Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tips on Becoming a Better Animator

Just as there are an infinite number of ways to animate a scene, there are just as many ways to improve as an animator. The ability to observe from life and reflect whatever it is we see in our work helps to make our art more personal and therefore enrich us as artists.

A great way to improve your powers of observation is by keeping a sketchbook and sketching from life as much as possible. This, to me, is the equivalent of a musician practicing their scales. An accomplished musician does not sit there and think about the next note they’ll be playing. Rather, they are more concerned with letting their passion and inspiration drive their performance. Similarly, it is beneficial for an animator to learn and absorb as much technical knowledge as possible so that they can instead focus on bringing convincing performances to life. If you constantly observe the world around you, you will have a better idea of what will make your animation feel more natural and true to life.

Learning from the masters is a great way to improve as well but don't limit yourself to just watching films are a goldmine because they offer a great deal of amazing performances that are fresh and avoid cliched animation acting. One thing I like to do is take a performance I admire and try to deconstruct it by thumbnailing all the key poses and analyzing what makes it work. By doing this, you can really distill the actor's work and learn a fresh approach to constructing a similar shot in animation.

Another important (and often hard thing to do) is to step away from your animation and try to enrich your life. Do anything that will inspire you, whether it is listening to music, going to a museum, seeing a theater performance or reading a book. It can be really easy to fall into a rut when you are animating all day so setting your work aside and recharging those creative batteries will do wonders for your scene.

Most importantly, don’t be afraid of getting feedback on your shots and have the attitude of a student. Show your shot to the people you trust and learn from their constructive critiques. KNOW that you are learning and improving as you do each shot and things don't necessarily have to be perfect each time out. Have fun! If you set realistic goals and enjoy yourself along the way, there is no doubt that you will constantly improve and surprise yourself with how much you are growing both artistically and personally.

Guest Blogger Chris Chua


Hannah said...

Thanks for the tips! I particularly like the one about thumbnailing the key poses of an actor's performance to analyze it.

Herman G said...

Valuable advice, thanks.

Rajesh Gupta said...

Thanks for the awesome tips for becoming better Animator. Presently, I am doing lots of sketching for improving my look to watch around me.

HannahViera said...

Thanks for that. I need reminders like this once in a while. I get so behind with work, I feel too guilty to go out and enjoy things, but usually my best work is after enjoying new experiences or discovering new cultures or philosophies through books and exhibits. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with us.

Jay_D said...

Thanks a lot for the tips.. :)

Daina said...

I myself is interested in doing this course .. it sounds good and interesting ..I m definately going to bookmark your blog ...


chris chua said...

Hey Everyone! Glad you like the post. Thumbnailing from live action is really helpful. It lets you avoid looking at animation all the time and gives you a fresh perspective on acting. Also, go out and sketch! Fill up those sketchbooks and keep your eyes sharp. This will really add to your animation whether it is 2D or 3D.

anki said...

Thanks for the fabulous tips.It would help me to move forward in the animation world..:-)

Winston Chee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Winston Chee said...

Dear Mr Chris Chua,

My name is Winston Chee, I'm from Singapore.

First of all, I will like to say that I am an admirer of your passion for animation and Animation Mentor. I do hope that one day I can have my dream come true too.

Here is a little part of my life: Unlike many other artistes, I did not grew up liking drawings or animating. I was a normal, boring person who passed a day with nothing accomplished and only do what is needed to be done. My passion for animation only started in recent years when I was in a local polytechnic doing my film courses. The only thing that I have similarities with most professional animators and cartoonists out there is that I have been watching Walt Disney cartoons since young, but I wasnt fascinated by the animation, but mainly by the music. (Haha, I think my childhood's ambition back then was to be a Mickey Mouse Club kid.)

Then as I grew up, the love for Disney's cartoons seemed to have died away just like the magic of Disney animation which has been lost for a certain period of time. My love was reborn in me when I was in my polytechnic where I was exposed to a more in depth understanding and seeing the true fascination of animation. My fellow schoolmates got me loving the art of animation by the way they make the characters move, the wonderful and beautiful backgrounds they painted and how exciting the stories can be told in animation.

Ever since, I have been crashing most of the animation classes as possible, on top of my film classes and attending seminars and webinars for these few years. However, work started for me and the time to concentrate on animation and drawing has reduced drastically. I worked almost 12 hrs everyday, once I got home, I am pretty tired to concentrate on any other things. I have tried my very best to keep drawing and animating for the past few years, whenever I can, however its possible, but the only good drawings I come out with is when I copied drew the characters I found online. If I were to draw them myself, from my mind, it wont look as good. My drawings are still very juvenile.

Now, I am at the age of 25, without much promising future ahead. I am doing a job that has no relation to film or animation. I am worried. Alot of times, I asked myself if animation is really the path that is meant for me to take. Art is not like doing admin work or a teacher, working in an art industry needs talent. I ponder on this; 'Do I really have the talent?'.

Some people told me that it will take some times before I could know it, I think it also took you a few years to master the skills. However do I have the time? I can take the next 5 years to keep practicing on my animation and drawings, but what if when am 30, I really find out that animation isnt my cup of tea. I will be at a dead end where I have no career and not much of a future to look forward to.

Dear Mr Chris Chua, what do you think I should do? Inside me, I know that I really want to try out and prove to myself that I can be an animator and a cartoonist, but another side of me, is telling to be very cautious of the way I walk this path? Should I take the risk? I really do wish to be able to tell my stories using animation.

Some of my teachers and friends are telling me to attend an art school, but I really dont have the money to study full time again. I need work to support myself. The only thing i can attend are online schools like Animation Mentor and Schoolism. What should I do? I need a job to sustain my life, but i cant really take on an animator's job as I dont have the skills yet.

I hope to hear from you soon. Thank you for your time.

Winston Chee

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