Secondary Action



This lesson will introduce students to the animation principle of Secondary Action:

Secondary Actions add to and enrich the main action of an animated sequence. Secondary actions add more dimension to the character animation, supplementing and/or re-enforcing the main action. An example: A character is angrily walking toward another character. The walk is forceful, aggressive, and forward leaning. The leg action is just short of a stomping walk. The secondary action is a few strong gestures of the arms working with the walk. Also the possibility of dialogue being delivered at the same time with tilts and turns of the head to accentuate the walk and dialogue, but not so much as to distract from the walk action. All of these actions should work together in support of one another. Think of the walk as the primary action and the arm swings, head bounce and all oter actions of the body as secondary or supporting actions.

Students will observe, identify and analyze a cartoon for primary and secondary actions.

Students will create add one or more secondary actions to a walk cycle of a cartoon character or sequence. Examples of secondary actions could be flapping ears, bouncing, hair, swishing tail, trailing cape, moving facial features, or other gestures. These actions should help build interest and bring more life into the sequence.

Lesson Time

Anticipatory Activity
10 - 15 Minutes
Walk Cycle
3 Days
Adding Secondary Action to Walk Cycle
2 Days

Industries / Subjects / Grades

Industries / Pathways
  • Arts, Media, and Entertainment
Grade Levels
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • Post-Secondary
  • Adult

Standards and Objectives


California's 2008 CTE Standards (5)

Related Instructional Objectives (SWBAT...)

  • Students will be able to identify and describe secondary actions in an animated cycle or sequence.
  • Students will be able to plan, develop, and execute a pencil test or rough version of an animated cycle/sequence of a primary action that includes a minimum of one secondary action.
  • Students will be able to create a 10 drawing rough walk cycle template upon which they will design their own character with secondary action.

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