Saturday, July 25, 2009

Interview with CGTantrik - Shreya Shetty

Shreya Shetty, A BFA from J.J School of Fine Arts brushed up her creativity while wanting to be a Veterinary Surgeon. After a years break which she calls the most constructive she knew she wanted to be an artist. Later trying her hand on digital painting she matured as an artist and now creates master pieces. CGTantra is proud to have her as a Forum leader. We caught up with her to know more about her techniques and work procedures READ COMPLETE INTERVIEW

Sampat Shetty
Team CGTantra

Making of Qiane - Goddess of Illusions by Shreya Shetty

Making of 'The Cow Girl' - Samar Vijay

Interview with Samar Vijay - CGTantra Feature Artist

Samar Vijay, a Freelance Character Artist lets his work do the talking for him. He specializes in game models. Some one who just one fine day decided venture into the 3D industry and never looked back, with an eye for detail he worked 18 hours a day to polish his skill as a modeler and now amazes us with his work.

He believes that you cannot survive without knowledge of Anatomy and form. CGTantra caught up with Samar to tell us more about his works and what gives so much substance to his characters READ COMPLETE INTERVIEW

Sampat Shetty
Team CGTantra

Thursday, March 12, 2009



1. Scenes begin in the middle, not the beginning.
2. A character should be "doing" something 100 percent of the time.
3. A character enters a scene for a reason, and he exits for a reason.
4. Thinking tends to lead to conclusions; emotion tends to lead to action.
5. A gesture need not be an illustration of the spoken word.
6. Audiences empathize with emotion. The key to good animation is in empathy.
7. Comedy is drama heightened, oxygenated.
8. An action pursues a longer term objective. (Smile at the girl because you want to date her.)
9. Short term memory causes eyes to glance upward.
10. Long term memory causes eyes to glance downward, into the soul.
11. The human sense of sight is many times more powerful than the sense of hearing.
12. Humans act to survive. Find the survival mechanism in your character.
13. Play an action until something happens to make you play a different one.
14. A scene is a negotiation.
15. "Actors are athletes of the heart" - Artonin Artaud
16. Anxiety is a high or heady power center; confidence is a low power center.
17. Emotions are automatic value responses.
18. Characters that make steady eye contact for more than a few seconds are either going to fight or make love.
19. The human smile says, "I won't hurt you."
20. Never underestimate the audience.
21. When you animate, you are saying to the audience, "Iunderstand this." When the audience applauds, laughs or cries, it is saying, "I see what you mean."
22. Actors lead; audiences follow.
23. Background characters can be defined with shadow movement - a jiggling knee, a charcter's mouth moving when he reads the paper, biting fingernails and so on.
24. "The Iron Giant" is an animation classic. Every animator should study it, like visiting Mecca.
25. We see things before we hear them; we hear things before we touch them; we touch things before we smell them; we smell things before we taste them.
26. A villain is a regular person that has a fatal flaw.
27. A hero is a regular person that has to rise to extreme heights to overcome an extraordinary obstacle.
28. The "beats" in a scene or script are better perceived as "beads" in a necklace. One bead leads to the next to the next and so on. Put the beads together, and you have a story.
29. The purpose of (character) movement is destination.
30. Acting has almost nothing to do with words.
31. Commercials convey almost zero actual information. They are about emotion.
32. Humans and other animals negotiate status continually.
33. To energize a scene, convert the character's "wants" to "needs."
34. Theatrical reality isn't the same thing as regular reality.
35. Acting is reacting.
36. Animators are not mimes. Mime is a specialized art.
37. A key ingredient of empathy is distance.
38. Old people stoop because their bodies ache.
39. A drunk character tries to counteract the effects of the alcohol.
40. To show that a character is hot, have him try to get cool.
41. To show that a character is cold, have him try to get warm.
42. An "adrenaline" moment is one the character will remember when he turns eighty and looks back on his life. The best movies include plenty of adrenaline moments. (Re-read #24)
43. A character analysis is like a character biography.
44. When a character is faced with a choice, be specific. Avoid ambivalence.
45. Allow your characters to be affected by the atmosphere in a location, the "feeling" it projects. (A car wreck has an atmosphere; a church has an atmosphere; a marriage bed has an atmosphere.)
46. Yelling is a weak acting choice.
47. We speak of memory in general terms, but it is referenced in specific mental images.
48. A character that is listening to another is actually preparing to speak.
49. The camera tends to follow the character's gaze.
50. A scene should have conflict, otherwise known as an obstacle.
51. Trick for suggesting villainy: tilt head forward; eyes peer upward, exposing whites in lower portion of eyeball.
52. Character "personality" is actually character "behavior."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Boost your online portfolio

