Successive Breaking of Joints
(These pages are exerpts from the book, 'Animation: The Basic Principles')

Just about every character, if they’re based on anything anatomical (meaning: something with a skeleton and joints, which seems rather obvious) will have to use this principle.

The movement of your arm pointing would be the best example of this principle. The motion of your arm begins in the shoulder. The muscles pull the arm up. The arm then bends at the elbow as the wrist pulls back towards the shoulder. In the forward motion of the point the elbow moves down slightly first then the wrist moves forward with the hand and fingers trailing behind. As the wrist moves forward, the elbow moves up and the arm straightens out. The hand and finger follow through last into the final point.

The successive breaking of joints are: 1) shoulder, 2) elbow, 3) wrist, and 4) finger in the upward movement then 1) shoulder, 2) elbow, 3) wrist, and 4) finger in the downward movement.

This theory is very similar to the overlapping action or wave theory (they’re actually the same, one just has joints while the other doesn’t).

Force is transmitted through the body the same way electricity flows through a wire. It starts at one end and flows through to the other. If this basic principle is applied to the movement of your characters, they’ll move a lot more convincingly.
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