Follow through and overlap are essential principles in animation, adding depth, realism, and fluidity to movement. These techniques not only enhance the visual appeal of animations but also convey a sense of weight, mass, and physics, making the animation more believable and engaging to the audience. Mastering follow-through and overlap empowers animators to breathe life into their creations, elevating the art form to new levels of expression and immersion.

Pro Animator and AnimSchool instructor Philip Hall explains these concepts and how they are used in animation to break up movements.

Key Concepts:

  • Follow Through: Separate parts of a body or object will continue to move after the action has been completed, or after the body has come to a stop
    • Example: When throwing a ball, your arm continues to move after the ball has left your hand; swinging the arm “through” the ball
  • Drag: Parts of a character or object trail behind in an action
    • Example: Flowing fabric or hair will trail behind the body/head
  • Lead & Follow: One section of the body goes first, and another section of the body goes after until all parts of the body have arrived at the next pose
    • Example: Getting up from laying down – the head might lead the action, then the rest of the body follows in an arc
  • Successive Breaking of Joints: As one object leads an action the successive joints bend or “break” in the opposite direction; Joint 1 breaks, then Joint 2, then Joint 3…
    • Example: When raising an arm, you might lead with the upper arm, then elbow, then wrist, then fingers

Philip demonstrates the concept of follow through with a ball and “tail” rig, showing how the tail drags behind the movement of the ball as it moves forward and hits an invisible wall. Once stopped, the back-and-forth movement of the tail is likened to the repetitive motion of a door stopper when flicked.

Watch the full snippet from an AnimSchool lecture here:

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