POSE or All you need to know to make a good pose

Hi everybody,
I wanted to write some articles about the different stages of workflow, until I realized that I had to talk about the cornerstone of animation first : The pose.
I was recently talking with one of my students who told me that most of the changes they asked him to make concerned his posing.

Here is a list of the different steps I carry out to create a clear and solid pose.

First of all, it is advisable to work from inside to outside of the character:
Before starting a pose, you must have a clear idea about what you are going to transmit (See CASTING & LAUNCH)
Message & Inner Thought : Ask yourself what the character should transmit and what he's thinking.
Characteristics & Personality : Know the character, his age, posture, attitude and personality.
Anatomy : Analyse his anatomy, his limitations, and which are his rigid and flexible parts, etc…
Mood : Ask yourself what is his emotional state.
Action : What is he doing or saying at this time.
Style : What kind of animation style is required.

Define on which part of the animation you are working on and ask yourself :
Kind of Pose : What kind of pose is it (Key pose, Anticipation, Reaction), what is its relationship with the others and how you are going to contrast them.
Arcs : If you are in the middle of a movement, define the arcs where the several parts of the body are going to pass.
Offset : According to its speed, which are parts are delayed.
Reversal : What parts flip and go from an S-shape to a C-shape and vice versa.
Note : Once I have all this information, I usually do a little Thumbnail to capture the essence of the character.


Prepare the set and put the root of the character and the objects in the right place. (See TECHNICAL LAYOUT)
Perspective : Analyse the scenario and which is the perspective you are going to work in.
Character Setup : Prepare your character presets according to your taste and the needs of the shot.
Position : Put the character in place.
Character Direction : Turn the character towards where he is going to act.


Define the intention of the character through the pelvis and torso.
Power Center : Define where his energy comes from.
Force : Define which are the external and internal forces of the pose.
Line of Action : Draw a line passing through the body to define his attitude.


Refine the body dynamics, working on the position of the feet, legs, hip and shoulders.
Fulcrum : Place the supporting points.
Weight : Define the distribution of weight.
Balance : Put the character in balance.
Body Dynamics Angles : Adjust the angle of chest and shoulders in relation to the hips.
Note : If I want to be sure that my body dynamics works and avoid surprises in spline, I look at it on diferent views.


Direct the viewer's attention and define the focus, adjusting the body and arms.
Depth & Planes : Define which parts are going to be on different levels and highlight the depth.
Volume & Composition : Compose your picture according to the 2 thirds and the triangle rules and check if the pose is not cut on joints.
Shape & Lines : Work on the shapes to direct the viewer's eye.
Flow Lines : Check if the lines of force direct the viewer's attention to the center of interest of the pose.
Note : Check if you have kept the spirit of the pose.


With the design tools, keep the harmony of the pose.
Body torques and tilts : Play with the rotations of the head and torso to prevent frontality and favor profiles and 3 quarters.
Twinning : Avoid repetitions and twinnings and search for asymmetries.
Tangents : Avoid tangents in your pose.
Straight & Curves : Remember to balance straight lines with curves.
Visual Rhythm : Check if the pose maintains a visual rhythm.
Note : If I want to know if my pose works, I “flip it” This means I look at it in a mirror.


Try that your pose transmit clearly and simply.
Silhouette : Work on the silhouette so that it can be understood at first sight.
Positive & Negative Space : Check if there is a good relationship between positive and negative spaces.
Inner Silhouette : Work on the elements inside the silhouette.
Contrast : Contrast forms, lines, masses, colors, details, etc…to support the clarity of your pose.
KISS : Keep It Simple Stupid! Be sure that the pose is simple enough to be read.
Note : There are plugins that allow you to clearly see the silhouette, or if you want you can simply “turn the lights off”.


Do a caricature of the pose.
Caricature : Exaggerate the concepts in your pose. (Make what is small smaller, and big bigger)
Tension : Increase the tensions.
Squash & Strech : Deform your character using the squash & strech.
Distort : At that point, you can "fake" your pose to support your concept.


Put the final details
Hands & Fingers : Work on your hands positions and fingers rotations.
Eyes : Work the eyes direction as well as overall eyebrows shape.
Facial : Work your facial to transmit the emotion and the selected phonemes.
Details & Texture : Use all parts of the body to support your pose.
Secundary & Subtilities : Work on your secondary according to the motion and put the final details of your pose.
Contacts : Check the accuracy of your contacts.
Note : Some animators often let facial for a more advanced stage of blocking or the spline.

Once finished, you will have to ask yourself :
• Is transmitting the pose what I had planned?
• Does the pose corresponds to the personality of the character? Are you “in the character”?
• Do you think the audience can understand how the character feels and what he's thinking, saying and doing?
• Am I sure that my pose is not “cliché”?
• Does my pose work with the preceding and following ones?
• Is my character well placed on the stage?
• Have I used all the resources to direct the attention to the most important part of the performance?
• Is my character well built and seems to have balance and weight?
• Is my image well composed?
• Is my pose clear and simple and readable at first sight?
• Does my pose have appeal?
• Did I exaggerate enough?
• Did I use all parts of the character to transmit my intention?
• How would another animator do the shot?

If you go step by step and to check all these points, I am sure that you will minimize changes and get close to the perfect pose.

Note : ..

I hope that was usefull…
Keep animating!!!



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