Flash Animation - Online Course

< Back to Part 1 (Tests 1-16)

Week 7


Test 17 | Lip Sync with Symbols (Ugly Guy) |
Sample:


  You will need your headphones for this assignment.


Test 18 | Lip Sync with Symbols (TDI) |
Sample:


Hand-drawn style lip sync can be a fun technique to do, see this tutorial about it:



Test 19 | Run Cycle |
> Creating a Run Cycle
> Running to Walking Transition

Practice drawing/posing the simple character model:

Run Samples:













Run cycles by Yoh Yoshinari:
















Flash has been used for many years as a blocking & pose-testing tool by Maya character animators. Usually by plotting out the character's actions to determine the action and timing as sort of a rehersal, then bringing that animation into Maya to be used as direct reference for timing and posing the 3D character model.

There's even a plugin that emulates a very simple Flash-style environment called Blue Pencil, and it provides Maya artists with the ability to draw and animate (in 2D) directly on the Maya viewport. With nice toolsets that allows for tracking arcs, rough sketch planning, thumbnailing, pressure-sensitive drawing, integrated keyframes and data that is stored directly in the Maya scene file. This makes it easy to adjust the timing of drawings, figure out the spacing and posing of the action first, quickly and efficiently in 2D before beginning the process in 3D. The keyframes are visible in the timeline/graph editor and can be retimed using the same methods as regular keys.



Flash and other similar software like Anime Studio; Flipbook; Pencil; TVPaint; or even the extra fancy Toonboom Harmony, can been used as a "2D pre-viz tool" for your Maya character animation exercises and 3DCG production scenes:

(C) Animation by Meaghan Peer




Week 8


Test 20 | Full Body Whip |
> Applying The Wave Principle
Sample:


Tips & Techniques:


Animation is all about spacing and arcs. The best timing will be ruined by animation that isn't smoothly following a path of action. Fortunately, it is incredibly easy to get smooth animation. Just follow these three easy steps!

1- Make sure EVERY body part is following an arc.
2- Make sure EVERY body part is either accelerating or slowing down.
3- Track all your shapes and joints - and don't just track one point.

Arcs are really neglected in Flash because of 'motion tweens'. Nothing, in nature, travels in a straight line. Everything should be moving in circles, swoops, figure-8s... It's more work, but do take the time to put them in your work, all animation (characters, objects, FX) follow these fundamentals.



Remember, an arc is a reflection of the underlying force, converting its strength into velocity and curvature. A successful arc allows viewers to feel this hidden sense of energy.

On the surface, an arc seems rather simple to understand and easily put into animated applications; but without regards to the forces at work, the path of the arc might appear hollow and mechanical, lacking organic senses.

In common-sense physics, soft forces allow higher degree of curvature, creating lyrical and more complex series of unfolding arcs; stronger forces cause arc to be straighter and simpler, lesser in degrees of flexibility.




Overlap & Follow-Thru

When the main body of the character stops all other parts continue to catch up to the main mass of the character, such as arms, long hair, clothing, cape, tail or a dress, floppy ears or a long tail (these follow the path of action). Nothing stops all at once. This is follow through. Overlapping action is when the character changes direction while his clothes or hair continues forward. The character is going in a new direction, to be followed, a number of frames later, by his clothes in the new direction. "DRAG," in animation, for example, would be when a character starts to run, but his head, ears, upper body, and clothes do not keep up with his legs. In animated feature films, this type of action is done more subtly. Example: When Snow White starts to dance, her dress does not begin to move with her immediately but catches up a few frames later. Long hair and animal tail will also be handled in the same manner.



Timing becomes critical to the effectiveness of drag and the overlapping action. These are used in combination with each other. Follow-through is used for parts of the character like hair, clothing, a dress, ears. These are all things that usually hang on a character. The primary action comes from the character's body, then when the character comes to a stop, something like the long ears on a dog continue to move, then settle to a stop. Nothing on a character should ever come to a stop at the same time, if they did, the character would seem to suddenly freeze. There are lots of different ways to make this work.

