Animation Assignments

This assignment has it's direct roots in the Descending Energy Ball Bounce shown here:

And while it's similar to the Jump Up & Down asiignment, the forces involved are a bit different.

First of all the character is not just jumping straight up and down, they are pushing themselves forward. This will create an arcing Path of Action as in the Descending Ball Bounce. If you perform this action yourself, you will find that you can only push yourself so high and so far, depending on you physical fitness level, your height, and weight.

The timing theory on both of these is basically the same. You have a slo-in to the top of the action on the way up as gravity begins to fight against the upward movement and then a slo-out as the object or character drops back down.

In this assignment there is also anticipation to the action of jumping up. The difference here is that the character is also jumping forward at the same time and so their landing position will change. In the Jump Up & Down action, the character returns to the original start position "A", creating an endless cycle if you want. In the Broad Jump, the character will advance forward into the "C" position. This requires the character to anticipate both down and back.

The higher or farther your character jumps will require you to create a bigger anticipation. I've mentioned before, that as a general rule (that I've made up for myself) the anticipation should be about 1/4 the size or intensity of the action. Hence, the bigger the action, the bigger the anticipation... unless you want to make it the opposite for comedic purposes: a big anticipation, with a very small action or a small anticipation with a huge action, to surprize the audience. Bob Clampett used to do this in his Warner Bros. cartoons with great effect (watch the very first Tweety cartoon for an example of this).

In some cases, you may want to build up the anticipation with a couple of swings before jumping up and forward. Don't do it more than three times though, again unless it's for comedic purposes.

Here's the idea of having three swings before launching forward.

So now, here are the drawings from my in-class demos.

First there are the rough/cleaned animation keys that I did during the lecture. These took about 1 1/2 hours to complete.

I chose to do only the main primary keys for the anticipation. I'll go back and add in the secondary keys to indicate the rocking action which is the build-up to the jump.

The last 4 in green are still in the rough state that I drew them during the lecture. The blue ones have been cleaned up a bit.

Here are the first few keys overlapped.

Notice how it's the butt that goes up and back, then down again into the anticipation in the purple and red poses shown above, while the head moves down and forward. This could be different, depending on the size and shape of your own character.

Also notice how the head is very close together at the high point creating a bit of a fulcrum point similar to the pendulum swing assignment allowing the pelvis to swing forward.

Once all the primary and secondary keys are completed, I import them into Premier and play around with the timing. Once I've settled on the timing in the pencil test, I can then go back and write in the timing charts on the keys.

Here's the first pencil test.

After watching it a few times, I decided to change the timing slightly to slow parts down a bit. Here's the new timing on the second pencil test.

Play them both a couple of times and see if you can tell the differences. They're pretty subtle.

From this second test I came up with the following timing charts:


The next step is to fill in all the inbetweens and shoot the final pencil test.

The total time spent including roughs, clean-up, inbetweening and shooting pencil tests was 5 1/2 hours.

• 12 primary keys done during in-class demo 1 1/2 hours,
• 7 secondary keys about 30 min,
• clean-up 1 1/2 hours,
• 17 inbetweens took 1 1/2 hours,
• scanning & pencil tests about 30 min.

Here's another example from the Character Animation & Lip Sync book:

This one has a very stiff recovery on the end of it as everything stops at the same time.

2012 Bunny Jump Demo


Check here for a .pdf of major things to watch out for in this assignment.

Back to the Broad Jump Assignment

Back to Assignment Index

Quickest way to improvement? Practice. It’s a simple bit of advice that rings with absolute truth. Articles, tips, mentors, and study will never get you as far as rolling up your sleeves and getting down to work, be it animation or any other skill. Today we’ve compiled a list of exercises, like animation push-ups, that will get your art skills buff and toned.

Maybe you still need convinced of how important the “Art of Doing” is? Look no further than the early days of animation, especially at the Disney studio. Here were a group of animators (before being an animator was even a thing) who HAD no books to read, or websites to visit, or even experienced animators to ask. They learned via the age old art of hands-on training, experimenting and discovering as they went. And some would argue they created some of the greatest animation to ever be seen. Masterpieces like the dwarfs dancing in Snow White or the terror of the Monstro scene in Pinocchio. So be like them! Get out there and do animation!

