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

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

No. 60, A Walk Cycle for Albert, Part Three: The Full Test

In addition to filling in all drawings for this walk cycle, this week I have improved the readability of these pencil tests.  Because I often do my rough drawings in blue pencil, the tests done in Toki Line Test software have been of such a low contrast that by the time they have been rendered as Quicktime Movies, they are hard to see, especially if there are multiple levels.  Now I have greatly improved this by exporting the drawings from Toki as jpegs, then adjusting their values in Photoshop before importing them once again into Toki Line Test.  I think you will appreciate the sharper, more high contrast result.

This test is now working in most ways.  A good walk cycle includes many details of movement besides just moving the feet and legs and swinging the arms. Here are some things I included in Albert's walk:

Rhythmic vertical movement. Does the character rise up or drop down on the passing positions, and by how much?  I have Albert rising up enough to be noticeable.

Shoulder action.  Albert's upper torso rotates in opposition to his hips, but his right shoulder is kept highest at all times because of the load he is carrying on that side.

The legs and feet.  They are working well.  Just before each of the contact drawings I inserted a little kick; he throws his foot out past the point of contact for one drawing (2 frames) which adds a nice confident snap to his walk.  It has an impact more felt than seen. Here is the detail showing that:

Two drawings before contact.
One drawing before contact; the foot is thrown forward, beyond the contact point.  

The contact drawing (his right foot.)
Head action.  I have made his head tilt to alternate sides on the contact drawings and to be verticle--untilted--on the passing positions. This will mean that in a side view of the same action, his face will be partially hidden by his hat brim when the right foot makes contact (see drawing above) but I have planned for that.

The swinging arm.  This works pretty well but I don't like the way the arm comes forward.  It should swing out farther rather than in as I have it now.

Follow through actions.  [1] After the contact drawings, the belly descends and delays coming up for a couple of drawings, giving him an appropriate heaviness.  I want to refine this some more.  [2] When the left hand reaches its full extent at the front it flips up.  [3] The hatbrim flips up and down a little as he bounces along, but that needs more refinement also.

These details and others can be thought about and added in now that the basic elements of the walk are in and approved.  Although it is possible to suggest secondary and follow-through action during the first pass through the animation, usually they will need some adjustment, and it is perfectly alright not to put them in at all until the first pass is complete.  A walk cycle like this presents a lot of challenges, so it is all-important to get the basics right first.

For an exhaustive look at animating walks, see Richard Williams' book The Animator's Survival Kit.

Next: Refining the Details of the Walk

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