Quickest way to improvement? Practice. It’s a simple bit of advice that rings with absolute truth. Articles, tips, mentors, and study will never get you as far as rolling up your sleeves and getting down to work, be it animation or any other skill. Today we’ve compiled a list of exercises, like animation push-ups, that will get your art skills buff and toned.
Maybe you still need convinced of how important the “Art of Doing” is? Look no further than the early days of animation, especially at the Disney studio. Here were a group of animators (before being an animator was even a thing) who HAD no books to read, or websites to visit, or even experienced animators to ask. They learned via the age old art of hands-on training, experimenting and discovering as they went. And some would argue they created some of the greatest animation to ever be seen. Masterpieces like the dwarfs dancing in Snow White or the terror of the Monstro scene in Pinocchio. So be like them! Get out there and do animation!
Some of these exercises you may have done or seen before; some maybe not. Consider doing each of them, even if you did once previously, because returning to an old exercise to see how much you’ve progressed is a very valuable experience.
Level 1 Exercises
(Do not discount their simplicity! Here you have the principals of animation, which all other animation is built on. They are worth your time and effort.)
- Ball Bouncing in place, no decay (loop)
- Ball Bouncing across the screen
- Brick falling from a shelf onto the ground
- Simple character head turn
- Character head turn with anticipation
- Character blinking
- Character thinking [tougher than it sounds!]
- Flour Sack waving (loop)
- Flour Sack jumping
- Flour Sack falling (loop or hitting the ground)
- Flour Sack kicking a ball
Level 2 Exercises
- Change in Character emotion (happy to sad, sad to angry, etc.)
- Character jumping over a gap
- Standing up (from a chair)
- Walk Cycle [oldie but goodie!]
- Character on a pogo stick (loop)
- Reaching for an object on a shelf overhead
- Quick motion smear/blur
- Taking a deep breath [also tougher than it sounds!]
- A tree falling
- Character being hit by something simple (ball, brick, book)
- Run Cycle
Level 3 Exercises
- Close up of open hand closing into fist
- Close up of hand picking up a small object
- Character lifting a heavy object (with purpose!)
- Overlapping action (puffy hair, floppy ears, tail)
- Character painting
- Hammering a nail
- Stirring a soup pot and tasting from a spoon
- Character blowing up a balloon
- Character juggling (loop)
- Scared character peering around a corner
- Zipping up a jacket
- Licking and sealing an envelope
- Standing up (from the ground)
- Pressing an elevator button and waiting for it
- Starting to say something but unsure of how
Level 4 Exercises
- Character eating a cupcake
- Object falling into a body of water
- Two characters playing tug-of-war
- Character dealing a deck of cards out
- The full process of brushing one’s teeth
- A single piece of paper dropping through the air
- Run across screen with change in direction
- Sleeping character startled by alarm then returning to sleepy state
- Opening a cupboard and removing something inside
- Putting on a pair of pants
- Opening the “world’s best gift” and reacting
- Any of the above exercises using a very heavy character/object next to a very light character/object. Enhance the differences the weight change makes!
Things to keep in mind:
- Reading these exercises will do as much for you as reading about push-ups would do for your physical muscles: NOTHING. If you want the benefit, you must animate them. Take a deep breath and just do it.
- Do not forget the famous words of Ollie Johnston: “You’re not supposed to animate drawings [3D models]. You’re supposed to animate feelings.” If a character isn’t thinking, they aren’t alive, and the animation has failed.
- Keep it simple! There is no reason to over complicate any of these exercises. Going back to push-ups, would push-ups be harder if while doing them you also recited the Gettysburg Address? Yes. Would they be any more beneficial? No. Keep things nice and simple and clear.
- Do your best. There is no reason to do these exercises poorly. Give it your all. You don’t have to show anyone, these are for you. You owe it to yourself to try your very best. Something not quite right? Take the time to fix it.
- As always, have fun. Push ups are not fun. Animation is supposed to be. Be joyful in your work!
Have any questions about the exercises above? Leave a comment below and we’ll answer them the best we can! Someone else may be wondering the exact same thing, so you’ll help them too. Likewise if someone is looking for possible exercises, why not share a link to these and give them a hand?
btw If you really do want to learn to animate, don’t follow my advice just read this: http://www.scribd.com/doc/5445343/the-animators-survival-kit-richard-williams
HOLY SHITTTTT A PDF OF THE ENTIRE GODDAMN BOOK!!!! EVERYONE WHO WANTS TO LEARN TO ANIMATE SHOULD READ THIS
Thanks to Ju Li Khaw for this one who gifts me not only in awesome tutorials but her amazing friendship as well.
