The expressive and technical art of Character Animation is the topic of this Top Tip, and our Lead Animator Will Eades, is going to be the one sharing some of his awesome knowledge!
- Start by collecting as many references as possible
YouTube is perfect for this. Watching video is great as you can really get a feel for people’s movements, weight and timings. I find it best to make an edit of your reference movies, re-timing parts where you want actions to be either sharper, faster, heavier or slower; and then using this as a starting point to block out your animation, as it often makes things quicker in the long run.
- Don’t forget to breathe!
If you are animating characters, especially realistic human beings and animals, don’t forget to make sure they breathe! We’ll often see a character run about in an action packed shot without losing their breath- they could be godlike athletes, but by adding this extra detail characters become a lot more realistic.
- Give meaning to your eye darts and blinks
Don’t just randomly place blinks and eye looks throughout your animation, give them meaning by matching them to the character’s actions. I find that watching video reference is essential for mastering this subtle art.
- Add variation in timing
When animating try to avoid constant timings in your pose shifts. Hitting irregular beats is a lot more appealing for the viewer.
Check out Will’s behind the scenes video for SMITE To Hell and Back, where he describes how character animation helped to add distinct personalities to each of the characters in the cinematic!