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

Sunday, April 2, 2017

No. 126, Storyboard into Animation, Part 3

The Pencil Test

Last time (post No. 125) I showed you key drawings from my animation of a scene of the Old Man, along with the storyboard panels upon which they were based.

Now I have finished the pencil test, and you can see where that has taken me.

It is indescribably exciting to take a storyboard concept and breathe life into it, with all the timing and nuances that give it personality. For me, it is the height of creativity, the addictive moment of the animation process that makes all the rest of the work with its endless calculations and tedium worthwhile. It is what the animator lives for.

A New Movement?

Watching this pencil test, it occurred to me that I may have invented something new, or perhaps I am the first to put a name to it: I would call it a Double Anticipation.

This is something I observed in the tai chi classes that I attend. Our instructor teaches a sinuous and slow-moving tai chi called the Yang style. Properly performed, the movements actually give an illusion of a slow motion video.

In most animation, we are taught that when beginning any major movement, one begins with an anticipation--usually a movement in the opposite direction from the major movement--and then makes the main movement. This is based on observation of everyday actions of ordinary humans and animals and also serves to signal to the viewer what is about to happen. As animators, we all use this principle all the time, and it works quite well. It is a shifting of weight, a gathering of energy.

But suppose the tai chi performer intends to move to the left, for example. His first movement is not to the right but toward the left, the major intended direction. This is usually to shift the weight onto the forward foot and off the rear foot so that the rear foot can be turned to an angle that will best support the movement. Only then does the tai chi practitioner bring his or her weight back onto that foot, shifting balance to the right as in a classic anticipation.

Here in my pencil test I have given the Old Man a double anticipation before he walks off. I really don't know if my tai chi placed the idea into my subconscious, or if it just helped me to recognize and classify what I have animated. 

A note on looping YouTube movies: Did you know that if you control-click (Mac) or right-click (Windows) the lower righthand corner of a YouTube movie, you can select an option to loop the Movie? Very useful for viewing short animation pieces!


  1. I guess this (let's call them) rules, are not meant to be done without proper understanding of them. Anticipation doesn't always mean opposite.
    I understand the contrast approach, but not every movement calls for contrast. Some should be more subtle

    1. Well I don't agree completely, Rafael. Anticipation does not always mean opposite, but it does require contrast.