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How to animate characters - Chapter 1

By Camilo Duarte Franco
Web: Open Site
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Date Added: 6th May 2015
Software used:
Maya

2023_tid_fig04.jpg
Fig.05

2023_tid_gif_spline_lateral-004.gif
2023_tid_fig08.jpg

Spline Process

As a lot of the body's movement is grounded in the hips, it is good practice to start here and move to extremities later. Add in the little rotations on the hips (translate Y), fix the pops in the knees and check the curves to ensure the movement is smooth.

When working with the hips on a character, you can use translate Z to create the effect of acceleration, and translate Y to smooth out the ups and downs.

If you copy the pattern of movement in translate Y on the hips to the upper chest, and offset the movement by one or two frames, you can mirror the movement and create the smooth ripple of movement that naturally occurs in the body (Fig.06).

2023_tid_fig05.jpg
Fig.06

You can add slow ins and outs in the shoulders and arms to create contrasting curves to the hips and upper chest.

Working specifically on the steps, you need to hone the foot and toe rolls. The subtlety of movement here will depend on how many keys you add in each time frame.

Try to capture the weight in the foot before the roll and move them forward, though be careful with the momentum when the foot is in the air. The curve of movement should be clean. I tend to create a motion track in the feet to control the highest keys and smooth out the movement.

The toe roll works in the same way, though focuses on movement at the start and end of the step. The amount of keys depends on the shoe or how fleshy you want the foot to appear (Fig.07).

2023_tid_fig06.jpg
Fig.07

Fig.08 depicts the contact pose after the pass position. Take two or three frames for this movement, depending on the effect you want. It's not advisable to take a single frame, as it can look too fast for natural movement. Taking your time and allowing the character to amble or lope in a natural fashion will make the movement more realistic.

2023_tid_fig07.jpg
Fig.08

Finally, you can add more details such as head accents, eye darts and some finger overlapping. These will add a few unique traits to your character's movement and should match the impression you are trying to impose (Video.03 – 05).

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2023_tid_gif_blocking_stepped-002.gif
2023_tid_gif_spline_front-003.gif

Related links

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