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Working with outlines

From: 2D Character Animation

Video: Working with outlines

Many of the characters you will encounter will have outlines or ink lines around certain parts of the character. This is kind of a holdover from the classic days of cel animation but it's also a really good design decision for a lot of characters because it makes certain parts of the character pop. For example, I have this character here and he doesn't have any outlines. If I add in some outlines, you can see how he pops out from the background a lot more clearly. So a lot of designers will put dark lines in their characters but when you have outlines or ink lines around your character, it's going to add a second level of complexity because when you bend the joints of the character the ink lines will have to follow and if you create segments or puppet parts for your character you have to design them so that the ink lines flow smoothly.

Working with outlines

Many of the characters you will encounter will have outlines or ink lines around certain parts of the character. This is kind of a holdover from the classic days of cel animation but it's also a really good design decision for a lot of characters because it makes certain parts of the character pop. For example, I have this character here and he doesn't have any outlines. If I add in some outlines, you can see how he pops out from the background a lot more clearly. So a lot of designers will put dark lines in their characters but when you have outlines or ink lines around your character, it's going to add a second level of complexity because when you bend the joints of the character the ink lines will have to follow and if you create segments or puppet parts for your character you have to design them so that the ink lines flow smoothly.

Now here we have a character with some ink lines. Let me show you a few techniques for getting those ink lines to flow smoothly. Here is just the arm of that character. So let's take a look at the elbow joint to see how we can make these ink lines flow smoothly. The first way is to just make the parts so that they kind of match up and that the lines actually flow. So for example if I take this forearm and I move it off to the side you can see how the ink line kind of tapers out right here and right here. This gives it space for this to rotate against this underlying joint.

When I take this forearm here and I rotate it, you can see how it actually kind of moves against that underlying part. Now one of the nice things about it is that this overlapping line kind of creates a nice little crease in the elbow but you also can get some problems here because you can't get little separations between the ink lines where it doesn't quite match up. You can notice there is like a little bit of a bump there. So making the parts so that they overlap like this is one of the methods.

The other method is to just layer the parts differently. So for example here I have some parts and I have actually drawn these so that the outlines pretty much go all the way round and again, we are just looking at this elbow joint. So this outline goes all the way round on both sides but this is actually made up of two pieces. It's made up of this piece and that piece. In fact all of these are made up of multiple pieces and when one of them lays over the other, you have a line that basically creates that outline.

So this underlying black piece is just a little bit bigger and that's really just a standard technique that a lot of people use in Illustrator. So, in order to make this work in animation what we have to do is pop the colored pieces up to the very top. Now how you do this may depend upon the type of animation package you have but the general idea is to just arrange this so you actually bring all of the colored pieces to the front which leaves all of the dark or outlined pieces in the back.

So now when I select just that forearm and I rotate it, you can see how the line actually moves pretty well. So actually because everything is underneath that line is always going to be underneath. Now the one thing you don't get is you don't get that crease in the elbow. In fact let's go ahead and take a look at the other one here. Now with this one, because in the way it's built, this black line is actually on top of this colored piece but in the other one it's actually underneath. So you are actually going to get a different effect.

Now this is much easier way to create consistent outlines but you may not get that kind of ink line that you would expect in a drawn character. So as you can see there are two basic methods for getting outlines to flow. One is to design the pieces so that the outlines match up; the other one is just to layer things properly so that the black lines are all underneath and the colored parts are on top.

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This video is part of

Image for 2D Character Animation
2D Character Animation

73 video lessons · 22124 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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