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 23, 2014

No. 62, A Walk Cycle for Albert, Part Five: Side View

 Solution to "Mystery Change"

In the last post (No. 61), I challenged you to find a difference in timing between the two versions of the walk cycle.  No one took me up on it, and I admit it was a subtle detail to find amid everything else that was going on in the cycle.  But the answer is: I changed the timing of the right arm (the one holding the bag).  In version 1, as the bag comes forward and then reverses direction to recede again, the movement seemed to me to have a stabbing aspect to it; that is, it took no time and no effort to reverse direction.  I thought this was inappropriate for a bag that might weigh 100 pounds or 45 kilograms.

I therefore took a look at the spacing of the drawings.  As the bag comes forward, it has an appropriate cushion-in.  The chart below shows the relative positions of the seam at the front of the bag.

But as the bag reverses direction, the drawings were not spaced so as to give a good impression of the cushion-out (the spacing that indicates that an object starts out slowly and accelerates.)  The next chart shows both the old and the improved spacings.  Again, it is the seam on the bag that we are following.
The original spacing is shown in red, on the left.  Final spacing on the right.
I think if you will now go back to post no. 61 and carefully compare the two versions, you will observe more of a slow-down and hesitation between the forward and backward movements of the bag.  It is more like the compression and release of a spring, as it should be, rather than like something bouncing.

Translating to the Side View

The obvious way to begin this translation of view is to construct the first image over the corresponding one of the other.  On my drawing board, that looks like this:
The front view showing through on my backlighted animation disk.
In a case like this, which is just a rotation on the Y axis, as the 3D-ers would think of it, many measurements can be directly applied from one drawing to the other.

Here are the two images separated, with a few points of congruence highlighted:
Showing where the top of the hat, the eyebrow, the shoulder seam, the top of the button and the bottom of the body mass coincide in both drawings.
Some things, of course, require adjustment.  Mainly these are the parts that project forward or backward in imagined space from the plane of the torso.  Thus the left hand appears larger in the front view to create the illusion that it is closer to the viewer, and the left foot is drawn smaller to show that it is farther back.

It should be emphasized that a walk cycle--or any animation, for that matter--should be designed with the perspective of its layout or background in mind; note the converging lines like floorboards on the drawing at right above, indicating the plane upon which the character is walking.  If you animate something without regard for the perspective and scale of the layout, you may be wasting time and work.  This should be considered even if creating something such as a gif animation meant to occupy the featureless expanse of a webpage.

Creating other angles wherein the viewpoint is raised or lowered is also possible, but here more sophisticated drawing skills are required to extrapolate from one to the other.
The same pose from a high angle, 3/4-front view.
I once was called upon to animate a character running while the camera swooped all about him--something a 3D animator of today would, admittedly, be able to do easily.  Yet once I had done a version of his run cycle from one viewpoint, I was able to work out all the other angles, and the whole thing worked very well.

Here is the first pencil test of the side view walk cycle:
I thought it worked pretty well, and it was fun to watch, yet something was not quite right for the walk of a man traveling a great distance.  Finally I decided that his stride was a bit too long; he is reaching a bit too far with each step.

So I shortened his stride by this much:
The erased images in red brackets show the original reach of his stride.
Here is the second test, incorporating the somewhat shorter stride along with a few other adjustments to the foot and leg positions in all the drawings:

I like this second version; except for details and cleanup, I am calling it done.

Your comments and questions are always welcome, and if you like what I am doing here, why not click on the Join This Site button and become a Follower?  That way you won't miss any posts, and I promise you many more to come!

Coming soon: Walks for Albert's Companions, a Fox and a Goose--two short-legged characters who must keep up with Albert's rapid pace!

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