Skill animation refers to the graphical animation that a character makes while performing a skill.
If you watch a foe or ally closely while they are activating a skill, you can tell a lot about the skill they are using without even checking them on the Skill Monitor.
The animation has up to 4 parts:
- the movement animation of the caster
- a "Casting Symbol" appearing above the caster's head (optional)
- an "aura" around the body of the caster (optional)
- an "aura" around the body of the target
For each skill there is a movement animation. The basic type of animation depends on:
- The type of skill and the duration of casting
- If the skill is activated on another or on the character himself/herself.
- How long the cast time for the skill is: Very Fast (0.5 seconds or less cast time), Fast (more than 0.5 seconds, less than 2 seconds), Medium (more than 1 and less than 3) and Long (3 seconds activation or longer).
Each of the ten professions displays a different way of portraying these four combinations with some classes displaying more variety than others.
- Attack skills use the standard weapon attack animation.
- All other use a single casting animation based on the weapon the warrior is using. The animation speed and length is varied for the casting time.
- When wielding a hammer, the warrior leans down and concentrates, then arches upwards holding the hammer vertical in front of the chest.
- When wielding a sword or axe, the warrior waves the weapon above her head, then swings the weapon downward and finally arches upwards holding the weapon extended above the head.
- Short skills are cast simply by the ranger crossing her arms and throwing them backwards
- Preparations cause the ranger to kneel, and work her fingers against the bow
- Longer skills cause the ranger to reach her arms back, and pull her arms forward in a sweeping motion. Long skills end with the short animation.
- Touch skills use a separate animation where the ranger reaches up with her draw hand, and casts it out to touch the target.
- Nature Rituals use the long animation, but end with the preparation animation.
- Identical to female, except that the touch skill animation involves both hands, and looks as if the ranger is tossing a large object from overhead.
- Blood magic skills that cast in 0.5 seconds or faster are performed with a lunging motion towards the target with both hands outstretched.
- Death magic skills that cast in 0.5 seconds or less are performed with the Necromancer slightly leaning forward, then clapping his hands together.
- Death magic skills that are cast in more than 0.5 seconds start with the Necromancer bending backwards, then floating into the air, and finally, going upright and crossing his arms. Some skills in the Death magic category create a large green symbol resembling Grenth's head, while others create black heiroglyphic-like symbols under the caster as he floats into the air.
- Blood magic skills start with the same animation as Death magic skills, but end with both hands stretched towards the target. Some symbols that appear during the casting of a blood magic spell are giant green skulls with diamond-shaped eyes, while others can create a yellow circle filled with red circles (which pulsate) above the caster.
- Curses start with the same animation as the rest, but end with the Necromancer pointing his right hand (and weapon in said hand, staves are held one-handed during the animation) towards his target. The main Curses spell symbol seems to be a circle with many lines along its perimeter.
- Non-Necromancer spells are cast using the animation from the Blood Magic skills.
- All skills that cast in 0.5 seconds or faster are performed by a quick move of the hand so that the left palm is pointing towards the target (or forward if the target is the caster).
- Skills slower than 0.5 seconds that target the caster herself: The elementalist will rise in the air, bow forward then arch her back and land back gracefully.
- Skills that target others and are longer than 0.5 seconds but no slower than 2 seconds: The elementalist rises in the air, thrusts her weapon forward pointing to the target.
- Skills that are 2 seconds (whether on others or self): The elementalist floats in the air holding her arms straight until a second or so is left in the cast time then she either brings her arms down and performs a thrusting motion as if throwing something at the target (if the target is someone else) or arches her back if the target is herself.
- All skills that cast in 0.5 seconds or faster are performed by a quick jab of the equipped weapon forward.
- Long casting skills all begin with the same animation. The monk enters a wide stance, places the weapon above her head, and cycles her offhand away from and back towards her torso.
- Long spells without a target, or where the target is the caster, end with the monk pulling the weapon around her body, and slashing it back and downward.
