Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What I learned from the Gobelins Master Class on Animation pt2

In part one of this series of posts I discussed some of the things I learned from the Gobelin Master Class in Animation, including finding the right Camera Angle, Body Positioning, and more.  This second set will focus on  how different body parts work and the ways we can use  them to express emotions, beginning with the metaphorical "windows to the soul"

The Eyes

In many ways the eyes are rather hard to talk about since it's already common knowledge that the eyes are the easiest way to reflect a character's emotional mood.  For example, in the highlighted area the three sets of eyes easily read as sad/angry/surprised.  Something that seemed to be more relevant back then than it does now is the idea that an artist should think of the eyes as two separate entities; the pupil and the eyelids.  The pupil shows where the character is looking, for example at an object, and the shape of the eyelids determine the emotional relationship of the character to the object.  Again, stuff that's pretty common knowledge, but is still probably good to keep in mind.

Another thing about the eyes that was interesting to me is the effect called Alexandre called strabism.  After doing a google search I think he actually meant Strabismus.  In any case when a character is looking far away he said that the eyes should stray a little farther away from each other, and when they're looking at an object that's near then the eyes should move closer to each other, almost cross-eyed.

In the above image you can see my notes about the eyebrows.  I didn't think they deserved a section of their own since I didn't really learn anything apart from how they work, but you guys might find it interesting anyway.

The Mouth

I'm not a big smiler in photos.  I believe that when one smiles it should be genuine, and there's just no way to capture that kind of smile in a portrait photo.  That's because the muscles that control a genuine smile start from the cheekbones and involve contractions in the eyes as well, all of which will tend to move upwards.  A fake smile on the other hand will expand sideways.

Another thing that was brought up that was interesting to me is that anger is expressed on the face in terms of contraction.  Your brows scrunch down and the mouth moves up almost as if they were trying to squish the nose.  It makes me wonder if that kind of emotion could be expressed using an entire body as well.

The Head

It took a while for me to figure out what to say about the head.  I think I was losing a little focus at this point in the talk so I didn't quite write down what Alexandre was saying.  But after looking at these drawings I think that the basic idea he was trying to get across was that the more "bent" the head/neck was the more it showed that a character is thinking.  A character with a straight head knows his purpose and is heading towards it.  A character with a bent head not quite sure, and is thinking about his options.  Alexandre showed us a video clip of a villain that expressed the extreme end of this, a character whose neck could bend so far as to suggest being as flexible as a worm or snake.    This mirrors our cultural biases, where being "straight" equals being good and being "crooked" means being evil.  Obviously this isn't the case in real life, but it's good to bear it in mind when designing characters that are arcehtypes.

The Elbows

The interesting point that was brought up about the elbows is how their positioning in relation to the body can express a mood.  A neutral mood is expressed by having the elbows in a straight position.  Having the elbows sticking out to the sides shows a more aggressive stance, while finally having the elbows sticking inwards or having the whole arm curving inwards can show a more feminine or seductive stance.

The Hands

The last body part we'll discuss is the hands.  My takeaway from this section of the talk was almost ridiculously simple: Open hands equals an open, friendly mind, while closed hands (ie a fist) means a closed, unwelcoming mind.  I also sketched an open hand here that's supposed to show fear or "afraid".  I forget now why I drew that, or it's relation to my first insight, but I think it was supposed to show the hands sort of recoiling from something fearful.  I apologize that I can't explain any further than that!

Well, this part was a little more rough than the first one by virtue of more time having elapsed since the workshop.  I hope you still found it useful though, and I'll try to make the last installment of the series even better. Stay tuned!

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