Character Animation: 2D Skills for Better 3D, Second Edition
Each of the above traps is a distraction from what's important. Software and movement are only tools; both need to be in the service of communicating something specific. Understanding how to use tools to reach a goal is the basis of the animator's craft.
The exercises are first done with drawings and then the same exercises are translated to 3D. Topics include animating objects and characters, human walks and runs, animal walks and runs, acting, facial expressions and lip sync.
A CD-ROM that is included contains finished versions of the exercises in both 2D and 3D. The exercises are also shown as works in progress when they are only keyframes. There are also live clips for reference. Some show how to flip and roll drawings while others are reference for animal motion.
One good thing about the CD is that it is software-agnostic. It contains models you can use for the exercises in Maya, Lightwave, 3ds Max and XSI. It also contains PDF files of instructions for how to accomplish a 3D exercise in each of the above software packages. Finally, it includes a demo copy of Digicel Flipbook, a line-testing software application, with an offer to upgrade to the full package at a 25% discount. Digicel can be installed on either OS X or Windows XP.
This book is aimed at beginners who are unfamiliar with animation principles and just beginning to use 3D software. While it does a good job of covering the basics, it won't provide a higher level of instruction in terms of acting or software; the reader will have to move on to other resources to accomplish that. For example, the 3D lip-sync exercises don't include cheek deformation, so the resulting facial animation is crude compared to professional work. However, if you are interested in learning to animate but hesitant to pick up a pencil, this book will show you the benefits of thinking on paper by drawing out your action and establishing your timing before moving to 3D.