Boost your online portfolio

Your website is the first place people will look when they’re sizing you up for commissions – so it’s crucial to get it right.

It’s a new year, and time to look again at how you present yourself to existing and potential clients. Whatever your creative discipline, your website is the foundation of how you are perceived – and this is as true for graphic designers, illustrators and motion-graphics or VFX artists as it is for those working in interactive media.

Even if your work is predominantly in print or broadcast, your online portfolio is usually the first port of call for people looking to commission or employ you. It’s imperative that your site accurately represents what you’re offering and sells you to your client base – if they’re not impressed by your online presence, they won’t bother to get in contact to request your print portfolio or showreel.

Here are the key points to consider when redesigning and redeveloping your online portfolio – whether you’re creating the site yourself or commissioning a third party to create it for you.

The first thing to do is identify your audience and decide how you’re going to present yourself – this will inform all areas of your website. Do you have a broad client base that you want to update regularly with what you’re working on – or are you primarily looking to attract new clients?

Chances are, the answer is both, so you’ll need both regularly updated content for the former group, and an impressive-looking front-end to impress the latter.

You need to brand yourself correctly, bearing your intended audience in mind. Treat this as you would any other design project: begin with the message and work from there. Remember that this site represents you and the services you offer – not just a portfolio of your work.

Even if your work is chaotic in style, ensure that the look of your site communicates your professionalism – and don’t be afraid to blow your own trumpet a little. You also need to work within the limitations of potential clients’ browser and Internet connections.

We’re long past the days when everything online had to be stripped down because of dial-up connections, and even most corporate computers have Flash and QuickTime installed – but your site still needs to load quickly when everyone in your potential client’s office is online at once.

You should also remember that some users are still on 1,024-x-768-resolution screens, and ensure your site looks good when viewed on smaller screens.

Your site’s navigation should be as clear as possible. Break down your site into clear sections – such as ‘News’, ‘Portfolio’, ‘About’ and ‘Contact – and run these along the top or side of your site.

The portfolio part of your site should be further broken down into the services you offer, such as ‘Graphic Design’, ‘Interactive’, ‘Illustration’, and so on.

Resist the temptation to ask visitors to explore your site to show how creative you are. They’re probably in a hurry to whittle down many potential candidates for a project and your site may be one of many browser tabs open at once – and if they can’t quickly find what they’re looking for, they won’t spend the time tracking it down.

Creating the best online portfolio will often require a balance between aesthetic appeal, ease of updating, time and money. In general, the more intricate a site is, the more difficult it is to update.

Conversely, easily updatable sites often rely on template-driven approaches, such as blogging engines. Unless you’ve got the funds to buy (or technical expertise to create) a full content management system, the best approach is to include both portfolio and news areas on your site.

Your formal portfolio should have a design that is stylish, well laid out and provides an overview of the best of what you’ve created over the last few years. It doesn’t need to be ordered by date, but should push the work that will sell you best first.

It should be updated at least every three months. The ‘news’ area is essentially a blog, so you have a quick way to post info and graphics about your latest projects.

This could be a link to a free blog hosted on a site such as Google’s Blogger site,, or one that’s hosted alongside your site using an engine such as Wordpress

The first approach is the cheapest, but the blog exists separate to your website, and there are restrictions on layout and image quality. The second will have a moderate hosting cost and takes longer to create – so also costs more – but offers more customization and can be better integrated so that it appears to be part of your website.