Overlapping action is similar but can also be applied to primary actions like a character walking. The characters arms swinging back and forth are good place for some overlapping action. You could keep the arms stiff but by applying overlapping action, it gives a much more interesting and natural movement. The main idea behind overlapping action is the principle of successive breaking of joints; the "seaweed action".

Timing on follow through and overlapping actions are very important. If it's too slow, it becomes obvious and makes the primary action look awkward, too fast and you can't quite see it.



When you animate anything, the initial rough pass should be like thumbnailing; the difference is that not only does it allows you to work out the extreme positions, but it also helps you to find the right gestures and discover the sense of speed, direction and energy at play - all becoming visible through actual spacing of drawings.

By keeping drawings for your first pass of poses very loose, focusing on main essence of movement, one can rough through an action at a much faster pace, making possible to stay in touch with the intended feel of force and arcs of motion.

Don't be afraid to produce your own action analysis breakdown from live action and animated clips, you can learn so much from doing this research. Simply import any GIF or video into Flash, draw over it by make spacing charts, abd paths of action, and learn tons from other animators' techniques:














Test 21 | Character Animation Clean-up |
Sample:


Two samples of an animated Flash scene - Progression from roughs to final color:





Here's a sample of the 4 main stages of traditional animation, and though this process is all done digitally now (doesn't matter if it's Photoshop, Flash, or whatever), the techniques employed are the same as when they used to be made with pencil and paper.



-- Breakdown of the process --
First Panel: Storyboard > Rough Poses + Layouts
Second Panel: Rough Keys, Breakdowns & Inbetweens
Third Panel: Clean-up >Tie Downs, Overlap & Follow-Thru
Fourth Panel: Final Color




Week 9


Test 22 | Diving Board Jump |
Sample:

  



Tutorials:









Spacing: Avoid even spacing, why? Looks too mechanical and dead. You're not trying to recreate accurate physics, we want cartoon physics. Spacing just like everything else should be exaggerated. The spacing of your animation is often more important than the number of frames used. There is more to arcs and spacing than just creating smooth animation. You can manipulate spacing to give motion a unique flavor and style as well as the illusion of velocity.

Proper timing is critical to making ideas readable. It is important to spend enough time (but not too much time) preparing the audience for: the anticipation of an action; the action itself; and the reaction to the action (the follow through). If too much time is spent on any of these, the audience's attention will wander. If too little time is spent, the movement may be finished before the audience notices it, thus wasting the idea.

The faster the movement, the more critical it is to make sure the audience can follow what is happening. The action must not be so fast that the audience cannot read it and understand the meaning of it.

To make sure an idea or action is unmistakably clear, the audience's eye must be led to exactly where it needs to be at the right moment, they must not miss the idea or action. Timing, as well as staging and anticipation are all integral to directing the audience's eye. A well-staged anticipation will be wasted if it is not timed properly.

It is important that only one idea is seen by the audience at a time. If a lot of action is happening at once, the eye does not know where to look and the main idea will be overlooked. The object of interest should be significantly contrasted against the rest of the scene. In a still scene, the eye will be attracted to movement. In a very busy scene, the eye will be attracted to something that is still. Each idea or action must be timed and staged in the strongest and simplest way before going on to the next idea or action. The animator is saying, in effect, "Look at this, now look at this, and now look at this."

In most cases, an action should not be brought to a complete stop before starting another action; the second action should overlap the first. This slight overlapping maintains a flow and continuity between whole phrases of actions.

[ Animation Physics Lessons ]

Balance and Weight Shift

These tutorials cover basic character poses in steady balance, dynamic balance, and out of balance. How a character's pose is related to weight shift is described as well as how characters' movement causes them to gain gain or lose weight.




When you have lots of spare time, there's much to be learned from these videos about the animation process:
> Harry Partridge - Live Stream


There's lots of animation reference material online,
here's just another one of several you can find:


Finding reference and planning are not animation principles, but they are still two very important phases of animation. Researching the actions you are trying to animate will both make the process easier and improve the final product.

