Aesthetics in Animation, or, making shit look pretty LO 5

Or digital painting. Or anything really. People, make your stuff look nice.

It’s one of those odd things, and I guess we’re all guilty of it to some degree, that we tend to obsessively segregate our little specialisations instead of applying techniques learnt in one discipline to another.

The obvious example of course is just how widely you can apply the original principles of animation. Written for 2D animation originally, they obviously apply to 3D animation, and all that fall into that weird grey zone of 2.5D (something that I’ve never been able to nail down a proper explanation for) but a surprising amount also apply to other fields.

Digital painting for example can utilize everything but Straight Ahead/Pose to Pose, Timing and Slow In/Out. The remaining principles can be used to make drawings even stronger.

Stretch and Squash, Exaggeration, Secondary Action and Appeal would work for characters, working to push a pose even further to tell a story, or to make the drawing itself more appealing. This is frequently visible in the drawings of other animators, like Griz and Norm, Aaron Blaise or Glen Keane.

Background and environment drawings on the other hand can benefit from the use of Staging and Appeal, while even Arcs could be used to push a full composition, using the arcs of a character’s movement to lead the eye around the picture. These are just a few examples of how animation techniques can be applied to other disciplines.

The same also applies the other way around –  the general principles of drawing/art also apply to animation. Line, Shape, Value/Tone, Texture, Space and Colour all have fairly obvious uses in making animation – be it 2D or 3D attractive, while the more design-y principles (that’s definitely the technical term right there) of Balance, Proximity, Alignment, Repetition, Contrast and Space (again apparently) are  a little less obvious but no less important.  Animation is, after all – at least in the 2D sense- just a series of sequential illustrations, and it makes little sense to not apply illustration techniques to such.




The principles of design



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