Graphics Round 6 – Pseudo Animation

A long time ago, the people drawing cartoons figured something out – animating takes a really long time.  If you’ve ever made a flipbook, you’ll understand why: even animating simple things requires redrawing an entire object for every single frame.  To combat this problem, the same cartoon animators came up with a bunch of time saving tricks that are still in use today.  This includes things like scrolling layers at different speeds to give the illusion of depth (parallax scrolling), panning across sections of a large image, and animating in a loop so that animations can be played indefinitely.  Here’s a great video showing how Disney did it back in the day:

We are animating quite a few objects in Grow Your Garden by hand (coming in a future post), but are also using a few tricks to save time without compromising quality.  For example, one of the great things about the framework we are using, is that it enables really cool particle effects.  This works really well for adding interesting touches to the gameplay, like creating realistic water drops falling from our watering cans, and making transitions between plant “growths” interesting and easy with an explosion of colorful stars.  Specifically, we’re using the Particle Designer app to create our in-game particles, which saves a significant amount of time.  We are also making use of rotation and scaling to make game objects interactive without animating every single frame since users often expect some kind of feedback when they touch an object on the screen.

Next time you play your favorite iPhone or iPad game, pay attention to the way objects are animated and try to figure out what is hand-animated, and what is pseudo-animated.  You might be surprised!

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