EXAGGERATION: 2D Animation principle

17 December, 2008

EXAGGERATION: 2D Animation principle

The meaning of exaggeration is in general,
obvious. However, the principle of exaggeration in animation does not mean
arbitrarily distorting shapes or objects or making an action more violent or
unrealistic. The animator must go to the heart of anything or any idea and
develop its essence, understanding the reason for it, so that the audience will
also understand it. If a character is sad, make him sadder if he is bright; make
him shine, if worried make him fret and wild make him frantic.

A scene has many components to it, the design and
the shape of the objects, the action, the emotion, the color and the sound.
Exaggeration can work with any component, but not in isolation. The exaggeration
of the various components should be balanced. If just one thing is exaggerated
in an otherwise lifelike scene, it will stick out and seem unrealistic. However,
exaggerating everything in a scene can be equally unrealistic to an audience.
Some elements must be based in nature, with others exaggerated unnaturally. If
there is an element that the audience can recognize, something that seems
natural to them, which becomes the ground for comparison of the exaggeration of
the other elements, and the whole scene remains very realistic to them.

The movement had the sense of natural physics,
yet almost every motion and action was exaggerated to accentuate it: when a boy
hit the ball, he really whacked it. When he jumped up for a hop, his whole body
movement was exaggerated to give the feeling of realistic weight to his base.
When he landed after a hop, the impact was shown in the exaggeration of his body
movements. The ironic effect of all this exaggeration was to make the film more
realistic, while making it entertaining. Exaggeration
usually helps cartoon characters to deliver the essence of an action. A lot of
exaggeration can be achieved with squash and stretch. In three-dimensional
computer animation we can use procedural techniques, motion ranges and scripts
to exaggerate motion. The intensity of a moment can be increased with
cinematography and editing, not just with performance.

Exaggeration is not extreme distortion of a
drawing or extremely broad, violent action all the time. It’s like a caricature
of facial features, expressions, poses, attitudes and actions. Action traced
from live action film can be accurate, but stiff and mechanical. In feature
animation, a character must move more broadly to look natural. The same is true
of facial expressions, but the action should not be as broad as in a short
cartoon style. Exaggeration in a walk or an eye movement or even a head turn
will give your film more appeal. Use good taste and common sense to keep from
becoming too theatrical and excessively animated.

Good animators often exaggerate
the shape, color, emotion, or actions of a character. Making aspects of the
motion “larger than life” more clearly communicates the idea of the action to
the audience. For example, a character’s arms may stretch to the point that they
appear elastic. However, exaggeration must be balanced. If used in some
situations and not others, the exaggerated action may appear unrealistic and may
be interpreted by the user as having a particular meaning. Similarly, if you
exaggerate one aspect of an image, consider what other aspects should be
exaggerated to match.


However the key to proper use of exaggeration
lies in exploring the essence of the action or idea, understanding the reason
for it, so that the audience will also understand it. If a character is sad,
make him sadder; if he is bright, make him shine; worried, make him fret.


A scene has many components to it including
design, action, objects and emotion. Exaggeration of every element in a scene
creates a feeling of uneasiness in your audience. Everything is distorted and
unrealistic. Find a balance in your scene. Allow your audience a ground for
comparison of the exaggeration and by so doing, the whole scene will remain very
realistic to them.

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