Before jumping in to any animation, i usually plan it out beforehand. It is important to understand the body mechanics of an action. Therefore it is often best to act it out and/or gather reference.
In this case i couldn’t find the kind of reference i wanted on YouTube, so i filmed the action out myself:
Analyzing the reference
From here i studied the motion and extracted the key moments of the footage. It is important to train your eye to understand what these key moments are. I look for things such as: point of direction change in body, extreme high and low points of the hips and when the foot contacts the ground.
Now i have this information i will start to thumbnail these poses and make notes. when i thumbnail, i start by drawing the line of action of each pose, then draw the hips, torso, head, legs and arms in that order. This helps me to understand the forces at work.
I then adjust the drawings and make notes, i will have this next to me while i animate so i can refer back to it while i am working on a pose. I also make little notes on the timing using timing charts.
Once i am fairly confident with the specifics of the action, i then create a layout of the animation. The purpose of this is to map out the parameters of the movement through the shot. Here i am thinking about how each pose will flow in to the next. This will sit at the bottom of my pile of paper as i draw in my key poses.
Laying in the keys.
Using the layout as guide, i sketched in my key poses on the light table. I drew these in the same way i tumbnailed, doing a straight ahead pass on the l.o.a then hips, torso etc.
Flipping the poses back and forth allowed me to see the poses working together and i could see where i needed to adjust. Note the more extreme pose drawn at 37.
I also drew timing charts on keys: 10, 19 and 27. I changed the timing later in the computer but they were a good starting point.
Breaking it down:
Now it’s time to break the poses down. These secondary poses help to define the movement. The breakdown serves 3 basic functions: favouring, arcs and overlap. I refer to the notes made in my thumbnails as well my timing charts for their placement.
Now i have all the keys and breakdowns done, i shoot the animation and bring it into flipbook and apply the timing
For the most part timing works ok but i shuffle the frames around a bit to tweak timing. then i redraw the keys and bd's in flipbook and do a pass of inbetweens to flesh out the movement some more.
Now that i have the ease worked out to show the tension on the rope, it's time to shuffle the frames around in flipbook to convey more effort is being put into pulling on the rope. The way to achieve this is to take all the frames after the point the rope goes taught and interleave the frames. The method in this case is to jump ahead two frames then back one. I do this until i have reached the final frame.
I draw in a drop shadow and background to give it a bit of context and have also gave the character a bit of antic before moving backwards. I still need to spend more time refine the inbetweens and cleaning up the animation but it will do for now.