There's several reasons why explosions are great. First being, it's quick.. it really only takes one or two drawings to illustrate the actual explosion.. leaving you a lot of time to concentrate on what comes before and after (which is always more important than the action itself). This explosion is from "Masks", it's a bit of a spoiler, but that's ok. You can watch the film on Vimeo. And below are the keys. Enjoy. First, above we have a happy chewing masked man, flanked by his buddies.
We truck in and reveal with a "take" that there's something wrong. then is gets weird..
Used a bizarre "flow" through the characters body, a quick little morphy shake thing prior to blowing apart. i don't know why but it works. anticipation is like that, you can do the craziest things as long as it is before an action. I also allowed the camera to "feel" the explosion.. by jerking out quickly with a motion blur.. I imagined myself holding a video camera in front of this guy, and feeling the pulse of the explosion.
small bumps appear on his skin.. the beginnings of the explosion. remember to take your time and do a lot of drawings when the action is subtle.. then don't do any tweens at all when it comes to the main bang.
bumps continue to grow as his eyes close into a cringe.
he begins to pull apart.. this is on a 1 exposure.. it's quick. Also note above that the background is revealed behind the middle character, I used a two frame mask to wipe the new background in.
it jumps into a fragmented configuration of small people. cheat out the color. Animation works like that.. you can't get away with anything if you slowly change things (thinking nobody will notice if you do it gradually) if you want to cheat or change, just do it in one frame, preferably on a hit. get it?
the characters lightly float down. i'll be honest, this was a pain.
last thing.. the characters in the background react.. remember they have to react a bit late, not right when the even occurs.