What to study to be an animator

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by Phantoon 6 years ago.

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    I want to be an animator and, researching, I see that you study a lot of anatomy. I wonder how much time to practice, 1 minute, 30 seconds? And if that's what I have to study to improve as an animator. Thank you very much

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    I have the same goal as you, friend. The answer to OUR question is: EVERYTHING!

    As an animator, you should be able to draw EVERYTHING. Main things to study are anatomy (of humans, animals, monsters, as well as objects, such as cars, houses, nature, etc.) and perspective. Of course you should also be familiar with tone in order to convey depth. But I'd say that anatomy and perspective are the main ones to really grind.

    1 minute, 30 seconds? These are just warm up sketches to loosen up the arm and the mind. I'd say do the whole thing. Do the quick ones, as well as the looong ones. Also, DRAW FROM LIFE. This one is really important. I know that animation is your goal, but if you know how the real world moves, your animation becomes much better.

    Hope this helps. Remember to enjoy the process of learning... because this is gonna take a while...

    I'd wish you good luck, but that's NOT what we need to succeed. What we need is to SHOW UP, WORK OUR ASSES OFF and SACRIFICE petty distractions.


    Thank you very much. I'm studying anatomy, but I do not know if I'm doing it right, how can I study anatomy in an effective way?



    I'm an animator.
    I describe what I do as a combination of physics, anatomy, drawing skills, and acting. Learning anatomy and drawing is essential and, like animation itself, seems to be a life long study! The book Figure Drawing: Design and Invention by Michael Hampton is one of my favorite anatomy books I've found so far. He goes over gesture, construction, skeletal and muscular systems, and technique. Ultimately, we want to be able to create poses from our imagination, and I think his approach is a great tool for that.

    There are other good anatomy books out there for artists, but that's my favorite. Joe Weatherly's The Weatherly Guide to Drawing Animals has a similar approach, but of course for animals.
    As a side note, I also recommend the Drawn to Life books by Walt Stanchfield for animation. They're essentially Disney drawing and animation lectures! And of course, The Animator's Survival Kit by Richard Williams is a must have for actual animation techniques.

    Anyways, back to drawing!
    Personally, when I set out to draw I start with a scratch page of just drawing circles. This helps warm up my hand/eye coordination, as well as encouraging myself to drawing from my shoulder and not just my wrist.
    I start with 20 second figure drawings. You can show a lot of action/emotion in a 20 second drawing, and its a great way to build up your skills of seeing balance (where is the figure's weight and where are his feet to support it?) as well as seeing the line of action through the whole body.
    Do a variety of times during your drawing session- long poses are good for really thinking about correct proportions and how the muscles are working under the skin.
    I would say aim for more emphasis on gesture and construction drawing, rather than rendering (shading) your work. You actually learn more during the gesture/construction stages than you do when you're polishing a drawing. Of course, rendering is quite fun and it's totally okay to do it! But what's most important is that learning process.

    And I absolutely agree that drawing from life is essential. I have a membership to the local zoo and I try to go there fairly often. I draw both people and animals when I'm there. Always bring your sketchbook with you where ever you go. Standing in line somewhere? Look at people and draw them. Are they standing with more weight on one foot? How does that look in a drawing? Etc etc.

    Learning how to draw is sort of a cyclical process. Sketch from life. Go home, try to draw from memory what you were drawing. Where do you need to improve? Study the subject's anatomy- Google skeletons, measure proportions. Draw some more, go draw from life, and so on.

    Learning never really ends. You'll never really have a day where you 'get there' and don't need to study anymore. I personally really like that- there's always something to learn, always something to improve on, always something new to make. It takes time, dedication, passion, and all the other stuff E.M. Samuels said!

    Are you planning on going to college to study animation?
    If not, maybe consider taking some online classes. Schoolism has some great drawing courses that look fairly affordable. Animationmentor and animschool seem to be pretty popular for animation courses- but they're more pricey. Aaron Blaise at creatureartteacher.com has some affordable courses as well.
    Look for local figure drawing salons as well! I did a couple when I lived in San Francisco.

    But even if you're not in a position to go to school/pay that much, draw draw draw!


    Hi, I'm an animator. I've won several film festivals with my work and have worked with a lot of different clients over the years. Here's an example of some of my work. It's from a film I've been slowly picking away at.

    First off, draftsmanship is typically pivotal, but an incredibly strong understanding of the fundamentals can suffice if you're going into CG. If you want to get into traditional animation, or 2D digital, you will need to be a very strong draftsman, and a strong designer. Most people overlook learning a lot about design and simply learn how to draw, which can work, but great animators know how to take what they learn from drawing and implement appealing and stylized designs for varying forms and structures they have to work with. Disney, for example, uses a lot of straight to curve design in their characters and shapes. Nowadays, animation is heading more toward the golden era design of symmetry and noodle arms, but the choice is ultimately up to what appeals to you. However, you can't make something appealing if you aren't versed well in design.

    I'd also give some advice about the difference between prospective careers in CG/3D versus Traditional/2D. You can still be hired by a major studio to do 3D work, but 2D is much more spread out to smaller studios, or almost entirely outsourced overseas. If you want to go traditional, it's become more and more imperative in the market to not only be incredibly strong at draftsmanship, but also to be able to sell yourself. If you choose to go into 3D, it's the future and it's the now, but always remember that major studios have been notoriously outsourcing a majority of their 2D work overseas, and 3D might soon follow as it did with the CG effects industry a few years ago. With streaming services on the rise, however, who's to say what the trends will be in 5 years or so?

    So, to reiterate. Practice your draftsmanship (aka drawing, preferably from life) and study/practice a lot of design. Combine them together to create a distinct, appealing, and efficient style and you'll be well on your way. Hope it helps.

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