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

Thursday, August 16, 2012

No. 12, Problem 3: The Fox On the Man's Head (Part 1)

First, you will need to understand the story at this point.

The Story: 
The man has arrived home to present 3 things to his wife.  He has already given her the goose and a bag of grain.  But he has concealed his third purchase as a surprise: under his hat, perched atop his head is a live fox.

In problem 2 we saw how he pulled his hat off, using the stagger effect.  Now we see the fox, his ears down and his tail tightly furled around his body, so that the man's wife is not sure what she is seeing.

The Scene:
Closeup.  The fox uncoils his tail and shakes himself out.  The man reacts in a subdued "take" at the movement of the fox.

The First Version:
In my first pass, I had the man reacting with alarm as the fox uncurled.  Here is the pencil test of that:
Pencil Test 1

In fact, the first test had the man waiting until the fox was completely uncurled before he reacted.  This was poor planning, a too literal interpretation of the rule of thumb that the movement of a secondary character can draw the viewer's attention away from the main movement of the primary character.  Often that means to have only one character moving at a time. But I realized it doesn't work well for the man to wait all that time before reacting to the movement of the fox; he should logically react right away.  Therefore as you see above, I have moved his reaction up to the beginning of the movement of the fox.  This is better, but still, it does distract.

What would be a better solution?

In watching the movement of the fox (which I am basically happy with), I realized that it would be more effective to have the tail begin to unwind much more slowly, then time the man's reaction to happen with that.  Thus the man will be at rest (and not distracting us) by the time the fox goes into his more violent movement.

There are two other things I am going to change here.  First, the shot was to be a wide view as you see in Pencil Test 1.  Since planning that, I have had more experience in Toon Boom AnimatePro, and found how easy it is to use a Camera Module.  I decided I wanted a tighter closeup, excluding the wife from the frame, more like this:

The other change is to the man's reaction itself.  Instead of being alarmed by the fox's movement, he should react only a little here, with an expression more of delight than of uncertainty.  Notice that I have the man's head moving very little, because I want the fox to remain fairly stationary.  I will stay with that constraint, mostly moving his shoulders instead of his head, and giving him that more pleased expression.

Next: Problem 3: The Fox On the Man's Head (Part 2)  We fix the man's "take".


  1. I just love what you are doing here. I have been trying to find a software that will be user friendly for scanning dwgs and rendering them further in computer. I see that you have prevailed; would you, please, let me know which software are you using and which tablet? I am an old animator, also mostly self-thought, looking over the shoulders of other animators and working at home at night,etc...Love 2D animation and am working on a project now, but need help of a good and user friendly software. thank you, and - carry on the great work!

    1. Hi Marija, thank you for your comment and thank you also for joining the site.

      The animation software is Toon Boom Animate Pro 2, which is rather spendy, but Toon Boom has some other applications that are less expensive, such as Animate and Studio. Here is a link to their website:

      I have a Wacom Intuos 3 tablet. I think anyone drawing digitally should have a good tablet with a pressure-sensitive stylus, as you can get a lot of variation into your line, and there are variables in the Toon Boom brush tools that allow you to control range of line thickness and other qualities.

      If you have any other questions or if I can make anything more clear, please let me know. I will be happy to help you any way I can.