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Running is a gait that is undertaken once walking is no longer an effective or efficient mode of locomotion and can no longer provide the required speed of motion. A running gait has similarities with the walk cycle, sharing some of the distinctive phases and, in the same manner as a walk cycle, a running action can be broken into separate phases for ease of analysis.
Although the run cycle includes the passing position, the stride is replaced by a phase that distinguishes the running gait from a walk cycle. This is the suspended phase. This phase is the point in the run cycle at which the figure has both feet off the ground and is no longer supported by either foot making contact with the ground. The walk cycle is classified as having at any given point within the action at least one of the feet making contact with the ground. Once both feet are no longer in contact with the ground and the figure is in a state of suspension, the gait is classified as a run.
In addition to the passing position and the suspension phases, I include four other phases in the run cycle, breaking down the action into six distinctive parts in total. These are:
– The push
– The suspended phase
– First contact
– The passing position
– The extending phase
The role the arms play in the run remains a secondary action to what they do in a walking gait, though the contribution they make to locomotion is perhaps considerably greater in a running action. This is most evident in sprinters, particularly during that period when they first leave the starting blocks. Movement in the arms is far less extreme during a prolonged running action or a jogging action. The arm action makes a contribution to the overall action, but it is perfectly possible to run while keeping the arms at one’s side, though it is rather unnatural. The use of the arms in a run may vary throughout the action and, as already been mentioned, sprinters that accelerate quickly at the beginning of a run demonstrate a greater degree of motion in the arms than they do once they are into their stride.
The rising and falling of a figure during a running action is much more pronounced than in a walk cycle. The rise during the suspension phase is higher, and the squash results in more compression of the leg due to a bend at the knee, locating the figure slightly lower than in a walk.
As with the walk cycle, the nature of the run determines the speed at which the figure is moving. Furthermore, as with the walk cycle, the speed of the run will change with the varying length and frequency of the strides.
To aid our analysis of a running action, I have broken the movement into the key points in the cycle. For our purposes I have limited the keyframes in the illustration to four, though in the phased sequence that follows, where I provide a detailed written description of the actions at the various points of the cycle, I have included two additional phases.
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A common practice of beginning artists is to leave perspective out of their characters’ poses. It complicates the drawing, thus making it harder to create. Adding some depth to your pose will improve the pose immensely. Keep practicing your perspective in your character drawings and backgrounds; it will pay off! If your character is standing on the ground, rough in a ground plane that has some perspective to it rather than having a flat line for your character to stand on.
Adding some perspective/depth will:
– Help you avoid twinning in your character’s stance. Even if your character has some symmetry to its pose, adding depth to its stance will automatically take away the twinning problem because of the differences in the sizes of the shapes. In Figure B, the foreground eye, ear, arm, and leg are bigger than the left side of the drawing which helps the drawing appear less symmetrical.
I used to look up to top cartoonists- not for their money or fame- but because they could draw whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. From my young artistic perspective, my ultimate goal was to be able to draw whatever I could think of- perfectly. That’s when I would know I made it as an artist, I thought. That’s when I could relax and stop having to practice, learn, and strive. I would have all the answers and just be able to express anything on paper to the enjoyment and amazement of the world. That was my dream!
To go along with the theme of Annecy International this week (Stop Motion Animation), we decided to put together an expert from our best-selling, Stop Motion: Craft Skills for Model Animation, on how to make your own puppet.
Simple wire and plasticine puppet
Plan your armature by making a scale drawing of your puppet and working out the lengths of wire you will need. The best wire to use is aluminium, fi ve-metre lengths of which can be bought online for between £3 and £6, and come in several thicknesses. Twisting two or three strands together in a slow drill will prolong its use. If you can’t afford aluminium wire, you could use tin wire, but tin is more springy (has more memory) than aluminium, and will therefore make animation much harder.
Figure 5.6 Tools and materials needed for a simple puppet. Courtesy of ScaryCat Studio
Some artists, animation supervisors and directors have agents to help get them work but it can be cost prohibitive for most of us. An agent can take anywhere from 10%- 30% of everything you make! That’s a lot for someone to just speak well of your work. You should be able to do that yourself! But it is hard. Most of us grew up with the idea that a humble person does not “toot their own whistle”. But in the competitive industry of animation, humility can mean not eating too!
Selling yourself as an artist just means getting the word out about who you are, your past accomplishments and what you can do for an employer. Be confident! Don’t speak about your work in terms like, “I think this could have been better if only I had more time” or “other people liked this so I put it in my portfolio” or “I know I could do better then this now…” These are all negatives. I have heard all of these and more from artists showing me their portfolios while applying for a job! I can’t believe it. Be positive when talking about your work! If you are not confident about who you are and what you can do then why would I be? Remember, you are the best person to speak about what you can do and what you have done. (more…)
At the early stages of a film, or on certain kinds of jobs (such as agency boards for commercials) you may be asked to draw storyboards as beat boards. Beat boards don’t necessarily reflect how a project might actually be shot, but they do convey the major story points of the project so the story can be roughly imagined in a visual way. Often, storyboard artists will flesh out storyboards based on a set of beat boards and fill in the gaps. A key characteristic of beat boards is to create single panel storytelling images that convey meaning and emotion. These are usually the most climactic moments of the story represented in one illustration. The level of detail may vary depending on the project needs but for the most part, artists usually have more time to add details for a particular beat board. The classic American illustrators such as Norman Rockwell and Dean Cornwell were masters of capturing a whole story in one image. Of course, as storyboard artists we do not have time to take photo reference or labor for weeks over one image, but thinking in terms of storytelling illustration may help create winning beat boards. (Figures 8.1–8.3).
A good work ethic is just as important as talent
My siblings and I were raised by a single mother, with a low income, who had to work continuously to support us. In fact, I don’t remember a time that she was not working. She told me her secret to job security was a good work ethic. My mom used to say that the most important elements that an employer wants to see in an employee are reliability, productivity and a good attitude.
As an animator in the entertainment industry I have found that those qualities are just as important in a studio as they are in an office. So many young animation students coming out of school think, “I’ll wow the studios and get a job based on my spectacular portfolio. That’s all the ammunition I need!” And that’s definitely important but that’s not all of it. A strong work ethic is as important for new employers to see as fabulous drawings in an initial interview. Then once you get the job those qualities have to play out day after day. A producer at a big or small studio all want to see an employee that is reliable, productive and has a good attitude. (more…)