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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.
Now let's go ahead and animate a character using squash and stretch. Here I have a very simple situation where a character is on a moving platform that's moving up and then down. Now this will create squash and stretch for your character. Now this animation is set so it moves up 8 frames, holds for 8 frames and then moves down for another 8 frames. So we are going to animate squash and stretch in two passes. The first pass is to actually animate the joints of the body to create squash and stretch and then we are going to animate the volume or the shape of the character to create a little bit more of a cartoony sort of action.
So the first thing I want to do is to just turn off the legs of the character because I really want to deal with just the mass of the body and how that body is going to move to create squash and stretch. So as this character moves up, the body is going to want to drag behind. It's going to want to stay in place. It's not going to want to move. So as this is pushed up, the body itself is going to want to move down. So it's going to want to stay in place.
So we have got the body, the feet, and the floor are moving up, but the body itself is wanting to stay in place. And then as it gets to the top, again we have got the body wanting to stay in motion. So it's actually going to overshoot the final position. So it's going to take a while to catch up to the motion of the platform, and settle in, and the same for when it moves down. At frame 16, when it moves down, we have got the character in a solid position and then as it moves down, he is going to want to stay up, and he is going to stretch out, and then again as he settles in, he is going to go back to his normal position.
So now I have added the legs in and let me show you what that looks like. So as you can see, he is getting a nice squash in his knees. Because the body wants to stay where it is, the mass of the body is moving down. So the knees have to bend to accommodate this and now we have a squash. The same on the opposite side, but not as much, because the legs actually kind of max out here when it comes back down. Now, I can add a little bit more squash and stretch to this by working with a couple of other parts.
I can actually play with the head a little bit. So let me go ahead and do that. So as he is pushed up, again his head wants to stay in position. So I can squash that head down and then when it comes up, the head is going to overshoot. So now I have got the head squashing down and then coming back up, and then as he comes down, again we are going to stretch out the head as well. We are actually going to push that head up a little bit, try to get as much of a stretch as possible.
Now we can get even more squash and stretch by actually squashing and stretching the volume of the character. So as he moves up, I am going to widen him out and squash him down. So now, he is getting pushed like this. Now, he seems to be increasing the volume a little bit. So I am going to squash him down a little bit more. Here we go. Then as he gets to the top here, he is going to overshoot this.
He is actually going to stretch a bit, and he is going to go a little higher. So now, he comes up like this and then he is going to actually settle down to normal. So now, we have got him kind of squashing up and then stretching down. The same is going to happen when he is on the return trip. He is actually going to stretch. He goes stretch, squash in this way. So now we have got him squashing down, overshooting, and stretching.
So let me show you the final version of this animation. So you can see how he squashes and stretches, and it gives a much better sense of motion. So let me scrub through this just a little bit so you can see how this works. So as he moves up, his whole body squashes down. His head kind of goes into his shoulders, and then when the platform stops, everything overshoots and settles in including the hat. Notice how the hat is actually leaving the head as well.
And then when the elevator moves down, again he wants to stay in place. So he stretches out and comes back down. So let's take one more look at this. So you can see how squash and stretch gives a much better sense of volume, life, and elasticity to your characters. So be sure to animate your characters with lots of squash and stretch, including bending the knees and adding a little bit of squash and stretch to the shape and volume of your character.
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