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2D Character Animation
Illustration by John Hersey

Animating a walk: Squash and stretch


From:

2D Character Animation

with George Maestri

Video: Animating a walk: Squash and stretch

So, now we have the walk pretty much animated. Now all we need to do is add a few final touches to really bring it to life. Let's take a look at what we have so far. Now, at this point we have a pretty good solid walk, but we can also add in little bit of squash and stretch, as well as one other little thing, which is how this line of this shirt is animated. Let me show you what I mean. I'm going to go ahead and turn off the arms, so we can see this completely. Let's take a look at the line between the shirt and the pants.
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  1. 2m 18s
    1. Introduction
      1m 2s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 16s
  2. 48m 21s
    1. Designing characters
      3m 22s
    2. Tracing characters
      4m 32s
    3. Creating joints that work
      3m 53s
    4. Working with outlines
      4m 0s
    5. Accessorizing your characters
      2m 21s
    6. Creating parts for replacement animation
      1m 41s
    7. Rigging hierarchies in After Effects
      5m 33s
    8. Rigging replacement animation in After Effects
      5m 52s
    9. Rigging with the Puppet tool in After Effects
      3m 16s
    10. Rigging Flash characters
      5m 50s
    11. Rigging replacement animation in Flash
      4m 25s
    12. Rigging with the Bone tool in Flash
      3m 36s
  3. 55m 29s
    1. The first law of motion
      3m 3s
    2. The second law of motion
      3m 45s
    3. The third law of motion
      3m 19s
    4. Using slow in and slow out
      5m 34s
    5. Arcs and smooth motion
      5m 4s
    6. Understanding overlap and follow-through
      5m 16s
    7. Animating overlap and follow-through
      5m 46s
    8. Understanding squash and stretch
      3m 10s
    9. Animating squash and stretch
      4m 40s
    10. Squashing and stretching characters
      5m 16s
    11. Understanding weight
      3m 27s
    12. Understanding anticipation
      4m 54s
    13. Animating anticipation and weight
      2m 15s
  4. 45m 50s
    1. Internal vs. external forces
      4m 45s
    2. Bringing characters to life
      4m 57s
    3. Animating blinks
      4m 37s
    4. Animating changes in eye direction
      2m 43s
    5. Animating head turns
      8m 1s
    6. Creating a strong line of action
      4m 16s
    7. Creating strong silhouettes
      2m 19s
    8. Pose-to-pose animation: Blocking
      4m 32s
    9. Pose-to-pose animation: Animating
      4m 21s
    10. Pose-to-pose animation: Finalizing
      5m 19s
  5. 46m 53s
    1. A walk in four poses
      2m 27s
    2. Motion of the head and body
      1m 32s
    3. Walk cycles and backgrounds
      1m 40s
    4. Skeleton motion and walking
      4m 2s
    5. Animating a walk: Contact position
      3m 0s
    6. Animating a walk: The feet
      9m 10s
    7. Animating a walk: The body
      5m 19s
    8. Animating a walk: The legs
      8m 21s
    9. Animating a walk: The upper body and arms
      3m 46s
    10. Animating a walk: The head
      2m 50s
    11. Animating a walk: Squash and stretch
      4m 46s
  6. 26m 52s
    1. A run in four poses
      4m 10s
    2. Animating a run: First pose
      4m 39s
    3. Animating a run: Second pose
      3m 45s
    4. Animating a run: Third pose
      3m 27s
    5. Animating a run: Fourth pose
      5m 1s
    6. Animating a run: Upper body
      5m 50s
  7. 37m 6s
    1. The basics of dialogue animation
      4m 35s
    2. Reading tracks and assigning mouth shapes
      5m 33s
    3. Phonemes and lip-syncing
      8m 36s
    4. Animating dialogue: Animating the body
      6m 27s
    5. Animating dialogue: Assigning mouth shapes
      4m 10s
    6. Animating dialogue: Finalizing
      7m 45s
  8. 1h 27m
    1. Animating a scene
      2m 0s
    2. Setting up the scene in After Effects
      3m 2s
    3. Animating the feet in After Effects
      10m 40s
    4. Animating the legs in After Effects
      4m 21s
    5. Animating the upper body in After Effects
      9m 44s
    6. Animating the mouth and blinks in After Effects
      7m 5s
    7. Setting up the scene in Flash
      4m 6s
    8. Animating the feet in Flash
      9m 0s
    9. Animating the body in Flash
      5m 23s
    10. Animating the legs in Flash
      7m 24s
    11. Animating the hands in Flash
      11m 54s
    12. Animating the mouth in Flash
      12m 26s
  9. 33s
    1. Goodbye
      33s