To determine the first set of key poses for any particularly complicated action or acting, you will first need to examine some form of reference. This can be a combination of video research online, or observation, or capturing photos and videos of yourself performing the movement or performance. The next step is to figure out the minimum number of poses necessary to make an action understandable. For example, it only takes about five key poses for a jump to read as a jump. These poses can then be drawn out on paper in the form of a planning sheet. Making a planning sheet is a very useful process, as at this stage you can quickly sketch out different ideas to see what looks and reads best. It can also be helpful in working out timing.

Video reference can be a usefull tool for complicated actions.


Rough Keys Poses:


Breakdown + Inbetween Drawings:


Clean-up:


Final Color + Shadow:


(C) Anita Gaughan One of the key aspects of being an animator is that you really need to know who a character is and what their personality and character are before you can animate a single frame of film. How does this character think? How does this character move? Do they do things deliberately and methodically... or abruptly and instinctually? Are they a passionate character? Or more reserved? Exuberant? Or more contained? Of course, what they're thinking and feeling in each particular scene has a profound effect on all of that as well.

The consequence of not considering all of this is that you will end up treating your character like a puppet, moving them from place to place within a scene and having them go through meaningless, mechanical motions. This, obviously, defeats the whole purpose of creating animated characters and trying to get the audience to see them as living, breathing creatures that can generate an emotional response in the viewer.

__________________________

The key is always to show definitive contrast from pose to pose, a clear and obvious change from one action to the next is vital in adding weight and texture to movement... Advice from Xavier Ramonede:

As a 2D animator myself, I spend a lot of time watching and analysing my favorite animations, trying to understand why they are so great.

So, here I'm studing the importance of Stretch and Squash. It's a basic principal everyone interested in animation knows through the bouncing ball, but it's in fact a basic rule to make clear for understandable and fluent animations. It works from the most general movement to the smallest detail.

It has always been a struggle for me to understand how to use this principle, so here are some good ways to use it.

In this animation, James Baxter applied the stretch and squash principal to this walking-and-dressing-up rabbit.



The up poses are here in the "strecth" and the down are on the "squash", the general movement being here very close to the bouncing ball exercise. The S&S principle works perfectly here because it's a cartoony walk. You can use it too for a more realistic walk because the principle stays the same, but you'd have to use it in a more subtle and lighter way.

If you look closely, you can notice between the first S&S that the rear foot and the trousers are out of the circle in the stretch pose, expanding the silhouette, and then they are retracting into the silhouette, making the squash pose even more compact.



It's interesting how James Baxter applied the S&S principle in the whole movement as much as in the small details. It's very subtle, but if you look at the ears you'll see that the shape is a bit wider in the extremes and thiner in the inbetweens, helping the eye to understand when things are the slowing down and when things are accelerating, adding a subtle amount of debth and volume to the character's design during movemnet.



Here, the S&S is used in the continuty of the walk but with a more extreme stretch at frame 49, expressing all the energy the rabbit is using. And, going even farther, Baxter uses a double stretch when the legg finally goes out of the pants, releasing even more strength and force in the action. Then, the whole silhouette squashes again on the up pose, then stretches in the inbetween when going down to the ground, and squashes again when hiting the floor.



In this scene, Nik Ranieri makes a great use of S&S to exagerate the expression of Kuzco, making a very fluent and funny movement. It's intersting to see how he uses S&S for the stagger between the extreme stretch and the last squash.



This James Baxter test for Marina (from Dreamworks' film Sinbad), it's a perfect exemple of how to use the S&S principles for a lipsynch. The S&S shapes on the head are given by the mouth and the eyes/eyebrows, following perfectly the accents in the dialogue. The mouth shapes are in a nice adequate amount with the acting and the general movement, making the scene a pure eye candy. It's interesting to take a look at the movement and shapes of the hair: they are not only fluently flying in the wind, they are following all the S&S, amplifying the smoothness of the movement: on the first squash, the hair shape is round and, then, they are thrown away by the following stretch pose.

This scene is a perfect exemple of why, in a lipsych, it's better to animate the main mouths in the first rough. It helps you to find the most important moments and leads you to build the acting around them. This way, all the movement and animation will only serve the dialogue and what your character has to say.