Reference! Reference! is a free database that collects different video clips, with categories ranging from facial expressions, to styles of fighting, and animals in motion.
You can play and pause the videos, and move through them frame-by-frame easily.
I’m freaking out, man.
So I wrote and animated this tutorial for people working on my short film Bothered, but I figured it would be useful for all animators, particularly beginners. I borrowed some of these concepts from this awesome packet done by Jon Hooper and Michel Gagne, which is also pretty great!
The Animation Process - Ollie Johnston (download)
I’ve finally decided to make one because I was getting so many questions on HOW to animate. To be blunt, I only know how to animate one way (timeline animation) in one program (photoshop (cs5)) so if you want an in-depth explanation then you’d be better doing a simple google search. Nevertheless, here’s my basic tutorial.
The first step is to open up Photoshop and go to “File” > “New” to make a new document.
Choose your width and height and leave all the other options alone.
Go to “Window” > “Animation” to reveal the animation panel. You should also click on “Layers” if it’s not already up.
You’ll get something that looks like this. And in the animation panel it will either specify (timeline) or (frames)
On the top-right of the animation panel, there’s the setting controls.
If you’re already on Frame Animation, the setting will read “Convert to Timeline Animation” and vice versa. Then you’ll want to change the document settings to your liking. By default mine is always set to 10 seconds at 30 fps (frames-per-second) so I change it to 1 second at 24fps.
Make a new layer. All new layers will show up in the timeline, and whichever layer you are set to work on will be highlighted. The green bar shows how long that layer is on/showing. Above that is the frame count.
Making sure you’re on “Layer 1”, draw something fabulous.
In the animation panel, grab the right side of Layer 1’s green bar and shrink it down to last 2 frames. When people say it’s animated on 2’s, they mean that every drawing is held for 2 frames. You can make it last however long you like, but keep it an even number of frames for REASONS.
For this particular tutorial, I won’t be animating much so just make a duplicate of Layer 1 and move the “Layer 1 copy” in the animation panel so it will appear after “Layer 1” like so
On “Layer 1 copy” I adjust the drawing as I need to. In this case, I’ll be making the person blink so I lower the eyelids a bit.
I repeat the process, making the character close their eyes on the next layer.
Then I make a copy of “Layer 1 copy” (eyes half open) and move that to the end, and finally make a copy of “Layer 1” so that she will have her eyes fully open and the image will loop seamlessly. The final layer I stretch to last the rest of the duration of the animation.
And the animation is done. All that’s left to do is export it which can be done one of two ways depending on what you need it for. For a gif, go to “File” > “Save for Web & Devices…” and it will give you the option to choose how it renders, what colours it uses, and if you want it to loop forever. To export it as a movie file (.avi .mov .mp4 etc), go to “File” > “Export” > “Render Video”
That’s it. The final product of this tutorial looks like this.
Happy Animating! Maybe one day I will go over the onion skin haha
Hayao Miyazaki at work, drawing a scene of Ashitaka for Princess Mononoke <3
Just some tips from me!
>make frames from layers
how have i literally never seen that option in my life
I’ve been struggling with photoshop animation for too long thank you
The whole film took me altogether about 5 grueling months (usually 10-12hours a day) to do. I often felt my butt was going to grow into the chair I usually sat at.
Please note that this was simply my way of doing my film to achieve the soft-shaded style I wanted; there are many other ways of doing this and some are a lot faster with different results~! :)
- My film on DeviantArt | My film on Vimeo
- My film gifs on Tumblr
- You can see my storyboard animatic here (although the original had music, but like I mentioned, my placeholder music was by Joe Hisaishi, you know, Miyazaki’s composer, so it’s not really legal to upload it).
This tut differs a bit from my dA version, because tumblr lets me put the combination of gifs and jpegs :D.
Here’s a book that will really help you start animating:
here’s some books that are good for composition, storytelling and colours:
- Dream Worlds: Production Design for Animation
- The Art of Pixar: The Complete Color Scripts and Select Art from 25 Years of Animation
- Prepare to Board! Creating Story and Characters for Animated Features and Shorts
I hope these helped
I ask that no one removes the credit or source for this tutorial/guide please. thanks :)
some rough animation for fun
Eadweard Muybridge - Animal Locomotion (Plate 755, 758 & 765), 1887