Being built on a blog engine also lets visitors to subscribe to your news using its built-in RSS feed, so that users who have readers such as Google Reader and those built into most web browsers and email applications will be instantly notified about your next project.

Set yourself targets regarding how often you will update the main and news areas of your site, and stick to them.

As you’re not constrained online by the size of a physical portfolio, many creatives want to post all their work online to maximize the chance that something you’ve done will match what a visitor is looking for.

However, visitors will probably look only at the first ten or so works they’re presented with, so concentrate on getting only your best pieces online.

Avoid works that are more than four years old – unless they’re multiple award-winners or otherwise very notable. Including personal work is a great way to show new directions or styles that you’d like to offer to clients, or flesh out a small commercial portfolio if you’re just starting out.

However, be careful only to include work that you’d be happy for all of your potential clients to see. And only post work in styles that you’d be happy to work in again, in case someone wants an exact recreation of them.


Community portfolio sites such as Behance and Deviant Art are appealing as they offer a very quick way to create and update a selection of your work, but on those sites you’re clearly one among many.

To define your own brand and get potential clients to take you seriously, you also need a site of your own – even though it can cost time and money to create. You shouldn’t ignore community portfolio sites – they’re a good way to get your work noticed – but you should use them to drive people to your main site where they won’t be distracted by other creatives’ work.

You may be a visual creative, but your clients are likely to be business professionals. Remember to put your posted images or videos in context. In the ‘News’ part of your site you should include information about the client and how your work will appear.

In the ‘Portfolio’ part, you should turn each project into a case study – detailing in text the brief you were given, how you fulfilled it, and what elements you created. Each project should detail the skills that you have and how they can be exploited by potential patrons.


Potential clients have short memories, so give visitors a permanent reminder of your site by offering free downloads related to your work. Illustrators, photographers and digital artists should offer desktop and mobile phone wallpapers for a range of screen sizes.

Web and interactive designers should include downloadable games and gadgets. Fun short films are a memorable approach for those working with video and animation. Ensure these are available in iPod format (M4V) to maximize the chance they’ll get watched.

It should go without saying, but it’s often forgotten in the rush to get a piece online: make sure you include your name and website on all giveaways.

Some visitors will be in a hurry, looking at hundreds of portfolio sites and not have time to view your site in depth. Offer a quick way for them to download a high-res PDF of your portfolio or QuickTime of your showreel, or to request a printed copy or DVD.


The web gives you the possibility of creating multiple portfolios. If you work in several distinct markets, you could create different portfolios with different URLs that present each area of your work.

However, this gives you more than one website to maintain – which can be a burden in the long run – so unless you have to keep the areas separate to prevent stuffy corporate clients from seeing your more experimental work (or vice versa), it’s best to host these different areas within a single overarching site.

The question of whether to create a site yourself or get a third party to design it for you should be based on your skills and budget. Creating and maintaining your own site is a good way for even print creatives to save money – and as you have the design skills, you need only to learn the technical side.

Not long ago, Flash sites were popular with creative pros, as they’re more visually appealing than HTML sites. Currently though, we’ve seen many of these replaced with simpler HTML sites. This is because HTML sites are quicker and cheaper to create and maintain, and can be a lot slicker than they used to be through the use of CSS and AJAX code.

HTML sites are also easier for search engines to navigate, so potential clients will find them more easily. The exception here is for Flash designers, who of course should create their site in the medium that they specialize in.

Consider updating site visitors with an email newsletter. Your newsletter should include only a small amount of information about each project and one or two large graphics to keep the file size down.

There are many tutorials online on how to create HTML newsletters. To begin, you can manage your newsletter from within your email application, but as the list grows, you should use tools such as Mailman, or PoMMo

Your web host may offer a newsletter service too. How often you publish your newsletter depends on how often you have something to shout about. Once every two months is a good start, and is an easy schedule to stick to – though larger studios with multiple concurrent projects may want to mail more often.

