Animation Mentor Adventure

Chad Swanson’s Journey at becoming a Character Animator!

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  • What makes a good pose?

    Posted by chad3d on December 21, 2008

    What makes a good pose? How should you come to a decision on what pose to use? When should I put “golden” poses?

    These are question’s  I have been asking myself,  so I decided to study into it a bit and here is what I found.

    Animation is like communication. Does everything read well with no dialogue?  So your poses should do the same. They should tell something about the character and it should read very well what he is doing and feeling, all this in a single snapshot!

    Com-mu-ni-cate – To express thoughts,feelings or information easily or clearly.

    “Every pose in your animation should be this way. So you could grab them frame by frame and want to post them on your wall”        -Steve Cunningham

    So what does this all mean!?  Well lets break down the aspects of posing to get a better feel for it.

    -Line of Action
    -Silhouette
    -Eye Direction
    -Balance (center of weight)
    -Weight
    -Body Twists (adds appeal)
    -Avoid Straight lines if there are bends and make good use of straight lines for force
    -Avoid Parallel lines
    -Avoid Symmetry
    -Staging
    -Knee direction should align with the toe direction
    -contrast (angles, this can also add appeal)

    *Good poses instantly communicate character
    *Each pose should have the ability to work as a single frame illustration
    *Poses are a gateway to your character. Good poses allow the audience to see inside the characters soul.
    *Emotion, Clearly express the true feeling in the heart of the character for that given moment. (even if its not what he/she is feeling on the outside)
    *Guide viewers eye (flow lines)
    *Pose variety- vary the intensities of your poses and lines of action. Make one pose of greater importance than the rest. Use all other poses in concert to lead to the golden poses.
    *Most of the best poses will have motion in them

    What is Line of action?

    Lets break it down like this. It is a imaginary line through the characters body that shows the primary force of a pose. Indicating direction and energy (kinetic or stored) of the characters pose.

    reversing the line of action- Builds contrast in the scene. It also builds up and releases energy to move the character and story forward.

    Why ever use a vertical line of action? Well vertical lines of action are useful for adding a point of emphasis to the scene. Vertical Lines of action when contrasted against other strong directional lines are like exclamation points, useful to make a point.

    How do lines of action differ from flow lines? Well a now that we know what a line of action is. Flow lines are simple used to guide the viewers eye. Like in any painting of complex scene. All parts of the character should work together to create a visual flow for the viewers  eye to follow.

    Why is this needed? Well viewers tend to “feel”  the body language, not necessarily focus on it. Viewers generally focus on the characters face.The best poses lead the viewers eye where they should be looking in a given scene. Use arms, legs, torso, props etc. to lead the viewer to see what they need to see in order to follow the story. Plan and understand what is important to look at in your scene. If you don’t know what that is ask the director! For this reason flow lines are more important than silhouettes. Good flow in your poses make your animation easy to understand. “It’s easy on the eyes”. If you have multiple characters in your scene make the flow lines cross multiple characters to better incorporate what is being told in the shot. If you have props in the scene incorporate those as well. Your story is better told, and your ideas are more clearly stated with good visual flow!

    Contrast!
    You can add contrast in many different ways and it will all add appeal to your poses.

    Tilt the head- People don’t hold their heads up straight very often. Head tilts will also add weight to a pose.You can also use a head tilt as a useful indicator of attitude and/or emotion.

    Torso Torque- You can make the shoulders, hips, and face different directions to really push a pose and add appeal.

    Hips & Shoulders – You can also add contrast in the hips and shoulders. If one hip is up than that same side shoulder should be down.( ex.  hip= \  than shoulder = / )

    Weight- Uneven distribution of weight can really help you make a pose feel more alive and really push a pose!

    How do I avoid cliche poses?  Well after you apply all these things and have that in your bloodstream, concentrate on personality! Who is doing it and in what situation. Get into you character. What is he doing? Why does he feel the way he does? From that convey it in the pose!

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