Module Assessment

This semester in Design Discourse has been a hard one for me. I struggled at first with the animations- the software proving very difficult. However, with the aid of Gianni, Alec and my Maya team I think I’ve improved so much.

Due to the amount of time spent on the Creative Element section to this course, not as much of my time was contributed to this section as I would have liked. I feel that I should be a lot further ahead in my skills when looking at others but I still feel proud of the progress I’ve made.

I found that due to my scientific background, I was able to apply principles to my animations to add the more realistic look to each animation (things such as the volume control on the bouncy balls when applying squash and stretch).

I found I did struggle with things such as adding too many key frames, to try and fix the animation (in only my head would this work). From now until we head back I’m going to try and focus on modelling and doing some animations of my own.



Show Reel

And that’s it for semester one folks- hope you enjoy my show reel.


Over the next few weeks I’m going to buckle down and watch a lot of tutorials- see if I can get some modelling and animating done based on these models. My work for this side of the course has been lesser, simply due to the time constraints, but I feel like I have come along a lot.

Here’s to the next semester and learning more and more!



Arm Rig Research- Human vs Mechanical

Focusing on the arm rig this week (from a different angle) I wanted to explore the different possibilities and looks that good be applied to making the arm look either mechanical or human.

Human arms follow more of a natural arc when moving from point A to B, much like Keith Lango described. However Robotic arms lack this fluidity and move straight to the points. I had a look at some examples of both these arm types.

Human Arms

Love the emotion expressed through the over exaggeration in these. Video courtesy of ultra sandwich.

The character at 0.26seconds of this show reel is my favourite. The strange arm movements are amazing. Video courtesy of AnimSchool.

The motions of the girl on the lounge chair are beautiful. Video courtesy of  CGMeetup.

Robotic Arms 

I liked the character still applied to this arm, it has its own little personality when pouring the drink, reflective of the person controlling it. Video courtesy of Mist.

The speed in the movement of the arm is also more varied than humans. It speeds through certain actions, holding some longer before springing to another. Video courtesy of Jamie Hamel-Smith.

I found some really cool shorts demonstrating the difference in human and robotic movements as they appear alongside each other.

‘SuperBot: A Magnifying Mess.’ This video shows the reflective human characteristics in the Robot’s movements, however its rigid robotic movement are still evident. Video courtesy The CGBros.

‘Wire Cutters.’ Looking specifically at the movement of the head how it is more ‘jittery’ than a human. Video courtesy of Jack Anderson.

‘Tea Time.’ Video courtesy of MadArtistPublishing.



Arm Rig..2

Ok so the next rig was to animate the arm again (though this time its upright, like a human arm). Based on the videos I watched previously, I went for more of a human look to the rig.

My first, not so good, attempt of an arm.

Alec demonstrated this  arm movement to me in 3D Dojo- yes I need all the help I can get.

I really like the anticipation I achieved in this arm movement, and the follow through from the claw.

Forceful arm motion- I think it needs more follow through at the end.

12 Principles of Animation

Squash and Stretch

The first principle as described in the Disney book ‘Illusion of Life.’ Basically, in real life, only stiff objects remain the same when moving. Objects that are not stiff however tend to lose shape due to the level of elasticity that they contain, but their volume remains at a constant. The famous example used in the Richard William’s Animators Survival Guide.

12 Principles of Animation explained

Richard William’s Bouncy Ball explained

Day and Night- Disney Pixar Short

This is the example that I found that showed these principles best. Day and Night was the Pixar Animation short following Toy Story 3. The short combined 2D and 3D animation was written and directed by Teddy Newton and produced by Kevin Recher. The characters themselves are light in nature, almost floating in movement. The application of the stretch as they walk, before it compresses back shows this movement. It gives them an almost elastic feel, especially when they collide of one and other.


The next principle is Anticipation. Disney realised that audiences needed a structured series of events to follow on screen, or they would struggle to keep up. Animators would therefore draw and anticipation in the lead up to the main action, so audiences would not miss anything.

For example, in the worm rigs that we worked on, the worm would hold the compression pose, as if anticipating the jump ahead. This allows the audience to get to grips on the energy needed to complete the jump. Walt Disney called this process ‘aiming’ and insisted that it be used to strength visual gags.

The scene below from the Winnie the Pooh Movie (2011) shows the anticipation of the character Tiger. He pauses before bursting into song, as if projecting the build up in energy for his big number.



Staging in animation draws the audience to the most important point on the screen. In Disney’s the Illusion of Life, Johnston and Thomas defined it as “the presentation of any idea so that it is completely and unmistakably clear.” This effect is maximised by a collection of things- playing of the character in a frame, the use of light and the position/angle of the camera.

In the Walt Disney short ‘Paperman’ (2012) staging is achieved both by lighting and placement. The 2D short is primarily in black and white and was directed by John Karrs and and produced by Kristina Reed. This clip shows the first time the main characters meet on screen. George is positioned on the left hand side, the light highlighting him on the right. As Meg enters the scene she mirrors his position on the right, the lighting the same put not as intense as we are focused on George’s reaction.

The Worm Rig

OK so here are the worm rigs that I animated for this week.

I had a little go, as a warm up exercise, with making the worm react in simple ways (I was struggling with the actual movement of the character).

So, first I made him watch the ball bouncing in front of him.

I was really happy with the movement of this worm rig as the stretch and squash gives it a good sense of the weight of the character as he moves along.

I then wanted to try and add some character to the worm- in this case I went for a ‘Snoopy’ style feel by making him sleep on the box.

Finally, I made him jump into the air, trying to push higher into the sky.


Revisiting the Arm..

So my arm rigs looked OK first time round’ however, I wanted to experiment with different arm motions following the overlapping and follow through principles.