Remember to include an ‘Unsubscribe’ link, and don’t use the email list for any marketing except what people have signed up for. For more on what you can and can’t do, see the Data Protection Act


Your work may be perfect but if your site doesn’t appear correctly then clients may discount you. Check that your site appears correctly in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari on Mac and Windows (and in Opera and on Linux if your clients include techie types).

For a view of how your site looks across the widest range of browsers, use the Browsershots test engine,, which renders images of how your site looks across 79 browser versions, and screen sizes.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

CGTANTRA 3rd Anniversary

CGTANTRA 3rd Anniversary
cgTantra 3rd Anniversary 2nd December, WWIL, Mumbai. Be a part of powerpacked sessions/workshops and celebrate the Anniversary of CG Community

Event Plan

• cgTantra Introduction and New Features launch

• “Painting with Light” - Session on Cinematography by Rajen Kothari ,Head of Department, WWIL

• "Game Development Session"– Trine Studios

• Making of "One Fine Friday" Award Winning Claymation Film by NID Team - Danish and Satyantan


"Working on a Feature Animation Shot"

Awards and Lucky Draws

WORKSHOPS ( Details to be posted Soon)

“Painting with Light” - 3 Day Workshop on Cinematography by Rajen Kothari , Head of Department, WWIL
“Production managements Basics” 1 Day by Marlon Montgomery, CEO, Mind The Gap

“Claymation Workshop” 2 Day Workshop by Dhimant Vyas, Animation Director

Registration Fee [to Be payed at the venue] is Rs. 100 for members and 150 for non-members.

Friday, August 10, 2007

cgTantra TOOLBAR for Firefox & IE. Download Now !

cgTantra ToolbarStay updated with cgTantra new posts and threads, the latest news and happening in CG and much more. Install cgTantra toolbar for Internet explorer and Firefox totally free. It contains no spamware

We'll be waiting for your feedbacks and suggestions to make the toolbar better and of more use for you.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Acting and Animation
Part 2

Doron A. Meir Offers Some Guidelines for Achieving Convincing and Interesting Acting in Animation

In the first part of this article, we discussed the basics of good acting, and helped define the ingredients of convincing acting. This week, we review the second part of the equation:

II. Interesting Acting:
The golden age of acting in animation took place around the end of the 1960's. This was the end of the Disney's giants age - the time of the "Nine Old Men" - and the people who worked on those films were the ones who practically invented and developed the art called "animation". They also animated for about 40 years. That was the time in which classic masterpieces like "The Jungle Book", "The Sword in the Stone" and "The Rescuers" were made. Anyone who watches these animated films and uses his eyes and brain, sees more than an interesting story (in fact, in some of the films - like "Sword in the Stone" - the story is not really interesting). These films are made of interesting situations, with unforgettable characters and superb animation.
Disney's "Nine Old Men". The golden age of animation

In modern animated films, by contrast, the mission of keeping the audience interested is put exclusively at the hands of the scriptwriter. It seems that the animators are primarily responsible for not spoiling it; certainly no one expects them to add some flavor to the stew. "What happens" took center stage, while "how it happens" was pushed aside. During the last few years, almost every time I've watched an animated feature, I left the theatre with the feeling of someone who, after eating in an exclusive restaurant, was left with a taste of plastic in his mouth.
I take comfort in the notion that, having two distinct eras of animation, one which is excellent and the other problematic, enables me to analyze the differences and understand what makes the animation of the golden era so brilliant. I did my best to leave out anything that concerns directing, scriptwriting, character design and so on, and concentrate on the animation itself.

Uniqueness. When I was a kid, we lived in an old building with stairs made of stone. When someone walked up these stairs, he could be heard clearly inside the apartment. I remember I could easily identify my father's steps. This was very fortunate, giving me enough time to quickly tidy up the living room before he got in. The moral: if you're a messy kid, live in a building with noisy stairs. Another moral: every person moves, walks and talks in his own special way - so much so, that you can even identify the sound of his steps.