As we've see in all these exemples, the stretch and squash principle is a very good way to make appealing animations, it shows what is happening and what is going to happen (like the anticipation/action/reaction principle), it helps to show what is important and what is less important, and it's a very good way to catch the attention of the audience.




Test 23 | Weight Lift | - BONUS EXTRA ASSIGNMENT -

> Weight Lift Animation Tips

> Tutorial for Heavy Lifting in Character Animation


The most important point in weight lifting is the curvature of the spine. It's going from the " ) " shape to the " ( " . The torso shape HAS to change.



Pay attention to the balance of the body, as the character is lifting the heavy weight, the character's back transitions from C-curve to S-curve to a reverse C-Curve. All poses must show that his body is balanced. Pay attention how the character has to move his center of weight accordingly, based on where his feet are and the weight of the ball. Once he starts lifting the object the arms will be straight, until there might be a chance to recover. The heavier the object the straighter the arms will be.



Whatever the weight your character will be lifting (box, barbell, rock), make sure to thumbnail and plan out all your poses first.







The Principles of Movement

FORCE > Creates the principles of animation,
including physical, emotional, and psychological: Both External & Internal

Physical:
-- Squash and stretch - Compression and Extension
-- Slow in and slow out - natural (physics), character controlled or mechanical
-- Arcs - natural and controlled
-- Follow through / Overlapping action
-- Secondary action
-- Timing - The strength of the greater force dictates how fast something moves.

Skill and Methodology:
-- Straight-ahead animation
-- Pose-to-pose animation
-- Solid Drawing - a must for 'Traditional Animation'
and great for the planning of any other type of animation.

Weight is all in the posture and the timing.
But then context plays a role in how (and why) the character moves.



For timing, an important thing to keep in mind is contrast. There are a million ways to time your animation, depending on the effect you are going for. Vary the overall length and speed of your moves within the scene. Vary the timing of each part (antic, hit, settle...) within each move. Use a long antic for a short move, and a short antic for a long move.

So what are we timing? Are we timing effort or force? How much effort must the character exert to successfully accomplish the task at hand? For an animator, weight is a visual presentation of opposing forces (dictated in the main poses). Study a high jumper or long jumper.

FOR EXAMPLE; When a character jumps up, it is actually driving down against the ground. The faster it can drive down the higher it will jump. The character can enhance the power of the jump by thrusting shoulders and arms in the direction of the jump. Research is everything.



Once the force needed to jump is believably represented visually, the principles of movement are initiated. If the character is weak and heavy it takes more effort to jump, which influences timing which influences the principles.

The same principles apply to a weight lift. Gravity has a strong hold on the object, and the character lifting that object struggles against that opposing force.


Weight Lift Samples:







Week 10 - Final Assignment


Test 24 | Storyboard / Animatic |
> DOWNLOAD INSTRUCTIONS

Samples of the first 'thumbnail' stage:








Comparison between thumbnail and final storyboard/animatic stage:


Tutorial:



Here's a wonderful sample of a Storyboard-Animatic created to a piece of audio from a public domain (copyright-free) old-time radio play. Get audio clips like this here.



Color is not necessary, but tonal values and shadows should be implemented - this will help to add depth and separation between characters and BGs. In some cases, conveying light and shadow in your boards can be very important to amplify the mood of the scene, creating strong compositions, and allows you to direct the viewers attention in dramatic ways.



Tips for planning your shots and posing your characters:

Story Timing - Characterization - Phrasing - Asthetics

Story Timing - In visual storytelling, the timing of ideas and actions is important to the audience's understanding of the story at any point in time.

It is important that the animation be timed to stay either slightly ahead of the audience's understanding of what's going on with the story, or slightly behind. It makes the story much more interesting than staying even with the audience. If the animation is too far ahead, the audience will be confused; if the animation is too far behind, the audience, will get bored; in either case, their attention will wander.

Action timed to be slightly ahead of the audience adds an element of suspense and surprise; it keeps them guessing about what will happen next. An example of this is at the beginning of Luxo Jr. Dad is on-screen, alone and still; the audience believes they are looking at a plain inanimate lamp. Unexpectedly, a ball comes rolling in from off-screen. At this point, both Dad and the audience are confused. The audience's interest is in what is to come next.

