Introduction to 3D Character Animation: #1 - The Concepts

Danan Thilakanathan

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5 Lessons (38m)
    • 1. Welcome

    • 2. The 12 Principles of Character Animation

    • 3. The Basic Workflow for Character Animation

    • 4. Pose 2 Pose vs. Straight Ahead Animation

    • 5. 5 Annoying Stuff About Character Animation


Project Description


For this project, you will come up with a simple 10-20 second (ultra) short movie featuring a human character. It does not need to have impressive visuals. It can be hand-drawn or digitally drawn if you have a tablet pen. For bonus points, you can add sounds and background music but they need to be your own. 


You will need to write a basic screenplay. You will then use the screenplay to craft your storyboards. Finally, you will make use of your storyboards to create an animatic that may one day be your own character animation scene.


Don't be too ambitious with your story. Keep it simple. I mean, very simple. It is best to limit to just one character. It will be great if you can add some emotion to your character or make your character react to something.

  • Screenplay: You can use Microsoft Word for this. Search for a few screenplay examples on the Internet, and perhaps from a film you love. This will allow you to get an idea of the format of screenplays. Your own screenplay does not need to be that detailed. Just focus on what your character is doing at the current moment. For example, "He looks at the button in wonder. He then rushes towards the button and ponders whether to press the button."
  • Storyboard: You can use a software tool called MyPaint for this. You can then go to MyPaint-->Layers and then select the storyboard image. You will then be presented with an infinite canvas of storyboard images. You can then digitally draw your storyboard based on your screenplay. If you prefer hand-drawn, then you can go ahead and physically storyboards on paper and scan it to a folder. You may need to crop out one-by-one each storyboard image for the purposes of the animatic.
  • Animatic: Put all your storyboard images in a video editor. Add your own sounds and background sounds if you have any. Make sure they are your own sounds. Sync the storyboard and sounds so that you pretty much have a movie, only without the spectacular visuals and rich sound. For the animatic, you can use your favorite video editor such as Windows Movie Maker if you use Windows or Blender 3D which also has a video editing component built-in. 

Post your works on any video social network such as YouTube or Vimeo. After a few classes, we may come back and use the animatic you created to start building your own 3D character animation scene.

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