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Animation Exercises: Biped

If you are looking to get into animation, but wondering what you should animate, here are some ideas from the very basic to more complex tasks for biped based characters.

Overview

Exercise 1001: Bouncing ball

  • Task: The classic bouncing ball! For this exercise, animate 2 balls rolling off 2 ramps. One ball should behave like a heavy ball and the other like a light ball. For example: a canonball and a ping pong ball.
  • Learning Outcome: Understand timing, spacing, squash and stretch, weight.
  • Tip: Gather some real world reference and analyse the data.
  • Deliverable: Animated playblast from the side view plus a contact sheet (references).

Exercise 1002: Drag and overlap

  • Task: Add a tail to your ball and animate the effects of drag and overlap as your ball bounces. Keep it simple, for example, the ball bounces from one platform to another.
  • Learning Outcome: To understand drag and overlap, how one thing leads and the other follows.
  • Tip: Study the shape, gesture of the movement. Examine how an object comes to a stop.
  • Deliverable: Animated playblast from the side view plus a contact sheet (references).

Exercise 1003: Adding personality to a ball

  • Task: Take your ball with a tail and now create a 10 – 30 seond animation piece demonstrating an emotional change.
  • Learning Outcome: Giving life and personality to a simple shape (ball + tail)
  • Tip: Act out the emotions yourself. Feel the emotion and then put that into your animation. Play with shape, timing and movement to show a change in emotion.
  • Deliverable: Playblast from a camera angle of your choice to suit your narrative and contact sheet (references).

Exercise 1004: Walk cycle

  • Task: Find a biped rig and create a looped walk cycle. Keep the walk neutral for now but aim for a realistic walk.
  • Learning Outcome: Understand basic body mechanics and working with limbs.
  • Tip: Film yourself walking and study the motion, the timing, etc.
  • Deliverable: Playblast from front, side and three quarter views, plus a contact sheet (references).

Exercise 1005: Personality walk

  • Task: Take your neutral walk and give it some personality. Is your character confident, a warrior, nervous, a commander? Or you try to convey how your character is feeling. This could be angry, happy, scared, etc.
  • Learning Outcome: Being able to add emotion and perosnality to a walk.
  • Tip: Think of the emotional state of your character. Feel what they feel, move like they feel and then animate. Study people. Do they lead with their hips? Head? Chest?
  • Deliverable: Playblast from front, side and three quarter views, plus a contact sheet (references). Same cameras as from exercise 1004.

Exercise 1006: Animate a weight lift

  • Task: Take your biped character and animate it lifting and dropping a heavy object. This atlas stones or deadlift.
  • Learning Outcome: To demonstrate an ability to animate a character interacting with a heavy object.
  • Tip: Safety first but have a go a picking up a heavy object yourself Film yourself and analyse the reference. Look for shape change.
  • Deliverable: Playblast from front, side and three quarter views, plus a contact sheet (references).

Exercise 1007: Animate a jump

  • Task: Take your knowledge from the bouncing ball and apply it to create a full body jump from one platform to another.
  • Learning Outcome: Ability to show clear and readable poses for the jump along with good timing and spacing and shape change.
  • Tip: Reference is key as always. Think about the poses as a squash (crouch down) to a stretch (leap). Look at parkour and other similar examples.
  • Deliverable: Playblast from front, side and three quarter views, plus a contact sheet (references).

Exercise 1008: Animate an action move

  • Task: Animate your biped character performing an action move. This could be a kung fu kick, a superhero landing, a kong roll, etc. Go wild but just try yo make sure the animation looks great and plausible.
  • Learning Outcome: Ability to create clear poses with well timed body mechanics.
  • Tip: Create striking poses but make them believable.
  • Deliverable: Playblast from a camera angle of your choice to suit the action and a contact sheet (references).

Exercise 1009: Animate interaction between 2 characters

  • Task: Animate 2 characters interacting. This could be a friendly hug, or a high five, or an agressive punch or push.
  • Learning Outcome: To convey a realistic sense of interaction and contact between 2 different characters.
  • Tip: Act it out. Feel where the weight is. Look at cause and effect.
  • Deliverable: Playblast from a camera angle of your choice to suit the action and a contact sheet (references).

 

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