Animation, especially for amateur adventure games, isn't that hard. You just have to overcome your fear of drawing. But you also have to realize that when animating for a game, limited animation is the way to go.

Limited animation is when you only redraw the part that is moving and leave the other parts stationary. Like with just about every sprite on this website.

Like with these animations. The most that moves on them is their arm. The body stays completely stationary. If I had to redraw the body each time [like Gilbert does] it would take me forever to make a game [like it does Gilbert]

Natural animation, animation that looks smooth and nice will require a little bit of work. But it isn't the pant load that you probably think it is. Combining limited animation with keyframes speeds up the process.

This isn't the best example of natural movement but it's all I have at the moment. The hardest thing to draw was the jumprope, and even that wasn't that hard, I just used flash to inbetween it for me. All of the animation used one drawing that I manipulated through dragging and dropping certain parts of the body. I only had to draw her body once and just by moving the parts I ended up with a 16 frame animation that moves quite smoothly.

So, my advice is, when going into an animation, think about it first. Stare at your sprite and imagine it moving and think about what you would have to redraw and what could be reused.

This is best applied to walkcycles. Let's draw one shall we?

 

First we need a sprite. I'll just draw a quick one...

He's not the best looking thing in the world but he has legs and arms and that's all we really need right now.

There he stands in all his glory. I'm just going to leave him butted against the bottom of the image and use that as the ground. His arm is on a seperate layer than the rest of his body, along with his legs.

That way I can handle the overlap of his arms and legs better.

Alrighty, if you read my other tutorial dealing with keyframes and all that, then you know the next step. Draw the extremes. The extremes for a walk cycle would be one leg extended forward and the other leg extended backward. To quickly see the animation I'm just going to use stick legs.

There are the extremes. Not that hard at all. I am only going to draw one leg animating, because I only have to draw one leg. I can then take the leg animation, change the shadows around, and use it for the back leg.

So, now I'm going to draw the in between of these two extremes.

The middle position just so happens to be similar to the standing leg so when it comes time to animate, I'm just going to use that in the animation. See, I'm already reusing older drawings.

Now we have another inbetween to draw. If you can't tell how legs move, walk around yourself. Move slowly and pay attention to your legs. Or ask another person to walk slowly through the room for you. Or, who cares, load up another walk cycle you have from another game and look at how they handled it. So based on our research/knowledge of walking, we draw the next inbetween.

And this is it, remember, each of these legs is on a seperate frame.

Let's animate this quickly and see how it looks.

It looks alright. It's hard to really tell what it is going to look like at the finish because he has one leg and it's a stick and he has no arms... But it's a start.

Let's move on and make those sticks into legs.

Moves good. Now to define the legs better.

This isn't that hard either. You already have all the colours and you already know the basic shape of the leg [pant leg, sock, shoe] so redrawing it shouldn't be that much of a hassle.

Now let's see what it would look like with another leg in the background... To do this all I'm going to do is copy each layer and move them behind the original four leg layers.

Not so good looking... His legs appear to click back and forth instead of moving smoothly. So we are going to have to add 2 more inbetweens.

I'm going to add them right before the two extremes... Like so:

This should smooth out the animation nicely. So draw in the legs.

WHOOPS! That's a shame... Turns out I was wrong. That didn't help at all. I don't know what he's doing but it isn't walking.

Obvsiously I made a mistake. The green stick leg in the image above should come after not before, like this:

Move on to the rest of the tutorial...

home - back - next