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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

Rusty works in the animation industry doing Storyboards, Timing, Animation and Directing. Recently he has worked at Disney TV Animation and Universal Animation Studios. He's best known for his Directing and Producing for Warner Bros. on "Animaniacs" and "Pinky and the Brain".

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Tilt! Tilt! Tilt! Tilt!

It's amazing how the smallest things can sometimes have the biggest impact on a scene. Years ago I learned about using head tilts. Tilting a characters head either up, down, or to the side helps clarify the attitude and expression.
Using head tilts together with a strong body gesture will strengthen your animation. Always consider 3D space when using a head tilt. Look at the drawings I've included with this post. The head is often tilted in a combination of directions. Using the same drawing and simply angling it up or down is not a true representation of expression. It's only action so a character doesn't freeze.
Take a look at the difference between the upper poses and lower poses in this drawing on the left. See how changing the tilt in 3D space makes a difference even though the expression has stayed the same. Sure the upper poses can work in many situations but look at how much more the lower set accents the look simply by giving the head a tilt in 3D space. Granted my character designs lend themselves to work in 3D space but often I find people making stylized cartoons take the lazy route of saying "well my cartoon style is flat". To me this is just a lack of trying. Even the stylized cartoons of UPA and Disney used head tilts. Experiment with your characters and see how you can make them expressive while still fitting into the design of the film. Sometimes a head tilt can become part of the style of your film.


Blogger DTN said...

Great post and drawings illustrating the point , Rusty.

It's sort of like the example that Milt Kahl gave in one of his lectures about how animators could benefit from watching Henson perform Kermit the Frog : he gets clear lip sync and acting from this simple frog character , but the eyes don't blink and the lip sync is limited to basic open and closed mouth positions, yet the acting is clear , from the head tilts and other body language.

12:52 PM  

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