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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.
Once you have the foundation of the character animated, in other words, the hips and the feet, you can move onto the upper body. So let's go ahead and see where we are at. We've got this nice little run cycle, but of course as you can see the body really is kind of dead. So let's go ahead and start working with that. Well, the first thing I want to work with is basically the transition between the lower and upper body, and that's the line where the shirt intersects the pants. So that we can see it a little bit better, I am going to go ahead and turn off this arm so we can see this line.
What's going to happen? Now we have talked about this in the walk cycle. Now let's go ahead and go over it again. What's going to happen here is that as the character moves, this shape actually will change because right now it's kind of down and it's kind of like this concave line here. And what this means is that right foot is down and back. But when the right foot is up and forward, that means the other foot is down and back.
So really the weight has shifted to that other foot. So if we actually animate this shape, the line between the upper and lower torso, we can actually get a much better sense of volume in the character. So notice how now instead of concave, it's convex. So we go from this shape here to this shape here on the opposite foot, and when we put all that together, you can see how it gives a much better sense of volume.
It looks like his hips are rocking back and forth as he runs. So now let's go ahead and move up to the head. Now, this head is actually going to have some secondary motion as the character bounces up and down. So as he pushes up, this is going to kind of sink into his collar. So now, he pushes up, it sinks into his collar, and then as he falls down here, the head is going to lag behind. So it's going to kind of come up a little bit like this.
So now we have got almost like a piston. It kind of comes up, comes down, and then it goes back to the original. So let's go ahead and play that. So as you can see we have got a much better motion on the head, but another thing that looks pretty stiff is his hat. Now, we can have a lot of fun with that. We can do a lot of squash and stretch animation. So again, just like the head, as that head is being squashed into the body, the hat is being squashed into the head.
So let's go ahead and animate some squash and stretch on the hat. So I am going to go ahead and squash his hat down, maybe rotate it a little bit to get it kind of set down onto his head. So now, as he pushes up, that hat squashes and as he moves down, it's going to stretch. Let's go ahead and rotate it. As it stretches, it actually may even leave his head just a little bit because he is really doing some pretty hefty motion here.
So now, I have got it squashing around frame 2, stretching around frame 6, and then going back to normal on the cycle. So let's see how that works. Now, I can actually have that squash down a little bit more on the head here. Let's go ahead and stretch this a little bit more. Yeah, that's much better. So now we can then stretch this more. There we go. Let's take a look at this.
There we go, much better. So now we have the body. And the last thing we need to do is animate the arms. Let me go ahead and turn those back on. The arms actually move opposite the legs very similar to a walk. So as the right leg is back, the right arm is rotated forward. So I am going to go ahead and rotate it forward and even move it forward a little bit to give a sense of his shoulders moving forward, and also rotate this a little bit at the elbow.
That's actually a little bit off right there. We can fix that. So that's my good first pose. Then just go halfway through the cycle and get to my second pose, which will be this is straightened out and the shoulder is rotated back and it also moves back here, something like that, maybe a little bit more. So now, yeah, that looks about right. So now all I have to do is just copy and paste those first frames to frame 16 to give a nice cycle, and let's see how that looks.
It's a little bit off, but that will be good for now. You can see where we are going with this and I have also already animated the left hand to make sure that it works as well, and there we go. So there is a basic 8 frame per step run cycle and as you can see, it looks pretty good. So when animating a run, it's often best to do it pose to pose. Now, make sure that your poses are strong and also make sure that you have smooth in-betweens between the poses.
Once you are done with the basic run, you can add a little bit of squash and stretch to make it give it more life. Different characters will run differently, but hopefully, this run is a good template for which to base all of your other runs.
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