Stop Motion Tutorial: Eyes Blink

Stop motion tutorial: Eye blinks in clay head

Stop Motion Tutorial: Eyes Blink

Today it’s time for a quick stop motion tutorial about eye blinking.

The animation of the eyes is very important when animating a character. The eyes give your character soul, make your character alive even when is not moving.

Eye blinking is something we, humans and animals, do regularly to moisture our eyes so your characters should also blink quite a lot.

In this tutorial we analyse the frames needed for an eye blink for both 24 and 15 frames per second (FPS). Lets see the animation we discuss in this tutorial.

Tutorial: Blinking of the eyes at 24 FPS from UPuno on Vimeo.

We need 5 pairs of eyelids as shown in the picture below. From small (eyes fully open) to big (eyes fully closed). Notice that for this tutorial to close an eye we will use top and bottom eyelids. You could make eye blinking animation using only top eyelids, in this case the bigger shape will need to cover the entire eyeball.

color eyelids

Eyes blinking at 24 FPS

If you are shooting at 24 FPS you need 6 frames to animate the top eyelid and 5 frames for the bottom one as the bottom eyelid has to travel less.

To make following this tutorial a bit easier, we’ve given the background of the photos of eyelid pairs different colours so you can identify the same pair of eyelids.

The final frames will look this:

24 FPS table complete

Lets analyse it in detail:

– The start and finish positions are the same (frames 1 and 6) with the eyes fully opened.

– As we mentioned before, the bottom eyelid travels less so it will open faster than the top eyelid. This means that bottom eyelid will reach fully opened position at frame 5. The bottom eyelid at frame 5 will then be the same as the one used on frame 6. We will come back later for the top eyelid at frame 5.

– One key frame for the eye blinking animation is when the eye is fully closed. This happens at frame 3. The two pairs at frame 3 will form closed eyes.

Now we can fill the in-between frames:

– For frame 2 we start closing the eyes. We need a shaped eyelid between fully opened and fully closed. The shape should be similar to the open shape used in frame 1 (favouring the open position). This will give a nice ease out (slow out) at he beginning of the closing movement and speed at the closed position.

– After the eyes are fully closed we need to start the opening movement. At frame 4 we insert top eyelids with a shape between the fully closed and the fully opened shapes. The shape in this frame doesn’t favour either fully closed or fully opened (it’s in between). By doing so we have a nice “bounce” effect of the closing movement and we have room to insert more frames after to achieve a nice ease in (slow in) for the final stage of the opening movement. For the bottom eyelid we just need a shaped eyelid between frames 3 and 5 (last for bottom eyelid animation).

– Now the only remaining frame is top eyelid at frame 5. By inserting a shaped eyelid between 4 and 6 frames we achieve an ease in (slow in) animation.

Additional notes:

Notice how by making shapes in green background bigger than shapes in yellow background we can reuse this eyelids in frames 2 and 4 for bottom eyelid.

Be careful when making the eyelids so that those in the red background and blue background need to form a fully closed eye.

You can make an even smoother movement of the top eyelid by introducing 2 more frames between frames 5 and 6 and insert gradually bigger shapes. The ease in (slow in) will be smoother. The top frame will then have 8 frames and bottom eyelid can remain with 5 frames as more frames will not make a noticeable difference.


Eyes blinking at 15 FPS

In this case we need less frames with top and bottom eyelids needing 4 frames.

If we use the previous table, we can remove frames 2 and 5 leaving the new table like this:

15 FPS table complete

You can simplify slightly the animation by replacing the bottom eyelid used at frame 3 with the bottom eyelid used at frame 4. So bottom eyelid animation will have only 3 frames (instead of 4).

Now you can see the two animations side by side.

Eyes blinking at 24fps Eyes blinking at 15fps
Tutorial: Blinking of the eyes at 24 FPS from UPuno on Vimeo. Tutorial: Blinking of the eyes at 15 FPS from UPuno on Vimeo.


We hope this has been useful, let us know your feedback and what other tutorials you’ll like to read about.

Happy animating!

UPuno Team

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