Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Hands Out and Hands Down

Friends, I had such a big rant built up for this post. It was going to go something like this:

One of my biggest frustrations when posing a character is the lack of clothes to interact with. In particular, pockets. Any time I try to do some video reference for a scene, I usually end up putting at least one hand in a pocket, or hooking my thumbs into a belt loop or something like that. Then I review what I’ve recorded and I think “Darn it, I can’t animate that pose! We don’t have the simple CG technology to put hands in pockets! This is a fundamental flaw in the characters we animate, especially given how often I put my own hands in my pockets! It’s as if I’m being asked to animate a character with no clothes on!”

To demonstrate my angry point, I planned to post a ton of pictures demonstrating actors interacting with clothes, naturally, the way you or I would. I browsed around the movies on my hard drive, and immediately found these two:

You see?? One man hand in a pocket, and another one pulling back a sleeve to check his watch. I was on a roll and went in search of other examples.

But I was in for a surprise. You see, despite having a whole library of really wonderful video clips on my hard drive, those two pictures were just about the only poses I could find to prove my point.

Most of the frames I stumbled across seemed to say that there are many natural poses that don't require any clothing interaction at all! Have a look at this one from All About Eve:

Bette Davis stands tall, strong, and defiant. Her arms are stiff and proud at her side, hands balled into fists. One of them is clasping a purse, but that's not really so hard to achieve in CG.

Searching further, I found this from an episode of Seinfeld:

Of course the most obvious hand pose here is where George is bipping Elaine's nose. But check out George's other hand, the one that's resting casually at his side. It's not in his pocket, or on his hip, or folded across his chest-- it's just hanging there!

Seeing this frame reminds me of a classic acting student complaint: "I don't know what I'm supposed to do with my hands!!" When we're conscious of what our hands are doing, we feel unnatural letting them hang by our side like this. But that's only because we're paying attention to them. If we somehow let it slip from our minds, we'd see that peoples' hands dangle there all the time without needing to fidget about with pockets, sleeves, and all other kinds of clothing.

Let's look at a few more frames, shall we? Here's The Dude in The Big Lebowski:

While checking to make sure he's not being spied sneaking around Jackie Treehorn's house, where are his hands? Pretty much relaxed at his sides, closely following the line of action of the rest of his body, I might add. In this case, I think the hands actually add to the comedy of this pose.

And here are some men talking to Eddie Murphy's character in Beverly Hills Cop:

Look at both of them. The manager in the white shirt has his hands hanging limply at his side (I'm not going to question why one arm looks so much longer than the other), and the security guard's arms kind of rest naturally in front of him in a way that almost feels unnatural, but there they rest. They kind of help add to the feeling of him being a big, dumb lummox of a character, don't you think?

All of these examples show arms and hands that hang at the actors' sides. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. You can find poses like this all over the place. It tells me that when you're animating, you don't have to worry about your character shoving their hands in a pocket; you don't have to play into that old "I don't know what to do with my hands!" chestnut from acting students who don't know better than to relax naturally. Just let your character's arms hang by the side of the body.

Unless you're using them to enhance your pose, of course.

In these final set of photographs, taken from the dust jacket of Steve Martin's wonderful memoir Born Standing Up, we see amazing examples of just how funny and expressive you can be with your whole body, and your arms in particular. In the 1970's, Steve Martin would play comedy shows to sold-out arenas in front of thousands of people. How did he make sure that everyone could see him on the stage, even if they were sitting far far far away? He wore an all-white suit and made his poses as big as he possibly could:

In a recent post on Internal Silhouette I encouraged you to think beyond the possibilities of just the singular silhouette of a character shaded in all one color. And while I still believe that you can get some great results by using an Internal Silhouette, I also believe that you can find some pretty spectacular poses that read as just one solid silhouette. After all, if it's good enough for Steve Martin, it should be good enough for me.

Happy Animating!


  1. Frequently borrowers that settle on a no credit check advance are viewed as simple draw by the loan specialists. This is on the grounds that these individuals are more powerless than somebody who has a decent financial record. check cashing san-diego

  2. If you are having issues while deleting web browser history, so we are providing you the best mode for your solution.

  3. Want to download the best movie apps like FreeFlix and Terrarium. Are you interested in watching the Live TV channels. Then here is the great solution for downloading all such apps at one place, i.e, APK Time app. So, free download APK time app 2018. In addition to that, you can get all such amazing apps from the https://liveiptvapks.com

  4. Welcome to the Best writer Review, Here you can get the best All Assignment Help reviews sites. We strongly urge you to check our entire website once and we will assure you will find this review website very useful. Our hard work will be rewarded if students like you will appreciate our effort and spread the message about this site with your class-fellows and friends.

  5. Take a look at this blog. Everyone need a good persuasive essay to read before going sleep.

  6. As an established Australia assignment help organization, we always aim to increase the number of in-house experts we have so that we can offer you the perfect assignment writing help in conventional courses like Management, Law, Engineering, etc. We understand how important academic assessments are in developing a student's career and future opportunities, this is why we take extreme measures to ensure that all our solutions are best-in-class. We are proud of our best assignment help Australia experts because of their dedication towards providing continuous support to students by helping them meet deadlines and scoring better grades. Students who are not comfortable with writing assignments can avail assignment help Melbourne from My Assignment Services at comparatively low prices. Writing academic documents is a task most students prefer to leave up to the subject matter experts.

  7. My Assignment Services is one such Online Assignment Help provider which provides a helping hand to all your academic related queries. They have a lot of professional experts who are skilful in giving you guidance and providing you with cheap assignment help services. You are free to contact their experts by visiting their website and get your pending presentations completed on the time. Given below are some of the steps that they follow while drafting your assignments. Many students see that Assignment Help UK experts are proficient in writing your assignments but no one wonders the reason behind it. However, students pursuing IT need to understand the concepts of Java because it holds down the concept of object oriented programming. The programming concepts are complex to understand and brings a havoc to students, that is why, My Assignment Services bring you our online assignment help services. Taking out some time to consider and contrast about what options that you have that you can include by writing them on a piece of paper. You can also contact some real time Dissertation Writing Service experts to assist you with the following topics.

  8. Lets connect to get together at download festival venue. https://downloadfestival.online/


  9. This is really an amazing blog. Your blog is really good and your article has always good thank you for information.

    โปรโมชั่นGclub ของทางทีมงานตอนนี้แจกฟรีโบนัส 50%
    เพียงแค่คุณสมัคร Gclub กับทางทีมงานของเราเพียงเท่านั้น
    สมัครสล็อตออนไลน์ >>> goldenslot
    สนใจร่วมลงทุนกับเรา สมัครเอเย่น Gclub คลิ๊กได้เลย

  10. Great post ! I am pretty much pleased with your good post.You put really very helpful information

    เว็บไซต์คาสิโนออนไลน์ที่ได้คุณภาพอับดับ 1 ของประเทศ
    เป็นเว็บไซต์การพนันออนไลน์ที่มีคนมา สมัคร Gclub Royal1688
    และยังมีหวยให้คุณได้เล่น สมัครหวยออนไลน์ ได้เลย
    สมัครสมาชิกที่นี่ >>> Gclub Royal1688

  11. wow .... what a fantastic post.. i like it - GHDSPORTS

  12. simply superb info for the web lovers .. thank you for share with us... - gomax live tv

  13. this is realluy great blog. thanks for sharing i.