In "The Jungle Book", Baloo the bear moves in a fun, jumpy, somewhat clumsy way, a "one of the guys" sort of motion. Bagira has smooth, catlike movements that stand for dignity and discipline: the perfect gentleman. Shere-Khan also has a catlike motion, only with a totally different character - that of power, self-confidence and arrogance. The animation perfectly fits the personalities of these characters, and at the same time makes them unlike any other character we've seen until then and since then. These are truly unforgettable characters.

Baloo, "The Junfle Book" (From "The Illusion of Life"). One of the guys.

Sometimes, when we spend a long time with someone else, we find ourselves "borrowing" his/her sayings, facial expressions or moves. We all have certain gestures and mannerism that are special to us. In Disney's "Robin Hood", Prince John is especially rich with such mannerism (maybe even too much) - for example, the crown is too big on his head and keeps falling over his eyes; and every time something bad happens, he puts his thumb in his mouth, holds his ear and calls mom.

Just like you can identify a person's voice, you can also identify his movements - and just like you can imitate his voice, you can imitate his movement. In his standup film "Raw", Eddie Murphy imitates Bill Cosby with such talent, that I felt he was actually becoming Cosby. What he imitated, other than the voice and patterns of speech, were the movement, mannerism and expressions. Conclusion: one is not defined only by the look of his face and proportions of his body, but also by his mannerism - and that should be the case for an animated character as well.

I therefore suggest a small test that can help check whether the acting of a certain character is unique. The test is: could a good imitator imitate the character? With any truly unique character, it should be possible. Every character in "The Jungle Book" passes the test. So does Aardman's Wallace and Gromit. No character from "Pocahontas", for example, passes. The same goes for "The Lion King", "Hercules", and even good movies like "Toy Story" miss that point.

Secondary Actions. There is a lot of confusion in the animation world concerning this term. For example, in a well-known (and quite good) article by Michel B. Comet, we read the following explanation: "Secondary Action is an action that occurs because of another action. For example if a dog is running and suddenly comes to a stop, its ears will probably still keep moving for a bit."

The Illusion of Life". Written by two of Disney's "Nine Old Men". A must have book.

And here's what Ollie Johston and Frank Thomas (authors of "Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life") think of the same term:

"A sad figure wipes a tear as he turns away. Someone stunned shakes his head as he gets to his feet. A flustered person puts on his glasses as he regains his composure. When this extra business supports the main action, it is called a Secondary Action..."

A secondary action, according to the second (and correct) explanation, has to do with rich acting (the first explanation relates to overlapping action, a purely technical aspect of animation that has to do with the physical phenomenon of inertia). Secondary actions make for unique and natural acting, add complexity and charm to the movements, and spice up the animation. Anther thing they can do is cause a film's budget to skyrocket. Is this the reason modern animation movies use them sparingly? Maybe. What certain is, that in the old movies secondary actions were used generously but tastefully, and the results were a rich and enjoyable animation, and interesting acting.

Timing. One of my complaints toward modern animation has to do with what I call "snapimation" - pose-based animation, where the transition from pose to pose happens very quickly. This is an easy solution, because it enables the animator to work less, be less inventive, and have less skill. That way, instead of variations along the timing scope, we get a monotonous "quick/slow/quick/slow" motion - and monotony, as we all now, is the good friend of Mr. Boredom. In addition, the "snapimation" method disables secondary actions, making the acting boring and dull.

Complex Stereotypes. [This refers to more than just animation. Achieving a "complex stereotype" must be a combined effort of both animator and scriptwriter].

Animation is usually a caricature of reality - in all respects: design, movement and acting. In most cases, the characters in animated films (and films in general) are very much based on stereotypes, which enables the viewers to quickly get to know the characters and have a general idea of their role in the plot. Contrary, perhaps, to common belief, stereotypes contribute to interesting animation - simply because caricatures are generally clearer, more interesting and more expressive than an accurate representation of reality.

