In this blog post, I would like to talk about my biggest goal in my practice – flow and fluidity. I made my first animation The Horns in 2013 and since then the journey began. Of searching and learning.
While I was figuring out how to animate, I went through traditional courses (books and tutorials), but eventually, I found my way of doing, because that was the way I felt I achieve the better flow. I can’t explain how much flow matters in my work. How it is upsetting to see no flow… It requires patience and dedication to finish what I have started. And sometimes I don’t. (I should probably make another post about unfinished works).
Animating is no joke, but what if you just want to have something animated or use your art differently. As much as animation is an art form, but there are rules that you should abide. There are a system and methods. But all of that always looked like so much work for me. Not that I am afraid of work, but I was looking for a different outcome, so not all of it made sense. For me and my work.
When I started making animation, I just wanted to be able to tell the story. When it became about creating an illusion of moving drawing. I saw stiffness in my work from the beginning and I was getting better with each work, but it wasn’t my priority until recent years. It’s hard to admit to myself, but I become a little obsessed. With smooth, organic, uncontrolled movements, that unfold within a process.
Flow and fluidity can mean the same thing to many people. Some won’t understand what exactly fluidity is, but in animation is one of the most commonly used words. At least, I thought it was. It just stuck with me, because in my eyes this is what makes animation. This is that makes the movements in animation look smooth, elegant and easy. Of course, if you are animating a dramatic knife stabbing scene – elegance is not the right word to use. Or see.
The animation making and all the rules that come along are worth looking at it. Learning and using them to understand fluidity. In the intro, I was talking how it didn’t make much sense to me, but without it – I probably would’ve not known how to make it fluid.
One of the courses that helped me and worth mentioning is The Animator’s survival kit by Richard Williams. This was one of the first courses I have ever done, but when it came to fluidity, I only remembered (or understood) years later how certain ways of drawing can make a movement more powerful, moving and fluid. I was following these rules since the beginning, yet it had to take a bit longer for me to get it and to be able to use it in my work. The Animator’s survival kit is based on cartoon animation and has a lot of good tips about timing, spacing and other great tricks what makes animation great. I learnt a lot, but as usual – I take what is useful for me and then do it my way (or the way I can).
You can reach fluidity by exaggerating movement and being able to distort, skew certain frames (drawings) before and after your key frame(s). There is a reason cartoons look the way they look because it is so much better. However, I never intended my animations look like cartoons. I was scared of the word Disney because I wanted to make animation for adults. Often, I find myself screaming inside that animation is not just cartoons! I learnt and am still learning a lot from them, but I wish people looked at it with eyes more opened. Look at the content. It’s not very child friendly…
So, the way I seek for fluidity is drawing schemes/drawings of how the entire figure is moving. If I need one hand being lifted, I make my entire figure moving towards that. Also, carefully (or not) following the flow of the drawing. I think of ‘one end opens, another closes’ then drawing. There can be some vibration or repetition happening in between, but the movement itself needs to be smooth and effortless. I find that the quicker I draw, the better fluidity I get. I love to get more detail in my work, but sometimes it just disappears and I think I just need more time to get better. First, I have to improve my fluidity and flow, and everything else will happen eventually.
When I talk about the flow, I sometimes also refer to fluidity in animation. This post might sound like explaining the difference between potato mash and boiled potatoes. I guess it’s like potatoes!
I am looking for flow both in animation and drawing. Flow comes from easiness then drawing; the lines aren’t overworked, some layers create texture, depth and also fouls… I always like to say that mistakes make it beautiful. To keep the flow going it is easier in the drawing, however in animation is hard to keep it flowing. It becomes more controlled, rough and begins to lose its shape. I think the repetition might have something to do with and I wish I could keep those lines more sketchy and simple. The more time I spend, the more it becomes overworked and then it also affects the fluidity of the animation.
Flow is also in the movement. I enjoy making short looping animations because I love the repetition and I still think of my animations as drawings. Also, I never got around to dedicate my time and make a longer film, because it requires patience and time management. I am a great procrastinator and at some point, I get bored with the work I am doing, so it becomes complete.
As usual, I am going back and forward, but I am almost done here.
Every animation I make I have to make sure it can loop. Somehow, I make sure that the ending can meet the beginning or go back and forth, and so on… A few years ago, when I was working on my MA project, I made some side work – short pencil-drawn sequences. I am not sure what I’ve done, because it is always something similar then it comes to editing, but I accidentally broke the loop. I didn’t notice until my course leader Jonathan noticed and complimented that he liked the surprise element. I got hooked on the idea of surprise and since then I am trying to get something in my sequences that has something worth waiting for.
The surprise element was that the one thing is on the loop for a few rounds and when you think it’s over or the same thing keeps repeating, something different comes in. I guess I am building the tension for something to happen (but nobody knows until it happens). Turned out that this section is about breaking the flow rather than creating a flow.
Overall, this is still an ongoing process to find, figure out, improve flow and fluidity. I just wanted to share some insights and glimpses of my journey.
This is not the last post about animation as it would be impossible to include so much in one post. I already think I could have explained more and better, so if you have some questions – feel free to ask me in the comment section below or write to firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