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 Pivot For Beginners

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PostSubject: Pivot For Beginners   Pivot For Beginners I_icon_minitimeTue Aug 25, 2009 7:25 pm

Not so many newbies here, but there's no harm in having this up incase one arrives. All the links to other tuts are to SPP. Sorry about that, but I can't move all of them over because they're not all mine. Still working on future tuts for easing and heavy spacing, and when they're finished I'll host them in both for you.

The Pivot Beginner’s Tutorial

So you want to learn how to animate. Odds are, you want to get really good at it and make stuff like you’ve seen on Stickpage. The good news is, it’s not impossible, and this is definitely the place to start. The bad news is, it’ll take a bit of work. This tutorial is by no means everything that you need in order to become a veteran animator, but if you pay attention and absorb all the key points, it should get you to med beginner and making some pretty decent pivots. I have tried to be brief to avoid making a monstrously long tutorial that no one ever reads, so if you need anything clarified further PM me or ask below.

Download Pivot here: http://atlas.walagata.com/w/peterbone/Pivot.zip


1. Social Conduct
2. How Pivot Works
3. Movements
4. Easing
5. Stiffness
6. Physics
7. Saving and Uploading

Social Conduct

I’m going to get this out of the way first because it needs to be in here and it won’t flow properly once we start talking about the actual animations.

There are several important points about how you conduct yourself in the forums that are at least as essential as animating skill itself:

1. Use correct grammar and spelling.
2. Do not flame.
3. Do not bump.
4. Do not spam.
5. Do not double post. Edit.
6. Do not use racist language or stereotypes seriously.
7. Learn from your mistakes.
8. (does not apply here)
9. Do not claim to be better than someone else.
10. Do not point out to someone else that they have broken one of these guidelines.

I could write a paragraph on each of those ten points explaining why but I would hope that it’s obvious. If not, just follow them blindly and you’ll probably get along fine. If you really desperately have an urge to double post then PM me and I can explain in full.

How Pivot Works

It’s pretty intuitive really. It’s one of the simplest animation programmes out there; that’s why it’s recommended for when you just start out.

The first thing you need to do when you open pivot is press delete (it’s on the grey bar to the left) and get rid of that damn base stick. It’s dreadful. Don’t animate with it, even if someone’s threatening you with an electrified dog poo on a stick.

The next step is to go to file -> create figure type. Now you create your own stick man by clicking on either the line or circle to the top left of the window, then clicking on the joint that you want the line or circle to come out of, then clicking again somewhere else when the line or circle is the size you want it. If you want to make a line thicker, you do so with the small arrows on the left. This is also the way to fill in a circle if you wish to do so.

You can make your sticks however you want. If you would like a template though, there are plenty of tutorials out there that will quite happily tell you that they know how to make the best stick figure in the world and everyone else’s is crap. Like this one.

When you’re done, if you think you will want to use the stick again, press: file -> save; and save it. If you just want to use it this once then skip to step two which is pressing: file -> add to animation; and name it to put it into your animation. You can change the size once it’s in the animation with the numbers at the side.

Now you’re ready to start animating. It’s unimaginably simple. You use the dots to move your stick where you want him (the orange dot will move the entire stick and the red dots will rotate from a joint. The dots will be blue when you have a different stick selected). Then you press “next frame” to move to the next frame where you move the dots around some more. The frames will come together at 16.6 per second to create the illusion of movement. You can view your animation so far by pressing “play”. You can edit a previous frame by clicking on it at the top, moving the dots around again, and then pressing the “next frame” button again when you’re happy with it (if you don’t press “next frame” it won’t save the changes to that frame, so if you made a mistake and changed something by accident you can undo it by going to a different frame and coming back). If you want to delete a frame you can do so by right-clicking it in the bar at the top and pressing “delete”. If you want to insert a new frame you can right-click the frame after where you want it inserted and press “insert”.

Note: For a more in depth look at how pivot works, how to build a stick, and the general posting guidelines, view PC’s tutorial [URL="http://www.stickpageportal.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15873"]here.[/URL] Don’t use it for the walk, run, or blood though, because, as much as I love PC, those sections leave a little to be desired.


The thing with movements in pivot is that you can’t just show the start and the finish and expect fluid motion to occur magically by some sort of osmosis. You must show all of the in-between stages too. It makes the difference between this:

Pivot For Beginners Shitwalking

And this:

Pivot For Beginners Perfectwalk

The first one only shows the places where the foot is finishing. Pivot doesn’t know you’re trying to walk – as far as it’s concerned you may be making a slide show. You have to tell it all the places along the way. Look at them frame by frame:

Pivot For Beginners Shittywalk1 Pivot For Beginners Shittywalk2
Pivot For Beginners Shittywalk1 Pivot For Beginners Shittywalk2


Pivot For Beginners Clipboard01kPivot For Beginners Clipboard02j
Pivot For Beginners Clipboard03cPivot For Beginners Clipboard04
Pivot For Beginners Clipboard05yPivot For Beginners Clipboard06
Pivot For Beginners Clipboard07Pivot For Beginners Clipboard08
Pivot For Beginners Clipboard09Pivot For Beginners Clipboard10
Pivot For Beginners Clipboard11Pivot For Beginners Clipboard12


Note: Don’t copy that walk. That’s not because I’m annoyed by copyright theft – if you want to pretend it’s your walk then do so (although most people here and some at darkdemon will recognise it) but the point is that you won’t learn anything. If you copied a Miccool animation frame by frame then you’d have a great animation but you could hardly claim to be as good as him, could you? If you want to learn to walk, go here: http://www.stickpageportal.com/forums/showthread.php?t=104748 (thread whoring ftw).


