Thursday, 6 October 2016

12 Principles of Animation

Here are the 12 Principles of Animation as a follow up to last weeks animation session.

The explanations below are in my own words as understood from the excellent (and quick) YouTube series by Alan Becker explaining the 12 Principles as defined by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, two of Disney's original core animators.
  1. Squash and Stretch - by showcasing these two elements in an animation, and even exaggerating them, a sense of speed, object density, and recoil can be conveyed. Stretching typically conveys speed or acceleration, whereas squash relates more to object density and recoil.

  2. Anticipation - character animation is most effective when visual cues are provided to clue in the next action i.e. a slight squat before a jump, winding up before dashing or punching. Without a moment of anticipation-generating motion, movement looks weak and illogical.

  3. Staging - ideas have to be presented sequentially and in an appropriate position. Too many elements on screen at once, all competing for the audiences attention result in a loss of clarity. Motion or action can be assisted by correct placement of the camera according to the rule of thirds or changing the camera's angle can more strongly convey a concept. Every event in an animation should consider how and where the audience's attention is being drawn, and for how long.

  4. Straight Ahead & Pose to Pose - Two differing methods of animation. Straight ahead is where you draw each frame sequentially. Pose to Pose is when the beginning and end frames of a movement are drawn first, and then the intermediate frames are drawn. Pose to Pose is generally better for most actions, but Straight Ahead animation is good for unpredictable animations i.e. fire, rain, lightning etc. The two methods can also be used in conjunction with each other, with Pose to Pose for the primary motion, concentrating on body movement and excluding secondary animation like hair, clothes, etc. which can be drawn in afterwards using the Straight Ahead method. Pose to Pose can be broken down into Key frames, then extremes of motion, and then the intermediate frames.

  5. Follow Through and Overlapping Action - this is where body parts and other associated objects drag behind the body or centre of gravity when it moves, and keep moving a while after the body has stopped, in order to convey a true sense of poise and momentum that adds to the realism of the animation.

  6. Slow In and Slow Out - this refers to how organic movement starts slowly and finishes slowly. Animation that relies upon constant speed conveys a sense of the mechanical.

  7. Arcs - unless looking at mechanical motion, most things are incapable of moving in anything but arcing motions. It is therefore essential to include arcing motion, no matter how minimal, in order to maintain realism of motion.

  8. Secondary Action - gestures that are unnecessary, but help to convey tone of the main action i.e. facial expressions, clenched/relaxed limbs etc.

  9. Timing - Many drawings, close together results in slow action, fewer drawings further apart create faster action. The speed of a motion completely changes the tone of it, varying between violent and relaxed motion. Slow actions are smoother when drawn on 2s, fast actions are best drawn on ones in order to capture all of the activity.

  10. Exaggeration - To really convey the 'realism' of a motion or expression in animation, exaggerating it beyond what we think looks real actually makes it more convincing when in motion.

  11. Solid Drawing - Forms should feel as though they are in 3D space. Parallel lines should be avoided where possible, characters should be blocked out with cube and spheres - not circles and squares, lines should overlap in order to show where objects 'pop' out and prevent them from appearing to all be on the same plane. It also applies to motion. 'Twinning' of movements should be avoided, movements should be partially asymmetrical to reinforce the idea of 3D space.

  12. Appeal - Characters need charisma. Characters must be 'appealing' within animation. This can be achieved through quirks of shape or proportion, suggestive of the character's personality. It should also be simple as over-complexity of character is not only difficult to soak in from the audience's perspective, but unnecessarily difficult to animate.

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