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September 27, 2006

How to draw one second of The Incredibles

sequences of images from The Incredibles

There's a brief moment in The Incredibles where Dash, the little kid brother, does a double-take, his face going from an expression of happiness to one of surprise and fear. That sequence was created by Pixar animator Victor Navone, and on his blog Navone has de-constructed that take frame by frame. Even though it's just a tiny moment in one shot of one scene of the movie (the sequence lasts less than one second) Navone and Incredibles director Brad Bird put an amazing amount of thought into it...

Frame 7 - Pop! The eyelids spring open. They do a fast-out as if they were forcibly yanked up by the brows. The brows continue up slightly, overshooting the "B" pose. The mouth is reversed into a frown but is still closed. It starts to narrow as the jaw stretches, giving it a sense of volume preservation. Note the shrinkage of the pupils AND irises. Real human irises don't shrink, of course, but this is animation and it makes for a clearer, more extreme attitude. Normally this and the following frame would be considered "off-model" for Dash, since it doesn't really look like him any more. I can get away with this because it's happening in a fast action. I would never hold a pose this extreme.

One of the big differences between animation and live action film is that in animation there is nothing accidental on the screen...every background building, every cloud, every leaf, every twitch of every eyebrow...is explicity created, the result of deliberate thought. I think this mini-tutorial is a wonderful view into that thought process. Check out Navone's tutorial here. You may also enjoy Navone's blog.

Posted by Chris Spurgeon at September 27, 2006 05:00 AM