Posing and Body Mechanics

Start from the hips when posing a character.




For my body mechanics piece I’m going to do a dive roll.

I downloaded some pdf files from Animation Mentor which gives great tips and tricks on how to begin animating before you even look at a computer.

  1. Study: simple observations and reference material
  2. Thumbnails: rough drawings that translate your video references into poses
  3. Feedback: get fresh eyes to look at your work at any chance you get
  4. Key Poses: block those extremes
  5. Inbetweens: add these until the action looks as good as it could be in stepped mode
  6. Smooth and Offset: this is where follow through and any overlapping action come in
  7. Imperfections: add life and make it look more believable

I also need to try and keep in mind the 12 principles (I love this video):

  • Squash and Stretch
  • Anticipation
  • Staging
  • Straight ahead & Pose to pose
  • Follow through & Overlap
  • Slow in and slow out
  • Arcs
  • Secondary action
  • Timing
  • Exaggeration
  • Solid drawing/action pose
  • Appeal


The main poses would be taking off, the highest point of the jump, when the hands contact the ground, when the neck/shoulders contact the ground, back on the ground and kneeling up. Timing will be an issue here (I can sense it already) so I may need to get someone to attempt this in front of my camera.

Body form:

  • Gather step
  • Hollow shape
  • Heel drive

There’s not much of a dive in this video but I like the form when he lands and gets up.

This came in handy for key poses:


For the initial anticipation action pose:

I’ll have to remember:

  • That the arms move inwards, closer together, when they drive forward into the dive.
  • The right shoulder should be leading the dive into the roll. The arms are the most important as they direct the dive.
  • The fastest part of the movement is when the body compacts on the roll, to until he stands up.
  • Head rolls up after arms in launch.

Blocking scenes

  • Use stepped mode to focus on key poses and get a greater sense of timing.
  • Create editable motion trail on selected joints, to view arcs.
  • You can also use soundtracks as a tool for timing.

I blocked my poses in stepped mode and played around with the timing:

I asked my classmates for feedback and Bethnay suggested speeding up the launch and the roll – instantly better.

The better your animation looks in stepped mode the smoother it will be once you spline it.

For my first set of inbetweens, I’ll need to keep in mind the follow through…

I had to remind myself of slow in and out to decide where to put my inbetweens:

The more inbetweens nearer the key poses, the slower the action will be. In other words – the less poses, the faster the action.

To make my inbetweens I turned on spline mode, key-framed in the middle and turned on stepped. I then adjusted my inbetween if I noticed any awkward interpolation. Switching between stepped and spline is a great way to check the timing of your animation!

I need to offset the arms so that they lead into the launch. And also his head.

So this is my final dive roll:

I’ve also got waaaaay too many key frames but I don’t want to touch the graph editor because the curves it has now, scares me. One thing I learnt is to always keep the rig base parallel to the hip controls because I couldn’t remember if I moved the planted foot or rig base to steady the character when he gets up… I think I used the wrong one because it’s a bit jiggly when he rolls on the ground.

I’m a bit annoyed at it because I have a bad habit of trying to get it perfect, by that I mean I keep working at it until I go past it looking good and start over-tweaking it and then the action goes a bit funny. SO in hindsight, I should have left it alone when it looked fine -.-


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