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Creating a strong line of action

From: 2D Character Animation

Video: Creating a strong line of action

As you start animating characters, a lot of times you'll be animating from pose-to-pose. Pose-to-pose animation really just takes character from one pose to another. Now, when you're animating using poses, you need to create strong poses, poses that read very well to the audience. Your audience needs to look at your character and instantly be able to know what the character is doing and where the action is leading. So, this means your character's poses need a strong line of action, as well a strong silhouette.

Creating a strong line of action

As you start animating characters, a lot of times you'll be animating from pose-to-pose. Pose-to-pose animation really just takes character from one pose to another. Now, when you're animating using poses, you need to create strong poses, poses that read very well to the audience. Your audience needs to look at your character and instantly be able to know what the character is doing and where the action is leading. So, this means your character's poses need a strong line of action, as well a strong silhouette.

Now, let me show you what those mean. Here we have a character who is just standing and this is actually kind of boring. We really don't know what the character is doing. There's really no intent in the pose. She is just standing there. If we create a stronger line of action, we can have a much better sense of what's happening. Here's another pose. So, with both of these poses, they are much more dynamic, they have a much better line of action and they show a little bit more character just through the pose.

Now, if we take and we overlay on the line of action on these poses, you'll notice that the one that's kind of boring, the straight up and down pose has a straight up and down line of action. These two poses have a much stronger line of action. So, in this one, she is kind of going back and then this one, she is kind of going forward. Now, line of action helps a lot with animation. Here we have two simple poses that show the woman pointing her finger.

Now, by using a stronger line of action, we can get a much better sense of motion from her. So, in here, she is rearing back or anticipating the point and here, she is leaning forward and actually pointing. So, if we actually take this and we animate it, you can see how very quickly this flips from one to the other. So, we have Pose 1, which is a strong pose, and Pose 2, which also a strong pose. And even just flipping between these two poses, we get a sense of animation and so you can even see how this character is going to in-between.

Now, again, if I overlay the line of action, what you'll see is the line of action is almost a waving curve. So, it almost is like a blade of grass or something like that, sweeping back-and-forth and this gives it a much more natural motion and much more natural sense of aliveness. So, let me go ahead and animate this to see how this would work. So as she moves forward, you can see how this would just sway almost like a blade of grass, but let me turn her off and we'll just see what the line-of-action looks like. So you can see how it's a very fluid motion.

So, if you get your poses to follow a very fluid kind of arc-like motion, you'll get a much better sense of animation. Let me show you a more complex example. Here we have that character who is jumping. So, let's go ahead and take a look at what he looks like. Okay, so he is jumping along an arc. As we saw in the squash-and-stretch exercise, he falls along an arc, squashes, and then leaps back up along an arc. Now, let's go ahead overlay a line of action on him. So, as you can see, the line of action almost follows the arc that he is going.

So, he is going down in this kind of arc. His line of action almost follows exactly that arc and then when he lands, the line of action changes. You can see how it very quickly changes. We have a lot contrast in that line and by creating contrast, you can create a real sense of impact and then he kind of straightens up and again, he goes from leaning forward to leaning back and again, the same thing. So, let's go ahead and see that in motion. Okay, now let's go ahead and turn him off and let's just see how the line of action works.

So you can see that just the line of action looks like it's hopping. So, if you get a strong line of action, the animation almost takes care of itself. So, when you're posing characters, make sure to have a very strong line of action, a very good sense of direction and the animation will flow very, very naturally.

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This video is part of

Image for 2D Character Animation
2D Character Animation

73 video lessons · 22089 viewers

George Maestri
Author

 
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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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