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The Art of Dialogue Without Words

In my upcoming lessons, I am going to be teaching you how to animate conversations and exchanges between multiple characters. You might not realize it, but there are two ways that characters communicate, with words, and without words. Of course, most characters communicate with words and to animate those scenes, we must study the way the mouth moves and functions in pronouncing different syllables. I will get into that more in a future blog post. For now, let’s focus on how to show communication between characters without words.

It might seem like it would be incredibly difficult to tell a story through actions only, but this is actually done a lot more than you probably realize. Anytime you are watching an animated cartoon, there will be times when characters interact and all they use is their gestures to show the audience what is going on and how they are feeling. For example, a character could stand stiff-legged with his hands on his hips looking angry and the other character could be cowering down showing fear of the first character’s anger. This tells us a lot about what is going on in the scene and how the characters are feeling. It is all part of acting, which is exactly what we are doing when we animate.

I encourage you to pay attention to this aspect of animation the next time you watch something animated. Go back and look at some of the old Pink Panther cartoons from 50 years ago. The Pink Panther character never says a word, and yet dozens of episodes of that show were made, telling funny stories. Pixar’s mascot character, Luxo Jr. the desk lamp, is another great example. There is a whole two minute long short of him and his parent playing ball with each other. You can see so much emotion and personality just in the gestures of the characters and it is almost like you can hear what they are saying. Check it out below.

Be on the lookout for this upcoming lesson where I will dig into how this aspect of animation works and how to use it in your own animations. Until then, happy animating, my friends!

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