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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.
Squash and stretch is great for adding a little bit of life and interest to animation. Now, what's great for character animation that you can also use it for motion graphics or a lot of other types of animation. So let's take a look at how to animate squash and stretch using a simple ball. Now I have got this ball bouncing on the ground. Now let me just play the animation. Now when I scrub through the animation, you will see I have animated this 8 frames down, 8 frames up and 8 frames back down again for a total of 24 frames.
Now when it hits, we don't have much squash and stretch, so the ball looks very very rigid and solid. If we want to give a little bit more elasticity, we are going to have to squash and stretch. So what I want to do is just go down to this point where it hits on frame 8 and just use my scaling commands to scale this ball. So I am going to stretch it out and squash it down and then I am also going to move that ball down so that it contacts the ground. Now if all I did was animate the squash, I really would not have much of an animation.
In fact let me go ahead and play this. So when I do this, you can see the ball is squashing before it hits the ground but what is really causing that ball to squash? Well, it's the impact with the ground and what's happening is all of the atoms and all the mass of this ball is still wanting to go down. Again Newton's Laws of Motion, an object in motion wants to stay in motion. But the floor and the skin of the ball are preventing that from going down.
So it squashes out. So if we go one frame before, then the ball hasn't impacted the floor and it hasn't had anything to create that squash. So at this frame, you want to create the opposite, which is a stretch. So what I am going to do is scale this down and scale it long so I have a little bit of a stretch and then the other thing I am going to do is I am going to rotate this so that it's pointing at that impact point.
So now what I have done is I have created some contrast. So here the ball is stretched out. You are going from a very elongated stretch frame to a squashed frame immediately after and this sort of contrast will create a very good sense of impact. If you are in_between this, you would not really get that sense of solidity and impact with the floor. As this ball takes off, again it's going to stretch. It's not going to squash. All of this matter still wants to stay on the ground but then again its momentum is pushing it this way.
So we are going to stretch it and rotate it so it points to the point where it was. So now I have got squash, stretch and this gives a much better sense of motion. So let's go ahead and play the full version of this. You can see how this gives a much better sense of bounciness to the ball. Now this works just as well for character animation. In fact, the shape of this ball is very similar to the shape a character would take if he is leaping on the ground and recoiling.
So let's take a look at that. Here we have the ball superimposed over a character who is going through pretty much the same motion. The character is falling, hitting the ground and leaping up. So as you can see as the character goes towards the ground, we stretch him out. So at frame 7, he is stretched out pretty much like the ball is stretched out. Then when he hits on frame 8, we have completely squashed him. Now we have squashed his joints to give him a sense of physical motion and we have also squashed his volume a little bit just to give a little bit more impact.
And then as he takes off, he stretches out again, goes back to a normal position and again stretches and hits the ground. So let me go ahead and play that in real time and you can see it pretty much follows a bouncing ball. So let's go ahead and turn off the ball over here and just show the character and you see we get a very nice motion of this character, very bouncy, squashy, stretchy motion. So remember, as you animate your characters be sure to squash and stretch the volume of your character much like you would squash and stretch a ball.
This will give your character a lot more life and add vibrancy to your animation.
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