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, April 23, 2013

No. 37, Drawing Problem 1: The Eccentric Breakdown Drawing: A Drawing Challenge for You (Part 2)

There is a Part 2!

Well, one of my guesses was right: I had one person ask to do the drawing.  His name is João and he lives in the UK.

 Here is his drawing:

It has a lot going for it. The character is quite on model, considering that João had no model sheet and only two poses to work from.
Let's see how it looks in action, and then we will talk about it some more.

Here is the pencil test, repeated 6 times so you don't have to replay it each time:

Also I include an image that shows simplified drawings of the two extreme drawings in blue and red.  João's is the one with the yellowish outline.

The order of the images is blue, yellow, red.  We see that the artist definitely understood the concept of the eccentric breakdown; clearly this is not a halfway inbetween.  He chose to rotate the character's head while keeping its mass in place.  The right arm goes down and the left lifts up.  The body rotates almost all the way but its mass is positioned halfway.

This is generally a good solution and would work pretty well.  There are two things I want to point out, however, that I would  change.

The first is that it is not the best thing to rotate a head in place like a world globe turning on its spindle.  The features can appear to slide about, and also it is just not the most interesting way to turn a head.  I recommend displacing the head forward, something like this:
The suggested change to the head position.

Moving the head forward a bit also provides an anticipation before the final backward movement.

My only other change would be to make the smile bigger, but...

Here is something I learned only after years of making the same mistake:  when you change a facial expression during a big movement, the change is lost. No one will ever see it.  It may be appropriate to have the expression change anyway, but if you want it to be noticed, it needs to happen when the character is mostly at rest.

Thank you, João, for your participation.  I hope that in the near future, when I have another of these drawing challenges, some more of you will give it a try!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

No. 36, Drawing Problem 1: The Eccentric Breakdown Drawing: A Drawing Challenge for You (Part 1)

The Eccentric Breakdown Drawing

Before I will be able to  post Part 4 of Problem Six, I must create lot of drawings, so it may be a long time before that post.  In the meantime,  I thought I would ask if my readers would like to engage in an animation drawing exercise.

This is not a contest.  It is a chance for you to try your hand at some creative thinking of the kind that keeps me excited by animation year after year.

What I am calling the Eccentric Breakdown drawing is beautifully described and illustrated by Eric Goldberg in his book Character Animation Crash Course (Chapter 10: Having a Breakdown!).  Dick Williams goes into it also beginning on page 218 of The Animator's Survival Kit.

First, do we all know what the breakdown is?  It is the main drawing between two extreme drawings.  I used to think that that was all it was: just the first and biggest inbetween.  As it turns out, in animation the breakdown is just as important as the extremes, because it tells us how we will get from one extreme to the other.  It can change the entire character of the animation.  And in a situation where your inbetweens are to be completed by another, less experienced artist, the breakdown helps the animator control those inbetweens to a great extent.

Here are the two extremes we will be dealing with in this little problem.  You have seen them before: the first is the held pose (with blinks) of the woman as she stares, mystified, at the thing on her husband's head.

The second is the beginning extreme pose of her delight as she recognizes that it is a little fox.

Here is the spacing guide I have worked out, showing the number of drawings that will get us from A to B, and how they are spaced.

 The drawing spaced in the middle (65) is the main breakdown we are concerned with.  The whole movement will take 16 frames (we are using film speed of 24fps), or two-thirds of a second.

Okay, let's get into it.

I am the Animator who has done all the extremes and spacing guides, and you are the Assistant Animator.  Often I will do my own breakdowns, but today I don't have time and I am asking you to do them for me.  I could not trust this to a beginning inbetweener, but you have some experience so I am asking you to try it.  We begin by discussing the two poses with which you will be working.

"Drawing 1 is a long hold; she hasn't moved her body for a while.  Suddenly she is going to pull out of that pose and start to move briskly, so you need to build an anticipation into the breakdown, drawing 65.  If she just pulled straight back to drawing 73 it would look unnatural, so you must think of a good way to do that.  By the end she must straighten her spine, and her head and body must make a quarter turn to the (her) right.  And, on drawing 65 I want you to show that she is already smiling; that she has by this time already realized everything and her body is just catching up."

You say, "Can I look at the other drawings to see the context?"

"Yes," I say.  "All the extremes can be found here, and there are various versions of the pencil test in recent posts for Problem Six. Now let me see you give it a try."

*     *     *

How to Participate

If you want to give this a try, send me an email to:, and I will then send you the two extreme drawings above as jpegs for you to print.  Take the printed drawings and tape them each to a sheet of animation paper, so that the registration crosses are in alignment.  Then make your version of drawing 65 on a third sheet of paper.  Remember to trace the registration crosses onto your new drawing.

Then scan the drawing and send it back to me.

Right now I don't know if I will get 1 entry or 10, or none.  When I get your drawing I will put it up on Acme Punched and write a comment about it.  Unless you tell me to use your whole name, I will just use your initial and country of origin.

Why not give it a try?