2D Animation Principles
Illustration by John Hersey

2D Animation Principles

with Dermot O' Connor

Video: Comparing straight-ahead and pose-to-pose animation

In the previous section, I showed you a finished Doesn't look too bad.
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  1. 1m 42s
    1. Welcome
    2. Using the exercise files
  2. 18m 9s
    1. Understanding appeal and design
      4m 3s
    2. Comparing body types
      6m 27s
    3. Understanding silhouette
      1m 52s
    4. Creating gesture drawings
      2m 50s
    5. Tying down the drawing
      2m 57s
  3. 18m 10s
    1. Comparing storyboard styles
      5m 8s
    2. Understanding shot composition
      4m 36s
    3. Demonstrating lighting
      4m 8s
    4. Understanding the 180-degree line
      4m 18s
  4. 13m 8s
    1. Understanding X-sheets (dope sheets)
      3m 25s
    2. Comparing frame rates
      4m 39s
    3. Creating sweatbox notes and preparation
      5m 4s
  5. 18m 42s
    1. Understanding arcs
      7m 38s
    2. Squash, stretch, and volume
      4m 59s
    3. Comparing timing and spacing
      6m 5s
  6. 10m 4s
    1. Using anticipation, overshoot, and settle
      4m 2s
    2. Breaking and loosening joints
      2m 43s
    3. Leading action
      3m 19s
  7. 19m 51s
    1. Understanding primary and secondary action
      4m 14s
    2. Using overlap and follow-through
      6m 0s
    3. Applying lines of action, reversals, and S-curves
      4m 34s
    4. Moving holds and idles
      5m 3s
  8. 15m 52s
    1. Understanding walk and run cycles
      5m 24s
    2. Creating eccentric walks
      6m 50s
    3. Animal locomotion
      3m 38s
  9. 14m 31s
    1. Finding dialogue accents
      2m 42s
    2. Creating dialogue through body movement
      2m 46s
    3. Creating stock mouth shapes
      5m 4s
    4. Using complementary shapes
      3m 59s
  10. 13m 8s
    1. Creating thumbnails
      4m 31s
    2. Comparing straight-ahead and pose-to-pose animation
      4m 37s
    3. Adding breakdowns for looseness
      4m 0s
  11. 2m 9s
    1. Next steps
      2m 9s

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Watch the Online Video Course 2D Animation Principles
2h 25m Beginner Apr 11, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Bring a cast of characters to life. By following the basics principles of animation, you can build characters that interact naturally with their environments, convey realistic emotion, and talk and walk convincingly. In this course, Dermot O' Connor shows how to design a solid character and stage and storyboard your animation before you begin. He'll examine principles like anticipation and squash and stretch, which provide characters with a sense of weight and flexibility, and show you how to animate walk cycles and dialogue. Finally, learn how to thumbnail scenes from start to finish, so you can sketch out the action before you commit to fully rendering it.

These lessons are designed with Flash in mind, but work just as well with any other 2D animation program.

Topics include:
  • Creating gesture drawings
  • Comparing storyboard styles
  • Squash, stretch, and volume
  • Comparing timing and spacing
  • Using anticipation, overshoot, settle, overlap, and follow-through
  • Creating eccentric walks
  • Building stock mouth shapes for dialogue
  • Creating thumbnails
3D + Animation
Flash Professional
Dermot O' Connor

Comparing straight-ahead and pose-to-pose animation

In the previous section, I showed you a finished thumbnail of an acting scene, it was quite polished. So, this time I'm going to show you how you would assemble such a thumbnail in Flash and maybe be a little more rough with it. So, here I have created a simple sequence of six poses. Now, the figure is in a haunted house, he's staring off to the left, he hears a creaking floorboard, and then he turns to the right to look up to the side of the stage to see what's going on. So, I did these with the Flash brush tool, and I really wasn't so concerned about making these look pretty, because I don't want people to look at this course and to think, well, he can draw better than I can.

There's no point. Even the worst stick man can be better than nothing, and in this case, this is a pretty rough sketch. The only thing that you should really strive for, even if your drawing skills are weak, is try to keep volumes consistent, and this, the proportions of the character consistent. So, I use the background grid here as a guide for the foot placement, for example. So this foot here, aligns nicely there. As you can see as does the heel for this foot tracks along that line, even from frame to frame. And the volume of the head, I use these little square grids roughly to stay consistent from one pose to the other.

It's not precise. Look, this one's a little smaller than that one, but it's good enough. So, once you get that done and, as you can see, we have the standing pose, he anticipates up and we have a reasonably quick turn into the final pose. So, the timing would be the next thing I would worry about. And, I guessed, this is an estimate that this scene would be about two seconds long. So, just under 48 frames or 49 frames. So, I made that about 43. I timed it out on odd numbers because I like that. It's the traditional method would be to time things out unevenly on the 11, 13, 15 and so forth.

It's a good habit to have. So, I began on frame one, and I want that post to really read, so I, I slow it out of that with three, five, and seven. And the actual turn itself is reasonably fast, going from 17 to 19. Seems to make sense, because he's already in motion anyway. And then we slow into frame 29, and cause I wanted this delicate like very slow contact position to really read. And then we have a slow out of that and we slow into the final pose. So once I had this timing down the next step is to place these poses on the stage and as you can see here, we have the action finally moving.

Doesn't look too bad. So, the other step was to make sure that the frames correspond with our keys one, 11, 17, 21. Correspond within the frames in which I place these one, 11, 17, 21 and so forth. And then I wanted to retain my timing chart information from the thumbnail. So that was placed on the stage on the top right. Which is where we would've placed the timing charts on the traditional drawings back in the original era of animation. And if you're work flow doesn't require you to do this, then don't feel that you have to.

I personally like to have old fashioned timing charts, because they show me where the ease ins and ease outs, or slow ins and slow outs are going to go. So there you have it, and it's important to keep these numbers correct, so you know, if this is 11, that corresponds with the next frame that we're moving into which is 11. Or we're slowing into frame 17, which is here on frame 17, so it's very easy for these numbers to drift a little bit, so watch out for that. So once we have this done, then we re-time their pause test. Now when I looked at the original one and I thought haunted house, he's a, he's afraid of being overheard, looks a bit fast.

So maybe we wanted to feel a little sneakier, so I slowed it down a little bit. And once it was slowed down well that means all of the timing chart numbers need to be re-jigged as well. So I went into the timing chart numbers, and just to keep them completely consistent, and to avoid future mistakes I just renumbered them all. So, from frame one, which is this frame, we're working into frame 19, which is this frame. So, this number corresponds to the current frame and this number corresponds to the frame that we're working into. So then I know, okay, from this frame into the next one, we're slowing into that, 21, 23, 25.

The 21 will be halfway, then 23 will be halfway, and 25 will be halfway again. So that's essentially it. One final part of the process, if you choose to do it, kind of optional, will be to tie them down. Maybe you feel like your original roughs are a little too rough. So if you're comfortable with the drawing, then by all means, make a beauty pass and put in a little bit of extra detail. So with that, you have now the ability to really give yourself a nice send-off from your thumbnails into your final animated scene.

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