Join Dermot O' Connor for an in-depth discussion in this video Thumbnail and breakdown principles, part of Animating in 2D: Breakdowns and Thumbnails.
- [Instructor] In this course, I'm going to show you what I think is the most important technique that any animator can develop, and that is the ability to plan out a scene so that you use the most efficient resources as possible. Let me give you a simple example. In this case, we want to move our figure from screen left to screen right. The process that we use for this is to use thumbnails and breakdowns. So we're going to use thumbnails to very quickly plan out our breakdowns.
So here's the breakdown drawing in red. Now, if you were to do a simple breakdown between the left and the right figure, it might look really, really flat. So in this case, see what I've done. I've scrunched down the body, I've brought up the elbows in a very nice, opposing action, and when we begin to add the rest of the drawings, we can then add our anticipation to the downward turn, and then our overshoot on the other side. And then when I begin doing my thumbnail sketches, now this is a very clean thumbnail, and I'm not saying that any thumbnails that you do have to be this clean, but this is the essence of how we approach it.
So on the thumbnails, I'll draw the arrows if I want a particular arc. So on the blue figure here, we've got him perking up this way, and then he'll do like a little curve here, arcing this way, and then settling down into the final resting pose. And of course, then we can even draw little notes on them if you want to draw little comments for what you want to have happen. An idling here or a specific motion somewhere else. You can do that. And in this case, to be really elaborate, then we can add little timing notes, which don't have to be final, but this is a great way to begin thinking about where the timing of the key frames will be, and the spacing of the in-betweens.
So I'm not saying that you have to draw as cleanly as this. I'm not saying that you have to be as specific with all these little ticks, but this is a really powerful tool to use if you think that you're getting lost in the scene, if you've been struggling with the scene. Walk away from the computer. Sit down with a piece of paper, and follow this process. During the rest of this course, I'm going to show you many more examples of this, so you'll get to see how this is applied to different actions and different scenes. So just to give you an idea about some of my different thumbnails and the styles, this was sketched in pencil on a piece of paper in a coffee shop.
It was not drawn on a computer. I'm not staring into a back lit screen, or footing around with a tablet. And I did definitely tie down these drawings probably more than I needed to, but look, this guy on the left is more typical of my general thumbnail style. But I did want to tie him down over the rest so he would stand like this, or so you could see him a little more easily. Notice also that I like to draw on lined note paper. I photoshopped out all of the lines that were here and there for clarity, but the beauty of drawing on lined note paper is you can see the height, and then you can also see the volume.
So it enabled me to keep the head volume much more consistent because I knew his head volume was about one line, and maybe a half. So as long as I followed that volume, it stopped the heads from getting too big or too small. So lined note paper with a pencil is a really, really nice way to work. If you haven't done it, give it a go. Notice also that I've colored in red here some of the breakdowns. Now this was done in Photoshop, just for clarity, so that you could see what was happening. If you want to use colored pencils yourself, you can do so, but you don't have to.
But it's just nice for clarity. And here's another example, same technique. With my timing circles in the key frames here, with the spacing of the in-betweens very roughly planned out. And the beauty of doing it like this is you can plan ease-ins and ease-outs. And it allows you to see the whole animation spread out at one time in front of you. And this is a much rougher style. And in this case, it's a figure coming towards us in space, so we're not just limited in thumb-nailing to drawing a fixed camera view.
In this case, we're actually coming right out in Z-def toward the viewer. And as I said, you don't have to draw cleanly. This is one of the ugliest thumbnails that I've done. And it was done in Flash. This was done on a tablet. So again, you don't have to draw on paper. You can draw your thumbnails in software. If you want to draw them in Photoshop, if you want to draw them in Flash or Harmony, or some other drawing program, you can do so. As long as you try to keep the scale of the character roughly. You know, it doesn't have to be bang on volume, but as long as it's fairly, fairly close, and he's not growing by 110% from one to the other.
You can draw a stick man, and plan out your scene like that. As long as it has the essence of the motion, and you can follow your arcs. You can see in this case, a scene with six key poses, and you can see them all at once. You know where you're coming from, where you're going to. This is like your map, and it's not just a map in space. It's a map through time. So you're getting to see the entirety of this range of actions from one God's eye view. That's why this system is so powerful, and why this system, along with planning your breakdowns during this part of the process will, I think, help many people to take their work to a much higher level.