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

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

No. 103, Life Drawing as Animation

Not long ago I read of an animator--could have been Richard Williams--who put a model in life drawing through a sequence of related poses of some action, such as pitching a ball. At each successive pose the animator did a gesture drawing on one page of a pad of translucent paper, starting near the back of the pad and working forward, so that for each new pose he could see through the paper to the previous pose and could relate them one to the others.  At the end he had a series of key drawings of the action, scaled and in register, that could actually be made into an animated scene.

At the drawing sessions which I attend, we often have "long poses", where the model holds a pose for fifteen minutes, takes a short break, and then assumes the same pose again, for as long as one and a half hours. Accustomed as I am to quick drawing, I sometimes become frustrated with these long poses. Instead of working on just one drawing, as most of the other members do, I may do several different versions of the pose. Occasionally, I get up and move to another viewpoint in the room.

Recently I tried something new. Getting to my feet, and with a small pad held across one arm, I did a quick drawing of the model from a viewpoint at the far left of the room. Then I sidestepped a few paces and drew him again from the new viewpoint, superimposing the new drawing over the first and keeping the proportions much the same, as I could see the previous image faintly through the paper.

I continued on, moving to my right after each drawing, sometimes crowding in between the easels of two of my fellow artists, until I was at the far right of the room with seven different angles of the model on my pad.

Seven related drawings of a single pose.

Now I have scanned the drawings and made a little animated movie of them. The result is of course the illusion that the model is rotating on his stand.

This is a wonderful way to learn to understand proportions, to get a grasp of the idea of foreshortening, and to learn the all-important art of visualizing your flat drawings as representations of spatial geometry.  I plan on doing it again soon.  Try it!


  1. This is actually quite impressive!

    1. Thanks, Rafael. It was a surprise to me that it worked so well.

  2. Love this step by step Jim! Your animation work in Putt-Putt brought me here.

    1. Dear Unknown: Your comment suggests that you know me. I would be interested to know who you are--you can reply to me privately at