I think classical animation programs actively teach young animators to HATE limited animation. I love limited animation (and classical animation). Limited animation is a process that reuses common parts between frames. Some uppity snob-toonists imply that limited animation is low-quality animation. It’s more accurately all about using a myriad of time-saving techniques that improve overall quality in low resource production situations. SO, TAKE THAT, SNOBS!
One of those time-saving techniques in limited animation is called “recycling” (not to be confused with recycling of cans and such).
When I was studying with Bill Plympton (the undisputed King of Indie Animation, creator of Your Face, and Guard Dog), he didn’t do any of the limited animation technique of “recycling” (see the video clip below). But he is constantly recycling his resources. He does all his work with paper and pencil. If he hates a drawing, he never crumbles it up to throw it away – he sets it to the side. Later on, he will grab that piece of paper and draw on the back – while he’s working on a light table – with a pencil that is only about an inch and a half long. Bill Plympton is a hard core recycler.
I recycle stuff, too. I don’t mean to brag, but I recycle like a BOSS!! You know, regular recycling of bottles and junk. But, seriously, “recycling” is a real thing in making cartoons – and even a major classical animation dreadnaught like Disney knows that. Check out this two minutes of recycled goodness:
Working in 2D digital animation is all about recycling. The main benefit of using a computer to do anything, is because it stores tidbits that can be accessed later on for similar processes. BOOM – recycling!
What I have for you today is not about recycling specific drawings – your computer and animation software is already doing that. This is all about creating core structures that you can reuse for any character, no matter how they are drawn. It’s like character building blocks that contain all the cartoony muscle and connective cartoon tissue. Ok – well, that’s kind of gross, but the video at the top of this page will make it much more clear.
See how helpful that is – it’s not like you are re-using another characters eyes, or that all your characters have the exact same mouth – they don’t! The drawings are different, but the setup is the same. Whatever problems that you solved in setting up your character rig do not have to be rebuilt for every successive character. Use the solution you’ve already created.
Don’t be a snob – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!