Video game character animation has been for as long as video games have been. This blog article will cover as much as possible the design, implementation, and animation of video game characters.

We’ll also share some amazing examples of top-tier video game character animations from the past several years for you to admire and be inspired by. So let’s get this party started!

Evolution Of Video Game Animation

Evolution Of Video Game Animation
Evolution Of Video Game Animation

In the early days of animation, both in movies and video games, animations were created by hand using existing technology such as rotoscoping.

With the arrival of larger and stronger console generations after 2010, animators were able to do considerably more with their tools.

Since then, we’ve incorporated motion capture and facial recognition technology from firms like Adobe.

Facial recognition is currently at an all-time high, with titles like Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor claiming to have programmed every orc you encounter with their own distinct motions and facial expressions.

>>>Read more: 

The Influence of Video Games 

The Influence of Video Games 
The Influence of Video Games

From South Park’s spoof of World of Warcraft in the 2006 episode “Make Love, Not Warcraft” to the 2019 League of Legends World Championship attracted just shy of 4 million viewers, video games have wormed their way into the mainstream in a variety of ways over the years.

Video games, like all digital art media, have progressed from being full-fledged versions of contemporary media to stand-alone forms of content. Video games are now frequently created by people who have the knowledge and practical experience working with movies, films, and other media.

Video games are increasingly used for more than just enjoyment around the world, with educational institutions adopting them in a variety of ways, including utilizing them to teach.

But, in the end, video games are considered art. So, let’s look at what you can do to make your video game characters stand out.

The Basics Of Video Game Character Animation

The Basics Of Video Game Character Animation
The Basics Of Video Game Character Animation

We’ll go through the five basics of video game animation, but three crucial characteristics of character animation are fluidity, readability, and context.


One of the most noticeable contrasts between animated films and video games is how the scenes are ordered. The sequences you see in video games and the actions done by the characters are made up of many brief animations that are linked together.

Because this is the case, the animations will overlap in a succession. As an example, consider the following:


Of course, the in-betweens must be as smooth as the main animations and integrate flawlessly. So when we talk about fluidity in animation, we mean how smoothly and coherently various movements are linked together.


Another significant distinction between films and video games is the point of view. More specifically, in a 3D world, video games can and should be viewed from all angles, which means that your animations should make sense from every aspect, similar to the staging principle.


Fixed position games that force people into a single perspective such as Diablo III, the camera moves with the character’s movements, and as a result, the character animations must seem the same from all angles.

While animating, you should continually be looking at your character’s actions from all perspectives.


We mean situational context when we mention context. Because the animation might occur at any point during the game, a character’s animations must make sense of the situation in which they find themselves.

Because video games are player-driven, you almost certainly cannot predict when and where a specific character’s animation will occur, so you must figure out how to use nuance to distinguish your character from the rest of the game.

If you can only control one character, it should have different animations than the other characters the player will encounter during their playthrough.

Cutscenes and unique gameplay moments should also have nuanced and unique animations, but they should not detract from the gameplay.

5 Best Character Animations in Video Games That Will Inspire You

5 Best Character Animations in Video Games That Will Inspire You
5 Best Character Animations in Video Games That Will Inspire You

The best examples of unique character animations in video games, as well as what makes them relevant and fascinating, are provided here.

Prince of Persia

Jordan Mechner produced Prince of Persia in 1989. A legendary action-adventure game that was eventually purchased by Ubisoft and made into a profitable gaming franchise.

Despite the limited technology available at the time, developer Jordan Mechner chose to give Prince’s character unprecedented fluidity by rotoscoping his brother’s acrobatic action motions.

While moving about, gamers might feel the anticipation in Prince’s personality. The animation depicted Prince pausing before proceeding to the next location by examining a spiky death pit or cavernous chasm.

The film Prince of Persia was a vivid example of a realistic portrayal of a character with limited technological resources.

Metal Slug

Metal Slug designers pioneered seamless character motion at a time when 2D graphics had restrictions. Every pixel square was injected with flair and personality.

Every frame precisely captured the explosion, gunfire, flying items, laser beams, and opponent attacks.

Metal Slug was a hugely popular gaming franchise with a significant cult following. So much so that SNK has recently announced a new game in development in order to capitalize on its devoted fanbase.

Tobal 2

Tobal 2 was created by the well-known Japanese gaming firm Dreamfactory and released by Square in 1997. Tekken, a well-known fighting game, was also created by the company.

This game is well-known for its extensive usage of generative animation. To allow for more different activities, animations are generated automatically in real time using this technology.

The procedural animation method is generally utilized for particle system simulation, such as hair, wind, or clothing, which would be difficult to animate manually.

Tobal 2 depicts this approach by having every character appear to be going for the limb as they launch a punch or kick.