When the action is timed to be slightly behind the audience, a story point is revealed to the audience before it is known to the character. The entertainment comes in seeing the character discover what the audience already knows. Another application of this is with a dim-witted character who is always behind; the audience figures it out before he does.


Characterization - The act of bringing to life and expressing the personality of a character.

This is done through the exposition of thought processes, mannerisms, actions, dialogue, timing and physical appearance. We must know the character that we place in this context, who they are, how they are specific and unique in their actions and personality. Determine what will give the action character and identification with an audience. When actions are motivated by the character's thought process, then a personality will come through, not just a generic action. Discover the right kinds of action for the character and act them out, feel them. Don't allow actions to appear routine.




Phrasing - Remember, most actions resolve into ANTICIPATION / ACTION / REACTION.

Keep this clearly in mind when working with dialogue.
The tendency is to create major action for each voice accent.
Accents are the parts of the soundtrack that are louder or more stressed,
which should be indicated in the poses. In dialogue, it is often the louder
parts of words or words that carry emotional stress.

Aesthetic - The composition of the shot can create an
emotional/psychological response in the audience:
> Staging
> Exaggeration
> Appeal: Character Design / Environment Design
> Posing: Focus on strong, clear poses that are
both aesthetically pleasing and tell the story.

Keep these in mind when designing your shots.
The position and posture of the characters in the scene can greatly effect the composition, in addition, it can help to place the characters within the situation, and improve the staging, making them part of their environment and the story.

Some ways to strengthen the pose of the character is to create a nice silhouette, this is the overall shape of a pose. This shape should read clearly even if the pose were filled in black you would still be able to tell what the character is doing.

The one thing that will always bring your poses to life is the line of action, that imaginary line that dictates the expressive body language and how the body will move. You can sometimes think of it as the back bone of a character. This line should always be used in setting up a pose, as you can see in the sample below, you can even get a wide range of emotions with no faces using only their bodies. When all else fails, get up and see how your body bends and shapes when trying to act out emotions.

Read more about the importance of the Line of Action here.





Always remember, by understanding the intent or reason for the movement, expression and acting, the storyboard artist (and eventually the animator) can then decide the specific way the action is to be performed.

Ask yourself these questions:
PURPOSE - What is the purpose of this scene within the context?
ENTERTAINMENT - What is the entertainment value of this scene/ sequence/ phrase of action?
EMOTION - What is the core attitude of the character? What emotion is being communicated/ focused on? How is this emotion being revealed/played out?
ACTION - What should the character do in this scene to reveal intent/personality?
CHARACTERIZATION - This is one of the most important aspects of designing your action. Once actions are motivated by the character's thought process, only then will the personality come through, you don't just want a generic performance.


Tutorial on Character Design:


Tutorial on Using Audio & Tips for Posing:


Tips & Tricks:

- Strive for clarity in your posing and staging so that an audience can clearly understand both what the characters are doing and also what they are thinking and feeling.

- Make sure that the timing in your shot helps the character feel like it is thinking as well as doing.

- Give the eyes plenty of attention in your animation, because they can totally sell your character's internal process.

- Make sure that your acting choices feel real and not contrived. Avoid the cliches when possible. Acting can be cartoony or realistic, but the character needs to be believable in either scenario.

- Use video reference as a tool for planning your shot and as a reference for body mechanics.

- Be sure to enjoy yourself. Shots always turn out better when you have fun working on them.







Always review & study the Core Fundamentals of 2D Animation

This is the foundation for creating life-like and believable character animation:

1. Timing and Spacing - Timing and spacing are unavoidably tied together because in animation the two are basically the same thing, it creates MOTION. Change the time that it takes a character to complete an action and it will change it's motion also. The timing gives some idea as to the forces involved in movement and the mass of an object or character.

2. Staging - Presenting an idea so that it is unmistakably clear by achieving strong composition through the proper placement of people and objects within the frame.

3. Squash and Stretch - Defining the volume and mass of an object by distorting its shape during an action.

4. Anticipation - The preparation for an action.

5. Follow Through and Overlapping Action - Follow through occurs when separate parts of a body will continue moving after the character has stopped. Overlapping action is the tendency for parts of the body to move at different rates. Another technique is "drag", where a character starts to move and parts of him take a few frames to catch up.

