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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.
One other more important skills you will need to learn as a character animator is how to turn your character's head. Now a head has a lot of different parts. You have the shape of the face. You have hair, eyes, nose, mouth, and all of those need to move in a very coordinated manner. So in order to turn the head, it's actually fairly complex animation even on a simple character such as this. So let me show you how to do it. Now probably the easiest way to turn a head is just to flip it, to actually scale it in the opposite direction.
So for example, if I wanted to turn this character's head between frame 4 and 5, I could just very easily flip it in the opposite direction. So if I scale it -100% in that direction and just reposition the head, I can just have a very simple kind of a snap head turn. Now I have seen this done in a lot of character animations and it can work out quite well in a pinch, but it really is kind of a cheap-y. So if you wants get a more realistic head turn, you are going to have to in between it over a number of frames. Really anywhere from 6 to 12 frames is about a standard head turn.
So let's go ahead and make a 6- frame head turn with this character. Now if I just took that flip, in other words if I just scaled it over the course of 6 frames, so I am going from frame 4 say to frame 10, which would be 6 frames. You would see that this really doesn't work because, well, it's scaling. It's not really turning. And here in the middle the head actually kind of disappears. So what we have to do is actually create an in-between pose right about here which is frame 7 to make it look like the head is actually turning.
So we have to actually animate the shape of the face and move the eyes and do a number of different things in order to make that head appears as though it's turning. So let's go ahead and go to frame 7 and I am going to go ahead and copy in that original pose that we had at frame 4. So here from frame 4 to frame7, it's really the same pose. But I am going to use this pose as the basis for a head turn. So what happens during a head turn? Well, the facial features move over, the chin drops and the head turns.
Now everything moves on an arc during a head turn or really doing any other sort of character animation. So let's go ahead and try and simulate that using some scaling and moving the facial features around. So first thing I am going to do is I am going to go ahead and squash this head and move it down and then rotate the chin. So it looks like her chin is actually moving. This is probably little too squashed here.
So now what I have got is I have got her head kind of going like this. But this really doesn't look quite right. What's really going to indicate the turn is that point on the bottom of the chin that's actually going to turn. So we need to make sure that we animate that and give it kind of an exaggerated sense of turning. So what I am going to do is I am going to go back to frame 4 and I am going to anticipate this. So I am going to go ahead and move it in the opposite direction and almost anticipate it.
So now her head comes up and then it comes over. So now you can start to see that we are getting a little bit more of what it looks like a turn. But again here between frame 7 and 8 it's kind of flipping and it's not really doing what we wanted do. So again what I am going to do is exactly the opposite which is I am going to take the keyframes here at frame 10 and copy them over one frame after that in between and then I am going to again squash it down and then rotate that chin.
So now I have got something that looks like this. So at least the shape of the head is starting to look a little bit more like a head turn. So what I have done is I have anticipated the head by moving up the chin, squashing it down and rotating the chin down, flipping it, and then bringing it up to the opposite position. Now in a head turn you can also do something similar to an overshoot. What we can do is we can go two frames over to frame 12 and then overshoot here at frame 10.
So I am actually going to bring this up a little bit. So now it goes up and then it settles down and her head rotates back just a little bit more. So now we have got something like this. It gives a little bit more of a bounce to it. So now that we have got the basic motion of the head, let's go ahead and move on to the facial features. So right here before it turns I want to take the eyes and the mouth and the nose and move them down. I am going to go ahead and take this right eye, move it down, take the left eye, again move it down.
So what I am doing is I am trying to get a sense of motion here. So now we have got the eyes coming down a little bit. It makes it look like the head is actually tilting down. So I can take that nose and move it down as well. Again, just reset it. So now it looks like her head is tilting down, because the facial features are moving slightly down.
So now that we have got this, we have got a much better sense of a head turn. Now there is still one more thing that we need to do, and that is to put a little bit of blink in the middle here. So let's go ahead to this center point here and we are going to add in some blinks. So as her head comes down right there, I want to make sure that she blinks. Now her blinks are a little bit off here.
Here we go, much better. So she blinks and then she is going to open up her eyes again. So now I have put a blink in the middle of this animation. So when her eyes are blinked here in the middle, it gives a much better sense of direction, because one other things that happens is the eyes are changing directions as well.
Now one other things you should do when doing a head turn is you should take the eyes and actually lead the eyes in the direction of the head turn. So as the character moves his/her head, he/she is going to be looking in the direction that her head is turning. We can just do a little more animation. So we can take the pupils of the eyes and just do a real simple animation, so as she comes down I want this position of these eyes to move over just to look like she is looking in the direction of her head turn.
So then as the eyes flip over here, again we are going to need to just put those back in the direction that they are supposed to be going. So let's take a look at this final head turn. As you can see, we have got number of things that we need to do when animating a head turn. First thing we should do is make sure that the chin appears to be moving from one direction to the other. A squash in the middle can give the sense that the chin and the face is dipping down and then a blink in the middle accentuates that head turn.
So let's see this one more time. So go ahead and use these techniques with your character's head turns and they will appear a lot more realistic and life-like.
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