Stage 9: Everything Else
I’m sorry to disappoint you if you thought I would take you all the way to a completed animation – unfortunately this isn’t even the halfway point of the process. However, here are my reasons for leaving you to your own devices at this point:
1. As you probably know, there almost isn’t such a thing as “completed animation”. There is only what your deadline, budget and patience (or lack thereof) will allow you to do.
2. I don’t want to make you think that there is one right way to proceed from this stage on. Quite the opposite – now is the time to do everything you can think of, using your instinct and skill, to make this walk work and be entertaining. Everything that achieves this purpose is allowed.
3. It’s important that you understand that the walk itself will almost never be the point of the scene you’re animating. In almost every case there’ll be something else for the character to do while walking – talking, carrying something, gesturing, or even preparing mentally for whatever it’s walking towards – that will be more important than the basic action of the walk.
4. What I’ve shown you here is a very boring walk. After you understand the principles, you will be free to bring variations into your scene by making each step different, by varying the speed and tempo of the walk. Always try to make it more than “character walks from point A to point B, and then it …”.
5. “How to polish an animation” is a whole separate lesson, and one that I am not interested in giving right now (and probably never will). Every animator has his or her preferred way of doing it – some use mostly the Graph Editor from this stage on, some keep adding breakdowns and only look at the graphs at the very end.
Some random advice:
- Move the legs’ keyframes back a frame or two, so they move before the torso.
- Try different offsets for the arms – move the keys back and forth on the timeline to see how it changes the attitude of the character. It’s OK to end up with something that’s “against the rules”.
- Make sure to keep the torso’s forward motion pretty constant, it shouldn’t slow down and speed up visibly for each step. My final “X translation” graph is almost straight.
- After you’ve finished the basic structure, you don’t have to keep the keys of all the transformations on the same frames. Each separate rotation or translation can have a different timing.
- Learn to use the overshoot of the “spline” keys to your advantage.
- Don’t obsess about ending up with identical graphs for each step. Achieving perfect mathematics and achieving a good animation usually aren’t the same thing.
- In fact, try to dirty the walk up. For example, place the feet in a slightly different place every time. Play with the rotations of the torso, head or arms.
- Never stop thinking about who your character is.