Monday, January 30, 2012

Drawn to Life 1: Squash and Stretch

In our Cafe Sketch class, the required reading is Walt Stanchfield's "Drawn to Life". Walt Stanchfield was a Disney Animator, and has a lot of experience in the field as well as began teaching these concepts to aspiring animators. He has recorded his lesson in this book, and now we can uncover these animation secrets on our own time.

If you would like to read Dave Pimentel's thoughts about Walt, click here.

I plan to keep notes on here, partially so I can easily look back on them no matter where I am, if I don't have my book, but also because it helps me to internalize the information, to explain it to someone else.

So Let's Begin.

Principles of Animation:
- Pose and Mood
- Shape and Form
- Anatomy
- Model or Character
- Weight
- Line and silhouette
- Action and Reaction
- Perspective
- Direction
- Tension
- Planes
- Solidity
- Arcs
- Squash and Stretch
- Beat and Rhythm
- Depth and Volume
- Overlap and Follow thru
- Timing
- Working from Extreme to extreme
- Straights and Curves
- Primary and Secondary Action
- Staging and Composition
- Anticipation
- Caricature
- Details
- Texture
- Simplification
- Positive and Negative Shapes

These are all things that Drawn to Life talks about, and goes into detail in upcoming chapters. Walt challenges us, young animators, to consciously think about, consider, and apply these principles until they become second nature.

Let's start with SQUASH & STRETCH:
In Squash and Stretch, you want to exaggerate actions, and make it clear exactly what the character is doing/thinking/feeling in every frame that you draw. This can be achieved with squash and stretch. There are 2 examples in the book. The first is Tigger jumping. Tigger is like a loaded spring, and when on the ground, squashes down, and as he jumps, his body spreads out and stretches, until he touches ground again. The second example was George from Aristocats. As he ambles over to his briefcase in his unsteady way, he first exaggerates the anticipation of "I'm going to grab my bag" by pulling his whole are back and upward, making eye contact on the bag, and then plunging down in a straight line to the handle of the back, he squashes down with his whole body to make contact. This extreme up and down action leaves no question about what the action is, and how he is going to do it.

Also Squash and Stretch can be used in facial expressions. The eyes opening wide for surprise/fear (stretch), anger/suspicion/strain the face scrunches and eyes become slits (squash). \
Nothing moves independently of everything else, when the mouth smiles, so does the nose, eyes, ears, forehead, etc. Always consider what the reaction other body parts and areas will have with every movement.

The most basic example of this animation principle is the human bicep. If you bend your arm, your bicep becomes bigger and more round, even though it is the same bicep that when you straighten your arm becomes streamlined. This is a primary example of the squash and stretch of the interaction of the muscles, and effect it has on clothing, etc.

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