Basics of inbetweening

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Animations are created by playing minimally divergent images in rapid succession one after the other. This makes it appear as if the images are moving. With CLIP STUDIO PAINT you can easily create an animation.

Beginners will find it difficult at first to animate more complex images. If you are just starting to animate, you should first learn the basic techniques in creating moving images.

In this lesson, we present the professional approach to creating animations, explaining in detail the basics.

[1] Pose-to-Pose

One of the most common methods of creating animations is the so-called "pose-to-pose".

The first step is to draw the most important poses of a movement and then to create and add the intermediate images ("inbetweens").

The most important poses that are drawn first are called "keyframes" in animation production.

In the example above, three keyframes were created for one movement.

After the keyframes are created, the images are drawn in between to represent the transition between the different poses. This is necessary to create a fluid motion at the end. This working process is called "inbetweening" and the intermediate images are called "inbetweens".

We will explain inbetweening in more detail in section [3].

[2] principles of movement

To create believable motion, it’s important to understand how physical motion works. Especially if you want to use keyframes in animation production, you should first get some understanding about the laws of motion.

Use the following basic principles as a guide.

Follow Through (continuing movement)

The term "follow through" is used for motion in which the movement of associated extremities is delayed from the actual movement of the main object.

as seen here, the tuft (extremity) shoots beyond the endpoint of the actual movement of the stick (main object). It falls back to its resting position only after the main object is already still.

When animating, the texture or weight of an object can be expressed by setting different timings and shapes. Use the "Follow Through" principle when animating long hair or fabrics.

Anticipation (catching up or anticipating)

Suppose we want to animate a jump. Before a man jumps, he will first kneel slightly before it. For such movements, which take place before the main movement, the term "anticipation" is used.

To do this, carefully observe the exact course of a movement. Large or rapid movements are almost always preceded by a preparatory movement. Therefore, in such cases, pay special attention to the "anticipation" principle.

Slow-in/ Slow-out (acceleration and deceleration)

This principle describes movements that start slowly ("slow-in"), then accelerate, and then slow down again at the end ("slow-out"). For slow movements the distance between the frames is smaller, while for fast movements the opposite is true.

By taking the "slow-in/slow-out" principle into account, motion sequences can be animated that look realistic and natural. If you use it correctly, you can also use it to animate anime-style, exaggerated-looking speeds.

[3] Inbetweening

To show a fluid movement, it is not enough to just line up the keyframes.

Once the keyframes are complete, an animation track is created. Then the inbetweens with the intermediate phases of the poses are drawn and inserted between the keyframes. This generates dynamic transitions between poses and animates fluid movements. Drawing and inserting the inbetweens is called "inbetweening".

Note: The above procedure is used in traditional animation production and is expected to change as digitization advances.

[4] Techniques of inbetweening

Good inbetweening is crucial for the quality of the final animation. Many mistakenly think that inbetweening can’t be hard, since the keyframes with the key poses are already fixed.

In fact, however, great care must be taken when inbetweening, as even the slightest mistake can lead to choppy movements. The quality of the final animation is therefore highly dependent on this step of the process.

Use the techniques presented below to animate smooth motion flawlessly and efficiently.

The arc of movement is a line that maps the path of a movement’s. There are dots on it, which represent the individual positions of the frames and connected form the movement path.

In animation production, it is essential to also imagine the movement that takes place between keyframes. For this, the arc of motion is drawn.

"Shift& Trace" is a technique where keyframes are first superimposed for drawing the inbetweens. In this state it is easier to correctly determine and draw the position of the inbetweens.

Shift and trace procedure

1. We will use these two frames as keyframes.

2. First, the two keyframes are superimposed on each other. In the inbetween, the face should then be approximately in the area circled in red here.

3. To more precisely define the position of the face in the inbetween, we draw the motion arc and determine the center point. Here we have drawn the motion path for the chin.

4. Both keyframes are shifted so that the chin of both images is on the previously determined center point. The two superimposed faces are then used as a reference point for drawing the inbetweens.

5. This is the final drawn face of the Inbetweens. Just like in our example, the "Shift& Trace" method keyframes on top of each other to use as a reference point when drawing the inbetweens.

Order of inbetweening

If three inbetweens are to be added between two keyframes, the inbetween in the middle is drawn first. We will explain the order of inbetweening with the following example.

1. First we draw the inbetween (3), because it is in the middle of the two keyframes (1) and (5).

2. Next, between keyframe (1) and inbetween (3), we draw the inbetween (2).

3. Finally, between Inbetween (3) and Keyframe (5), we draw the Inbetween (4).

4. This is what our finished result looks like.

A few closing words

Animation designer is just as much a "drawing job" as manga and comic book artist or illustrator. But the difference is that animation designers don’t make up stories like manga or comic artists do. They also don’t do the whole process from design to completion on their own, like illustrators do.

What an animation designer "thinks" and "designs" is time: which pose he associates with which pose. How many frames and how many inbetweens there should be. What timing to use. An animation designer has to specify all of these things while working in units of millimeters or 1/24th of a second.

But whether you’re a pro or a beginner, when it comes to the basic urge and joy of bringing images to life, we’re all the same! The advancements and developments in digital drawing software will certainly open many more possibilities and doors for animation production in the future – probably even more so than digital drawing with pens and brushes.

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