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2D Character Animation
Illustration by John Hersey

Animating a walk: The upper body and arms


From:

2D Character Animation

with George Maestri

Video: Animating a walk: The upper body and arms

So, at this point, we've got the hips, legs and feet animated. So, we have the foundation of our walk. Let me play you what we have so far. So, as you can see, we have a good basic walk but of course the upper body is completely dead. So, let's go ahead and start animating that. The next place I go when animating the body is to the arms. There's a number of ways you can animate the arms. The first one is just to use secondary motion; in other words just let the forces move the arms around.
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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 upper body and arms

So, at this point, we've got the hips, legs and feet animated. So, we have the foundation of our walk. Let me play you what we have so far. So, as you can see, we have a good basic walk but of course the upper body is completely dead. So, let's go ahead and start animating that. The next place I go when animating the body is to the arms. There's a number of ways you can animate the arms. The first one is just to use secondary motion; in other words just let the forces move the arms around.

In that case the arms are pretty much going to move like pendulums. If the character has motivation, he is doing something, you can also animate the internal forces of the arm, which is if he is holding something or if he is waving or doing really anything with his hands or arms then you're going to have to animate them a little bit differently. So, for the purposes of this walk, let's just go ahead and animate his arms as relaxed. So that would make it a classic case of secondary motion, in other words, drag and followthrough.

So, when he is walking, he starts with this cycle with his right foot back. Right foot moves forward and then back again. So, we're going to go ahead and animate his right arm. So, when the right foot is back, the right hand is forward. So, I'm going to go ahead and rotate this arm forward and maybe even move it forward a little bit to give it a sense that the shoulder itself is forward. So, once we have this forward then we need to get the opposite position and when the right foot is forward, the right hand is back.

So, I'm going to move this arm back a little bit to indicate that the shoulder is rotating and then rotate it back. And I want to get a little bit clear of the body. But if I go too far back it's going to appear unnatural. So, I'm going to go just a little bit out like somewhere around there. So, now his hand is moving back and now again, we have to cycle this. So, again I'm going to copy the keyframes at frame 0 over to frame 24 and now, we should have a basic cycle.

So, let's see what we've got. Well that's looks a little bit better but again let's take into account secondary motion. So, as that arm moves back somewhere around frame 3 or so, I'm going to take that elbow and then just move it up. So again, I'd get kind of a bend. It comes back and then somewhere around frame 12, actually a little bit further, it's going to straighten out. So, I'm going to go ahead and straighten it out here right around at frame 14 because again, this is overlap and followthrough.

This is going to drag behind the main action. That elbow is going to straighten out as it's pulled forward. So, once that shoulder moves forward, that elbow is going to kind of lock and move forward and then the cycle will begin again. So, let's take a look at that. Okay, now in order to finalize this all you have to do is to do the same for the opposite arm and you have the arm motion in place and we're getting pretty close to the end here. Now, all we need to do is to some head motion and maybe a little bit of squash and stretch, and we will be done.

So, remember when you animate your arm that it's generally going to move like a pendulum with overlap and follow- through but if the character has motivation then you'll add some internal forces or internal motion to make the character do whatever he wants and be sure to balance those action against the natural motion of the arm wanting to swing back and forth.

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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