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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.
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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