The Goblin Guide to Animation!
A few fast and easy ways to get into digital animation!
So you’d like to animate?
There are a wealth of terrific resources out there to help anyone get to grips with hand-drawn animation. From classic publications to current, free online tutorials, animation is more accessible than ever: if you know where to look.
We’ve compiled a bunch of products, sites and software designed to give you a leg-up.
Where to start?
There are a couple of key concepts that will put you streets ahead in the beginning, and those are the “12 Principles of Animation”. We won’t go into depth here, as lots of very talented and experienced folks have explained them far better than we could, but we recommend searching for them. We’ll even include a few links to resources that cover the principles in the Digital Resources section.
The other thing is to get comfortable with drawing. There are no limits when it comes to how you want to draw. We always recommend trying to consider the form and volume of the objects that you’re trying to represent. Clear animation can rely on being able to convey weight and volume, but then again, all rules are more of a suggestion. Get weird with it.
Sometimes books are king, especially the classics. There have been tons of great animation guides published, but almost anyone would recommend Richard William’s “The Animator’s Survival Kit” as their first buy. It’s a compendium of how-tos and theory. Easy to understand and referenced by us all the time. If you’ve not heard of Richard Williams, we really would encourage you to check out some of his work.
Remember how we were talking about form and volume earlier? This book will get that idea across much clearer. “Simplified Drawing for Planning Animation” shows you how to construct form, to consider weight and form, and help you think about your drawings in a new way. It’s a breezy read with a unique teaching method.
At time of writing, Animation Director Alex Grigg has just begun publishing a series of free animation mini classes on YouTube. They’re shot, bite size lessons that are perfect for beginners, and Alex has even taken the time to animate each, illustrating throughout exactly how it all works in motion.
Circling back to earlier, Alex Becker has a terrific series breaking down the 12 principles of animation.
For more specific topics such as animating characters, creating animation for social media and even career advice, BaM Animation on YouTube has a great spread of content. This is a channel that you might find yourself coming back to again and again.
Here’s a video about the author of the Animator’s Survival Kit, Richard Williams. This video by the Royal Ocean Film Society is short and is a little unique compared to the rest of the resources on this list. Through the lens of Richard’s career the video delves into the context and history of animation. It’s a great watch if you’re interested in learning how it’s all been done before.
Software can be a huge hurdle, a lot of professional stuff comes with quite a price tag. However, there are a lot of cracking programs that don’t! Each one of these is either free, or very frequently on sale to make them all great entry points to animation. Many of these tools are very versatile and are great for digital art of all kinds.
Those big screens that you might have seen folks animating with, they’re called graphics tablets. It used to be that you had to buy one, hook it up to your PC and away you go. And you still can! In fact, that’s how we do it. For the longest time, Wacom was the be all and end all producer of these gadgets but now there are a host of cheaper alternatives. We recommend XP Pen and Huion.
With the rise of the portable tablet (iPads etc.) digital drawing interfaces have become accessible in a whole new way. Apple and android devices with styluses can be used in conjunction with a host of animation apps and are even transitioning into becoming the main tools for many professionals.
Hardware is one of the areas where there is the most, unavoidable expense, so we recommend reading a lot of reviews and hunting for a bargain!