In the previous sections, we’ve seen that great animations follow certain rules. When you check if your animation obeys these rules, you can either do this in a qualitative or quantitative way. Qualitative questions are like a checklist of simple yes/no questions: are your motion paths arcs? Does the volume increase when two objects merge? By contrast, quantitative questions deal with the exact amount: is the motion path bent by the right amount? Does the volume increase by the right amount?
It turns out that our brains are highly sensitive to the qualitative aspects, but very tolerant with respects to quantity. As long as a motion path has no sharp corners, it feels natural - no matter how exactly the acts are bent. As long as objects shrink and grow where our brain expects them to, the exact amount doesn’t matter so much. In fact, our brains like very clear statements. Here are two ways to communicate ‘This is a bouncing ball’.
The left variant is realistic. The amount of deformation, speed etc. is what we know from bouncing balls in the real world. In the second variant, the elasticity is highly exaggerated; there’s no object in the real world that behaves like this. But the message ‘this is a bouncing ball’ becomes clearer by exaggerating the characteristics that distinguish a bouncing ball from other objects - mostly its elasticity.
This is also how caricatures work. When a brain wants to remember a face, it needs to identify the unique aspects of it. Caricatures overstate precisely those aspects. They are very explicitly telling your brain: these are the aspects that matter. Our brains like to simplify things, and they don’t mind at all if you help them by overstating the aspects they should focus on.
Of course, if and how much you exaggerate heavily influences the style of your animation. Not all projects benefit from exaggeration, but it often helps to clearly communicate your message.
Join our newsletter for updates on this book and more great stuff we create!