2D Animation Lesson 1 – Bouncing Ball

My name is Adnan Hussain, and a friend asked me to give some tips on animation and help design a course for his students. I saw some of their work, and got an idea of their skill level. Based on that, I feel that drawing is the most important skill I can help to push. These lessons are designed to help you loosen up your drawings for more fluid animation so that you are not limited to animating parts of a single drawing or rotoscoping.

The work I do is more as a 3D animation generalist. I do a bit of everything. Examples I am showing are all from the internet, by other people, simply presented in a way that I hope is accessible.

Lesson 1 Bouncing Ball

We start with a bouncing ball to learn the basic principles of animation, because it is easy to draw a ball.

Watch this video from Dark Mane the Wolf.

Principles of Animation to think about:

Squash and stretch
This will help make your ball feel like it has weight and volume. The idea is that when you squash the ball in one direction, it becomes stretched in the other direction so that it retains volume. Otherwise the ball will look like it is becoming smaller and bigger over time.

Slow in and slow out
Objects accelerate and decelerate over time. When a car starts, it goes from standing still, to slowly moving and then gaining speed. The same is true for when a person is sitting, then stands up to begin walking. We start slowly and then gain speed. You might slow down to walk around a chair, then speed up again. This also goes for the motion of body parts and objects. When a ball bounces, it hits the floor, which slows it down and then picks up speed as it bounces up. This makes the animation look smoother and more natural. This can be achieved by spacing your inbetween drawings. Draw frames with the ball closer together for slow movement, and further apart for fast motion.

Whether we speak of a bouncing ball, or a swinging arm, or a moving foot, arcs can help make movement look more natural. After drawing your key frames, when you draw your inbetweens you have a choice of drawing the exact middle drawing, for linear movement, like a robot, or you can place the object on your inbetweens on an arc, which can give more natural, and fluid movement. Try it and see the difference.

Class Work
In class, draw a minimum, 50 frame animation of a bouncing ball using some of these principles.

Draw a 150 frame animation of the bouncing ball. Experiment with making the bounce feel heavy and light using squash and stretch and slow ins and out (spacing).

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