Here is the approximate outline for the way the class will probably unfold for you.
None of these deadlines are in stone -- we're not meeting in person in a room, after all, but online over the course of approximately 10 weeks or so. I'm most interested in your progress than how often exactly we talk (we'll work it out), or how much time the entire course may take. This could even be stretched to twice as long if you like, spanning about 20 weeks too:
--introduction. We'll make sure you have acquired all materials and have an understanding of what to expect over the next couple months. You will install Flipbook and make sure you can work with it, and I will assign the first assignment, a discussion of timing.
If problems or questions arise, this is the week we'll figure out the best way (and time) to communicate. Note that it may take me up to 24 hours to respond to an email or call. My goal is to make you as self-sufficient as possible, but also be available for any concerns or questions regarding how to proceed.
--the first actual lesson. Working with lines, straight and curved. The first piece of animation you will create will be a light object falling. I'll discuss x-sheets, weight, how to draw and how little you need to know how to draw (we won't be looking for perfection in this class). We may talk once during the week and you will turn in your first assignment via dropbox.
I'll give you feedback and encouragement (and more pointers if you like). Then we'll do another, and by the end of the week (Sunday?) you'll turn in your second assignment (probably a curved line exercise).
--this week we work with shapes. Over the course of this week we'll do SUCH AND SUCH, as well as creating an animation involving *making a triangle bump into a square*. At the end of this week you should be able to make simple objects move, and depending on their qualities, try to make them move "differently" than each other.
Depending on our time and how quickly you finish, we'll likely work on one object crashing or crushing another. My suggestions will be based on how well you're doing and if you are comfortable with more difficult challenges.
--the wave principle. This week I'll assign to you the task of making a bubble or balloon float "believably." After that, you'll animate a water drop from a faucet. Objects that don't keep their shape. You'll find that changing movement, timing, and shape every so slightly can radically change the feeling and pace of your work.
The 2nd assignment of this week will be making a snake -- or a worm -- or a rope -- move believably (or entertainingly).
-- now that you're pretty good at Flipbook and making drawings move, we're moving to characters. This week we'll animate eyes, in pairs and then in groups. I'll also ask you to create a "scene" of people using only their eyes. No bodies. This is an exercise to explore how much you can "say" by using one simple attribute of a character!
If you start by doing "happy" eyes, I'll probably suggest "angry" eyes for the 2nd assignment of the week. If you do "suspicious" eyes first, expect to try "in love" eyes next.
--at week six we'll check in. How are you doing? Are you having fun? Shall we continue? Based on the last 5 weeks, you're either a superstar in the making or you just aren't feeling it -- aren't able to get the assignments in on time or simply realized you're not cut out for this kind of drawing/ animating. I totally understand, and we can part ways amicably and with no ill will. This is a way not waste each other's time, if this turns out to not be what you expected.
If you decide to continue, great! You're about to merge the last few lessons and really kick it up to a new level of skill.
This week we do facial expressions and heads. Those eyes need to be on someone (or something). Sometimes the eyes move in one direction and the head moves in another. Eyebrows. Noses, both funny and large. Mouths also play an important part in facial expressions.
--At this point we are going to put all the lessons together and create someone who speaks. Mouths that move, and eyes that change as your character (whether human, animal, or vegetable) speaks. Your first assignment will be to find a piece of dialogue (or record one of your own) lasting about 10 seconds. You will be animating your character to these words. Angry? Sad? Stoic? Zany?
We'll do two or three of these through the week, and since 10 seconds is actually a lot of work (even if you choose to only animate the mouth) these will probably take more than just one week.
Once I see your first assignment, as usual, I'll probably suggest something completely different for your second exercise of the week. :)
-- arms to hold you. It's time to put a body to your character (or come up with another character if you like). We'll start with a simple exercise of your character waving, fast as well as slow, and with his/her fingers as well as her/his whole arm.
Then, I'll have you animate him again, going on tippy-toe to wave over a tall fence.
--building on the previous lesson, we work with body poses. I will be assigning a handful of exercises, mostly moving your character (and you should be thinking about how he's shaped) from one stance to another. Sitting to standing. Crouched to surprised. Movement, and how the position of the arms and head (and eyes) can convey a lot of emotion, even if you don't draw every detail.
I will be looking for a believable stance and the sense that your character (or subject) can be understood based on how he/she moves on the page. You can choose to animate a tomato with arms, or a bird with wings. The exercise is about how it moves.
-- in this last week of exercises, we'll be exploring how a character walks. How many drawings constitute a walk cycle, how high the feet move off the ground, and how to believably show someone running.
We'll also play with how your character's body moves along with the walking -- up and down, back and forth, crouched, all kind of different poses. A walking cycle is just that -- a cycle, and a small amount of frames can be repeated over and over to make a long animation piece.
This exercise will be the culmination of your lessons. Each lesson will build on the one previous, and some may involve many iterations or experiments to fully understand and explore the possibilities. By the end of Week ten you will understand that you have literally 1000s of options and mini-decisions per drawing to add, subtract, alter and improve any design, movement and emotion in your animation!
After week ten:
We will have one final meeting/phone call/email in which we will talk about what you learned, what you liked, what you found difficult, what you think I should change for my next set of students, and your final "grade". I hope we both find the experience productive, enlightening, and beneficial.