This action adds to and enriches the main action and adds more dimension to the character animation, supplementing and/or re-enforcing the main action. Example: A character is angrily walking toward another character. The walk is forceful, aggressive, and forward leaning. The leg action is just short of a stomping walk. The secondary action is a few strong gestures of the arms working with the walk. Also, the possibility of dialogue being delivered at the same time with tilts and turns of the head to accentuate the walk and dialogue, but not so much as to distract from the walk action. All of these actions should work together in support of one another. Think of the walk as the primary action and arm swings, head bounce and all other actions of the body as secondary or supporting action.

Primary actions usually start at a character’s hips and then cascade out towards the extremities: hips to the shoulders to the arms to the hands to the finger tips, hips to the neck to the head, hips to the legs to the feet.

In a character walk the primary action takes place at the hips as they pivot during each step. The legs act as shock absorbers and the up and down movement is carried up the spine to the neck and head. The movement of the hips up and down works to the beat of the steps. In a typical walk this would be a 16 drawing cycle, shot on two’s would be 32 frames; one step every 8 drawings or 16 frames. As the hips move up and down the head would overlap this action by 2 or 3 drawings. The same is true of the shoulders and arms.

There are times when you can animate secondary actions at the same time you’re doing the primary action, but it’s usually easier to do it after you’ve done all the primary actions first. These are usually called primary keys and secondary keys.


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