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Larry's Toon Institute Paintbrushes Time to Animate

In Lesson 4 we drew thumbnails and developed our visual research. In Lesson 5 we will follow through with the animation process.



We begin by enlarging selected thumbnails to a size we can use in our animation....Be sure to keep the drawings "ruff"...full of action; spontaneous; full of life.

TIP: When enlarging thumbnails, check the line of action...there is a tendency to lose the strong diagonals which evolved during the thumbnail process...keep the spontaneity!




Here we have our character - Joey. We'll make him more...DETERMINED!

Now that he is more determined, let's put him into his starting position.

We need to be aware of the "staging" of the scene. Staging is the POSITION in the FRAME which best communicates the CHARACTER and his ACTIONS to the audience. We have to allow room in the frame (and in our drawings) for Joey to ANTICIPATE down and then jump up to grab the ring. Think of "staging" as used in the theater - every action must be staged or framed so that the audience can follow along.



The feet motivate the action of the jump. Instead of drawing out the entire character, SIMPLIFY. Draw only the feet, legs and the ball shape of the character's body.

Let's draw the first Key position...

The next Key drawing or pose is the ANTICIPATION. Notice the squash or weight shown in the body and legs.

Now, let's draw the "stretch" drawing. This is not a Key drawing, but a BREAKDOWN drawing. A breakdown drawing comes between the keys to help the animator describe the action. Note the downward drag in the feet as the character moves up.

TIP: Look for opportunities to use opposite (opposing) actions.

We follow with our next drawing as the character drifts into the air.

Now we'll ruff in the downward BREAKDOWN drawing. Note the stretch of the body.

TIP: Again we use OPPOSITE ACTION. As he decends, the feet drag up.

He lands on one foot first.

TIP: Squash the foot and show weight in the leg.

As the other foot lands, we squash the body.

He recovers, pushing with one foot.

TIP: By landing on one foot and pushing up on the other, we get what is known as LEADING AND FOLLOWING ACTION.

In the last drawing, Joey returns to an upright position.




Now that the feet, legs and body are completed, we can go back and ruff in the arm positions on each drawing. Next, we will draw in the heads...and finally, his facial expressions, hair, clothes and other details.

Step 5


After all the keys and breakdown drawings are "ruffed in", the next step will be to "pencil test" the drawings in order to check the timing, action, weight, etc. Corrections are easy to make to the ruff drawings.




The final step will be to "in-between" the keys and breakdowns...and then it's off to "clean-up"!!

Be sure to check out Joey's pencil test in the animation section!



  • Size up your thumbnails so you can use them in your animation
  • Check the line of action. Keep the strong diagonals.
  • Be aware of the staging in your scene.
  • The feet motivate the action of the jump.
  • Work with key pose drawings and breakdown drawings where needed.
  • Look for opposite actions.
  • Don't forget squash and stretch
  • Use leading and following actions so everything doesn't move at the same time.
  • Look for readable silhouettes on your key poses
  • Keep it "RUFF"!




All images copyright © Larry Lauria, 1999
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