Beginner’s Animation Course

NONaffArt is starting a new course for those between 14 -16 yrs olds interested in learning animation techniques. The course will cover the basics of animation and will include how to draw and develop characters, create a set design, and produce a storyboard. The course will also develop experimentation with flip book animation (ball bounce, frog jump) and cut-out animation (character design, background design). There will also be experimentation with stop-motion (using clay and morphing shapes).

This course will cover planning ideas for character, story, and settings (storyboard, set design), making the sets (draw, cut-out, colour) and finally animating your characters and objects that have been created throughout the course in a short video.

Just to give a bit of background and a taster of the animation techniques I will be looking at the 12 principles of animation which are the foundational skills needed to understand how to create your own animation. Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas introduced the twelve principles of animation in their 1981 book ‘The Illusion of Life’. These twelve principles have become an important part of the animator’s toolkit. Further information about the 12 principles of animation can be researched on the internet and YouTube where there are some excellent resources.

The 12 principles of Animation

  • Squash and stretch is the most important principle as it gives the illusion of gravity, mass, weight, and flexibility to your characters or objects that are meant to move within a scene.
  • Anticipation is where you set up the character for any active movement within a scene. For example, a golfer would get into position and raise the golf club (anticipation) before they prepare to take the swing to hit the ball.
  • Staging is about focusing where the action is going to take place and what the characters will be doing. This includes framing the scene and its composition.
  • Straight ahead action and pose to pose concern approaches to drawing the animation. Straight ahead action involves drawing each frame from beginning to end whereas pose to pose is about drawing the key frames of a scene and then they fill in the ‘gaps’ later. both techniques have their advantages and disadvantages. A google search will explain them in more detail.
  • Follow through and overlapping action out is where the character or object continues to move due to continuing momentum. It could be the character or an object, for example with a golf swing the club continues to move after it hits the ball due to momentum. clothes and hair can continue to move after the character stops moving due to this momentum.
  • Slow in and slow is where a character or object builds up momentum (in running for example) and accelerates but if they slow down, they gradually comes to a stop (decelerate).
  • Arc is where the character or object follows a a path that seems to follow the laws of physics or give a sense of reality.
  • Secondary action can be used to support the main action or movement of a character. This could be the movement of hair or clothing to emphasise the main action of the character.
  • Timing is about the movement of the character or object in the scene. Think about how fast the character or object would move in the real world.
  • Exaggeration is about over emphasising the movement within the scene. It can be used for both comic and dramatic effect. It can also add a dynamism to the animation.
  • Solid drawing is about making the character or object feel fully 3-dimensional to the viewer. It is also about being consistent when creating the character. If it is inconsistent it will ‘break’ the sense of reality invested in the character.
  • Appeal is how the viewer responds to your character. The design of the character should be pleasing to the eye and have a strong personality. It’s also a good idea to have the character reflect their personality in their appearance through looks, mannerisms, and the way they dress.

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