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2D Character Animation
5h 50m Advanced Nov 13, 2009

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Creating character joints that really work
  • Building with the Puppet tool in After Effects
  • Understanding internal versus external forces in movement
  • Reading tracks and assigning mouth shapes for dialogue
  • Setting up a scene in both After Effects and Flash
Subjects:
3D + Animation Animation Character Animation
Author:
George Maestri

Animating a walk: Squash and stretch

So, now we have the walk pretty much animated. Now all we need to do is add a few final touches to really bring it to life. Let's take a look at what we have so far. Now, at this point we have a pretty good solid walk, but we can also add in little bit of squash and stretch, as well as one other little thing, which is how this line of this shirt is animated. Let me show you what I mean. I'm going to go ahead and turn off the arms, so we can see this completely. Let's take a look at the line between the shirt and the pants.

So, as we scrub through it, you will see that well, it doesn't change. But what this line represents is really the angle that we are looking at this particular part of the body. So, as the hips rotate up, this line will change. So, by animating that edge, you're going to get a much better type of animation. So, what I'm going to do is just turn on a little bit of shape animation on that shirt. So, what it does is it now, instead of going from basically concave, it goes to convex and what this does, just by changing the animation of just this little line, it makes it look like his hips are moving.

It gives them a much more 3D effect and all I'm doing is really just animating that edge using a little bit of shape animation. So, just by doing that we have a much more realistic walk. In fact, let's go ahead and turn the arms back on and take a look at this. So, as you can see he has got a much better kind of a hip sway just by animating that. Now, we can add a little more fun to the animation just by giving it some more squash and stretch. We're just going to go ahead and start by squashing and stretching the body at the hips.

So, as he comes down into this recoil position, he is actually going to scale up just a little bit. Again, he is stretching and his mass wants to stretch down and then as he pushes up into the passing position, then we're going to have actually much more of a squash. So, now we have something like this. So, as he comes in he squashes up and then he straightens out again.

So, now let's go ahead and copy this to the second half of the cycle and let's go ahead and play this. So, you can see just by adding a little bit of scaling to the body, you get much better kind of a bounciness to the character. Now, there's one more little detail that I'd love to play with it and that's the character's hat. Because this hat is going to squash and stretch as well and actually because it's right there at the top of the head, it's a really good indication of how the character squashes and stretches. So, I'm going to go to this recoil position and I'm going to go ahead and stretch the hat.

So, I'm going to go ahead and squish it down this way and lengthen it this way and maybe even pull it up a little bit on his head. So, now as he is coming down, that hat is resisting the motion. Again, this is just secondary motion. It wants to stay in place and then as it pushes up, the hat squashes and again, I'm just going to go ahead and set it down on his head a little bit.

This is going to be pushed up into his head and then all we have to do is just finalize that for the cycle. So, now we've got the hat kind of coming off of his head, being pushed up and then coming back down. So, if we cycle this, we'd get something like this. So, there you have it. We have a complete walk cycle with a lot of squash and stretch, a little bit of realism and it looks pretty good.

So, as you animate your walk cycle, remember the general process is to make sure to pin down the hips and the feet. Then you can fill in with legs and then work your way up the body. And if your character is a little cartoony, you can add in some squash and stretch. So, be sure to take all of these bits of advice into consideration when animating your character's walking. Now, every character is going to be different, so you're going to have to pick and choose which bits of advice to use, but it all kind of comes together and you can see how a walk, it really is a whole system of body parts moving together.

And if you animate a character walking effectively, you should be able to animate just about anything else.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about 2D Character Animation.


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Q: In the chapter "Creating joints that work,” the author uses a circular point for the joints in the arm animation. Do circles need to be drawn in the joints while tracing the character, or there is another method that can be used?
A: It doesn't absolutely have to be a circle, as shown in the video. However, that method is show because it’s the easiest way to make sure the joints will rotate easily.
It’s a matter of personal preference, so use whatever method will work best for each character.
 
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