Animation Advice | Drawing Tips

Say No to Stickmen


New animators often take their first steps into the world of animation by doing simple, usually humorous stick figure tests. It’s a great way to get your feet wet and practice the basics, but a very simple addition can take you to whole new levels! Don’t waste another minute, check out this important tip to accelerate your animation skills with almost no extra work involved.

If you’re new to animation, you may or may not know about The Principals. Two of the foundation basics to animation are squash and stretch. Essentially they represent how a three dimensional shape (even viewed in 2D) can compress and expand so long as the total volume remains the same. For example:

The ball can stretch up to be taller than when it’s at rest, but it becomes thinner because of the stretch. Likewise when it squashes down, the volume is pushed out and it becomes wider than at rest. In both cases, though, the TOTAL volume remains the same, just stretched out taller or squashed down wider.

What does that have to do with Stickmen?

The problem is stick men do not have much in the way of volume. Their head is a sphere, but their body and legs are only lines, with no depth to them. If there’s no volume, there’s no way to really squash and stretch convincingly.

What will benefit your journey in animation more than anything else is practice, but you have to practice the right things. If you were training to run a marathon, riding around on a bike all day to train would not be as beneficial as running. It would certainly be easier, and it would help you to be in better shape, but it would take much longer to be ready for that marathon. MUCH longer.

Drawing stick people is easy, which is why most beginners do that instead of using more fleshed out characters. And keeping things simple at first is a GREAT thing to do. You definitely want to keep it as simple as possible while you work on the basics and become comfortable animating. At some point, however, TOO simple can hurt you. Consider the following image:

The first drawing of just the stickman took very little time to do. A sphere for the head and then five straight lines. However consider the breakdown of Pudgy on the right. He also has a sphere head (no extra work there) and ALSO has five more lines. The difference is the five lines are curves.

How much extra work is that? In terms of “how many more lines to draw” the answer is none. You do not have to draw any extra lines to have a character with thickness over a straight stickman. And look at the benefits! Take these animations as examples:

In the Stickman animations it can become hard to tell what’s going on at times. The lines are a jumbled mess at certain angles (especially in full profile), and you have no sense of depth or solidity. Pudgy, on the other hand, is capable of pulling off great feats clearly and with squash and stretch, which makes him feel more alive. With every animation you do using Pudgy, you learn at least twice as much, probably more. Twice as much progress with next to no extra work? Sign me up for that any day!

You can experiment with Pudgy to see what works best for you. It doesn’t have to match what’s drawn here. There are plenty of varieties you can try.

Want to make things even easier for yourself? Give Floursack a go. Floursack consists of just TWO shapes, with little nubs for hands and feet. You can squash and stretch and twist and move him in thousands of ways. You can find more information on our friend Floursack right here if you’d like.

The next time you’re planning to try a simple “stickman” animation to have some fun and make something enjoyable to watch, consider sticking Stickman on the shelf and giving Pudgy or Floursack the main stage. You’ll create something more entertaining to watch AND learn a whole lot more in the process. It’s a win-win!

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jeffO

If I had a dollar for every pisspoor stickman animation online I’d be a billionaire. Good points!

Cartooney Man

I think stinkman fights are hilarious because they are like Dragonball Z but with sticks. And they are very easy to do unlike other animation!

Brenda

I hope every little twerp online who makes these awful stick animations reads this blog article and never makes them again! 😀

Nikims

No.

Donny499

I wonder how successful this will be? It would be good if word spreads and we have zero stickanimations anymore.

cheapo

People are stupid they think they can just draw crap and be a good animator. You have to draw better than stick people to be an animator! One guy does a good stick animation and suddently a thousand more people run and do crap ones.

vixo

Stickmen are easy to draw though. If I wanted to do Disney animation I would go to California. Stickmen make it fun and easy.

Karen

Stickman animations suck they are so overused and ugly and lazy! Thanks for this article!

Skinja

I’m sorry but Shock more would like to speak with you
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVA5BPCDras

And so would Beard Ninja

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9wihzLflZo

And Gra Fight

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtny_OvS8JU

Basically what I’m saying is that you’re wrong and you should read up on something before you badmouth it.

Skinja

You could at least animate the stickfigures well.

spencer

This is fantastic One thing that helped me with this is instead of drawing the arms like demonstrated I drew circles for the hand and feet after drawing the body first and then connected them to the body with two lines each.
That way my hand and foot placement was more precise.

Louie B.

Stickmen animations are the most boring thing in the world to watch. People need to stop doing them forever.

Joann

I feel very much like the “new stick man” animation is poor quality 3D. Instead of seeing a lot of really bad stick animation out there these days, we’re seeing a lot of really bad 3D thrown together with no thought or real integrity. Kids just making badly crafted Maya presentations with little or no effort towards learning the art of animation and practicing the principals. And considering that Maya is not a cheap program, they’ve likely stolen the software too.

It’s a real shame. With all these great advances in technology we have, it comes with a great number of problems as well. Ease of use has created a generation of underperformers.

lopychops

nice

Alvin

You should really reconsider what you’re saying. It’s absolutely pitiful how people like you look down on Stick figure animations. Look at these samples I saw.

Last edited 1 month ago by Alvin