Easing is acceleration and deceleration. In pivot this involves moving something very little in the first frame, a bit more in the second, even more in the third, etc. Almost every movement that you will ever do should be eased. The exceptions are – when something bumps into something solid such as a wall or floor; bullets out of a gun; bounces, where the object should leave the ground at maximum speed, although it then eases at the top and on the way down.

MaxZ’s example of easing (thanks):

Pivot For Beginners 2vuggea

And my representation:


Pivot For Beginners Eased


Pivot For Beginners Uneased

Easing is one of the most important things to learn. It will come naturally after a bit of practice, but it is absolutely essential in order to make a half-decent animation. Look at the difference it makes here:


Pivot For Beginners Easedcrouch


Pivot For Beginners Uneasedcrouch


Stiffness is when a part of the body isn’t moving enough – usually not at all. The standard advice is to move every joint in every frame, and it’s good advice. Do it. Stiffness is very easy to fix once you’ve spotted it, so very little more needs to be said here. I’ll add a couple of animations as filler.


Pivot For Beginners Wavingstiffly

Not so stiff:

Pivot For Beginners Waving

There. Don’t they look nice? Would they still look nice if I told you that he isn’t waving, he’s beating his ho, the white stick, to death? Didn’t think so.


The Newtonian laws of motion are the most important. Essentially, things don't just stop or change direction - if a guy is jumping through the air he cannot instantly lose all horizontal momentum and come back to the ground. Gravity is the other important one; it is covered by easing. Physics is only really important when things are in the air. The following examples are all done with balls but they apply to anything at all off the ground.

In a horizontal throw, the ball should be at a constant speed relative to the ground, like this:

Pivot For Beginners Constantspeed

This should be combined with the vertical axis which will look like this with the ball at maximum velocity as it leaves the start, eased into the top of the throw, and then stopping suddenly at the bottom. After the stop it will bounce:

Pivot For Beginners Easedbounce

The overall effect is something like this:

Pivot For Beginners Bouncebackandforth

An example of the physics of a horizontal throw:

Pivot For Beginners Thrownfade

Little bit rushed. Just imagine that the ball's made of iron which is why it doesn't bounce much and the stickman's been throwing it around all day so that's made him stiff.

When things fall, they start off slowly and gradually accelerate until they hit the ground at which point the stop and start moving in the opposite direction at maximum speed. The will then gradually slow down until they reach the top of the bounce and then the process starts again:

Pivot For Beginners Balldropandbouncedemo

The blue one is correct. The red one is not.

Note: for a more detailed look on physics with relation to pivot, see here: http://www.stickpageportal.com/forums/showthread.php?t=30327
For a more detailed look at physics in general, see here: http://www.stickpageportal.com/forums/showthread.php?t=106581

Saving And Showing

If you want to change the speed, look here (second post): http://www.stickpageportal.com/forums/showthread.php?t=106316

When you’re done, to show us your animations follow this: http://www.stickpageportal.com/forums/showthread.php?t=36183

Remember, it’s not worth showing every one of your animations – only post those that you think are good enough. At the time of writing, my Thread contains 21 animations, including 3 put in for sentimental value. My animations file on my computer contains 86.

And Finally…

When you’ve mastered all of this and you want to know where to go next, I can think of no better all-in-one tutorial than this (credz to Baha and DarkDemon): http://www.stickpageportal.com/forums/showthread.php?t=106185 which actually goes over most of what I have put here anyway but I think it is a bit briefer, plus it doesn’t have all the links to other tuts that go into more detail so your time reading this hasn’t entirely been wasted.

Thank you for spending that time, by the way. I would welcome any comments or questions you have, or any ways that you think this could be improved (There wasn't a more detailed tut that I could link to yet for easing, so that's my next task).

Last edited by Zed on Sat Sep 25, 2010 10:05 am; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Pivot For Beginners   Pivot For Beginners I_icon_minitimeTue Aug 25, 2009 7:36 pm

Nice! Very in-depth tutorial, glad you posted, this should help out some of the beginners Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Pivot For Beginners   Pivot For Beginners I_icon_minitimeTue Aug 25, 2009 8:11 pm

Nice! This is making me want to join pivot again!

Pivot For Beginners Untitled-3

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