Animation, Animation Practice

Improving 2D Character Animation

AKA: Cat uses "practice" as an excuse to animate Rust & Revolutionaries characters

I never need an excuse to draw robots, but when I have an excuse to draw robots, it just makes it twenty times better. So naturally, when I got the chance to follow a workshop about frame-by-frame character animation, I took my chance. The workshop was split into three parts, each a full day of animating starting with some theory about the “how to’s” of a specific animation exercise. So without further ado, let’s dive into what I learned and drew!

Flying & Jumping

The first lesson was about animating flying characters. We were given the freedom to animate anything with wings, with the prompt of trying to draw a bird (or other flying creature) that had characteristcs similar to ourselves. My initial plan was to animate a mechanical bird of sorts; as many of you may know, I’m quite a fan of robots and mechanical creatures. As it turns out, however, mechanical animals are a nightmare to draw (I knew this, but often forget about that little detail until I once more attempt it.) So that idea was swiftly abandoned at the prospect of having to animate something I couldn’t even draw, and instead I opted for a vaguely parrot-like bird. For characteristics pertaining to myself I chose my black jacket, hat and earring. Since parrots don’t really have ears, the earring just kind of… hangs out of the hat? But honestly I think it works, and

I’m quite happy with it. The actual animating was a bit of a challenge– I didn’t want to take a straight front or side angle, but the diagonal was a tricky one for a first time properly animating wings. I ended up managing okay with some corrections here and there, and looooooots of use of references XD. I also learned about Eadweard Muybridge, and wow, that man took a lot of useful photos when it comes to studying motion. His photography of birds was invaluable to this exercise. As homework I got the assignment to animate a jump, which you can see to the right over here :).


For the second class, we focused on runs, sneaks and animal action! We got to choose which of them we wanted to tackle, so I went for the sneak since that was one I hadn’t tried before. It was a lot of fun to figure out which movements are exagerrated in classic cartoons and try to mimic that, since so many of it didn’t seem like things that a realistically sneaking person would do. The timing was tricky, I ended up editing the speed of the video in hindsight a little bit, but I’m quite happy with how it turned out!


The third and final session was dedicated to character takes. Going in, I wasn’t quite sure what a take was– so for those like me; it’s basically when a character reacts to something they can see. The easiest way to explain it is with the more familiar term “double take”– when a character sees something, but only really registers it when looking the second time. Apparently there’s all sorts of rules and formulas you can apply to animating takes, so I took a lot of notes for future reference. For this class I went for one simple take with no anticipation (see below) as well as a

more complex take based on the Disney-style formula for takes (above). While I was at it with the cartoony vibes, I figured I’d let the glasses fly off his nose as well, because why not right? It also gave a little more purpose to the flailing arms– that was a part of the formula that felt very unnatural to me, so incorporating it into some kind of segue between the flailing and the grabbing of the glasses helped it feel a little less chaotic. Overall I had a lot of fun animating my little guy; this was also the first time I’ve drawn Caupair with a red waistcoat, and I think it looks very nice on him. I might just keep it ;).

And that brings us to the end of the course already! It was a lot of fun to dedicate some time to improving my character animation, and I definitely hope to be doing more of these exercises as I continue my study. I’ll see you all at the next one!

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