The problems begin when the character is the stereotype. One of the worst characters of all times in that aspect is Clayton, the bad guy in "Tarzan". We understand immediately that he's wicked, but almost all through the film we don't learn anything more. What does he want? Why does he want it? We don't know. The man has no personality at all: he's just a bad guy and that's it.

By "Complex Stereotype" I refer to a character that, while being based on a stereotype, also has a unique personality. Contrary to Clayton, the golden era movies allowed us get to know the character: they unfolded it before us bit by bit, and as the movie plays we're being exposed to different aspects of its personality

Rojer (right) and Pongo, "101 Dalmations". One of the most natural, interesting and lovely characters ever. Original cel

For example: Baloo is one if the coolest animated characters, a careless guy who enjoys life and can't be bothered. So it seems, but later in the movie - when Bageera convinces him that Mowgli's staying in the jungle endangers him - we find out not only that Baloo has feelings and doubts, but also that he can reach a responsible, mature and difficult decision. Another example, and a truly wonderful one, is Roger from "101 Dalmatians". In spite of being a secondary character in the film, Roger is to me one of the most natural, interesting and lovely characters ever. Evil Clayton can only be jealous.
Personal interpretation. As mentioned, the golden era was the most mature stage of the people who, with their own pencils, invented the art of animation. Naturally, they had only one resource to draw from, and that is the real world. The animations they created were their personal interpretation, their caricature of motion and acting.My feeling is that many of today's animators prefer to rely on other people's animation as a primary source of inspiration, instead of studying the world around them and produce their own interpretations. What we get is a set of clichés, a caricature of a caricature; a pale reproduction that fails to excel to the level of freshness and novelty of the great era of acting in animation.

* * *

Apart from being a grand technical achievement, Pixar's Oscar winning short "Geri's Game" is an excellent example of good acting - and can also be viewed on the internet. Another thing that makes it the ideal sample for the points I have raised: it has one character acting two contrasting personalities. Comparing the "two" characters, one can learn a lot about acting - eliminating the sometimes confusing factor of appearance.

And most important - remarkably for such a short movie (around 4 minutes), Geri's Game encapsulates all the points I brought up in the article:

Feel. Think. React. Consistency. Personality. Mood.Uniqueness. Mannerism. Secondary actions. Timing. Complex Stereotypes. Personal Interpretation.

Geri's Game

Friday, April 20, 2007

Acting and Animation

Acting and Animation
Part 1

Doron A. Meir Offers Some Guidelines for Achieving Convincing and Interesting Acting in Animation

By Doron A. Meir

"An animator is an actor with a pencil", goes the oldest and truest animation cliché.
Not "a draftsman that acts", but first and foremost - an actor. If you're trying to tell a story through a character, inevitably you're an actor. The only question is whether you are a good actor or a bad one.

My feeling is that in the past few years, while there's been great progress technology-wise, the art of acting in animation has been abandoned. Compared with the acting quality of characters such as Shere-Khan (The Jungle Book), Captain Hook (Peter Pan) and others, today's characters are pale, dull, and lack personality. In better cases, an exceptionally interesting voice-talent saves the day (Robin Williams as the genie in Aladdin); but usually the script alone is responsible for providing the characters with some sort of personality.

Power, self-confidence and arrogance.
Shere-Khan, "The Jungle Book" (original cel courtesy of Avi Blare).

In the various internet forums one can find threads concerning software, design, textures - some even talk about movement - but it's rare to read something about acting. I haven't yet seen a comment saying something like "the animation is good, but the character has no personality". It seems that the level of expectations is so low, that it's enough for an animator not to make technical errors. Would you consider praising a writer simply because he made no spelling mistakes?

In the following article I have put on paper my thoughts considering acting in animation, which apply to any form of character animation - including 3D. The article is not meant to provide a "good acting in animation" formula - simply because such a formula does not exist. Every animator has his personal attitude, every film has needs of its own, and undoubtedly there are other ways of getting good acting. The goal is to propose a "toolbox" for the actor/animator, and maybe raise - even a little - the animators' awareness of acting in animation.

