The Principle of Solid Drawing today means focusing on clean poses and using as few controls as possible to achieve the movement that you want. Modern character rigs can have hundreds to thousands of controls - it's very easy to get lost. Learning which controls to use, when to set keyframes, and how to understand tools like the Graph Editor will save you headaches in the future.
- [Narrator] The principal of solid drawing was refined over decades of work, during animation's golden era. And it meant focusing on clean, clear lines for all the 2D animators. As a CG animator, it means focusing on clean poses, and using only the controls that you need, and not anymore. Let me show you. Now, if you've been following along, you've animated quite a bit with us. So, how did you ever fix any of those animation changes that I've probably told you to do by now.
Here's a good example, let's say that you had your feet poking through the ground like this little guy. Well, there's a bunch of ways to fix this, right? First, you could just rotate the root bone, and honestly be done with it. Or, maybe you thought, Oh, let me move this up. Oh, darn it, now let me rotate this one. Oh, you know what, that doesn't look good. Let me just move this one, and suddenly I've used three different controls, some moving, some rotating, to do what I could've done with just one control.
And sure, this isn't perfect, so I might just move it up a little bit anyways. But the point is, is I've only used one control, whereas just a few seconds ago, I could've done the exact same thing by using three controls. And that's what I mean about clean posing, clean techniques. And making sure that you don't use everything to do one simple move. Now there's another thing that drives animators really, really crazy. And that's setting keys on everything, but it's a really good habit to get into.
And I'm gonna tell you why. So, for example, let's go back to these feet. And let's say, you know, while you were animating you said, oh you know the feet aren't really moving, so these keys I've never even set them. You know, we don't need it. They're just sitting there the whole time. C'mon, they're not moving. But then, what if you were animating and somewhere in the process, we don't know where exactly, you decide, you know what, I kinda wish I moved some of these keys back a little bit, and you know, maybe kinda squeezed them over a little bit. And, I just kinda wanna move stuff a little bit around, right? Yeah, who knows why? But suddenly, what starts to happen, and you can see it right here, is your feet, which didn't have a key frame, they start to move kind of independently.
Now this is actually, funny enough, a really hard era to replicate in real life, but I'm just trying to illustrate a concept that, as you're animating, unless you key everything, once in a while, while moving something else, you may inadvertently move something that you shouldn't have and therefore, you'll start to get all of your feet and hands and everything sliding around. And it honestly just causes a massive headache. So, a really good technique, and I can't stress it enough, is to make sure that on every pose, you key everything that you need.
Now obviously, as you're animating, eventually, things will start to get broken up, and some things, in fact I've done it right about here, some things have keys whereas others don't. And that's natural, it happens. But it's still nonetheless, a very good technique, and a very good habit to get into. That every major key has a key frame on it. Finally, let's talk a little about the graph editor, in this ginormous mess. If you've never done any CG animation before, this thing is probably gonna make you want to vomit.
But relax, it's okay. Graph editors, and there's a school of thought about this, are messy and people like to clean them up. Personally, I don't think any of that matters. The only thing that matters, is what we see, right here on the camera view. Everything else, you could key one frame at a time and have a graph editor that looks terrible, but again, it doesn't matter. All that really matters is what you see right here. Nonetheless, as you're animating, and if you check the graph editor and you see something strange like, say, this thing going on where two keys are overlapping each other.
I highly recommend you clean that, by say, moving this over, or just even outright deleting the key frame. But don't get stuck in trying to clean up a graph editor because at the end of the day, people aren't watching the graph editor, they're watching your animation on the screen. Solid drawing, or in this case, solid technique, is instrumental in making sure you don't lose control of your scene, especially if you work in a production environment, where you collaborate with multiple artists on one shot. Practicing good habits early on will save you an enormous amount of headaches in the future.
Animation has evolved tremendously in the last century, but some principles always stay the same. This foundation will serve you for a lifelong career.
- A history of character animation
- Squash and stretch
- Pose-to-pose animation
- Secondary action