[Question] Creative Guidance in 2D action platformer animations.

May I just say this is a fantastic forum I am excited to get input from fellow South Africans :)


I have hit a brick wall in terms of animation of design elements. The project I created was a larger undertaking than I anticipated but I am keen to finish it.


Design a 2D character as per description:
Anthromorphic character, either wolf or other animal. To be the main character in a 2D side-scroller (Done)

Animation Requirements:

Idle animation (Done)
Run Cycle (Done)
Hanging off ledge

Programs Used

Toonboom Harmony version 10.3

Current work Link: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/l99n5dy931sho08/AAApIeygymoBKymY0rfxqozSa?dl=0

Note that these .mov files are best run as a loop (I recommend VLC) as the animations are quite short individually.

Any input would be helpful!

Kind Regards


  • Greetings @Sabrekitty, and welcome to the forum :D

    The method of using skeletal animation tends to be stiff if you're not being careful. One of the techniques to combat this (which you've started using already) is to have different sprites for each body part to help make the character feel more three dimensional while animating. However to do this well is more difficult than doing simple frame by frame animation, as more things have to be taken into consideration. For good examples of how this is done right, have a look at all Vanillaware's games, they are the best in the business.

    In order to do good skeletal animations (or any animation), you need a good understanding of the basic principles of animation. I started out with skeletal animation in Flash as well, but my greatest strides came when I started doing frame by frame animations. Frame by frame takes more time to draw, but this is great because it forces you to optimise your animation, figuring out which are the most important frames and then only drawing those. Then later when you go back to skeletal animation these will become the key frames you tween.

    I would suggest heavily relying on references for the various animations you want for your character. Sometimes beginners think it's "bad" to use references, but professionals use them ALL THE TIME. Open your browser and fill the tabs with reference images and open your anatomy books on your desk. Go to YouTube and look for videos on animation, there's lots of talented people there providing their help for free.

    Take the images below, copy them into Toonboom and put them over your character as reference. Pay close attention where each of the limbs are specific times during the animation. And as always, never stop practising, Google if you have questions, and ask if you get stuck ;)

    Running Animation
    Jumping Animation
  • Animation is by far the thing I'm worst at, so I'm hardly someone to give feedback. If it's one of your first pieces, then that looks really cool! :D It's nice how the tail swishes, got a nice motion there. But if the animation's supposed to loop, then the tail swishing with such a wide movement could get very repetitive and make the looping really obvious. With the idle, I don't think the feet should be slipping around like that. It's probably pretty useful to capture some footage of you or a friend performing the action to study, see where the weight is, on which leg, where the forces are, and if there are any other things that you do that you might not have thought of. (And if the feet to change position, then how is it done so that it feels right and works with physics and personality?)

    I think the runs were the weakest; definitely check some reference from other games or books. The Animator's Survival Kit is a book that's regularly recommended. In particular, when people run, they tend to lean forwards; your character running with their back straight makes the physics feel as if they'd be falling backwards.

    If you're enjoying it, then definitely make a bunch more, and keep practising!
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