Motionographer® 7 Methods to Combine Body-By-Body and Rigged Animation

Once you’re animating a personality frame-by-frame, hand-drawing every body, it looks like the one restrict is your creativeness. Then you definately keep in mind the schedule and the funds.

Animating is a manufacturing paradox as a result of, artistically, the world is your oyster – however getting the pearl out of that oyster takes ages. And also you would possibly discover that it requires a bigger funds or an extended schedule than is feasible on each challenge. 

So, what are you able to do? One resolution has been to restrict the character’s motion, animating solely sure physique elements whereas others stay static. This is called restricted animation. You’ll be able to see this strategy getting used extensively in cel-animated collection like Scooby-Doo, The place Are You?

We now have another choice. As a substitute of limiting the character’s motion, we are able to preserve its fluidity by switching to rigged puppet animation. Rigged animation is an extension of cutout animation. Your character is designed as separate physique elements and joined collectively as seamlessly as potential. As a result of the puppet is made up of the unique designs, there isn’t a want to fret about staying on mannequin. And if the character’s actions could be achieved throughout the vary of motion of the rig, then a formidable amount of polished and fluid animation could be produced in a comparatively brief time. 

This effectivity is compounded when utilizing your animation software program’s skill to hyperlink the physique elements with parenting and whenever you animate them utilizing procedural inbetweening. Though you’re certain to the restrictions of your rig, nonetheless complicated it might be and nonetheless intensive your library of design property is. 

Since software program like Adobe Animate accommodates each frame-by-frame and rigged methods, in these conditions, I’ve used a hybrid strategy. Mixing two strategies makes it potential to cherry-pick the perks, combining unruly freedom and a inflexible effectivity. However how do you seamlessly combine these methods? 

These are among the approaches that I’ve used to mix them in the identical piece of animation.

1. Design based mostly on circles.

In a rigged puppet, the character’s physique elements rotate round a set level. To play to the power of this round movement, the joints of your rigged cutout puppet could be designed as circles. Embracing round elbows and knees as an aesthetic selection will assist your rig work elegantly. This circle-based design can be utilized equally effectively because the mannequin sheet for any frame-by-frame animation.

2. Simplify your design.

It’s essential to streamline your rig’s design as when you needed to hand-draw every body of the animation. There’s a temptation with rigged animation to create overly detailed and rendered designs just because you’ll be able to. The information that you just solely want to attract every asset as soon as can lead you to overdo it. Over-the-top particulars will catch the viewers’s eye, and they’re going to discover that they aren’t totally animated throughout the physique half. Extraneous element additionally implies that, by necessity, the character won’t stay constant within the sections of bespoke frame-by-frame animation. Once you change over to drawn animation, the standard of the drawing shouldn’t have to drop or be pressured off-model. Fortunately, when you do simplify your design, it’s going to have the knock-on impact of creating it look extra iconic.  

3. Use the rigged pose as a key drawing.

If you end up transitioning between methods, there might be a body that hyperlinks the sequences. Making this be a part of seamless entails getting this ‘seam’ proper. So, ought to or not it’s a drawing or the puppet? Because the puppet is inflexible and the drawing is versatile, the linking body ought to at all times be the puppet. You’ll be able to play to the power of hand-drawn animation and easily animate into the inflexible rig. It will keep away from a glitching pop within the animation. To help this, you should utilize the turnaround of your rigged puppets as your conventional mannequin sheet. Then you’ll be able to historically animate out and in of poses which can be potential for the rig, going off-piste on the way in which. 

4. Body-by-frame is nice for the intuitive and the unattainable

The liberty of conventional animation can also be its curse. Hand-drawn animation is inherently unstable, and an animator should actively attempt to keep on mannequin whereas utilizing this system. Nonetheless, this instability is ideal for deliberately unstable sequences involving wild animation tips like smears and morphing. These quirky and exaggerated methods play to the strengths of the liberty of hand-drawn animation. And utilizing the rig to do the heavy lifting on different sections frees you as much as hand-animate the actually enjoyable bits.

5. Use the rig for the minute and the delicate.

When doing delicate actions and transferring holds, frame-by-frame animation could be pushed over its limits, and the road can are inclined to boil. It’s because its restrictions are the boundaries of human accuracy. Procedural inbetweens shouldn’t have this drawback. Should you want your viewers to see minuscule actions and the subtlest of modifications, then give the inbetweening to animation software program.  

6. Put all the things on 2s.

The best means for these two methods to look constant is to offer them the identical body fee. Animation on 2s is widespread for conventional animation, as animating all the things on 1s doubles the already daunting workload. Nonetheless, pc inbetweening is routinely on 1s, and so it’s typically there. 

Animation with a blended body fee is jarringly inconsistent for an viewers, so which means ought to we go? 1s or 2s? It’s a lot simpler to take away inbetweens than to create new hand-drawn ones, so I’d counsel going by means of your tweened animation and placing it on 2s. 

You’ll additionally discover that animation on 2s has a visible texture that’s pleasingly conventional, even when it originated from a rig. 

7. Use each methods concurrently.

Since your rigged puppet contains separate physique elements, why not nest your frame-by-frame animation inside these physique elements? You’ll be able to then sync this along with your animation’s primary timeline. A nested frame-by-frame animation inside a physique half could be moved identical to the remainder of the puppet. Then you definately’ll then have the 2 methods operating concurrently. This works effectively for extra expressive options, like facial animations and palms. However why cease there? Legs and arms could be animated for poses with foreshortening, or the torso could be animated for costume modifications. With hybrid approaches like this, there are limitless mixtures you’ll be able to attempt. 

I hope the following pointers spark your individual concepts for hybrid 2D animation.


We requested Chris to supply a glossary of phrases with this text. 

Cutout Animation: A 2D type of cease movement animation. A cutout character is made up of separate physique elements. These are moved body by body to provide the animation. This method may also be used inside animation software program.

Rig: Rigging is a means of connecting the physique elements of a cease movement animated character. In animation software program, this could contain placing the physique elements in a hierarchy, which is called parenting.

Keyframes: The poses in an animation which can be important for telling the story.

Inbetweening: The animation between key frames. This may be created by hand, body by body. When it produced procedurally by animation software program it may be often known as tweening.

Smear: A stylised type of inbetweening which mimics movement blur. Utilized in quick motion, a smeared body of animation will include the poses of a personality which might often happen over a number of frames. Physique elements will typically be stretched, multiplied, and distorted.

Puppet: A personality that has been made to maneuver expressively when manipulated by a puppeteer or animator. Rigged cutout puppets, utilized in 2D animation, are constructed equally to conventional shadow puppets, with joints connecting the physique elements.

Nest: Nested animation is a way inside animation software program the place animated objects on the principle timeline include separate timelines of animation that play concurrently. This method is beneficial for complicated inside animation that will be troublesome to maintain monitor of when transferring in house.

Morphing: A non-naturalistic animation method the place a personality or object transforms body by body into one other.

Maintain: A body of animation that’s repeated on the movie or video to create a nonetheless picture.

Shifting maintain: A delicate and sluggish piece of animation that maintains the character’s pose sufficient to be much like a maintain.

1s: Animating on each body of the movie or video.

2s: Animating on each different body of the movie or video. Holding every picture for 2 frames at 24fps or 25fps remains to be perceived as clean motion and cuts the workload for frame-by-frame animation in half.

FPS: The variety of frames per second that the movie, video or animation is performed.