BEGINNER Exercise – “Hand Poses”


Another POSES exercise, this time we’ll concentrate on just a part of the human body: the HANDS! 2D animators often say that hands are particularly hard to draw, but what I can say that even in 3D they could be hard to pose! So is important to practice a bit with this delicate part and I suggest to watch some reference from picutures or use a mirror to create the pose yourself!

BEGINNER Exercise – “Different Blinks”


This exercise is based on a scheduled Lesson tgat is not ready yet!

The goal of it is to learn how to animate the main used blinks : REGULAR – FAST- HALF – SLOW AND OFFSETTED!

Learn how to manage blink is fundamental ’cause is something you’ll have to do regularly, in any animation and …a wrong blink can compromise your work!

BEGINNER Exercise – “Expressions”


Now let’s focus on face and expressions! Learn how flexible a human face can be and most of all…learn how to EXPRESS feelings and moods using each part of the face…

Reference: Lesson #11 “Exaggeration” and any pictures of real actors that is particularly appealing, or watch yourself on a mirror….study your face!


BEGINNER Exercise – “Action Poses”


Just as the previous exercise, “Acting Poses”, this one is pretty much the same but with ACTION poses, this means that you will have to create dynamic, strong and readable poses getting inspiration from movies actors, sports or just your imagination!

Watch the Lesson #11 “Exaggeration” for learn how to push your poses!


BEGINNER Exercise – “Acting Poses”


Sometimes is important to “put aside” the motion and focus just on still poses! This exercise is focus on learning the art to create GOOD and APPEALING poses that is the base of any animation!

Connected to the Lesson #11 “Exaggeration” I suggest you to look for some image of real actors from movies, people around you or watch yourself to get inspiration!

BEGINNER Exercise – “Acting with a Ball”


Here another “famous” exercise : the ACTING with a BALL! It’s one of my favourite and I really believe it’s not just for beginners but is also something we should do, every now and then, even when we are experienced enough ’cause is always a good fresh up to our approach when we animate!

Connected to the Lesson #5 “Timing and Spacing” and my video TIPS #2 “Rhythm of your Shot”



Here you can find a list of exercises I thougth for practice and I split them in:


I RECOMMEND YOU TO DON’T SKIP THE FUNDAMENTAL STEPS AND DON’T RUSH…LEARNING ANIMATION REQUIRES TIME AND PATIENCE! If you started with something out of your actual knowledge you’ll don’t benefits from them but what you’ll have at the end….WILL BE A BIG CONFUSION! So please, go forward, step by step until you don’t handle the main Principles and YOU WILL SEE GREAT RESULTS! 🙂


“I Want To Be An Animator – Community”

Use the hashtag     #BeAnAnimatorExercises   to receive feedback!



  1. Bouncing Ball
  2. Acting with a Ball
  3. Character Turn
  4. Acting poses
  5. Action poses
  6. Expression
  7. Head Take
  8. Different Blinks
  9. Animate a Tail
  10. Hand Poses
  11. Changing weight (waiting)
  12. Idle
  13. Walk cycle
  14. Run cycle
  15. Jump in place
  16. Crossing arms
  17. “NO” head shake
  18. “YES” head nod
  19. Waving Hand
  20. Drinking
  21. Animate a Throw
  22. Smash a door
  23. Acting with a prop
  24. Excited reaction
  25. Pick something up
  26. Laugh
  27. Sit down and sit up



DEENA Sketches#1

‼️I’m preparing some new Lessons/Tutorials/Tips!

Next topics will be: the last Animation Principle “APPEAL”; POSING; How to use Animation Layers, Lipsynch… It will take a bit ’cause I still have to wait the final rig of Deena but…. I’m preparing the theory part😉 IN THE MEAN TIME HERE AN AWESOME VERSION OF DEENA MADE BY FILIPPO FOGLIETTI! She’s sooo nice😍

#deena #animation #lesson #tutorial #beananimator


I can’t not share with you some rig test pics of #DEENA 😊 It’s still a wip but…she’s on the right way!! Thanks to Sagi Cohen (Squiggly Rigs) for sent me this great update!! I know I totally disappeared in the last months but for NEXT YEAR I’m preparing a lot of new contents for the channel!! All the videos I create require a lot of time….time that I don’t have right now so…..I hope you’ll understand!!☺️

#iwanttobeananimator #deena #rigupdate

I want to be…an Animator ✏️Mention

When I started this channel….I just had in mind to create a couple of video tutorials, just for fun and test myself in something new..trying to explain my animation method to others through quick and simple videos demonstrations. I wasn’t sure to be able to do that and I was ready to “delate” the first video uploaded if I would have received a flood of insults 😅But…this didn’t happen and a lot of aspirants animators just founded my videos easy to understand and a font of inspiration, so ..I want to say thanks to all this people that supported this project and when I read my Blog listed in article like “10 Awesome Animation Blogs for your Inspiration”….I just feel happy😁Thanks Florian and for the mention!!!😊

+20.000 subs!!!

The youtube channel reached the +20.000 subs!!😊THANKS! I would just want to be able to post more videos even if the time is never enough 😣😣😅 #animation #beananimator #iwanttobeananimator #tutorial #lesson #youtube #channel #mentoring #animationforbeginner #learnanimation


5 DO’S and DON’T in Animation – Part 1

In this Tip video I’ll show you 5 Things that I really don’t like to see in Animation! 🙂



Lesson #11 – Exaggeration “RECAP”

Here the written recap of the Lesson #11 based on the animation principle “Exaggeration”

here the Video Lessonindexw


When we talk about this principle we actually also talk about the other principles we’ve seen so far, because

Schermata 2018-06-07 a 21.48.18.png

Schermata 2018-06-07 a 21.48.23.png

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!



It can be applied on:

  • KEY POSES (pushing the lines of action, exaggerating the way you represent a feeling or an action)
  • BREAKDOWNS (exaggerating the arcs, the amount of squash and stretch and breaking some joints)
  • CHARACTER DESIGN (exaggerating shapes, proportions and caricature elements)
  • STORY (exaggerating a concept, an action to make it stronger)
  • POSES (exaggerating the representation of a mood or an action)
  • TIMING/SPACING (make it more cartoony exaggerating the contrast between acceleration and deceleration of a movement)

Schermata 2018-06-07 a 21.49.44.png

But as animator we have to focus just on some of this:


But it’s not as simple as the word would suggest!

Schermata 2018-06-07 a 21.50.03.png

When we exaggerate we must be sure that it helps to:

Schermata 2018-06-07 a 21.50.12

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!

Schermata 2018-06-07 a 21.50.29.png


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!

Exaggerate Poses

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:ex3.gif

…and this other one more cartoony and exaggerated!ex4.gif

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!

ex5Schermata 2018-06-07 a 21.51.54


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!

Schermata 2018-06-07 a 21.52.54.png

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!ex6.gif

Schermata 2018-06-07 a 21.53.15.png

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!


This is all for this lesson, don’t miss the next one! 🙂


Hi!!!! Sorry for this “break”, I’ve been super busy with the relocation (It took longer than expected :P) but now I’m back 🙂


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! 🙂

BEGINNER Exercise – “Acting with a prop”


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 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”

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! 😉

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! 😉