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

If you’re animating a personality frame-by-frame, hand-drawing every body, it seems like the one restrict is your creativeness. You then bear in mind the schedule and the price range.

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 price range or an extended schedule than is feasible on each undertaking. 

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

We now have another choice. As an alternative of limiting the character’s motion, we are able to keep its fluidity by switching to rigged puppet animation. Rigged animation is an extension of cutout animation. Your character is designed as separate physique components and joined collectively as seamlessly as attainable. 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 might be achieved inside the vary of motion of the rig, then a powerful amount of polished and fluid animation might be produced in a comparatively brief time. 

This effectivity is compounded when utilizing your animation software program’s potential to hyperlink the physique components with parenting and while you animate them utilizing procedural inbetweening. Though you might be certain to the restrictions of your rig, nonetheless complicated it could 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 method. Mixing two strategies makes it attainable 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 primarily based on circles.

In a rigged puppet, the character’s physique components rotate round a set level. To play to the energy of this round movement, the joints of your rigged cutout puppet might 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 nicely because the mannequin sheet for any frame-by-frame animation.

2. Simplify your design.

It’s essential to streamline your rig’s design as should 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 data that you simply 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’ll discover that they aren’t absolutely animated inside the physique half. Extraneous element additionally signifies that, by necessity, the character won’t stay constant within the sections of bespoke frame-by-frame animation. If you swap over to drawn animation, the standard of the drawing mustn’t have to drop or be pressured off-model. Fortunately, should you do simplify your design, it should have the knock-on impact of constructing it look extra iconic.  

3. Use the rigged pose as a key drawing.

When you’re transitioning between methods, there will likely be a body that hyperlinks the sequences. Making this be a part of seamless entails getting this ‘seam’ proper. So, ought to it’s a drawing or the puppet? Because the puppet is inflexible and the drawing is versatile, the linking body ought to all the time be the puppet. You possibly can play to the energy of hand-drawn animation and easily animate into the inflexible rig. This can 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 are attainable for the rig, going off-piste on the best way. 

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 method. 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 might be pushed over its limits, and the road can are likely to boil. It’s because its restrictions are the boundaries of human accuracy. Procedural inbetweens do not need this downside. Should you want your viewers to see minuscule actions and the subtlest of adjustments, then give the inbetweening to animation software program.  

6. Put the whole lot on 2s.

The only method for these two methods to look constant is to provide them the identical body price. Animation on 2s is widespread for conventional animation, as animating the whole lot on 1s doubles the already daunting workload. Nonetheless, pc inbetweening is mechanically on 1s, and so it’s typically there. 

Animation with a combined body price is jarringly inconsistent for an viewers, so which method 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 includes separate physique components, why not nest your frame-by-frame animation inside these physique components? You possibly can then sync this along with your animation’s primary timeline. A nested frame-by-frame animation inside a physique half might be moved identical to the remainder of the puppet. You then’ll then have the 2 methods operating concurrently. This works nicely for extra expressive options, like facial animations and palms. However why cease there? Legs and arms might be animated for poses with foreshortening, or the torso might be animated for costume adjustments. With hybrid approaches like this, there are countless mixtures you’ll be able to strive. 

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 components. These are moved body by body to provide the animation. This system may also be used inside animation software program.

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

Keyframes: The poses in an animation which are 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 generally 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 components 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 components.

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

Morphing: A non-naturalistic animation approach 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.

Transferring maintain: A delicate and sluggish piece of animation that maintains the character’s pose sufficient to be just 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 continues to be perceived as easy 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.