Body Mechanics in Animation

Our next task set by Alec is to animate a body mechanic. When thinking about body mechanics in animation I firstly think of simple tasks such as lifting or pushing a box, reaching for something or running. I would like to try a simple animation first and then try something a tiny bit more complicated. I will begin by looking into various mechanics I could give a go at.

The video below highlights how they picked out key frames which can be used for animating.  Once I find the keyframes of my chosen animation I can then pose them in Maya and then add in the in-betweens.


I came across a nice reference video of a guy performing a martial arts kick called ‘the butterfly kick’ and I am thinking of giving that a go for my body mechanics animation. I have always been fascinated with martial arts and having done some jujitsu this kick looks like it needs more attention. 😛

Since I’m not too great at animating I will find it hard… but it’s worth a try. Vimeo has a great account full of video reference for animators called AniRef, this is where I came across the kick. (link here) I will be using this video reference for my animation.

Firstly I have paused the video at different points which I considered to be ‘key’ and saved each pause as a jpeg… just so I have still reference shots to go by and refer back to when tweaking.

I came across a great blog which gives some great little tips for animators… one that really stood out to me was “If it’s believable, its successful. We want to believe that the character moved, not that someone moved the character” 

I felt the piece of advice above is brilliant, although obviously something which is not easily achieved…but practise makes perfect! You can only keep trying to improve, even if the steps to getting there are small.

Below is a butterfly gif that I came across, although not the exact reference that I am using it’s handy to have it here to look at…and also it is a lot clearer. (link to original source)


Working on the butterfly kick animation.

Since starting the animation I have decided to try the ‘straight ahead’ approach rather than the ‘pose to pose’ as I am finding it easier, so far it looks ok but I am sure things will stiffen up once I get another few poses sorted and I may have to revert back to the start …but hopefully not.

Update – so I have finished my body mechanic… I am aware it needs a lot more work but it is the best I can do with my limited knowledge for now. Here is a quick playlist below.



Vimeo. (2017). Morgan – Bkick (butterfly kick) exampler. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Oct. 2017].

Animation Mentor Blog. (2017). Animation Tips & Tricks: What Makes or Breaks a Good Body Mechanics Shot?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Oct. 2017].

Gfycat. (2017). upenn GIFs from Gfycat – Create, Discover and Share Awesome GIFs. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Oct. 2017].

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