6. Slow In and Out - The spacing of the in-between frames to achieve subtlety of timing and movement by showing the character or object need time to accelerate and slowing down. It helps to define the velocity, weight, and size of objects, and even the personality of characters.

7. Arcs - The visual path of action for natural movement.

8. Exaggeration - Accentuating the essence of an idea via the design and the action.

9. Secondary Action - The action of an object resulting from another action.

10. Solid Drawing and Appeal - The basic principles of drawing form, weight, volume solidity and the illusion of three-dimensional shape apply to animation as it does to academic drawing. This includes an easy to read composition, clear drawing, and personality development that will capture and involve the audience's interest.

11. Straight-Ahead Action and Pose-to-Pose Action - The two contrasting approaches to the creation of movement, working from frame by frame vs. key drawings plus breakdowns & inbetweening. A combination of both techniques achieves a nice blend between creativity and consistency.

12. Pose and Mood - The attitude of the character, facial expression, posture, behaviors, and body language. The stronger the poses the more appealing and convincing the animation will be.

13. Shape and Form - The scale of the character compared to the others, avoiding tangents & twinning, using the characters mass and overall shape as part of its personality.

14. Line and Silhouette - Line of action and how well a pose can read with the use of positive and negative shapes, read all about it here.

15. Action and Reaction - To make the character seem alive it must interact with its environment and other characters.

16. Tension - Providing a good sense of weight and resistance to all things makes any movement or action more believable.

17. Beat and Rhythm - Part of sensible timing is finding a rhythm to the character's actions.

18. Straights and Curves - A nice balance of curved and straight lines in a character's postures and actions must be achieved to compliment the acting intended.

19. Direction - Where is the character going? What is it doing? Make definite changes from one attitude to another in timing and expression. Let the body attitude echo the facial. Pay attention to a character's eyeline. The character's poses and behaviors must lead the audience to where they should look. The eye-line, where are the characters looking while they are thinking, when they are having a conversation, and the eye direction on screen.

20. Depth, Volume and Perspective - Avoid a character's posing and placement in a scene that appears too flat, or motion that appears too mechanical, a character's volume must be kept consistent. Perspective, foreshortening, various angles, and all other considerations in design and motion should be accounted for as objects and characters are interacting and are within certain proximity of each other. The physical space that every element on screen inhabits is important.



Additional tutorials on how to make your very own animated cartoons:













Quickest way to improvement? Practice. It's a simple bit of advice that rings with absolute truth. Articles, tips, mentors, and study will never get you as far as rolling up your sleeves and getting down to work, be it animation or any other skill. Here I've compiled a list of exercises, like animation push-ups, that will get your animation motion, timing, spacing skills buff and toned.

If you still need be to convinced of how important the "Art of Doing" is? Look no further than the early days of animation. At the Disney studios were a group of animators (before being an animator was even a thing) who HAD no books to read, or websites to visit, or even experienced animators to ask. They learned via the age old art of hands-on training, observation, experimenting and discovering as they went. And some would argue they created some of the greatest animation to ever be seen.

Some of these exercises you may have done or seen before; Consider doing each of them, even if you did once previously, because returning to an old exercise to see how much you've progressed is a very valuable experience.

Level 1 Exercises

Do not discount their simplicity! Here you have all the principles of animation being worked on, these fundamentals id what all other animation is built on. They are worth your time and effort to explore, experiment, practice and re-discover.

