Waiting for the Bus…

I have a few walk cycles ready to put into my showreel but I also wanted something that wasn’t a cycle. So using the Dex character from the body mechanics mega pack, I created a Bus stop and decided to animate the character waiting for a bus which would then drive on by…

The set which I modelled myself, not putting to much detail into it as I wanted the animation of the character to be the main focus of the short:

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and a rendered view from the camera I will be using:

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Blocking out the movement:

Adding the In-betweens, this first attempt didn’t go as well as I had hoped it would, the movement at the start goes a little too fast – the timing needs to be adjusted throughout the entire clip. The wave at the start while the character is sitting doesn’t make a lot of sense at the moment, it needs a little more anticipation:

I then took another attempt at creating in-betweens and I am pleased to say that this attempt was much better:

Adding in the reaction of the character as he realises the bus isn’t stopping:

The character turns as the bus drives past:

Once I was happy with the main movement of the character I then went back through and adjusted to movement of the hands, giving them some delay and overlapping action:

I then decided I wanted more of a reaction from the character, so at the end I have him punch through the air, hopefully conveying that the character is angry/ annoyed:

After getting the rough movement of the arm, I then went in and adjusted it slightly:

After fixing the right arm, I then tried adjusting the left, just to give it a little more movement:

I then experimented with the movement of the right wrist as he punches the air:

I wasn’t happy with the movement of the wrist in the video above so i took another go at it:

and the finished render:

After feedback, it was suggested that the movement of the leg, from the characters lap to the ground could be a little stronger, so I attempted the movement again:

Some notes I took in preparation for this animation:

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The above notes are taken from Richard William’s Animation Survival Kit, regarding the topic of anticipation. I also took a look at what ‘The Illusion of Life’ had to say about the same topic…

“People in the audience will not be able to understand the events on screen unless there is a planned sequence of actions that leads them clearly form one activity to the next…The anticipatory moves may not show why he is doing something, but there is no question about what he is doing – or what he is going to do next. Expecting that, the audience can now enjoy the way it is done.”

“Few movements in real life occur without some kind of anticipation. It seems to be the natural way for creatures to move, and without it there would be little power in any action.”   – pages 51-53, The Illusion of Life.

I also took note of Follow through and overlapping action and Arcs (also from the Illusion of life) to apply these principles to the animation:



Points to remember

Taken from “The Illusion of Life, Disney animation”

-Don’t confuse them, keep it simple.

-Too much action spoils the acting.

-Mushy action makes a mushy statement.

-Say something. Be brave.

-Why would anyone want to look at that?

The above appeared as signs in the studio, acting as reminders to the animators, helping them to remember what they had learned and to make sure they were producing the best work possible.


The Illusion of Life

Acting and Emotions

“In our animation we must show not only the actions or reactions of a character, but we must picture also with the action… the feeling of those characters…”

Criteria for judging any performance:

  1. Are the characters interesting, lifelike and vivid?
  2. Do you become emotionally involved with them?
  3. Do the gestures and movements seem sincere, convincing and properly motivated?
  4. Does all of the action help to delineate the characters and their situation for you?
  5. Is the action clear-cut, realistic, prolonged sufficiently and exaggerated enough to be seen by the whole audience?

Animating Emotions – Points to remember…

  1. Make sure the emotional state of the character is clearly defined..
  2. The thought process reveals the feeling… this can sometimes be shown using a single, held drawing or a simple move, at other times there should be gestures/body moves/ full action – in each case, determine which will be the best to use..
  3. Be alert to the use of cutting and camera in helping to accentuate the emotion…
  4. Ask yourself constantly: What am I trying to say here? What do I really want to show? How do I want the audience to react?
  5. Use the element of time WISELY: to establish the emotion of the character – to convey it to the viewers – to let them savour the situation.

HOWEVER don’t be ponderous, BUT don’t take it away from them just as they start to enjoy it.

Source: The Illusion of life, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston

The Illusion of life – the face!

Certain relationships make an expression read – no one part of the expression, the eye or any other part by itself is going to communicate if the expression does not work as a unit! There must be a close relationship between crucial parts, if features are too far apart they are herder to read and more difficult for one part to interact with another.  -this information will come in handy when creating the blend shapes for our characters expressions.


Within the human face there are strong relationships between the eyes, the shapes of the cheeks and the mouth in any expression, however this will not be the case with animals -making it more difficult.. e.g. an anteater -there is a huge amount of space between the mouth and eyes, they couldn’t possibly interact with one another…


The Eyes…

The Illusion of life:

The eye is a 3-dimensional ball wrapped in a lid that reveals only a small portion of it’s surface, with multiple forces that act upon it including, the lower lid, the upper lid, the cheeks and brows – they all change the shape of the exposed area of the eyeball.


Cartoon eyes show squash and stretch from the same forces that work on real eyes but they also hint at an infinite number of expressions that are possible through opening more, closing more or changing the direction of a look.

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Fred Moore had a principle for drawing the pupils, eyelids and brows as circles, expanding from the same point. It kept a strong direction and relationship in the eyes.


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Eye Blinks: At first they may seem somewhat mechanical but in the eye they help to keep the character alive, to do this they themselves need a feeling of flesh and thickness to be convincing. The action of the blink – the dramatic change from light to dark eyelid to light again can be a very startling and undoubtedly will attract the audience’s gaze so the eye, the lid and the blink must be carefully drawn and timed to convey the precise attitude of the character when they have become so important.


Animation Expressions: Staging Expressions

  1.  Resist the temptation to tell too much in one drawing – the most important aspect is the drawing be quickly and simply read.
  2. Do not let the expression conflict with the dialogue – “the way a character walks, stands, sits, listens – all reveal the meaning of his words.”
  3. The expression must recaptured throughout the whole bey as well as in the face – if the character is defiant – his eyes, brows, mouth, cheeks and head attitude will be defiant also, alone with any other part of the figure that is shown. “Any expression will be weakened greatly if it is limited only to the face, and it can be completely nullified if the body or shoulder attitude is in any way contradictory.”

“The animator must find the right angle to display the expression they want on their character.”


“After we have given the men all the suggestions we can that have to do with expressing ideas throughout the body, then we can come down to the value of the facial expressions-the use of the eyes, eyebrows, the mouth -the relation to one another – how the eyes and the mouth have to work together (sometimes) for expression – who they work independently for expression at other times. In other words, then we would go into the combined used of expressive features and expressive actions of the body.” -Walt Disney