2D Animation Principles
Illustration by John Hersey

Creating thumbnails


2D Animation Principles

with Dermot O' Connor

Video: Creating thumbnails

It can be quite intimidating when you're handed a really complicated scene, or So we start off with frame 1 and this is an Igor.
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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

Creating thumbnails

It can be quite intimidating when you're handed a really complicated scene, or a scene that pushes the capabilities of what you think the software can handle. So when this happens to you, and it's happened to me on one Flash project where I was given a fairly complex action scene, just walk away from the computer. Just get a notebook, a horizontally lined notebook, and take whatever notes you can and then just thumbnail it. Get a piece of paper and a pencil and an eraser and just draw. And, you don't have to be a great draftsman.

About this level of draftsmanship is more than enough. Actually even these hands might be considered overkill. So even if you can only draw stick figures, I strongly recommend you begin the process of becoming comfortable with sketching thumbnails. The beauty of using a lined notepaper like this is that even though it looks a bit like a high school student's doodle, you have horizontal lines that act as a ground plane. I was able to pick this line here as a ground plane and then put the feet relative to that.

And I was able to use the lines to scale my character's head, and keep them roughly in proportion. So, you can see the character's head is almost. If's just slightly less than 2 of these lines in width. And It tried to maintain that volume throughout the entire sequence it So we start off with frame 1 and this is an Igor. I imagine this guy is a little, yes, Master kind of personality and he's doing this kind of creepy turn. So we have him in his standard hold pose at the beginning. And if you're in Flash, this could even be a classic Flash tween or motion tween and all symbolized.

And you can do a lot dialog and regular Flash tweening and stuff and that. And then at some point after frame 9, you would then transition out of the rig and into your more custom poses. And these could be partially symbolized or partially hand drawn as the frames would need. And by the time you get to frame 29, you're back into what would be a classic flash rig. And you could then break these arms and hands apart and do your usually motion tweens. Of course if you were in CGI, not a problem, but this is still a fantastic visual reference for your poses.

So rather than taking your CGI rig, you would then be able to have, and just trying to create these poses out of a vacuum, you would have your hand drawn poses as a fantastic reference. It's a send off from your thumbnails into your actual animation process, so you do as much of your thinking on paper, and as little of your thinking on the screen as possible. I think you'll find that a much more natural way to work. And of course the more thumbnails you do, the better your thumbnails will get. It's a fantastic tool to have. And in this thumbnail sequence, I did it in a coffee shop.

Took me about an hour and a half, 2 hours. The end result is pretty solid. So let me show you what this looks like when you take it into Flash. Okay, so I took that image into Photoshop and I cut all the frames apart, cleaned out some of those lines that might be distracting at this point and I placed each key frame on the timeline corresponding to my estimates. And, they're just estimates in the thumbnails. And if I feel that, you know, this pose really could hold longer, no one can stop me. I can hold that longer and I can change the timing charts. I can make sure that this is held for exactly six frames.

If I want to make a note in here, okay, we'll hold you for 6. Now and so forth, the whole point about this is to loosen you up to break you out of the idea that you're dealing with a static rig, be it in flash or CGI. And there's some really nice stuff happening here. I'll walk you through it. If we go from the original pose into this pose here, you can see how the shoulder is beginning to hunch up to give us that kind of classic Igor effect. From here to here, the shoulder is now really leading the action. And then from this frame, the elbow takes over.

And the elbow still is leading the action here. And at this point, the other side of the body, the opposite shoulder catches up and is now leading and is still leading here. You can see at this point and then we settle into the final whole scene. So were I doing this in flash or CGI I would use these as reference, kick my biped rig or whatever rig I have into it, line it up as best I can to match these poses, and then the business of adding the secondary breakdown scenes that are poses between these keys would really finish off the scene. So that's the importance of thumbnails if you want to do a very, very strong acting scene.

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