AM - Class 1 / Week 11 - Lecture

Week seven lecture was a continuation from week seven about Graph Editor spline editing in Maya.
It was hosted by Victor Navone, one of the best animators at Pixar, he has some great tutorials on his Blog, Check it out.

AM - Class 1 / Week 10 - Lecture

In week 10 lecture, Carlos talked about Walks with personality.
Walks are important because they define who the character is, it could tell us about the personality and physicality of a character, as well as size, attitude, & mood.

If you are animating a personality walk, the first thing to do is to get the key posses right, then play with timing & spacing
and the inbetweens...  and the possibilities are endless..

Its always a good Idea to film yourself for reference.


AM - Class 1 / Week 9 - Lecture

This lecture was about : Exaggeration.

Animation is all about exaggeration, if we copy real performance as is while animating a character it will look very plane,
therefore.. we need to exaggerate to make it more interesting, so exaggeration in animation is taking reality and push it further, so it will not look boring.

Exaggeration could be in : poses, time, ideas, and personality.

- exaggerate timing by giving more time or less time to certain poses.
- exaggerate the essence of an idea you're trying to convey.
- exaggerate emotion & wight..  for example, happy character feels lighter, sad character is heavier.
- exaggerate a very carefully chosen moments or actions in a shot.

So.. in brief words, exaggeration helps to sell the idea, if you over do it you will confuse the audience, if you under do it
you will bore them.

Here is a list of some animated movies with cool characters to analyze :

Character of Dopey - "Snow White and the 7 dwarfs".    Character of Ichabod Crane -"Legend of Sleepy Hollow"  
Character of Slue Foot Sue - "Pecos Bill"    Character of MacBadger - "Wind and the Willows"  
Character of Sir Giles - "The reluctant Dragon"    Character of Sheriff of Nottingham - "Robin Hood"  
Character of Baloo - "Jungle Book"    Character of Hopper - "A Bug's Life"    Character of Woody - "Toy Story 2"

Thanks for reading.. 


AM - Class 1 / Week 8 - Lecture

This lecture was an introduction to animating vanilla walks.

Vanilla standard plane walk is one of the hardest things to animate, well.. at least for me!!
If I want to animate a personality walk I could make so many critical mistakes in the body, hands, & legs rotations, and
hide behind the fact that this is A personality walk, BUT.. when animating a vanilla walk I need to get all the body mechanics perfect otherwise it will look wrong.

This week at AM we focused on getting the rules and mechanics of a plane walk right, then we can exaggerate and push it farther latter on.

So, here are some important facts about walks which I learned the hard way :

- Walks are a controlled fall, with each step we take we are actually falling forward, then the leg in the back will move fast to the front to catch up and prevents us from falling.
- While walking, the body is moving forward evenly, NO ease in or outs.
- Careful observation on how the wight of the body shifts between the legs will lead to a proper animated walk cycle.
- It takes some energy from the hips to lift the back foot off the ground.
- Knees are always progressing forward.
- For a good walk cycle, you will need at least 150 to 200 frames to loop, so it will not look repetitive.

There are number of key posses that every biped character walk should have, I created a frame to demonstrate the key poses :

Once you merge these frames together (after removing frame 0) it should show up something like this :

Then of curse you'll need to fill up the inbetween and work on there spacing.

Hope that was helpful!! Till next time : )


AM - Class 1 / Week 7 - Lecture

This week's lecture was short, more technical / Maya centric, focusing on the Graph editor and how to edit your spline
curves in Maya..

Nothing much really to say about this one..


AM - Class 1 / Week 6 - Lecture

This weeks lecture was about Overlapping Action.

Overlapping Action is braking off the movement to add flexibility to your characters so it will not look mechanical & stiff.
It consists of several sections: Follow Through, Successive braking of joints, Drag, Lead & Follow.

In a chain, the root (parent) driving force always moves first, then the lower sections (child) will gradually flow with a slight delay.  For instance, in human body an arm is moving to reach out for a glass of water, you might think that the driving force
is the hand, but that is wrong, the initial source of the movement comes from the shoulder, it will start to move first, then the arm will follow, then the hand.

