*Anyone with an open mind (and lots of free time!) with a rank around "high beginner" and up will have a better chance of understanding this tutorial*
I have recently started using what people are calling a "bouncy" style. My inspiration is Gifgiff, but since he is inactive, I guess I will be the one to pass on my basic knowledge of this way of animating. The reason I have stuck with this "bouncy" style is because 1. I like it! 2. I find it fun to animate and 3. because it allows me to express more character through movements.
I'll be showing you the 4 basic keys for turning a standard smooth style into a bouncy one. So, let's get started! (please bare with me, these examples aren't great, I whipped them up pretty swiftly!)
Before I jump into the 4 keys, your base stickman must fall inside some simple restrictions. (click images to load them outside of Darkdemon)
These are more "guidelines" than absolute restrictions, although I find they make this style far easier to pull off if taken into consideration. The most important of the two is the neck joint, I really would call that a necessity.
EXAMPLE OF A NON-BOUNCY STYLE.
Here we have a very simple, smooth hop animation. The stickman makes no exaggerated movements, he simply hops forward and upwards slightly. Now this is perfectly fine, but here is how to turn this same animation (same number of frames and virtually the same origin positions) into a bouncy one, purely by following the 4 keys I mentioned earlier.
KEY 1 - LOOSENING UP THE ARMS.
The first step to giving your stickmen some bounce, is to loosen up their arms. You may notice in the "non-bouncy" example animation above, that the figure's arms are quite loose and free, but we can exaggerate that looseness further.
To do this, you need to take into account both trajectory and gravity.
By trajectory, I am referring to maintaining the momentum that the arm acquires when the rest of the figure's body is thrust around. I'll leave you to work that one out! Basically, if a stickman moves to the left then suddenly stops, his arms will lift to the right as the stickman is in motion, but the moment (the frame after, in practice) he stops, the arms will fly to the left. This is because they have gathered momentum from the figure moving his whole body to the left. When the figure stops, the arms keep moving to the left until they lose all of their leftward momentum (easing, in practice) and swing to a stop (in practice, they would keep swinging both directions until they lose all momentum). This applies to movements in all directions, not just left and right.
Because of the arms now being so loose and floppy, gravity plays a large roll in how they move about. If a figure is descending rapidly - faster than gravity would make him descend - then his arms will behave differently to his body. Since his arms are hinged loosely, they will act with gravity. In short, imagine that the tips of your figure's arms are balls attached with string to his shoulders. He has little control over how they move (bar bending the wrong way and completely wacky positions!). They'll drag behind him if he is going left or right, below him if he is going upwards, and above him if he is descending.
(This is all extremely hard to explain. I am probably making things far more complicated than they need to be. Sadly, I'm no teacher. You may be better simply studying the individual changes I make in the .piv files supplied next to the examples.)
By loosening up Mr. Stickfigure's arms, they now look like this. (no other changes other than key 1 have been made in this example)
You may be thinking... "but, that looks weird, Mr. Krustalien!" and to that I would say... "wait and see, Mr. Person!"
KEY 2 - SNAPPING AND LOOSENING THE LEGS.
Your stickfigure's legs will behave in the same way as your figure's arms. They will follow a trajectory and react differently to the origin/body of your stickman. At times, you must actively break these rules. I'll explain...
For your figure to bounce around properly, he needs to get the thrust (AKA, power) necessary to bounce him around everywhere. To get the amount of power you need, a lightly spaced push upwards with his legs just won't do it.
To get the right "kick" upwards, he must literally kick the floor. To get the kick, you need to make the leg that is "kicking" perfectly straight for a single frame, the one right before liftoff. It's from this outrageous "snap" that a leg makes that you get the right amount of power to bounce a stickman into the air.
I find that to get a bounce to look right you must do this straight-leg business every time Mr. Stickman leaves the ground. Without it, a hop or bounce simply isn't powerful enough to make all of your figure's limbs fly around everywhere, which is what the bouncy style essentially is.
So we must snap a leg, or both legs, perfectly straight (even a bit past straight to really emphasize the movement) to get the power to thrust a stickman upwards into the air, but we also need to make his leg(s) straight on the very frame before he lands! It sounds weird, I know, but in real life you make your legs perfectly straight until the last moment before touching the ground. However unrealistic this style is, the same way of thinking applies here. You'll notice that I do both of these snapping actions all the time in my more recent animations. For some reason, it looks right, and forms part of this style.
So applying the looseness I spoke about in KEY 1, and the snapping business in KEY 2, I am left with this. (again, this is the same animation. Same length, same start, now putting KEYs 1 and 2 together)
This still looks a bit weird. I have tried to keep the origin in the same places as the non-bouncy example. In doing so, the figure doesn't quite get enough height for the amount of leg movement. Oh well! It's beginning to look bouncy...
KEY 3 - LOOSENING THE TORSO.
There really isn't much to say here that hasn't already been said. The same rules that apply to the arms and the legs apply here too. The torso of the stickman needs to really loosen up and bend dramatically when necessary and become perfectly straight at other times. Here's the same animation as before, now with not only looser arms, legs (with the snapping action) but also modified to give our stickman a looser torso.
KEY 4 - THE HEAD.
The head plays a huge role in creating the bouncy look. It also behaves in exactly the same way as the limbs, being loose and floppy. Here is where the neck joint comes into play. To be able to have the head free enough to bounce about properly, you simply fiddle with the neck joint until you get the head in the right position. Nothing really to explain.
Here is an animation taking advantage of that neck joint, and loosening up the head of the figure.
As you can see, we did it! The very same animation, with just small tweaks, has gone from a standard smooth style to a bouncy crazy one! I have barely moved the origin, and the animation is still 27 frames long. To get the full bouncy effect I would tweak this further to get it just right, but for the purpose that this animation serves, I think it will do fine!
Well that is a really over-complicated, massively hard to understand block of text if I ever saw one! Apologies for bad English or unclear wording, as I said somewhere in there, I'm not a very good teacher. I put this together in an hour or two just because I felt it might help some people out, but also because I have never done anything like it.
If you have a better way of explaining something, or you're having trouble understanding something I spoke about, please let me know in a post. I'd be more than happy to try and help you grasp the elusive bouncy style!