2D Animation Principles
Illustration by John Hersey

2D Animation Principles

with Dermot O' Connor

Video: Understanding X-sheets (dope sheets)

When animating a paper and pencil back in Well, this is the one I'm familiar with.
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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

Understanding X-sheets (dope sheets)

When animating a paper and pencil back in the pre-computer age, one of the tools that the animator had to use very well was the exposure sheet, also called the dope sheet. And this was a gigantic sheet of paper on which you would write down your camera instructions as well as your dialogue, the leveling of the scenes, like which layer the background went on, which layer the characters went on. And it would go from bottom background here to the top layer on the left. And of course, as you can see, we had a limit number of levels.

There was quite narrower range of possibilities with the classic X-sheet than we currently have with our modern timelines. Nevertheless, they were a very great tool, and the important thing was to use them to make notes on your X sheet. For example, if you have musical beat, you could mark them out wherever they occurred, and this would enable you to plot your animation very, very efficiently. And using, using the X-sheet wisely was a very good thing to learn. Today we don't have paper X-sheets or dope sheets, well, most of us. But we do have timelines in our computer programs, most of us, so let's take a look at one.

Well, this is the one I'm familiar with. It's the Flash timeline. So how do we best use this timeline? We could easily just use it the way most people use it; which is we put our key frames down and we animate. Well, the problem with that is you very quickly can end up with a situation where you have a lot of little black dots all the way along here, and you don't have much of an idea of what they are. So I have made this imaginary scene where John and Mary are looking at each other, and then maybe they dance or they do various actions. So let's start with where the action might begin, let's say on frame 10. So let's make an empty keyframe, and we will type in, in our Properties panel, John taps foot.

And then we might begin a different action from Mary, I don't want them overlapping but making new levels for her. And we'll just type in the note, Mary reacts. And then by this point, they're both dancing. As I type in these labels, it gives me an idea of where the various action should occur. And let's say they're tapping a beats, maybe I even want a third layer for that. And if the beats happening every, say, 12 frames? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, that'll be John's foot tapping, I can make a note of this. Extend the timeline if I need to, and tap foot.

So now you see we have plain English descriptions of the different keyframes and what's happening on those keyframes. And this has a great advantage. If you hand the scene onto somebody else who needs to work on it later on, if you get your scene back for revisions maybe a month or two months from now. Or if it's a long term project that you put on hold for some time. And you open it up again, you can see this is what's happening, that's why it's happening. And if you have little areas that might be trouble spots, you can make a note. Watch out here, this is where they overlap, and so forth.

So, this is a really nice tool to have. It's a, it's a very good skill to learn. It isn't just the case that you can do this in Flash. After Effects also allows you to put labels on the timeline, and I suspect most of the programs out there have some kind of labeling feature. Do not be afraid to make these notes on your timeline. And that don't just have a timeline, that's a bunch of little black dots if you can help it, because that can lead to confusion later on. I think you'll find this is a really good habit to develop.

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