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

Saturday, June 21, 2014

No. 68, The Animator's Thought Process

What I try to do here in this blog, in part, is to set down some of the thinking and decisions that an animator makes which are not usually recorded at all.

These consist of the more fleeting and detailed things that pass through an animator's mind as she or he works.  Ask an animator a year after a scene is animated about that animation and what he was thinking when he did it, and it is likely that he will not be able to say.  It might be possible to say, "Oh, that walk cycle--well, it has a nice rhythm, don't you think?" But the steps of planning, of paths considered and discarded, of things tried that did not work because they were too subtle or too over-the-top for the problem at hand--these things are most likely forgotten unless noted down or  unless committed to long-term memory by a discussion or some other event that forces the thinking to be articulated or recorded.

Thoughts of an animator.

But my belief is that these thoughts can be useful,  just as seeing the crumpled false starts from the waste basket or dustbin of a writer or illustrator can be useful, because they show to the aspiring animator that the path to a satisfying result is often not straight and smooth; that it is okay not to get it right the first time, and that a hard working and self-critical method of procedure can lead to success just as surely as the inspired stroke of genius of some Michelangelo of animation who seems to always get it right the first tiime.  If there really is such a thing.  Milt Kahl may have been a genius animator, but it is known that he would shut himself in his office alone for days or weeks at a time as he worked out his scenes.  It is fair to assume that he was testing and discardiing, homing in on his solutions more or less as the rest of us do.

And so the message of my step-by-step blog posts is: if something you animate is not working right, it can probably be fixed, and here are some of the many ways that can be used  1)to figure out what is wrong, and 2) to fix it so that it is working right.  Moreover, having established these critical habits in yourself, you may find that you do get to the right solution more directly and quickly in the future.

Let's hope so.  As for myself, I feel that I am still learning more every day and improving as an animator.

How about you?


  1. Ha! This is probably not the message that you most hoped that I would pick up on, but looking at your drawing reminded me: I do have to move the laundry into the dryer. So, thanks!

    1. Heh. Well, glad to be of some use. And don"t forget to walk the dog, too.

  2. You may have spent a good part of your enraptured by on the TV or theater screens, marveling as fantastic characters seemingly came to life.