For People Crazy About 2D Animation!

Acme Punched! is for people crazy about 2D animation. It may be enjoyed by beginners and others, but it is aimed at animators who know already something about the process of animation and the basics of character animation. In large part, it will attempt to provide a deep look into the problem solving that goes on in my head as I work out a scene, often in step-by-step posts that I will sometimes enter in "real time", without knowing in advance what the outcome will be. Mistakes and false starts will not only be included but emphasized, so that the creative process of animation will be portrayed realistically. And, while my own bias is for 2D drawn animation, many of the effects and principles discussed here can apply to CGI 3D animation as well. I hope the blog will prove useful and instructive for all.

-Jim Bradrick

Friday, October 25, 2013

No. 48, Jim on a Limb: One (Part 4)

Six weeks since I have posted.  Partly it was this and that, an illustration job, a couple of commercial jobs, the re-designing of my website, a busy late summer.  But also it was the difficulty of the problem here--the one I last mentioned in post no. 45, Jim on a Limb: One (Part 3)--in which I laid down the key drawings I needed to animate.  If you want to follow the continuity of this demonstration, please go back now and look at that post.

How It Looks in Pencil Test

Here is the result:

Of course this test is focused on the man.  His name is Albert.  I also have animation of the woman  about ready (her name is Victoria), but because too many layers make the pencil test dark and difficult to follow, I have left off all layers here except for two: Albert, and Albert's Head.

This is about what I wanted it to be in so far as Albert is concerned.  I think you can see him thinking.  He gets serious and cautious at the beginning, he communicates his plan to Victoria, and when he gets bumped in the nose by the fox as he lowers him down, Albert doesn't let it bother him much.  One thing I will make more clear is Albert's expression, which will remain disapproving until, at the end, he relaxes his stern expression to gaze in perplexity at the fox, who is behaving so badly.

Next it is Victoria who will try to deal with the fox, first as if to make some argument, then feeling hopeless, and finally just appealing to his good nature.  And all without a word of dialog or narration.

I have begun by adding a few more key drawings to define Victoria's performance; the first ones would be sufficient for a storyboard, but the animator must go further and think of everything that will be in the character's performance.

Victoria regards the stubborn fox.
Pose A is the last pose of the pencil test above.

She resolves to try something to make the fox let go.

Pose B shows her determination to act.  It also is an anticipation to Pose C.

She moves as if to speak out loud to the fox...
Pose C.  She might be about to actually say, "Why won't you let me go?"

...but stops short, realizing the futility of this.
Pose D pulls back a little from Pose C.  She holds for 16 frames, blinks.

Victoria slumps, feeling the situation as hopeless.
Pose E  expresses her feeling of despair.

An anticipation to pose G.
In Pose F, Victoria gathers herself for one last attempt.

The last pose: with her eyes she pleads for the fox's mercy.
Pose G shows her final supplication as she bats her eyelids and beats her fists together.

This is a tough bit to do because it is designed so that the character can barely move her head; where the fox grips her by the nose is a pivot point and anchor for the whole character, and the animator must work only with her expression, with her arms and hands, and with some cautious movement of her shoulders and body.

Next: Victoria and the Fox: the Pencil Test