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All animators must learn to walk before they can run. In 2D Character Animation, industry expert George Maestri teaches the basic principles every animator must know to build a foundation for more complex work. These principles are relevant regardless of software used or animation style. George explains how good animation depends on a firm knowledge of the laws of motion, which inform the principles of animation. He teaches the basics of creating characters, squash and stretch, pose-to-pose animation, walking and running, track reading, and dialogue animation. He also shows how to use After Effects and Flash to apply the tools learned in the course. Exercise files accompany this course.
When animating a character, you really need to pay attention to the character's eyes. The eyes are very key to the character's facial expression. They also show where the character's attention is focused and the eyes also help convey thoughts and emotions. Now, when animating the eyes, one of the most important things to pay attention to is the way the character blinks. Now, blinks are probably one of the easiest ways to bring a character to life. Now, another important thing with blinks is that it draws attention to the eyes. So if the eyes change direction, or they change a motion, a blink really helps to draw the audience to the eyes so they can see the change and blinks can also help indicate mood and alertness.
A fast blink is going to create a very alert character, while a slower blink might create a more drowsy or drunk character. So let's go ahead and look at how to animate some blinks. So here we have a simple character and we're just going to go ahead and blink her eyes. So when you animate a blink, first thing you do is decide how you're going to blink the eyes. Now, I typically blink the character in thirds. So I set up a one-third closed, a two- thirds closed and then a completely closed eye.
Now, some people use fourths, some people only do halves. It really depends upon the character and how you want to convey their moods. So each character is going to be a little bit different. Now, I find this works best for the type of timing that I like to use. So let's go ahead and animate a simple blink. It really just is a matter of closing the eyes and opening them again. So I'm going to actually start the blink here at frame 2, over the course for a couple of frames, I'm going to close the eyes. So 2 frames per pose, 2 frames for one- third closed, 2 frames for two-thirds closed and 2 frames completely closed.
So basically we have open, one-third, two-thirds, closed. So that takes actually a total of 6 frames just to close the eyes. Now, opening them back up may take a few more frames as well. And you can open them back up just the same way that you close them, which is by going two-thirds, one- third and then completely open. This is just one way. So now we've got 6 frames down, 2 frames closed, and then 6 frames up.
So that's actually a total of 14 frames, because you've got 6 down, 6 up, plus 2 for close. So 14 frames is almost half a second for a blink. So lets go ahead and see how that plays in real time. You can see that's a nice blink, but it's actually a fairly slow blink if your character is very alert. Now, one of the tricks I've learned is that the rate that you open the eyes is actually little more important than the rate that you close the eyes. So eyes that open a little bit more quickly can be read as a little bit more alert.
So, I'm just going to go ahead and take this character and open her eyes a lot faster. So I'm going to take 6 frames to close them but only half the time, 3 frames, to open them back up. So let's see how that plays. So you can see she feels a little bit more alert. Now, when you blink the eyes, you really have to pay attention to the entire character. Now, just blinking the eyes like this doesn't bring her to life nearly as much, as if you would animate a little bit more of her.
So in order to bring a little bit more life to the character, I am going to animate the head as well. So as this characters blinks, I'm actually going to dip the head, rotate her chin down just a little bit and give her a little bit of a head motion, as she blinks, and then reverse that as she comes up. So now, I've got something like this. This gives a lot more impact. Just dipping the chin little more bit or dropping the head, as she blinks gives a lot more emphasis to the blink.
It also makes the character come to life a little bit more because we've got more of the character involved in the animation. So remember when blinking your characters, the faster the blink, the more alert and dipping the head just a little bit as the character blinks will add a lot more life to your character.
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