Category Archives: Topical

A book to inspire potential computer game designers

If you are a young computer games enthusiast who is thinking of taking up games design as a career then The Computer Game Design Course: Principles, Practices and Techniques for the Aspiring Game Designer will help you decide what area to specialise in. It is packed with screen shots and illustrations from computer games. The book… Read More »

How to become an expert animator in 5 steps

The good news is that you are already an expert at many things. You have mastered at least one language and have learned to read. By following the technique of learning by doing, you will become an expert animator over time.

The best thing of all is that learning how to animate is great fun. The first time I run a new animation sequence that I have created, I feel like I have performed a magic trick. Maybe it needs a bit more work and polish but the satisfaction is immense.

Pivot – a great tool for teaching children animation

Pivot stick figure animator is a great piece of free animation software that is ideal for introducing the principals of movement to children. When the software is first opened there is a stick figure in the centre of the frame. Each limb is jointed and can be moved by grabbing red spots with the mouse curser and dragging them. When you add a frame and move the figure a grey shadow is left in the old position in an onion skin effect. This allows you to judge how much to move the figure. Once two frames have been completed the animation can be played so you can check how you are doing as you go along. The frames also appear in a strip along the top of the work area.

Pencil Test Depot

Pencil Test Depot is a blog for the people who love pencil tests. Jamaal Bradley has amassed a collection of pencil tests from classic Disney films plus interesting pencil tests from other sources. A recent addition is a series of pencil tests from Disney’s Princess and the Frog that were animated by Matt Williames.

Computer modelled cat

Wire-frame model of the cat

A computer generated cat has emerged from my experiments with the Animation:Master program that I mentioned in my Computer animation revisited post.

I started with the head by creating a ball shape. A smaller ball was created for the snout and half pushed into the head. A ball was added for the nose and two balls for the eyes. Eyelids were modelled from half balls and positioned on top of the eyes. The ears are also created from half balls. The whiskers are long thin tubes that resemble drinking straws.

Animating squash and stretch – bouncing ball

bouncing ball 01Exaggerated squash and stretch is a great way to add amusement and believability to your animation. I have created a demonstration using a bouncing ball made of very flexible rubber.

This demonstrates Newton’s third law of motion, more commonly called action reaction. For every action in one direction, there is an equal and opposite reaction in the opposite direction; even if the object does not move.

Using Windows Movie Maker to assemble your animation

Windows Movie Maker interface

Windows Movie Maker is software for creating and editing video movies and is included in Microsoft Windows. The feature that makes it a useful tool for novice animators is the ability to add single pictures and play them back as a movie. You can also add sound effects and music and export your finished work to a move in WMV or AVI format.

The first step is to open the program:
1. From the Start menu, click All Programs.
2. Click Windows Movie Maker.