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2D Character Animation
Illustration by John Hersey

Understanding overlap and follow-through


From:

2D Character Animation

with George Maestri

Video: Understanding overlap and follow-through

Overlap and follow-through is another very important animation principle. Now, what this means is that not everything moves at once. In other words, things take a while to get moving, which is slow in and slow out, but also when you have systems of objects, in other words a character with many joints, that not all of those joints will move at the same time. You may get part of your character moving before another part of your character.
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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

Understanding overlap and follow-through

Overlap and follow-through is another very important animation principle. Now, what this means is that not everything moves at once. In other words, things take a while to get moving, which is slow in and slow out, but also when you have systems of objects, in other words a character with many joints, that not all of those joints will move at the same time. You may get part of your character moving before another part of your character.

Now, this is really just based on Newton's laws of motions again, which is objects at rest tend to stay at rest and when they tend to stay at rest it creates what's called drag which means things will drag behind other objects. And on the opposite side, objects that are moving will tend to stay moving so they won't follow through. So let's see how this works. Here I have a simple ball on a string and I'm going to create a force at the top of the string that's pulling it to the right and then on the opposite side I'm going to create a force in the other direction pulling it back to the left.

So let's go ahead and animate this. And as you can see when I'm pulling the string at the top it really doesn't look like it's a ball on a string. It looks more like a solid mass and that's because I'm not animating my drag and my follow-through on that ball. Now, when I pull on this ball here with this force, this part of the system is going to want to move first. This heavy weight of the ball is going to want to stay in place.

So this is going to drag behind. So, as this force pulls the string forward, the ball itself is going to hang back. So, what I could do is I can go to about halfway through this cycle which is here is about frame 10. I've cycled it 20 frames forward, 20 frames back and then I'm just going to go ahead and rotate this ball back to simulate drag. So, now when this ball moves completely forward, you can see how it's wanting to stay in place, and I'm already getting a sense of weight and a sense of drag.

Now, on the opposite side, we can basically move it in the other direction to get a sense of follow-through. So now what I have is I have something like this. So, now the ball is basically dragging and then following through. You can see how this gives a much better sense of natural motion and a better sense of weight. Now, we can take this one more step further where we have systems of joints. Now, these are very similar to the joints on an arm. We have two balls on two strings.

So, if we animate this, you can see how the first ball looks like it's on a pivot because it's dragging and following through. But the second one isn't and so it again looks stiff or we can just change this again by creating more drag and follow through. Now, remember the object wants to stay at rest. So, when we take this second ball and this one goes forward, this is obviously wanting to stay down and wants to stay here. So, all we have to do is just animate this down.

Now, as this moves forward it's wanting to stay in place and then it's going to again drag in the other direction here. Again, on the opposite side it's going to want to continue its motion, an object in motion wants to stay in motion and so on. So, we basically get something that looks like this. And again, I'm just animating drag and follow through for the second object. Now, if we have a system like this it's actually very similar to a common character animation problem and that is the joints in an arm.

The joints in an arm if they're not under muscular control will actually do the exact same drag and follow through that we just animated. So let's take a look at this. As you can see this is giving a very natural motion to the arm and it's just the exact same problem that we had before, except there is one little glitch in this animation. Let me go ahead and scrub forward and see where it is. Now, here it looks great but now when it starts moving in the opposite direction, you can see right here the elbow is moving way too far back.

The arm just simply doesn't bend like this. So we do have to take it to account the mechanical limits of the arm and so I've animated this in this one and you can see how now we have a much more natural motion. So as it moves back I can just keep it lock straight and that's more of a natural motion for that arm. And simply by doing this we have a very natural motion and again, this is all just based on the laws of physics. A body at rest wants to stay at rest, which creates drag, and a body in motion wants to stay in motion, which creates follow-through.

So as you animate your characters, remember to pay attention to drag and follow-through in the joints of your characters.

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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