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2D Character Animation
Illustration by John Hersey

Animating a walk: The body


From:

2D Character Animation

with George Maestri

Video: Animating a walk: The body

So once you get the basic motion of the feet, the next step is to animate the hips and get the motion of the character's body. So let's go ahead and take a look at how these feet are moving. You can see we have a very nice cadence, so let's go ahead and just start working with the body. Now, before I do this I'm going to go ahead and turn off these guidelines, because now that I have the feet placed I really don't need them and it'll make it a much easie, to work without all that clutter on the screen.
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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: The body

So once you get the basic motion of the feet, the next step is to animate the hips and get the motion of the character's body. So let's go ahead and take a look at how these feet are moving. You can see we have a very nice cadence, so let's go ahead and just start working with the body. Now, before I do this I'm going to go ahead and turn off these guidelines, because now that I have the feet placed I really don't need them and it'll make it a much easie, to work without all that clutter on the screen.

So, I'm going to just go ahead and turn on the character's hips. Now these are actually just a round shape. If you want, I can turn on the rest of the body so you can see how it all kind of fits in. So you can see this is the body and then just that shape is the hips. Now this is kind of nice, because it represents almost like the bouncing ball and we can just animate the hips, almost like a ball bouncing above the feet. So let's go ahead and do that. Now at this point we have a key already set up at frame 0. We've already set up that extended position.

So, I have this key, and it's actually what I want for frame 0 and then halfway through the cycle here when the feet are on opposite sides it's going to be pretty much the same. So, I'm going to go ahead and copy it there and again to frame 24 just so that I've a nice loop. And again I'm only animating to frame 23, because 24 is the loop point and that's identical to frame 0, so I don't want to double expose that frame.

So now that I have this you can see that the feet are just moving below the body but it doesn't look like that mass of the hips is really connected to the feet. So in order to this we need to start to get a sense of motion for this. Now, I'm going to start here with the passing position. Now the passing position for the hips is basically where the leg goes under the body and so the hips are at their highest point. So I'm going to go ahead and lift those hips up to give the legs room to move underneath.

So now, I have the hips bouncing up, going down and then I can literally copy the keyframe here on frame 6 to frame 18 just to get that same height, so we have a little bit of consistency. So again, I just at frame 18 again, halfway between the steps at the passing position I lift it up again. So now I've got this sense of bouncing motion here. But what is also happening is that as the character goes into the step we actually are shifting weight from one foot to the other.

Now, remember when we had pose-to-pose animation, what happens when you shift weight? The weight drops. So at this point I'm actually going to take the weight and make it lower than where it was at the beginning. So I'm just going to drop it just a hair, just enough to give it a sense of realism so it drops and then lifts. And then again, a few frames into this second step, it drops again. So now I have this. So it actually drops, lifts, drops, lifts.

Even with that simple motion you could see now you can almost imagine the legs connected to the hips and we have kind of almost having like this bouncing ball above the feet. Now let's go ahead and turn on the rest of the body because I really wan to give one more little tidbit of animation here. So, I'm going to go ahead and select the rest of the body and go ahead and turn that off for just a second. And what happens here is that as this character falls down he is shifting weight, so what is happening here? Let's go ahead and just play this.

You can see he is bouncing up and down, but there's really no back and forth rocking motion. As he comes into this step he's actually going to lean forward a little bit, so here on frame 2, maybe a little later, but generally right around here around frame 2, he is actually leaning into this step. So now he leans in and then steps up and then again on the second step we repeat that frame.

So, now we've got a little bit of a lean to the step. It gives a much better sense of weight. Between here and here it seems like he moves forward a little bit too quickly. So actually, I'm going to go ahead and take that frame where he's leaning forward and move it back from say frame 14 to frame 16 and again, here at the beginning I'm going to move it from frame 2 to frame 4, so that lean-forward is a little bit more gentle. So that looks a little bit better. So now I've got him leaning forward as he steps and it gives a much better sense of weight and almost it's like he's a pendulum going back and forth.

So as you can see we've got the hips and now the feet moving, so we've got the major mass of the body moving as well as the feet. So the next thing to do is to connect the feet to the hips by animating the legs.

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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