How do you ensure that animated movements are believable? How do you find the right balance between realism and cartoony movements? Ruben Aquino, the artist behind many of your favorite Disney characters, demonstrates the importance of understanding center of gravity in animation. In order for movements to look right they must obey the principles that Ruben describes in this video course.
Cartoon Skater Rotoscope
Ruben Aquino is a hand-drawn character animator and supervising animator at Walt Disney Animation Studios. His work includes several of Disney’s most-loved characters including adult Simba in The Lion King, Chief Powhatan in Pocahontas, Maurice in Beauty and the Beast, Denahi in Brother Bear, Captain Shang in Mulan, Pleakley and David in Lilo and Stitch and the infamous villain Ursula in The Little Mermaid. The course is broken down into four video segments with the opportunity for you to upload your assignment for peer review.
Introduction to Animation Fundamentals: Center of Gravity
To start the lesson Ruben introduces himself and the topic of Center of Gravity. Ruben describes the importance of center of gravity in making movements realistic and ensuring movements follow the laws of gravity. Ruben describes how the center of gravity contributes to creating convincing animation.
Assisted by his cat Spunky and many beautiful drawn examples, Ruben begins his discussion by talking about balance and the center of gravity. Ruben talks about how animation is the art of caricature and how the caricature of movement is critical to good animation. He explains the relationship between center of gravity and other concepts like inertia, balance, air resistance, friction and angular momentum. Ruben then shows a variety of drawings with their center of gravity in a variety of positions. Ruben describes how gravity impacts movement of objects and how falling objects accelerate to a point of terminal velocity. He talks about projectiles and the pattern of their movement. As he continues, Ruben talks about inertia, action/reaction and how it affects character movement. Ruben then walks through rotoscope drawings he did of Gymnasts showing the center of gravity and movement of gymnastics floor exercises. He describes the importance of plotting the center of gravity in order to make the movement believable. Ruben walks through another rotoscope drawing of a figure skater doing a jump and spin in the air. Finally, he talks about the exaggeration and center of motion in a cartoony version of a skater jumping and spinning.
Assignment for Animation Fundamentals: Center of Gravity
Ruben describes the assignment of animating a character diving off a cliff into the water. He then walks through the sketches he did for the assignment starting with running, jumping and diving with a tuck and spin. Ruben then plots the center of gravity to ensure the animation has a smooth natural flow. He reviews the sketches to make sure the line up with platted center of gravity. Finally, Ruben flips the drawings and makes some final adjustments to the animation.
Completed Assignment for Animation Fundamentals: Center of Gravity
Ruben completed three versions of the assignment. The first is a Ruff Pose Test. The second is a Tied Down Finished Animation with the path of action. The third is a Tied Down Finished Animation with in-betweens included.