Having trouble controlling the speed in your animations is one of the most difficult problems you can run into especially when you’re just getting to learn animation. It’s hard to animate how fast something is when you have no idea how to properly space out your drawings each frame. When you’re animating your next frame, how do you know how far it should move? Well first you need to get a better understanding of what spacing is.
Spacing your drawings each frame
Spacing is quite simply the distance of how far your drawing moves from one frame to the next frame. If it moves a lot on the next frame, then you have a lot of spacing. If it moves just a little bit, you have little spacing. Simple!
As you can see from the animations:
a lot of distance between drawings = a lot of spacing = a lot of speed
less distance between drawings = less spacing = less speed
My animation is too fast! How do I slow it down?
If you finish an animation and play it back, you might see that the animation is faster than you want it to be. There are two easy ways to fix this problem.
If there are only a few parts in your animation that you feel is too fast you can easily fix it by adding double-frames to that area. Double-framing is just adding an additional frame in between your keyframes to slow down your animation by half. This method works quite well but if used in the wrong places, the animation will look choppy and off. Make sure to only double-frame areas that have natural slowdowns like the peak of a jump, or when something is slowing to a stop, or when the object is generally supposed to be moving at a slow pace.
- Changing the FPS (frames per second)
If your entire animation is too fast in general, you can try lowing the frame rate of your animation to slow the entire project down equally. A lot of people believe that 24 FPS has to be the standard but there is nothing wrong with using 18 FPS, 15 FPS, or whatever FPS that makes your animation look the best to you.
My animation is too slow! How do I speed it up?
A very common problem for beginner animators is that their animation is way too slow. In most cases an animation needs some speed to give it life, but many animators are too scared or hesitant on increasing the spacing of their animations so there will be too many frames in a movement. This is why having an understanding of spacing is so important.
- Removing frames
You NEED speed in your animation so you must learn how to take away some of your frames to increase your spacing. Remember more spacing = more speed so if you have a bunch of frames that all have small spacing, you will have slow movement. Try to delete some frames where you can see frames that are way to close in spacing.
The art of EASING. Combining the slow and fast.
Hopefully you’re starting to get the hang of how spacing affects the speed of your animation. Now for the most important skill in animation… EASING! Easing is basically a smooth transition from slow movement to fast movement (or vice versa). This is the golden skill you need to learn for your animations to look good. If you can master this, your animations WILL improve and start looking a lot better.
So lets look at how slow movement transitions to fast movement (small spacing to big spacing)
Now the trick is to apply this to any sort of movement like jumping, running, punching, etc. Every natural movement has some sort of easing. Even really fast and quick movements that could only last a few frames, you need to think about your easing when drawing your next frame. Those moving balls from the gifs above? It was a stick figure’s head the entire time! All I did was apply easing to the movements of the head just like the above gif! Look at how the head is always transitioning from slow to fast as he jumps and moves. This also applies to every other body part.
At the end of the day you wont get used to spacing and easing your frames unless you keep practicing and animating for yourself. Keep getting used to the distances of how speed is related to spacing and smoothly transitioning from slow to fast and from fast to slow. It’s a game changer when it comes to learning animation. The concept is simple but it is universally applied to every animation!