Some of these exercises you may have done or seen before; some maybe not. Consider doing each of them, even if you did once previously, because returning to an old exercise to see how much you’ve progressed is a very valuable experience.

Level 1 Exercises

(Do not discount their simplicity! Here you have the principals of animation, which all other animation is built on. They are worth your time and effort.)

  1. Ball Bouncing in place, no decay (loop)
  2. Ball Bouncing across the screen
  3. Brick falling from a shelf onto the ground
  4. Simple character head turn
  5. Character head turn with anticipation
  6. Character blinking
  7. Character thinking [tougher than it sounds!]
  8. Flour Sack waving (loop)
  9. Flour Sack jumping
  10. Flour Sack falling (loop or hitting the ground)
  11. Flour Sack kicking a ball

Level 2 Exercises

  1. Change in Character emotion (happy to sad, sad to angry, etc.)
  2. Character jumping over a gap
  3. Standing up (from a chair)
  4. Walk Cycle [oldie but goodie!]
  5. Character on a pogo stick (loop)
  6. Laughing
  7. Sneezing
  8. Reaching for an object on a shelf overhead
  9. Quick motion smear/blur
  10. Taking a deep breath [also tougher than it sounds!]
  11. A tree falling
  12. Character being hit by something simple (ball, brick, book)
  13. Run Cycle

Psst… Have you heard about our Workshop?

Level 3 Exercises

  1. Close up of open hand closing into fist
  2. Close up of hand picking up a small object
  3. Character lifting a heavy object (with purpose!)
  4. Overlapping action (puffy hair, floppy ears, tail)
  5. Character painting
  6. Hammering a nail
  7. Stirring a soup pot and tasting from a spoon
  8. Character blowing up a balloon
  9. Character juggling (loop)
  10. Scared character peering around a corner
  11. Starting to say something but unsure of how
  12. Zipping up a jacket
  13. Licking and sealing an envelope
  14. Standing up (from the ground)
  15. Pressing an elevator button and waiting for it

Level 4 Exercises

  1. Character eating a cupcake
  2. Object falling into a body of water
  3. Two characters playing tug-of-war
  4. Character dealing a deck of cards out
  5. The full process of brushing one’s teeth
  6. A single piece of paper dropping through the air
  7. Run across screen with change in direction
  8. Sleeping character startled by alarm then returning to sleepy state
  9. Opening a cupboard and removing something inside
  10. Putting on a pair of pants
  11. Opening the “world’s best gift” and reacting
  12. Any of the above exercises using a very heavy character/object next to a very light character/object. Enhance the differences the weight change makes!

Want some help? We have a workshop in February!

Things to keep in mind:

  • Reading these exercises will do as much for you as reading about push-ups would do for your physical muscles: NOTHING. If you want the benefit, you must animate them. Take a deep breath and just do it.


  • Do not forget the famous words of Ollie Johnston: “You’re not supposed to animate drawings [3D models]. You’re supposed to animate feelings.” If a character isn’t thinking, they aren’t alive, and the animation has failed.


  • Keep it simple! There is no reason to over complicate any of these exercises. Going back to push-ups, would push-ups be harder if while doing them you also recited the Gettysburg Address? Yes. Would they be any more beneficial? No. Keep things nice and simple and clear.


  • Do your best. There is no reason to do these exercises poorly. Give it your all. You don’t have to show anyone, these are for you. You owe it to yourself to try your very best. Something not quite right? Take the time to fix it.


  • As always, have fun. Push ups are not fun. Animation is supposed to be. Be joyful in your work!

Have any questions about the exercises above? Leave a comment below and we’ll answer them the best we can! Someone else may be wondering the exact same thing, so you’ll help them too. Likewise if someone is looking for possible exercises, why not share a link to these and give them a hand?

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