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Principles of Animation: Follow Through and Overlapping Action

February 13th, 2009

When you’re busy animating your character, it is easy to get absorbed by the main action of the scene. You should also pay attention to the things that follow your main action. Things like ears, tails, loose fitting clothing, and long hair are all excellent examples of places where you will have some overlapping action and follow through.

A great example of this principle would be Goofy’s ears and vest. Have a look at the above short, Mickey’s Trailer. Have a closer look at Goofy’s ears from 2:09 - 2:15. Do you see how they lag behind the motion of his head, with their motion overlapping the action of his head? These are the types of things that can really help sell the physical properties of the thing you are trying to animate. How heavy is your object? What is it made out of? What type of setting is it in? These can all be answered with the help of follow through and overlapping action.

Have a look at Ariel’s hair. The animators used the overlapping action of her hair to help sell the fact that she is under water. It behaves much differently than later in the movie when she is on land.

The next time you’re animating, pay attention to the follow through and overlapping action, and watch your arcs. Make sure you’re getting a nice, fluid motion.


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