Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Batman Semi-clean Rough Poses & X-Sheet: Clean-up and Inbetweening Exercise

Here are the drawings and X-sheet for one of my Batman commercial scenes.
Before making any drawings, it is absolutely important that you (as an assistant animator) familiarize yourself with what is happening on the X-sheets!

Note how drawings are being exposed. There are some drawings later in the scene that work in and out of poses used earlier in the scene. Understand what the animator has planned before you start on your phase of the process to complete the scene. Many an inexperienced assistant has ignored this, only to have to toss out very-good-but-useless drawings because they thought they knew it all. Think twice, draw once!

At the end of this post is the completed Batman / Catwoman commercial that has this scene. Study the following drawings, then run the commercial to see how the scene works within it. Also, check out the lip sync of Batman's dialoque: "Paws off the customers, Catwoman!"

If you are so inclined, feel free to download these drawings, repegging them using the cross-hairs on each for registration. Then clean them up yourself and complete the inbetween drawings, as you would be required to if you were my assistant animator.

Note the extreme aspect of the right arm in this breakdown drawing

The extreme positioning of the right arm may look wrong, but it will feel right in motion.


  1. Mr. Celestri,

    Firstly, I just want to say that this is an incredible blog. So inspiring and motivating.

    I'm very much a newbie when it comes to traditional animation, but I had a question about exposure sheets. How is it that the exposure sheets are created prior to animation? Is this the case?

    If this is true, it boggles my mind that a director can already picture in his mind exactly when specific beats are to be hit. Is it just something that comes with time?

  2. Wow this is brilliant! I wish more animators shared their exposure sheets with their animation drawings, it's so useful to learn from.

    Thanks so much for sharing all this stuff John, it's a treasure trove! I'm going to save all these drawings and time them out as you say. I'm a bit busy with my own stuff to be able to devote time to inbetweening them, but just piecing the scene together from the exposure sheet is a great exercise in itself.

  3. Hi Mark,

    I'm very glad that you are finding the information on my blog to be of value to you.

    I've begun to touch on the basics of exposure sheets in my Saturday, July 16 blog post titled: "X-Sheets, Exposure Sheets, Dope Sheets".

    That blog will answer your first set of questions.

    And yes, an animator's understanding of timing and beats develops over time...and a lot of study and practice.

  4. I took the liberty of exposing the drawings as you suggested. I'm not sure if you want the result posted here, so feel free to delete this comment if not! :)


  5. Thank you, Andy.

    Showing how each drawing is exposed is very important...how else would you know how the animator actually planned to use that drawing? It's amazing how much of a difference exposing a particular drawing on one frame or two consecutive frames will make on the motion portrayed on the screen.

    I viewed the YouTube link and the pencil test looks good. You'll note how the action in pencil test looks faster than the finished color version in the commercial. For those who don't know, color "slows down" the action...it's just an optical illusion.

  6. I just realised that the test I did was at 24FPS....I assume the advert would have been at 30FPS? Therefor the pencil test is actually slower than it should be.

    Your point about coloured animation looking slower is an interesting one. Is this something you bear in mind when you're animating? Do you animate something to be slightly faster than you want?

  7. That's some fine Batman pointing...

    Don't know if this would be any interest to you:

    BAD-EYE-DEERS animations


  8. I love the extreme foreshortened poses.

  9. Hi, Andy.

    You correctly set your software to running the test at 24FPS. This is the old school/ motion picture film rate. When old 24FPS motion pictures are converted to video at 30FPS, a process called 3-2 pull down is used. In this process, an extra frame (a cross-dissolved combination of two frames) is added at particular intervals to flesh out the frame count.

    In this way, a fifth frame is added to every 4 frames in the 24FPS making the total 30FPS.

    I know, it can be confusing.

    However, since film is no longer used nowadays, all animation software allows for 24FPS, 30FPS, 60FPS, etc without having to make those adjustments.

  10. Andy, regarding the second part of your question: No, I don't animate anything slightly faster than I want. I just know that the images in pencil test won't have the color to give "weight" to the pencil-outline images.

    Again, this "quickness" is an optical illusion that (after enough experience) an animator automatically disregards.

  11. Excellent information and presentation, John. Your posts are a wealth of knowledge.

  12. I can't believe I just found out about this! Amazing work, John.

  13. These commercials, along with Roger Rabbit made me want to get into animation. Amazing to see this breakdown all these years later. Thanks so much for sharing your artistry!!

    1. Thank you for the kind words! Sorry for the delay in my reply.

  14. Hi John. I was luck enough to get four production cels from the commercials and was wondering if you were ever in Toronto or at the conventions as I would love to have them signed. Much appreciated.

    1. Hi, Jameson. Sorry to tell you, I haven't been in Toronto in years nor am I ever invited as a guest to any conventions. But I'm very glad that you enjoy those commercials and own a little piece of animation history, as physical artwork like you have in your hands may never again be created in the future.