- Long spells with a target end with the monk pulling the equipped weapon upward over her head, then stabbing forward as in the short animation.
- Identical to female animations.
- All skills that cast in 0.5 seconds or faster are performed by a swift point of the weapon/wand.
- Long casting skills all use the same animation. The mesmer enters a wide stance, reaches forward with her offhand, and drags it away from the target, as if pulling something out of the target. This repeats until near the end of the casting time, when the mesmer pirouettes, ending with her weapon pointing at the target.
- All skills that cast in 0.5 seconds or faster cause the Mesmer to perform a fast pose with the weapon hand extended and the offhand poised upwards, similar to a fencing maneuver.
- The Assassin spreads her legs (almost kneeling), bends forward and holds her hand close together, by her right. This animation occurs during the whole casting time.
- Skills cast on the user make the Assassin stretch her left hand upward and quickly moves her to the ground, as if throwing something on the ground.
- Some skills cast on the others make the Assassin stand up, move her hands to the left, and then thrust them towards the target.
- Fast casting skills use the same animations, albeit noticeably faster movement.
- All skills that cast in a short amount of time (like most Assassin skills and hexes) result in the Assassin spreading one leg out to the side, bending the other, then reaching upwards and throwing something to the ground- all in quick succession. Skills and spell with longer casting times result in a similar animation, but the Assassin will hold his hand in the air for as long as the spell takes to cast before throwing it downwards.
- Skills which cast in less than 0.5 seconds, and target the self, an ally, or nothing, cause the Dervish to look up and point whatever's in her left hand to the sky. If her right hand is empty, it will also half-heartedly point upwards; otherwise it will remain by her side.
- Most skills which take longer then 0.5 seconds to cast cause the Dervish to kneel, then stand up with her head still down, wrap her arms around herself, and suddenly "release" by opening her arms wide and leaning back. Skills which take a second or less to cast generally skip the kneel, however.
- Skills which target a specific foe (regardless of cast time) will cause the Dervish to kneel as above, then point her weapon towards her target, pull her right arm back as she stands up, then push her right hand towards the foe, in a manner not dissimilar to the Banish artwork. Again, shorter casts will skip the kneel.
- Has the same animations as female.
The Casting Symbol is a symbol that appears above the head of the caster. Typically it appears during the whole process of activation.
The Casting Symbol is optional and the type depends on type of the used skill.
The "aura" is some kind of visual effect that appears around the body of the caster (optional) and/or the target.
- The auras are unique for each skill.
- They are usually nicely animated: Swirling, rotating, pulsing, sparkling, flashing, ... there are countless variations.
- In case there is an aura for both the caster and the target, these two auras are usually different.
- Many spells do not have a caster aura.
- Most non-spell skills have a caster aura (instead of or in addition to a Casting Symbol).
- The caster aura appears either during the whole process of activation (typical for non-spell skills) or at the end, right before or right after the activation is complete (typical for spells).
- In case of a self-targeting skill the target aura appears on the caster, blending in with the caster aura.
- All Warrior and Paragon shout skills can be easily identified by a balloon above their user's head. Ranger shouts and Paragon Chants do not have this bubble.
- Virtually all skills (including non-spell skills) have a target aura of some kind.
- The target aura appears upon "impact" of the skill, i.e. after successful activation.
Some enemies, such as Charr Rangers (e.g Charr Stalker), Undead Rangers (e.g Skeleton Ranger) and trolls (e.g Whuup Buumbuul), seem to lack a proper casting animation for certain skills and appear to trip repeatedly while activating skills with long cast times (such as nature rituals).
The Assassin casting animation resembles them throwing a smoke bomb in a classic ninja-like fashion.
Occasionally, the weapon the player wields will affect the animation of certain skills (e.g A hammer will make a male Ranger use a skill, like Healing Signet, as if it were a male Warrior).