Last week, Jesse Winchester, from Schoolism, came to speak to our class. It was a very inspiring presentation. One of the things he encouraged us to do were daily exercises that isolate specific drawing skills. I know from experience how powerful that can be; so I took this idea, and applied it to animation. This week I did a quick animation exercise every night before going to bed. These took between 15-30 minutes. The specific skill I am trying to isolate is moving-three dimensional objects realistically in three-dimensional space. I plan to use simple forms, so I can draw them quickly. The idea is to focus on the movement, not the individual drawings. What I hope to achieve through these exercises, in addition to all the other animation I do, is to reach a level where moving objects in space is second nature, so I can focus more on the character and performance when I animate.
The theme for the first week is a cube. I figured a cube would be good
to start with because, by definition, it is three-dimensional and must
be drawn as so. The first day, I dropped the cube off a ledge. It bounced slightly, then after coming to rest, pulled itself back up. In the next exercise, the cube does a flip. The third and forth exercises featured the cube twisting one way, then twisting back in the opposite direction. I did this one twice because I was not happy with my first attempt. The problem was, I started animating without a clear idea of what I wanted it to do. As a result I ended up with an unclear action. On my second attempt, I knew what I wanted and was able to achieve it fairly easily. The next exercise was the cube jumping off into the distance. For my sixth exercise, I tried to give the cube a little personality and had it do a take then faint. My final exercise was the cube falling away from the viewer looking downward into a well.
It is early to say whether these exercises will give the desired result, but I am very optimistic they will. I plan to keep doing these exercises every day as long as I can find the time. Each week I will chose another simple shape and gradually get more complex while staying simple enough to remain focused on the movement.