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At the heart of successful animation lie 12 principles. One of these is exaggeration, which refers to the act of taking certain elements and stretching them beyond the realm of normal. All animation requires some sort of exaggeration, even animation that strives to be realistic, because it is exaggeration that makes animation come alive, appeal to audiences, and add comedic relief to otherwise intense scenes. Poorly executed exaggeration, however, can detract rather than add to the appeal and impact of an animated work. As a result, effective exaggeration requires careful work by the traditional animation studio. Following are a few tips for successfully using exaggeration in any animated production.
Exaggerate The Most Important Elements.
first step in creating effective exaggeration is to choose which
elements to exaggerate. The key when making this decision is to remember
that exaggerated elements will get the most attention from viewers.
Therefore, the element you choose will change the way the viewer
understands the scene. As a result, you need to choose the elements that
are most important for understanding the scene.
For instance, if
you are animating a scene in which a character is sailing, you may
decide that the waves’ movements are most important and exaggerate
those. On the other hand, you may decide that the character’s reaction
is most vital, and, therefore, focus on their facial features. In the
first instance, the viewer learns about the environment in which the
character is sailing, while in the latter, the viewer learns about the
personality of the character. Making the right choice will allow you to
create exaggeration that contributes to rather than detracts from your
Know What Your Goals Are.
Once you decide which
elements to exaggerate, you will need to decide how much exaggeration
to use. In order to make this decision, you must have a clear idea of
what you hope to achieve with the exaggeration. Exaggeration can be used
in a number of different ways. For instance, you can use it to add
fluid motions that make the animation look more realistic. On the other
hand, you can use it to create caricatured movements that add comedy, or
that add personality and appeal.
Each of these goals, however,
requires a slightly different use of exaggeration. Take, for instance,
the sailor discussed above. If you desire a realistic look, you may
choose to slightly exaggerate his facial expressions. However, if you
wish to interject humor, you may use extreme exaggeration to give him
comedic facial expressions. The right choice will be the one that best
contributes to your overall goals for the scene.
Retain The Essence of The Exaggerated Elements.
soon as you decide to exaggerate an element, you are no longer bound by
the strict parameters of reality. However, in order for your
exaggeration to retain its appeal, it must still have some connection to
reality. If it does not, the object or character being exaggerated will
become confusing to viewers, who will no longer be able to mesh what
they see on the screen with the basic rules of reality to which they are
For instance, say you choose to exaggerate the facial
features of the character sailing on the boat. If you remove all
identifying elements from the face in order to twist it into a complete
caricature of fear or surprise, or delight, you will lose the essence of
the character design. The viewer will no longer be able to identify or
connect with them. As a result, when exaggerating any animated element, a
good rule of thumb is to take what is already there as far as
expressions, physical features, or emotions, and exaggerate those
elements. By doing so, you increase the appeal of the scene for viewers
instead of detracting from it.
though viewers of animation expect to see exaggeration and fantasy, they
also want to keep one foot in reality. As a result, another key to
effective exaggeration is to create balance within the scene. You can do
so by only selecting a few elements in each scene to exaggerate. The
rest of the elements must remain more natural and realistic. Doing so
will avoid an absurd or disturbing look that will leave viewers confused
or dismayed with your work.
For instance, if you exaggerate your
sailing character’s facial features, you should refrain from
exaggerating their other physical features. If you choose to exaggerate
the movement of the waves, you may need to refrain from exaggerating the
character’s facial features too. With a balanced scene, you draw the
viewer’s attention to the elements they need to see, and keep them
grounded enough in reality to enjoy the exaggerated elements.
Keep Your Project Appealing.
when using exaggeration in your animated production, you will need to
maintain appeal. Appeal is a fairly subjective, yet crucial, element to
animation. It is what makes even a villain a character the viewers will
enjoy watching. Making mistakes in the steps discussed above can result
in a loss of appeal. For instance, if you use too much exaggeration,
viewers will be less likely to enjoy the animated production.
result, the last question you must ask yourself is how the exaggeration
contributes to the scene’s overall appeal. It may fit all the criteria
above, yet detract from the overall entertainment value. On the other
hand, you may find that pushing the boundaries a bit yields a bolder
look and greater appeal. As a result, exaggeration, as with any element
of animation, requires careful crafting in order to achieve the most
powerful and appealing work of art possible.
Exaggeration is an
effective way to bring your animation to life, whether you are doing
video game animation, advertising animation, or a feature length film.
By exaggerating the most important elements, knowing what you want to
achieve, retaining the essence of the exaggerated elements, creating
balance, and keeping your project appealing can help you to create truly
effective exaggeration in your animated art.