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Animation Principle: Master Natural Movements with Follow Through

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Loosen up your animation with follow through in After Effects.

The foundational principles that drive good animation are near and dear to our heart, and today we're going to unlock some of the mysteries behind follow through. It may not be a popular talking point, but Follow Through definitely gives a piece that sense of "feeling good" that you want to have in your animation.

Follow through is a brilliant way to give your movements a more natural sense of physics and make your animation feel alive!

Today Jacob Richardson shows off the usefulness of the animation principle follow through. This quick tip will show you how you can make your scenes more interesting with just a few adjustments.

Put on your lucky socks, and get your boots tied tight, because Jacob is taking us to school.


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Follow Through After Effects Tutorial

Here's a quick After Effects video tutorial showing follow-through in action.

What is Follow Through?

When you think of follow through in animation, think of overlapping movements. Something moves in your scene, and as it moves something else follows, only slightly delayed. Objects may come to a stop after the leading animation has stopped. This can be used to exaggerate a movement, show an object's rigidity, and overall show the viewer more about your character or object.

If a character is wobbly or silly, maybe they sway back and forth a lot. Every time they move there is an over exaggerated movement going each direction, and parts of their body try to play catch-up.

In the quick tip tutorial above, we showed follow through with a drummer tapping a hi-hat. You noticed that the arm first moves, then the hand is pulled into it's movement, and finally the drumstick starts its move. This chain of events is an amazingly simple, yet relatable, example of follow through.

In the example above, the hand and then the drum stick is following through with the force given to it. There are other animation principles that could go into this, like overshoot and secondary animation. But for the most part, this example is a case-study for follow through.

Why Use Follow Through in Animation?

When it comes to adding polish, increasing realism, giving your animations more character, or helping your audience understand the physics of the world your animations live in, follow through is an essential communication tool.

Imagine two different scenes featuring a character with long hair. In one scene you have them standing on dry land, and in another you have them underwater.

When they shake their head back and forth and then come to a stop, their environment will play a huge factor in how quickly their hair comes to a stop. In the water the hair will have more resistance, and may start floating upwards.

In another scene, imagine you have a child on a bike coming to a quick stop. The bike will stop but the child may lean over the handle bars due to the force acting on them. Their motion is a follow through action that helps you interpret several things about the scene.

As the viewer, you can now tell that the child may have been going really fast, or how fast they came to a stop. Was it a slow break, or was it an immediate stop?

The painful side of follow through... sorry buddy

Keep these factors in mind when communicating to your audience. The amount of follow through your object has will tell a lot about your scene.

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