Since the beginning of time people have felt the need to scratch the creative itch. We can see from some of the early cave drawings that artists loved creating characters and today’s animators are no different. Effective character animation is hugely important to tell any story and we encourage students on all our animation courses to work really hard on developing their skills in this context.
At Pulse College we’re all about creating characters that connect with the audience, so here’s a few tips to get you started!
Look for Real World Examples
Making something come to life is a big challenge and the tiny details can make all the difference. When you’re out and about pay attention to the world around you and watch the different people have different mannerisms and movements Focus on how people interact with things, whether it’s chatting with a friend, picking up something in a shop or running for a bus.
Once you subtly apply relevant movements – that are individual to each character – you’ll soon see your character’s spring to life. So try to remember to take your real-world experiences into your animations and make some mental notes that you can test out when you get back to class.
Mastering facial expressions is notoriously tricky! A lot of facial expressions happen extremely fast and we decipher and capture them naturally without even knowing it. When you’ve learned how to add them to your animated character they make it much more realistic and improve the characters appeal to the viewer.
It’s best to have something to work off – many of the top studios record the actors doing voice overs. Animators then watch these back as they create the characters. When you’ve completed your animation course and landed that dream job you’ll be able to do this for yourself. Until then don’t be scared to think outside the box – we encourage all our students to be creative! Grab a mirror and take a look at yourself for a reference or ask a friend to help you out. You can capture some pretty good footage on most mobile phones now. So ask your friends to perform the part and film them – it’ll make life a whole lot easier once you start doing the animation work.
Even the smallest gesture or maybe just a little glance can make a huge difference in terms of bringing life to a character.
Film the Animator!
Turn things on their head! why not go one step further and film yourself? It can be difficult to really grasp the movements sitting at your desk. With a basic phone, you can film yourself moving and get a great reference to work from. Being able to move through the footage and pause it where you need to will be a big help.
Everyone starts somewhere and this is a really good tip to help you get a better understanding on character movements. You might spot one of those subtle details we talked about earlier and be able to build it into your work – why not give it a go?!
Animate with Balance
When we’re growing up we quickly learn that balance is important and we naturally learn how to shift our weight as we walk. In the same way, you need to learn to apply a centre of gravity to your characters.
Practice makes perfect and when you’ve got this skill down, your work will look like it was done by a pro! Why not keep an eye on some of the professionals Twitter posts and see what they are getting up to.
Improve your Skills
There’s plenty to learn but stick at it and focus on learning new techniques all the time. At Pulse College we run several animation courses; BA Hons as well as full time and part time diplomas and a short intro course. If you’re interested in learning more pop along to one of our open events where you can chat with the lecturers and get a good feel for the right course for you.[openday]