Critique => 2D & 3D => Topic started by: SirSami on July 17, 2012, 04:17:23 pm

Title: Animation problems
Post by: SirSami on July 17, 2012, 04:17:23 pm
Hello! I've been making a chameleon/lizzard with inkscape and now it's time to animate it. I've tried it couple of times but I can't get it work correctly. I am so bad at anatomy so I need some help.
Title: Re: Animation problems
Post by: Stab on July 18, 2012, 01:58:55 am
Heya, SirSami! I've got good news for you! Anatomy isn't as big a problem as you might think it is for what you've got going on here! Really, as far as animation goes, a knowledge of anatomy (Or -what- is moving) isn't nearly as important as understanding of timing and force and weight (or -HOW- it is moving). If you're really serious about learning stuff about animation, a resource that would help you leaps and bounds along the way would be "The Animator's Survival Kit" by Richard Williams... It "only covers the basics" of animation and manages to squeeeeeeeze them into a mere couple hundred pages, but it's actually a lot of fun, and by the end of the book you'd be able to literally draw a lizard that runs circles around this one.

That said, it'd be a bit unfair to just tell you to go buy a book and call it a day, so I'll see if I can actually operate any of my graphics software well enough to give you a couple pointers on places to improve.

To start, let's actually take a look at the anatomy of your cute character, here, and break it down into what we need to know, so we can forget about what we don't need to know. A lot of animation is simplifying things so that it's reaaaaally easy to understand, and then adding on the complicated bits later, once the bigger, more important things are worked out.

First step of taking a look at the anatomy? References. For my purposes, I'm not actually going to look at a lizard because for what I want to achieve (kind of a happy bounce-leap, quite like what you've got!) I don't actually think a lizard would give me the feeling I want. I think lizards run really low to the ground and windmill their legs, so even though I'm animating a lizard, I'm not actually aiming for realism. Hence, cat pictures!

What specifically I'd be looking for in these references (that I'm not showing you! :P) are some things you've already included in the design, but with an added note of function. There's a -little- understanding of anatomy necessary to animate some things, because you need to understand the physical limitations that the bones and muscles impose... That sounds intimidating, but in reality most of it is fairly intuitive or already ingrained in your visual memory simply because you've spent so long alive and with your eyes open. It's probable that certain elements can cause problems (Seriously, the back legs of certain four-legged creatures still confuse me. I should have grown up around more horses.) but that's exactly why we find reference - to gain a bit of understanding of what we're dealing with, so we can move forward!

What I've done is something you've either instinctively done or already know, but I'm going over it anyways! Step two of "anatomy" (Better defined as simplifying your character design for the sake of animation!) is to break the character down into simple shapes. For what you've got, it's obviously very, very easy. There are five important parts of this lizard, and though you could break it down and find sub-parts that could also move (the lower jaw, for example, would be affected by force and act independently of its greater structure, the head)... we're gonna stick to the five basic parts you've already separated, those being THE BODY (A simple circle!), THE HEAD (A lima-bean shape with eyes!), THE FRONT FEET (In my case, Big Circle feet with little Circle toes), THE BACK FEET (More circles!, slightly different arrangement!), and THE TAIL (Curly fun design shape!). These five things are what we're going to pay attention to, and we're going to let most of everything else be determined by what is GOING TO HAPPEN, what HAS HAPPENED, and what IS HAPPENING.

Cool. Character is now five simple shapes. What the heck do we do now?

...apparently, what's already coming instinctively for you, but with just a biiit more direction and focus.

Before we start, we need to have an idea of what we want to achieve. There's a bunch of consideration to be done depending on how much you care... more complicated stuff could be considering the past of the character, how it is feeling and a bunch of other acting-related stuff that in this case we probably don't care about, but we need to at least consider this step and decide that we don't care that much about how it feels or anything, we just want a happy bouncing lizard.