The principle of Overlapping Action is based on real life laws of physics, we just need to observe & comprehend these
laws to be able to apply them to animation, but just be aware of over using it too much.


AM - Class 1 / Week 5 - Lecture

This weeks lecture was about Anticipation and Squash & Stretch.

Anticipation : Without Anticipation the movement will look unnatural.  Now, to be able understand anticipation we have to
go through Squash & Stretch first.

Squash & Stretch : Squash & Stretch is what gives life to a character, you can apply it to something as simple as a ball, or
as complex as a dinosaur.   For example, if a ball (that has character) is trying to jump up in the air, first it squashes on the ground (this is the anticipation) then it stretches as its jumping up in the air..
In this case, the more the ball squashes (anticipates) into the ground, the higher its jump will be.. and the less it anticipates (squashes), the lower the jump will be.

So this leads us to Anticipation..  well, Anticipation is a build up of force, its the setting up for an action, a small Anticipation should be followed by a small action, on the other hand.. a larger Anticipation would be followed by a stronger action, and
this is where most people get it wrong, you ALWAYS have to tune your anticipation to match with the action that follows.

As you can see by now, Anticipation and Squash & Stretch goes hand in hand together, and this principle applies not only
to cartoon animation but realistic animation as well, but the more you add it the more cartoony your animation will be.


AM - Class 1 / Week 4 - Lecture

In this lecture we got introduced to Timing & Spacing.

In very brief words,  Timing is what gives the meaning to movement.  as for Spacing, its how you put your characters
in space, or its the gaps between the key poses/drawings.

Timing & spacing always goes hand in hand together when talking about animation, they are usually influenced by
a number of laws :
"Wight"  "Gravity"  "Momentum"  "Inertia"  "Acceleration & Deceleration"  and "other Force"

Aside from that; the most important advice that I got from this lecture is to always try braking up the constancy while animating, repetitive motion tends to be boring.  braking off the rhythm makes (in most cases) something as simple
as walk cycle a lot more interesting.


AM - Class 1 / Week 3 - Lecture

This week's lecture was about the importance of Planning & Blocking.

Planing your work a head before you sit on your computer to animate is very important, yet its something often missed by
many people ( especially in the middle east )

There are different aspects for planning a shot, I'll try to mention some of them :

- When brainstorming for ideas, do not always commit to the first idea that pops to your mind, the first idea is always good
but its usually a Cleché that been used over & over again, so try to find different and more creative ideas.

- Close your eyes and try to visualize your shot/shots from start to end, this might be hard at the beginning but this is a skill that will develop over time.

- Observe the world around you, shoot as much video references as you can to help you out with your work, do not copy that recorded performance as is while animating but add to it & develop it.

- Drawing simple thumbnails or story board for your shot is a huge part of the planning process.

- Be sure to always ask for feed back from your fellow animators or even people outside the industry, this is a great way for you to improve your ideas & skills.

As for Blocking, there are three famous methods of blocking your shots :

1 - Layering : is when you layer the animation for a characters gradually along a sequence ( body, hands, head, legs.. etc )
2 - Pose To Pose : is when you set keyframes for the main key poses for a character, then add the in-between on later stage.
3 - Straight A Head : is when you start animating  full characters sequentially.

All three methods are correct, but its good to find the one that works the best for you, or you can combine all of them together.

OK!!.. That's it for this week folks!! Take care !!


AM - Class 1 / Week 2 - Lecture

This week's lecture was about the Principles Of Animation explained in a very basic manner, but they will be diving deeper into these principles latter on in future classes.   The lecture was hosted by co founder of Animation Mentor Carlos Beana.  Carlos has animated on many of Pixar movies like Toy Story 3, WALL.E, Ratatouille, Finding Nemo.

The principles of animation are :

Squash & Stretch.   Is what gives characters or objects the organic & elastic feel, while maintaining there volume.

Anticipation.   Is (in simple words) preparing the audience for the next action a character will make, without anticipation the viewer will not understand that action.

Staging.    Staging your characters in an interesting and clear pose.