  1. Heavy Ball bouncing in place, no decay, straight up and down (loop)
  2. Heavy Ball bouncing and coming to a stop (bowling ball)
  3. Brick falling from a shelf onto the ground
  4. Leaf Drop
  5. Paper Drop
  6. Character head turn with anticipation
  7. Character thinking
  8. Flour Sack sneaking walk cycle
  9. Flour Sack jump up and down
  10. Flour Sack reaching for an object
  11. Flour Sack kicking a ball
See samples of some of these exercises here.
Level 2 Exercises
  1. Change in Character emotion (happy to sad, confused to angry, etc.)
  2. Character jumping over a gap
  3. Standing up (from a chair)
  4. Walk Cycle a slow and deleberate version (48 frame cycle)
  5. Character on a pogo stick (loop)
  6. Laughing
  7. Sneezing - Sample
  8. Reaching for an object on a shelf overhead
  9. Quick motion smear/blur (character doing a fast action) - Sample
  10. Taking a deep breath
  11. A tree falling
  12. Character being hit by something simple (ball, brick, book)
  13. Run Cycle (very fast - 8 frames)
Level 3 Exercises
  1. Close up of open hand closing into fist
  2. Close up of hand picking up a small object
  3. Character lifting a heavy box and placing it on a table
  4. Overlapping action (puffy hair, floppy ears, tail)
  5. Character painting
  6. Hammering a nail
  7. Stirring a soup pot and tasting from a spoon
  8. Character blowing up a balloon
  9. Character juggling (loop)
  10. Scared character peering around a corner
  11. Starting to say something but unsure of how to say it
  12. Having trouble zipping up a jacket
  13. Licking and sealing an envelope
  14. Standing up (from the ground)
  15. Pressing an elevator button and waiting for it
Level 4 Exercises
  1. Character eating a cupcake
  2. Object falling into a body of water - Sample
  3. Two child characters playing tug-of-war
  4. Character dealing a deck of cards out
  5. The full process of brushing one's teeth
  6. A single piece of paper dropping through the air
  7. Run across screen with change in direction
  8. Sleeping character startled by alarm then returning to sleepy state
  9. Opening a cupboard and removing something inside
  10. Quadruped (4-legged animal) walk cycle
  11. Opening a gift and reacting in horror
  12. Character delivering a knock-out punch to another character

Things to keep in mind:
  • Reading these exercises will do as much for you as reading about push-ups would do for your physical muscles: NOTHING. If you want to benefit from these, you must animate them. Take a deep breath and just do it.
  • Imagine doing all of these excercises, one per week, every week, it would take a year to do them all, but you will learn so much from practicing and discovering the best way to achieve each animation task. Exploration and experimentation is they key to learning about timing, spacing, and acting.
  • Do not forget the famous words of Ollie Johnston: "You're not supposed to animate drawings or 3D models. You're supposed to animate feelings." If a character isn't thinking, they aren't alive, and the animation has failed.
  • Keep it simple! There is no reason to over complicate any of these exercises. Going back to push-ups, would push-ups be harder if while doing them you also recited the Gettysburg Address? Yes. Would they be any more beneficial? No. Keep things nice and simple and clear.
  • Do your best. There is no reason to do these exercises poorly. Take your time. Give it your all. You don't have to show anyone, these are for you. You owe it to yourself to try your very best. Something not quite right? Take the time to fix it.
  • Push ups are not fun. Animation is supposed to be. So as always, have fun. But to get better at animation you must first train, train, train.






Read through these links, written by Pixar Animation Master Carlos Baena:

  • Acting & Non-Acting
  • On Feedback
  • Status & Comedy
  • Combining multiple ideas into shots
  • Editing
  • On Film Acting
  • Dramatic Choices
  • Motivation
  • Career Advice
  • On Schools
  • Priorities & Organization
  • Timing & Comedy
  • Eyes: Part 1
  • Eyes: Part 2
  • Texture
  • Simplicity in Planning
  • Details
  • Acting vs. Reality
  • Internal: Emotion vs. Expressions
  • Topic: Storytelling as animators
  • Track/Dolly/Steady shots
  • Snappy Animation
  • Topic: Life as a professional animator
  • After the Gag
  • Topic: Overcoming Shot Challenges
  • Internal vs. External Dialogue
  • Topic: Making it / Dream Jobs
  • Snapshots in animation
  • Weight & Materials
  • Composition is Composition
  • Storytellers
  • Film & Photography
  • Gesture Choices
  • On submitting Demo Reels
  • Expectations
  • Facial Expressions
  • Tex Avery & Gags
  • Simplicity in Animation


  • > Part 3 (Bonus Assignments & Tutorials)