2D Animation

Lesson 1: Natural Motion

The first person we should look at is actually a photographer.

Eadweard Muybridge. Muybridge made his most enduring work in the project “Animal Locomotion” between 1884 and 1887 for the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. Each plate in the series shows the same subject in sequential phases of one action. Muybridge recorded varied forms of movement in a wide range of animals, mostly taken at Philadelphia zoo, from pigeons in flight to the subtleties of gait found in sloths, camels and capybaras. Muybridge also documented human subjects walking, running and descending staircases and engaging in boxing, fencing, weight lifting and wrestling.

Here are some of his photo collections:

Your task is to take one of these collections, break apart the images using a tool like Adobe Photoshop (so you can see one image at a time), then using a drawing tablet trace over the image outlining only the lines that represent the movement of the animal.

Then we will take our drawings and put them in a tool like Adobe After Effects, or Apple Motion, and turn our images into a video.

Don’t draw the animal, concentrate on trying to figure out what is under the animal that is providing the locomotion…the movement!

I have done this myself with an example so you can see it happen in real time.

One of the things I hope you see from this is that the appendages that move (the arms or the legs) need the support of some other body element. In the case of the drawing I did, it was the animal’s back. The back, in my case, moved in contrary motion to the wings. By “contrary motion” I mean: when the arms went up, the back went down. When the arms went down, the back went up.

Often when a right leg moves forward a left arm goes back, etc.

Also, I hope you notice that organic forms (animals, things that move because of nature rather than by mechanical means) move in “arcs”…sort of like circles, eclipses, and parabolas.

See what you can notice as you draw.