Straight A Head & Pose To Pose.    Those are the two methods of animating.  Straight A Head method is to animate a character sequentially as you move forward in time.   Pose To Pose is creating the main key poses for a character then
filling in the in-between.

Overlapping.   A robot walking will have no overlapping action, on the other hand a human walk has a complex overlapping actions between arms, hip, head, & legs , so Overlap is what adds natural non robotic feel to the character.

Ease In Ease Out.    In real life nothing moves or halts without ease, so easing ( in-out ) is what helps giving a character natural non mechanical flow.

Arcs.    Everything in life moves in arcs, its as simple as that.  So take good care of your Arcs.

Secondary Action.    Is what keeps characters alive, it should support the primary action but not affect it, otherwise its no longer a secondary action.

Timing.    Is one of the most important principles in animation.  Timing is basically the number of frames that you have in
your animation, and how do you space them out in each frame.

Exaggeration.    Is pushing the action over the usual.

Solid Posing.   To enhance the character in the frame.

Appeal.   Is animating your character in way that looks visually pleasant and appealing.

I would like to wrap up this post by quoting a couple sentences I really liked from guest animators interview during the lecture.. The first one : " Moving a character from point A to point B is not animating, Animation is way far beyond that "    Second : " A lazy animator will create the main poses, & let the computer figure out all the in-betweens "


First day at Animation Mentor

We start at last...  Today was my first day at Animation Mentor, it was very exiting to log into AM website and see the amount of students online from all over the world come together to learn about the art of animation.

In this first term ( Basic Foundations ) I was assigned to be mentored by Adam Green.   Adam is such an amazing animator, he is currently working at Walt Disney Animation Studios.. woww..   He has an impressive list of credits that includes: Tangled,
Ice Age, Horton Hears a Who!  , I'm really lucky to be mentored by such a great artist.

The first week's lecture was a general discussion about the animation industry, it included very simple yet important tips that every animator should consider through out his/her career.

The key points for the lecture are :

- Every animator should find his own source of inspiration, whether its another animator, a painter, or a movie..etc.

- An animator is constantly learning. No matter how good you think you are, you have to keep improving your skills.

- Animators are similar to actors, the only difference is that after studying the performance personalty and attitude of the character, we need to break that performance and emotion down into keyframes.

- Observe your surrounding, & always carry a sketch book & a pencil to capture any pose or gesture that might add

to your visual reference.

- Take video reference for every shot you want to animate, either by shooting your self or using an existing footage.  

This step is often ignored, but I can not stress how important its to achieve a better results. 

- Animation is an art form, it makes no difference whether its a stop motion, 2D, or 3D... the principles are all the same.

- In your animation career,  always keep your ears opened to criticism, and do not take any critique as a personal attack.

- Never ever steel other person's work and claim it as your own.

Again, This advise above comes from leaders in the animation industry, & we should take them seriously if we aim to become a professional animators (especially in the Arab world).


Physics of Balance & Weight Shift

I came across an important article that explains the very basic principles of balance, & how we could benefit from this in character posing, as well as animation .

Click on the image to view article.


Capo Campaign

Would like to share with everyone the latest character animation jobs I did during my work at Blackstone Studios.

This was a collaborative team work between a small group of talented artist,  my role in this campaign was art direction along with my friend & colleague Ayman Akoshali, I also did the modeling & rigging for most of the main characters, shot blocking, full character animation, & some compositing work.

PS. To see the full credit list please visit my Vimeo Page. Questions, comments & critique are most welcomed.

My Vimeo Portfolio.

Click on the lovely dude to check my portfolio on vimeo : )


My first post :)

Hi everybody & welcome to my new Blog/Site.

I have an announcement to make !!.. I recently got accepted as a student at Animation Mentor... Yeaaahhyy..

I will dedicate most of the posts on this blog for sharing all the important info, tips, and notes I'll be learning from my mentors along this great journey, so it will be a be a good reference for myself, as well as everybody else to get back to in the time of need.
I was hoping to make my posts in two languages ( Arabic-English ) but unfortunately, and due to time constraints I'll be posting here only in English.

So wish me luck everyone & stay tuned : )

PS. If you have any question, comment, or feedback, Pls feel free to drop a line.