to emphasize the push upward that we have during a take!
Do the same when you squash an head, press it in the chest and raise the shoulders! Also squash and press the eyes between the eyebrows that push down and the cheeks that push up!
Starting from a realistic bouncing ball, you can create a version more cartoony and exaggerated: increasing the contrast with fast and slow spacing, when the ball is in the air we have a slower spacing, and when it falls we have a big acceleration!
We can also exaggerate the amount of squash and stretch, keeping the stretch longer during the fall and make a bigger squash in the contact!
In this simple animation of a ball you can exaggerate the timing and the spacing to add energy to the scene and If this would be a character ….. we would have two different jumps and the exaggerated one, with more contrast in the spacing and an exaggerated use of the squash and stretch, results more cartoon and appealing!
WHERE WERE WE? 🙂 We still miss 5 Animation Principles and here a new one “Exaggeration”!
Is not so easy to figure out how to use this principle … it requires a marked sensibility, a good eye and a lot of practice! As soon as we’ll finish the principles I was thinking to create an E-Book to gather what we have done so far…so… I’ll keep you update! 😉
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
This book is really a magical and marvelous trip to the past, a nostalgic dip into the Disney Animation world!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
The birth of the Burbank Studio and the Nine Old Men!
An incredibly detailed trip into the creation of a Disney Movie! 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!
Walks that emphasize the characters personality!
The creation of a great and magical story!
A character development!
A chapter about the Villains in the Disney Movies!
Tips to animate expressions and Dialogues!
Blinks, Lipsynch, Acting and Emotions!
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! 😉
Let’s see how to use the Maya Constraints analyzing different situations 😉
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
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
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
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
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
So now… I import the tailed ball character and I create the blocking
I start to pose the “body/head” so I go to hide the tail
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)
When he bounces behind the rock he trys to hide himself super frightened…trying 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
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
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
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
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
I try to make him cute enough: at the beginning he has a very innocent expression
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
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
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
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
He makes this arc jumping high and straight first
and then he lands forward creating this arc with the body, the tail and the wings
Then we have some steps while he’s sniffing the ground
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
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 principle
I move each section of the tail with a delay
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
He felt something so he turns in the super excited mode
I add this big anticipation before he moves forward, just to emphasize the reaction and to create a nice path of action
The anticipation is made with the eyes, cause he already looks towards the point where he want to jump
and also with the body movement, ’cause he moves backward raising the back, the tail and the wings
Then we have the jump poses, always creating a path with body and a different one with the tail
He turns upward the head following his friend movement
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”
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
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
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 😉
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
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! 😉
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? 🙂
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-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 time
– Overlapping action is the principle that some parts have different timing or speed compared to other parts, so they overlap the main action
– We can use them to delay each parts of the body:
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
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 movement
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…
to avoid a sudden stop, keeping a slight bit of motion for all this parts for more frames
or add a…after 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:
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:
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…
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! 😉
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!