Next? Rough animation! There are a couple different theories on animation that advocate different ways of progressing from this point, but I like to work along the same philosophy I've been pushing so far : Start with the big things, and work your way down to the smaller things. What are the big things in an action or animation? Pretty obvious, really! A leap would have two big things, one being a LEAP, and one being a LANDING. So we want to tackle those right away, because they're at the core of what we're going for. Remember to not get too caught up in exactly how much the tail would bend or how wide open his eyes would be at any certain point! What you're going for here isn't a pretty picture that you can later inject directly into your animation, but a super ugly and super rough idea of what you're going for as an end result. THIS is where you want to make your BIG mistakes, like having his head waaay up as he's leaping (When it should be trying to stay where it -was- as the force applied through the back legs works its way up through the body and to the head!) or have his back legs hit the ground before the front legs do. Mess around with things, draw a bunch of gross little mistakes and consider the animation as a whole in your head the whole time you're drawing. How would the tail react to the forces being applied to the body after the leap? How would it react to the impact of the front legs on the ground? You don't necessarily need to include these things in your drawings, but the important part of this stage of the rough animation is to get yourself thinking about them, get them working in your brain and gain an understanding of how these five simple shapes interact with each other and the imaginary forces you're applying to them.

Once you've gone through that nightmare and come up with two keyframes you like (a leap and a landing!) and you've come to develop some understanding of how the one flows into the other... draw it. Timing starts to become a factor here but timing is a whole different essay in itself, and I'm already biting off quite a bit more than I can chew, so I think I'll defer to any number of books on that front and be totally satisfied with a : Just draw it. Timing can be learned through trial and error, so rather than explaining easing in and out of an action etc etc etc, I'll stick with the simpler option.

*Important note: By DRAW IT I mean take the two keyframes you've got and your imaginary library of how this animation goes down, and draw what it should look like halfway in between. Halfway in between leaping and landing, I imagine the lizard to have both sets of feet off the ground, with his body just reaching the peak of its arch and his head and tail lagging just a bit behind the body. Halfway between landing and leaping? Building up tension and compressing energy in anticipation for the great exertion of force where he actually launches again! Once you've drawn those, TEST YOUR ANIMATION. Make the adjustments you see need to be made, and don't be afraid to just scrap the two drawings you just made and go back to your original two... or even to scrap the whole thing and start over with what you've learned. There's a reason classically trained animators draw quick and messy; mistakes are a part of the business, and making your mistakes faster lets you get to the part where you can see them faster!

Yeah? YEAH!? Chances are if you ended up with less than 4 frames or more than 24 frames (depending on your range and time of motion!) you've got far too many or far too few, respectively. Fewer frames means choppier, more frames means more work and diminishing returns of smoothness. For most games, 8 is a more than respectable number of frames.

I'm going to hit the post button right now so it doesn't disappear forever, and then find food so I don't starve to death. Chances are I'll get pictures added in before you read any of this, but in the event that I don't ; I'll show you exactly what I mean by quick and ugly rough animation, just be patient (Gwuh. Pictures postponed till tomorrow. There aren't enough hours in a day! :( );P
Title: Re: Animation problems
Post by: SirSami on July 18, 2012, 10:21:42 am
Thank you so much for your post! :) Okay, I grouped different parts of the body and moved them to create poses. I also created two key frames (leap and landing) and they look pretty good. Just need some small adjustments before I start making more frames.

Here is current progress so far
Title: Re: Animation problems
Post by: Kazuya Mochu on July 18, 2012, 11:46:57 pm
not sure it thats a big improvement.

when I do a walk cycle, and if Im trying to keep it as less frames a possible, I allways go for 4 frames. because that allows for you to see which foot is going forward and wich one is going back

in the case of your first try, I think what was lacking was a separation between the upper part of the limb and the bottom part. or at least from the limb and the paw.
that way you could have conveyed more the motion of the limb. is it going forward and pushing back.

Title: Re: Animation problems
Post by: Stab on July 21, 2012, 09:01:16 pm

See? Really super simple. I could play with this for an hour and adjust the motion, add some bounce to the tail at times it should bounce, adjust the timings and so on and so forth, smoothing out what I've got and making the motion -perfect- before I move on to actually making the finished character perform the same motion. What I've got here is the 5 basic objects tweaked about over 8 frames, basically making a super rough reference for myself (in this case, yourself!) so I can animate the finished product without having to think too hard while I'm doing it.

Were this my own project, I'd definitely be spending more time on this rough animation before I carried on. Right now it's got the general idea of what I wanted to achieve, but it seems really slow and I'm not really happy with all the motions.