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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.
Another very important animation principle is called squash and stretch. Now what's squash and stretch does is provides the illusion of weight, that your character has mass, and it can make characters look a lot more elastic or rubbery or cartoony if used to extreme. Now there are several ways to create squash and stretch. The first one is to squash the joints. In other words bend the knees, hunch over the spine so that the character looks a little bit more squashed and then straighten everything out to stretch them and this will give a very natural illusion of weight.
If you want to go a little bit more extreme or a little bit more cartoony, you can also squash the shape. Now doing this creates much more of an elastic or rubbery effect to your characters and really what you are doing is you are actually altering the shape of your character. Now when you squash the shape, you need to make sure you maintain volume. In other words, don't try and shrink or grow the volume of your character. If you do that, you will lose the illusion of mass and volume. So let's take a look at how to do squash and stretch on this simple sphere.
Now, if we want to stretch something, we can actually just scale it. Now, if I want to, I could scale this vertically. But as I do you can see that it actually increases in volume. If I scale it this way, then I also need to scale it in the opposite direction to maintain volume. So let me show you how that works in animation. As you can see now this looks like it's being stretched. Now, if we go in the opposite direction, again the same thing applies, that if you scale something down in this direction, you need to stretch it in the opposite direction to create that sort of squash.
So let me go ahead and play that. So you can see how this ball seams to maintain the same volume. Now the same thing applies to a character. If I wanted to squash and stretch his character, I can do it just by altering his shape or his volume. So for example, if I brought him up this way to stretch him, I would have to bring him down this way to kind of squash him in that direction, or the opposite, which would be to, if I squashed him down, then I would have to squash him out that way as well.
Now another way to squash and stretch a character is to just move the joints of the character or to actually just naturally deform a character. Now, I have done this just by bending this character over. By doing this, what I have done is I have created a kind of a squash. I have actually made his volume more compact and tight simply by bending his knees and arching over his spine and tucking his head in. It's almost like how somebody does a somersault and they tuck their knees into their chest. That's kind of a squash.
So the combination of doing a squash through volume change or shape change and by animating the joints can give you a very good squash and stretch.
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