What is good acting?
When I ask my students what they think good acting is, the first answer is usually "believable acting". But credibility is only one side of the story. Good acting is believable and interesting. In my opinion, these two attributes wholly define good acting. With this idea as an axiom, we will try to separately analyze what makes acting believable, and what makes it interesting.

I. Believable acting

In the life of an animator there are short and rare moments of true magic. Those moments are the reason I became an animator, and they are the reason I still am one. I'm talking about a moment in which you look at the animation you've just created, and suddenly you believe your own character. Suddenly it's alive, it's there in its own right. Those are the moments of believable acting.

Believable acting holds a great power over the viewers,
because the character they're watching gets a sort of meaning. Every man has meaning to us - even if we don't always think about it: If a total stranger sitting next to you on the bus suddenly collapses, you will not be indifferent - because the very fact that he is a flash and blood human earns him that meaning. This is why we feel sorry when Bambi's mother dies: we believe her and we believe Bambi, and both of them mean something to us. On the other hand, the characters in South Park are anything but believable, which is why there's no problem killing Kenny in each chapter.

(This might be the right place to reemphasize that the animator is of course not solely responsible for contributing meaning to the characters - script has an important part in it too. This article, however, is dealing with animation).

Believable acting means that the audience feels that the character's actions are the result of its own inner motives, and not the animator's inner motives; that the character feels, thinks and reacts consistently according to its personality and mood. I emphasized the last sentence since it encapsulates many of the ingredients of convincing acting:

Feel. The aim here is not just to portray clear and defined feelings (happy, sad, etc.) but to look for a kind of inner feeling that we have in us all the time - maybe it can be called "consciousness". Try to "feel" your character when you create animation, not just move it around according to the principles of animation.

Think. Your character shouldn't always act on immediate instincts. Look for opportunities to show thinking process, which leads to decision and action. It will enrich your animation with depth, complexity and believability.

React. Acting is actually more or less a series of reactions - the character reacts to its environment, to other characters, to stimulus. Every action must have a reason. Make sure you know what your character is reacting to, and that the reaction is reasonable (in other words: it's reasonable that this particular character will react in this particular way).

Consistency. Retain a consistent attitude to your character's reactions. A shy character (small, timid movements) that unexpectedly acts in an extroverted way with no clear reason, will suffer great damage to its credibility.

Personality. The character's personality dictates its reactions - i.e., its acting. Again, we are not necessarily talking about a definite personality such as "arrogant", "grumpy", etc. Try to get to know your character the way you know a family member or someone you work with. What makes him tick? What is he afraid of? What are his problems?

Mood. Mood resembles personality - it, too, dictates the character's reactions - but unlike personality, its effect is temporary. For example: a guy who's hurrying to work acts and reacts in a very different way than the very same guy as he calmly walks his dog in the evening.

Original Shere-Khan model-sheet. More great examples of the classic Disney character

Reading the above notions, one might think - "hey, all those things belong to the script and storyboard! Reactions, personality, mood - I can't control that! I'm just the animator here, my job is merely to move the character around and make sure there's a lot of anticipation!". My answer is in the following example:

The storyboard shows a character entering the frame, and looking angrily at another character. You're assigned to the scene, and the questions that should arise are: does the character enter slowly? Quickly? Determinedly? Hesitantly? Does he stop suddenly or gradually? Did he know the other character would be there, or does he spot it in the scene? Is he furious, or merely dissatisfied? What sort of anger is it - helpless (like a child's anger towards his parents), or superior (like a parent's towards his child)? And so on and so forth.

The actor/animator's task is to carefully read the script, study the storyboard, and try to "get into" the character. In other words: to find the character's inner feeling and to "wear" it for a while as if it was his own - so that he can get to know and understand the character. A good actor doesn't invent his acting - he discovers it. And still the animator faces the tough challenge of putting the experience into his animation, keeping the principles of motion. It isn't easy, but the reward - that magical moment of believable animation - is worth the effort.

Source: Asifa Israel