Ok so this was a bit of a weird one for me. I wanted the arm to have a snake like quality to it, while it swung back and forth I wanted it to slither nearly.

For this, I wanted to explore what a stiffer arm would look like, like a mechanical arm.

For this I wanted to look like an actual human arm swinging for a ball. I really like how the follow through actually look as the arm swings back and pauses.



Further Animation Principles- Emotions and Blocking

So this week Alec sadly lost his voice- and so we had to do our own research!

Emotion in Simple Shapes– Alec has tasked us with making a worm blob move in a way that shows an attitude i.e. happy, sad, angry. He suggested we have a look into how certain expressions are conveyed and relate to our worm rigs. For example, happiness- humans often smile or could bob in joy, our worm could jump in joy. I wanted to have a look at some facial rigs, to explore the different emotions that could be conveyed.

Video courtesy of Dario Triglia.

Video courtesy of Jason Baskin.

Disney’s Floor Sack emotion poses. They show the use of emotion through a featureless creature.

Arcs– “arcs describe the path of action (travel) that various parts and things plot out when they move”- Keith Lango. Basically when something, such as an arm, moves from point A to B it doesn’t go in a straight line. Instead it swoops in an arc, looking more natural. Certain parts of the arm should move slower than others, giving a greater sense of flow.

Keith Lango showed a comparison video of the movement in an animation with the arcs and one without them. As you can see the first video looks very robotic whereas the second has a more characteristic human feel to it.

Video courtesy of AlanBeckerTutorials.

Staging– this is presenting an idea so that it is clear to the audience. Animators need to draw attention to the most important element in a scene, and the layout of a scene helps this.

Video courtesy of Gilles Charbonneau.

Stepped vs Splined- Alec advised we looked into the use of stepped and splines animation as shown on digital tutors.  Both are used for blocking animation poses, however with slight differences.

Stepped animation allows a cleaner animation as it prevents the computer filling between key frames. Basically you block out the key poses and then add the arcs manually.

Splined animation allows the computer to fill in these frames, timing can be altered with adding keyframes of moving them.

In these tasks I found that stepped animation really helped me, especially with the arm rigs, as it allowed me to control how I pictured the rig to work.

Stepped animation (or blocking pass). Video courtesy of Jesse Baumgartner.

Pose to Pose– this is creating or deciding the key poses for a character, then adjusting frames between these to create a smooth animation. Alec suggested we once again look at Keith Lango’swork, which was really helpful again. When working on my arm rig I attempted to place each pose then add the in-betweens.

This video shows the key poses in Disney’s Ratatouille. Video courtesy of googboog.

Do You Want to Build a Snowman progression. Video courtesy of BehindTheAnimation.

Lango also made an amazing summary of all the things we need to look for when animating, from line of action to silhouettes, he covered it all.

Breakdowns– another post by Keith Lango describes this in a lot more detail. Basically breakdowns are described as;

“a type of in-between, but a very specific type that links two keyframes. When you draw your keyframes and begin in-betweening them, the very first in-between that marks the midpoint between Keyframe A and Keyframe B is known as a breakdown.” –

breakdown_disney.gifCaptain Hook breakdowns.

Ease in and Outs– the final research item on the list.

“Ease are spacing that either gradually increases between drawings or gradually decreases between drawings, specifically toward the beginning and end of the transition. This change defines the incremental acceleration and slowing of motion between two positions,”- Keith Lango.

These eases allow the speed and timing of a ball





Overlapping action and Follow Through- Robotic Arms

Animation Principles- Overlapping animation-

“Animators use to offset actions so they do not occur at the same time- i.e. a the end of  a tail finishes after the top of it when it swags….Follow-through motion is when the speed causes an object to continue i.e. an arm moving backwards will continue past the joint.”- Alec

Alec also advised we look at Keith Lango ( for tutorials for these elements, as they’d be really helpful. Below is one of the three videos that I watched on the overlapping and follow through principles in his series of tutorials.

Below are the notes I made from watching Lango’s tutorial. He specifically mentioned the key frame that occurs between the drag and follow through of a swinging motion. This keyframe forms the natural look to the movement and is formed in an ‘S’ shape, as shown in my diagrams below.

To begin my own research I had a look at our Bible (the Animators Survival Guide) for advice. I also found some of the original video tutorials by William’s that helped. I also read into the Disney’s Illusion of Life and found this video that summed up the principles nicely.

Richard Williams explains the principles

Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas animation principles explained

I then went on and found this interesting post on the Principles of Animations regarding this area on

Follow through is the termination part of an action. An example is in throwing a ball – the hand continues to move after the ball is released. In the movement of a complex object different parts of the object move at different times and different rates. For example, in walking, the hip leads, followed by the leg and then the foot. As the lead part stops, the lagging parts continue in motion.Heavier parts lag farther and stop slower. An example is in the antennae of an insect – they will lag behind and them move quickly to indicate the lighter mass.Overlapping means to start a second action before the first action has completely finished. This keeps the interest of the viewer, since there is no dead time between actions.Here is a quote about overlapping from Walt Disney:

It is not necessary for an animator to take a character to one point, complete that action completely, and then turn to the following action as if he had never given it a thought until after completing the first action. When a character knows what he is going to do he doesn’t have to stop before each individual action and think to do it. He has it planned in advance in his mind.

I also found a lot of videos and tutorials on ‘overlapping animation’ on youtube.

CG Spectrum College of Digital Art & Animation– Action and Overlapping Action

Aaron Blaise- overlapping action and drag

Alec has created a little animated Carl Jnr arm, and suggested we try combining our bouncy ball exercises and the principles above to create a swinging arm action. He said we should look at things such as weight and drag i.e. a heavier hand would have a larger drag than a lighter one.