Sunday, April 16, 2006

Follow Through

This is an old photostat from Disney that concerns "follow through". also known as "overlap" or "secondary action". My wife worked in the clean-up department at Disney and years ago she bought this from an animation art dealer. I think there's great drawing info here for animators and anyone else who draws.

If you don't know about this concept, it basically concerns things like hair and clothing. Anything that isn't a living form on a figure, but is influenced by the movement of the figure it's on. If you take a peice of ribbon and run around the house with the ribbon trailing behind you, then the ribbon is a good example of follow through. If you look at the ribbon and study it you might be surprised to see that the movement of it isn't random - it repeats the same action over and over. There are patterns to overlapping action that make them easy to analyze.

When I was animating for a living, there were some animators that would leave off the secondary action until they had worked out the action (and the acting) first. Then when the director approved the scene they would go back and add the hair, clothes, etc. Or even have an assistant do it for them. That way you're focusing on the most important part of the scene first without worrying about the secondary action.

Nothing wrong with this of course. Personally I couldn't do it, It drove me crazy because it always looked stuck on if you added it second. And drawing a bald or naked character just always looked so lame I couldn't bear to show it to a director. And as I've said before, for me my drawings have always been best when I conceived them all as one thing. Each drawing is one design in and of itself. How can you add later and have it still look good? This is why I don't use a Cintiq at work - it encourages you to work and rework each part of a drawing seperately. I hate that! If I don't draw it all as one thing (including background and all the characters all at once) then I never like it. I tend to draw really fast and the Cintiq and Photoshop can't seem to keep up with me...but I digress. This post is supposed to be about follow through!

Check it out and ask if you have any questions.


RoboTaeKwon-Z said...

Great post Mark! Interesting point of view concerning the Cintiq. Due to a story crisis at work, I have a Cintiq but have never had the opportunity to use it for boarding. It will be interesting to see if I can.

Kevin Deters said...

You just made your Cintiq cry. I hope you are happy.

pbcbstudios said...

i just tried that run around the house while holding a piece of ribbon thing and now the neighbors think i'm gay.

should i not do it in the nude?

mark kennedy said...

Thanks for the comments! Kevin, my Cintiq cannot cry because it is a cold, hard, souless peice of machinery! Unlike supple, natural paper and sensual flowing pen. They truly love me.

Paul-if you were nude then the ribbon wasn't the only thing "overlapping" was it?

Danny said...

Pen? Which pen?

just asking because i wanted to start writing something right now, but - oh disgrace!- though using a ball point it wasn't any fun.

But then i remembered the one thing i discovered here in the states, the one thing i in the mean time love more than anything else: the Pentel Sign Pen! - and writing is fun again...

Skribbl said...

The sad thing is that the ribbon WAS the only thing overlapping! OH SNAP! Sorry Paul, I had to say it. :-)

Mark you need to do one post about the evils of the Cintique! Away demon beast from an alternate evil future! Away! (not you Mark the cintique)

Ali said...

I love these vintage handouts. Give us all you've got.:)

cdeboda said...

Good stuff here. Very informative.

mark kennedy said...

thanks for the responses-

Danny, those are my favorite pens of all time. Almost everything I draw is with them!

Skribbl-good idea. You should write that post first! But I will do that sometime. Maybe we can collaborate. Maybe I will write that post in pen and scan it just to be ultra low tech about it.

mark walton said...

What you said about the cintique and Photoshop is exactly what I've been struggling with. Aside from the tactile differences (although that wedge-shaped stylus is a little better), perhaprs there is software out there that's more responsive than Photoshop, but they wouldn't let me download it here, anyway! And there's still the problem - for me, anyway - of getting too caught up in the details of a drawing, with those endless "undo's", and forgetting the forest for the trees. Maybe those with more self-control can handle it, but I know my limitations.
That would be AWESOME if you did a completely hand-written post! Go low-tech!

K Jensen said...

I love your post.
I have a question for you. I have animated for many years and teach animation from time to time. A student asked me one day if I could define the diffrence between the princeples of: Follow through, secondary action and overlapping action?

I would love to hear your definition of these terms.

mark kennedy said...

Um, off the top of my head, I don't...I always thought of them as all the same thing! I use the terms interchangeably for anything that isn't a living form that moves because it's acted upon. Hmmmm....let me see if i can clarify for you more. I will look for an answer.

Anonymous said...

For me follow through is the continuing motion of something stuck to something that stops moving – it follows through the momentum.

Overlapping is a continues, yet delayed movement – say a long tail on a running mouse. When the mouse stops that would be followed through by the tail, coming to a rest as well.

Secondary action (for me) is action/acting to develope character. Studdering is excellent secondary action. Or missing the light switch when trying to turn on the light in a room, then hitting the button again.
That's what feature animation has alot of, especially Disney and Pixar – good secondary action.

I'm not an animator or anything – just a wanna–be :)

Mark said...

I've been using a Cintiq to draw for years now, and got a tablet PC recently (can't sleep at the moment, writing from bed). I used to (and still use) a Namiki Vanishing Point fountain pen for a lot my sketches and can say that there is no comparison in tactile response.

Sometimes though, it's so frustrating to put so much effort into being careful in a drawing only to make some damn mistake somewhere while being powerless to fix it and save the drawing. I would often confine myself to simple tiny drawings because of this.

I feel the tablet PC has liberated me from the shackles of worry that prevent me from attempting more ambitious drawings. I guess I'm speaking more from an illustrator's point of view than from a storyman's point of view, but the TabletPC lets me blow away large areas and move stuff around and experiment.

I still use my sketchbook for all my story notes, and I'm still very shy when it comes to showing off any drawings, so the tablet PC is ideal because I don't have to worry about someone opening it up and looking through it like the countless sketchbooks around the house. My messy handwriting is bad enough to foil most casual observers.

I suppose my affinity for the Cintiq and the TabletPC is partly due to my ability to create various tools and utilities to aid me in drawing.