Character Key Poses

Character Key Poses

Posing a character in a readable, appealing way that conveys the desired action and emotion at one glance is a high art. In this series of articles, we will have a look at what makes a good pose great, give suggestions on how to optimize the posing process, plus provide some tips and tricks on how to avoid common mistakes.

Posing a character is the core of a character animator’s work. While many basic rules about arcs, anticipation, timing and spacing can be learned and applied without much thought, posing characters with different character traits, abilities and body types in different situations and emotions is (as it should be) a new challenge every time. Every new scene, every new character demands fresh ideas and great visual skills – the search for improvement is never complete.

Let’s try to define what good posing calls for, so we have a more objective basis to judge if a pose works or not:

Good posing…

  • conveys the action that a character is doing (what is being done)
  • conveys his emotions and feelings (how it is being done – happily, sadly, confidently,…)
  • conveys his motivation (why it is being done)
  • takes a character’s body type (light, heavy) into account
  • feels natural and is not forced onto the character
  • must be clear and easy to read with one glance
  • must be appealing to look at (rhythm and flow, straight against curve)
  • leads from one pose to another and tells the story without any inbetweens and annotations
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