Saturday, August 20, 2011

Animation Muscles: Use Them Or Lose Them

The old saying "Use it or lose it" very much applies to what I call "animation muscles". It is not just daily drawing that keeps these muscles strong, it is thinking about timing and analysis of action that keeps them toned.

I'll watch TV with a sketch book and pencil in hand and quickly draw feet, eyes, hands, facial expressions, simple body types in action...running, leaping, turning, twisting. I'll chart elaborate paths of actions (ups and downs, twirling, etc) and time out how many frames to assign them.

I'll play with the idea of "consecutive breaking of the joints" to get the feeling of fluidity in movement. Draw the various stages of a generic arm waving around. Analyze where the force comes from. Does it start with the shoulder or the elbow? It makes a difference in what you are trying to portray in the character's acting.

Think of this process as "Aerobics for the Animator's Mind."

Here's a sample of a doodle page I played on while sitting on my front porch, taking some air.


  1. Hey that's a great idea.....I only use sketchbooks to draw still poses one. It never occurred to me to think in terms of animation! I'm going to start doing this myself, thanks for the tip John! :D

  2. Andy, sketchbooks can function as a can chronicle the development of your understanding of animation.

  3. i think il start doing this from now on excellent idea ! to the television caveeee