On the other hand, every character moves their arms or limbs to block a hit since they know where to move and what movement is required.

Resident Evil 4

Capcom produced and released Resident Evil 4 in 2005. It has been in the works for over six years.

It is set in a third person over-the-shoulder camera perspective and is part of a successful survival horror game franchise.

The immersive and fluid flow of character movements, hair fluttering when sprinting, accuracy aiming, and facial expressions are the most noticeable aspects of its animation.

Resident Evil 4 reinvented the third-person shooter gameplay style and is widely regarded as one of the most influential games of the 2000s.

L.A. Noire

L.A. Noire was created by Team Bondi and released in 2011 by one of the game industry’s most recognizable names: Rockstar.

It’s a neo-noir, action-adventure game inspired by 1940s Hollywood detective movies that revolutionized facial motion capture with enormous budgets and amazing actors.

The mocap technology was crucial to the overall gameplay because gamers had to rely on character facial expressions to determine who was a suspect in a crime scene investigation.

L.A. Noire is remarkable for being the first film to use MotionScan technology, which uses 32 cameras to capture facial emotions from every aspect.

The Ultimate Guide To Making Video Game Character Animation

The Ultimate Guide To Making Video Game Character Animation
The Ultimate Guide To Making Video Game Character Animation

To be able to make video game character animation, you need to consider the following factors:

Visual Appeal And Uniqueness

Not every video game character you develop has to be distinct from the others, but the primary ones should be.

Your primary characters, especially your playable characters, require something about them that your audience can feel attached to, something that will keep them playing.

Character Personality Should Be Related To Animation Style

Tiny Tina from the Borderlands franchise, shown below, is an excellent example of a video game character’s animation reflecting their personality.

Character Personality Should Be Related To Animation Style
Character Personality Should Be Related To Animation Style

She’s mad and never stops moving, her eyes unblinking. When you see a scurrying character model in the distance, you know who you’re looking at.

Your characters should have distinct personalities and motions. It’s often easier when there’s a story behind the lore behind your character, but coming up with that part on your own can be difficult. Whatever the case may be, it must be completed.

The best character animation software

The best character animation software
The best character animation software

We’d like to go through the specifics of the greatest animation software. 3D and 2D animation software is included. Their feature sets differ, but they are all effective tools in their own way. Some are primarily intended for character creation, while others provide broadcast-quality 4K+ motion video.

Toon Boom

  • Everything needed to create broadcast-quality animated content is included in this comprehensive application.
  • Color management includes color spaces, palettes, and painting.
  • Deformers add texture, depth, and realism.
  • Lighting and auto-toning are examples of special effects.
  • Complete audio management and manipulation abilities
  • Combine 3D components with 2D characters.
  • Traditional paperless animation versus cutting-out animation and 3D rigging
  • Options for dependable support, such as community forums
  • Export capabilities for gaming engines

Daz 3D

  • Model posing, 3D motion images, and animation are all supported.
  • Options for detailed modeling and lighting
  • Individual character attributes can be changed using morphing technology.
  • Designs can be easily exported into 3D animation software such as Maya or Cinema 4D.

Adobe Character Animator

  • Based on your facial expressions, it generates real-time face animations (eyebrows, lips, and eyes).
  • Based on your actual movements, it automatically animates bodily movements (heads, arms, and legs).
  • Automatic audio lip-syncing
  • There are pre-designed “puppet” characters available.
  • Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator input are supported.
  • Zoom and close-up photos
  • Preset options for animating walking, breathing, blinking, and other actions

Resources For Video Game Character Animation Inspiration

While inspiration can come from anywhere, we all need a little help narrowing it down. Here are some ideas for where to look for inspiration for character designs and video game character animation in general.

Online Resources

  • Dribbble: Dribbble is an excellent resource for learning about what the world has to offer in terms of design. Many designers and agencies showcase their work to provide inspiration.
  • Youtube: Of course, YouTube is arguably the world’s largest content-sharing platform, so you’re bound to find a plethora of animated work to be inspired by. 
  • Blogs: Of course, animation blogs like Business of Animation can be a goldmine of information and inspiration for game character design and animation.

Physical Resources

There are numerous physical resources available, including textbooks, memoirs such as “The Illusion of Life Disney Animation” by Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas, and much more.

We also recommend Jonathan Cooper’s 2017 book, “Game Anim: A Complete Guide To Video Game Animation,” which is based on nearly two decades of industry experience.

>>>Read more: Epic games real-time animation field guide free Ebook


The field of video game character animation has advanced in nearly unimaginable ways throughout the years. The realm of virtual reality is progressing at a rapid pace, with accurate motion capture blurring the barrier between video games and movies.

While figuring it all out can be difficult, the positive is simply the abundance of content to educate and inspire, from textbooks and guidelines to Youtube channels and blogs. Now go forth and animate!

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