12 Principles of Animation – Solid Drawing

This principle is about making sure that forms feel like they’re in three- dimensional space, with volume, weight and balance.

One thing that makes animating a lot easier is being able to draw the figure from all angles. This requires knowledge of three dimensional drawing.  For example when drawing a line on a sphere it must follow the contour of the sphere’s surface. A straight line instantly makes the circle look flat.

When drawing cubes avoid using parallel lines as it can make it look like a flat symbol or logo. Instead lines should be bent towards the vanishing point.

When doing a rough pass of a character use basic solid shapes like spheres, cubes and cylinders to construct the character instead of circles squares and rectangles. This helps you keep in mind the space that they’re in, you can also draw perspective lines on the ground to keep track of their distant from the camera.

When doing the clean line version of your character be very mindful of overlap and try to include it whenever possible.  Without overlap everything appears to be on the same plain.

Another thing to avoid is symmetry. Symmetrical lines look flat. Instead offset two curved lines or pair a straight line with a curved line.

The principle of solid drawing also applies to 3D animation as well. Do not allow your character to ‘twin’. This is when a character movements are symmetrical on both sides of their body, for example both their arms move in the same way at exactly the same time from the same start point to the same end point. Instead offset their movements so they have weight to them and that it has to have balance in a 3D environment, you can do this with posing it differently like slouching or standing on one leg whilst its arms and legs move in different directions to balance the weight distribution of its body so it can balance.

Solid drawing is used to give characters and objects more weight and volume, making them look more 3D and avoids wooden, flat looking characters. In 3D animation this is extended to ensuring models move naturally in all expressions and movements and in no way deformed or computer generated at certain angles.”

There are so many examples of solid drawing it’s hard to pick one, but any classic cartoon uses solid drawing, from The Simpsons to Disney. So here are a few examples of solid drawings used in animation.

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We have also looked at this in life drawing, as being able to scale and proportion a character is very important. We have studied this by looking at how Winnie the Pooh was drawn, and during one of the weeks we had to design characters we had to create a 360 view of them. Even in later weeks I created a 360 view of one of the characters named ‘Mossman’. Here are some Photos.

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