Join George Maestri for an in-depth discussion in this video Silhouetting and flow, part of Learning Character Animation.
When you post characters, you need to make sure that they have strong silhouettes. This will help the audience to discern what is in the scene. So let's take a look at this. We've got a simple character here and let's just go ahead and show you his silhouette. So when you look at this silhouette you can see exactly what the character's doing. But that might not always be the case. If the pose is poorly staged, you might not see exactly what's going on with this character. So with this pose, if I turn it 90 degrees, you can actually see the pose very, very clearly.
And this is because the character has a strong silhouette. Now a strong silhouette usually means that things are in the clear. So some of the most important parts of the character are his hands. And we can see those hands. Those are in the clear. They're out. And away from the body so they have a strong silhouette. Now when the audience first sees a character, they are going to see the outline of the character first and then they fill in the details. This is why we need a strong silhouette. Now if we take a look at this character in normal mode you can still see how the strong silhouette helps us to see what the character is doing.
So let's go back to Silhouette mode and let's take a look at another pose. And this one, I have no idea what's going on with that, it looks like he doesn't have any arms. But let's go ahead and rotate this character again and take a look at that. So you can see, he's much stronger in this particular silhouette. And just like with the other pose, we've got things in the clear so you can see, clearly see the finger and the hand outstretched. Now another important thing with silhouetting is that it actually helps you as the animator create stronger poses.
If you look at a character in silhouette, a lot of times you'll see things that you don't normally see when looking at the regular character. Now when I look at this particular silhouette, I'm seeing a lot of straight lines. And this really isn't very good. So I see a straight line here. I see a straight line here, here, and here. And really this character is nothing but straight lines and this isn't really very dynamic, it's not very interesting, and it really doesn't make for great composition.
Now if we want to make the character more interesting, we can start to break up these straight line into angles. So if I push the character a little bit forward and then some of the limbs, now I am getting a stronger pose. So in this case I've got a straight line here, but I have an angle here. So this is a good contrast and again I've got a straight line along the back of the leg. But this leg here actually has an angle. Now another important thing is these angles are slightly different, so they're not the same and again that adds variety to the pose and makes it look more natural.
Now silhouettes can also help you see the negative space of a character and this can be really important as well. So here we have a simple pose but if you take a look at it, the negative space of this pose is very symmetrical. And again, this creates a symmetry that looks unnatural. So here and here this is very symmetrical and also this area between the legs again is very symmetrical. So if we want to create a stronger pose, we can push the character into a stronger pose, and just by looking at the negative space you can see that again this pose is more dynamic.
So we've got this open space here. A closed space here. And again, the legs are at a different angle, so again, we're creating more dynamic posing. Now this thing works not just for single characters but for multiple characters. When you're looking at multiple characters in a scene, you also need to consider the negative space. So, in this particular scene, we've got one character whispering in the ear of another. But, if we take a look at the negative space, you'll see that, well, we've got a lot of stuff in there.
So, the space between the characters. We've got this arm kind of hanging out here. And her elbow, and there's not a lot of clarity here. So when you start to look for what's the most important thing in the scene, you're going to see this arm, you're going to see this outstretched arm, and you may not see this, which is really where the scene should be focused. So if we push this pose and change it up a little bit you can see that as I change this pose, I'm giving it more negative space. So what I'm doing here is I'm pushing her back, bringing this arm in so you don't have to see it.
Tucking his arm in again. And what I'm doing is, I'm creating a big negative space here. And where they interact right here is where the eye will go. So each one of these will direct the eye to that intersection between them, which is her whispering in his ear. And that again directs the audience towards the most important part of that scene. So when you silhouette, make sure that your character's parts are in the clear, and you can clearly see what the character is doing.
Then, as an animator, use silhouettes to see the negative space of your characters, as well as the angles of your character's joints.
- Telling stories through posing
- Creating a strong line of action in poses
- Animating seating to standing poses
- Adding anticipation and follow-through
- Making your character walk
- Animating the head and face
- Animating basic phonemes
- Animating a scene