Home Animation Tips and Tricks Animating the 6 Basic Emotions: Acting Tips from Pro Animators

Animating the 6 Basic Emotions: Acting Tips from Pro Animators

Get your fill of acting and animation tips with our series on Animating the 6 Basic Emotions. Polish your demo reel with advice from our awesome mentors, professional animators who are working across the industry on the coolest projects!

The Emotions from Disney's Inside Out (as you can see, they focused on 5)
The Emotions from Disney’s Inside Out (as you can see, they focused on 5 instead of 6)

If there’s one thing animators have in common it’s that they’re always learning. Ask any professional animator whether they identify as a student or an expert and we guarantee the majority will say student. A huge part of what makes animators successful is their constant drive to improve. When it comes to animating facial acting and characterization it can be hard to know where to start—that’s a normal part of the process.

And that’s where we come in! Our new blog series covers Animating the 6 Basic Emotions and incorporates advice from six of our excellent mentors. From creating believable emotion to using good reference, we’re positive you’ll learn something from these pros.

Collected all in one place, here is our series on Animating the 6 Basic Emotions:

Emotion 1: Sadness by Tim Ingersoll

David Tennant looking very sad as the Doctor in Doctor Who
David Tennant looking very sad as the Doctor in Doctor Who

“Contrast is a good way to show any emotional change.”

Emotion 2: Happiness by Kevin Koch

Tina from Bob's Burgers
Tina from Bob’s Burgers

“Simply finding an appropriate synonym for the happiness your character is feeling can help clarify things, and help you map it to a scale from subtle to extreme.”

Emotion 3: Fear by Keith Sintay

SpongeBob SquarePants
SpongeBob SquarePants

“Try to find reality in your animation, and push that to a believable extreme.”

Emotion 4: Anger by Anthony Wong

Pongo & Roger in 101 Dalmatians
Pongo & Roger in 101 Dalmatians

“The opposite of cliché is specific. Anger can range from annoyance to a slow burn to an all-out explosion of aggression.”

Emotion 5: Disgust by Jay Davis

A hilariously disgusted child via Giphy
A hilariously disgusted child via Giphy

“Watch out for over-acting. Over-acting can happen when you are trying too hard to convince the audience of what you’re feeling rather than literally feeling the emotion and reacting honestly.”

Emotion 6: Surprise by Chadd Ferron

Bert from Sesame Street
Bert from Sesame Street

“There can be a period of stillness as the character tries to understand what’s happening and decides how to respond.”


Want to be mentored by professional animators?

Start your animation journey today by learning from animators at studios like Blue Sky, Pixar, and Sony Imageworks! Get more information about Animation Mentor’s Character Animation Program.

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