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So you want to be an Animator? Here's what to expect.

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Thanks

I'll have to see if I can look up more information on the picture you linked me to. If someone handed me that, I would not begin to know how to use it for animation until I better understood the layout of the page. Is the 1-15 in the columns individual frames, or is the animator being given a just a rough idea of what to animate? Nah, I won't bug you on this one, I can do the research.

An all dialogue episode would be very long winded and obnoxious. Usually I do all the action scenes first. I'll have all the dialogue scripted out too, but I just have never been good at looking at the script and going "Hey bro, the video will go from 4 minutes to about 7 minutes in length once I plug in the talking." I'm usually a minute or two off. This hasn't caused any problems yet, just irks me. I was hoping there was a developed method the professionals used in gauging dialogue, but reading it out and timing it will definitely work. XD

An all dialogue episode would be very long winded and obnoxious. Usually I do all the action scenes first. I'll have all the dialogue scripted out too, but I just have never been good at looking at the script and going "Hey bro, the video will go from 4 minutes to about 7 minutes in length once I plug in the talking." I'm usually a minute or two off. This hasn't caused any problems yet, just irks me. I was hoping there was a developed method the professionals used in gauging dialogue, but reading it out and timing it will definitely work. XD

That is why you storyboard it out first. Its easier to adjust the timing and material and edit the thing down to a reasonable run-time. You can also nail down the composition of your shots, spot any jump cuts and refine continuity, workout the camera moves, decide upon the acting, gestures and expression, and add or omit anything you to need along the way. Storyboarding is such an effective and critical step that it will save you time and effort ( and MONEY) before you commit to a single frame of film.

Once you have the animatic time out the way you want it, then you can do the exposure ( dope) sheets for animation, because they will further break down the action/dialogue from the animatic into specific frames on the dope sheet.

As just as an aside--a bit of a rant: its astonishes me how many times I have read over the past.....oh 15+ years that contemporary animation instruction in MANY college level schools DO NOT teach exposure sheets. The ones that seem especially bad at it are those that offer "instruction" in Digital Animation studies.
Its mind-boggling because a properly written dope sheet spells out the timing, acting and gestures DOWN TO THE FRAME for every technical aspect of the animation. Its literally a blueprint for the film........and equally astonishing is that some studios...specifically gaming studios.... just "wing it". They have NEVER heard of dope sheets and they don't understand that they can save time and money, if properly used.
Consequently, a digital animator who has never been " exposed" (PUN!) to a dope sheet, cannot cross-over to traditional animation ( at least not as easily) as a traditional animator can in vice versa.
I have read/heard far too many times of students that have never heard of exposure sheets, much less seen one, or know how to use one.
That's a shame because all it does is perpetuate the niche talent mind-set.

And btw: here's a 25-cent primer on that dope-sheet I linked you to:
The action column describes the specific acting called for, w/ the funny drawings present. It includes the holds and specific directions such as hook-up for the adjoining scenes.
The dialogue column has the phonetic breakdown of the track, as it relates to the sounds on EACH frame.
The "exp" ( exposure) column beside that contains the "ABC" mouths specified, which are the pre-designed mouth shapes for those vowels and consonants spoken in the dialogue. This is done to provide a more consistent look in the animation and speeds up the process.
The dope-sheet seen there is as is handed from a director to an animator to start a scene-its not been completed yet because none of the key-frames for the animation have been added in yet by the animator..

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

Ok, I'm seeing it a lot better now

Thanks for clarifying.
So sheet 50 there is for 80 frames of animation(I assume there going at 24 frames per second)
the dialogue is out phonetically to precisely what the animator will hear on each frame and the exp part is for facial expressions. In the actions is rough sketches of what the characters are doing with rough notes. Trying to follow them, the mouse on the right is holding its position for the first 31 frames. blinking from 9-16, the dragon leans in and grabs the doorknob in 7 frames, pushes for four frames, and then the door opens with the next four. The letters in the first two columns (Dialogue and Exp) are for the dragon talking, but down further on the page there's letters in the next two columns which would be for the mouse.... I think.
The camera notes is left blank since the camera is sitting still the entire time.
I think I got that pretty close, please let me know if I'm missing something, this will be very helpful in future videos.
I wish I had animation classes to take, it would have helped a whole lot. I've taken one course of Maya and have learned the basics of 3-d animation, but nothing more. I'm in a flash animation class which is even less helpful wherein I could turn in a ten second animation and pass, but I want more than that. Way more.
It's sad to say that I did not understand the importance of story boarding until about three months ago; my current video I'm working on is story boarded, but I definitely have not done exposure sheets. XD I ought and get the audio tracks first before doing the animation (Sorry I'm saying trivial things, I've been working very counter intuitively for a long time, or very intuitively into every wall that the experienced so casually dodge).
Thank you so much for your help, I've gleaned a lot in so little time. In a way, it is common sense, but it wasn't common to me and who knows how long I would've gone on until it occurred to me that there was an easier way to doing things.

I wish I had animation classes to take, it would have helped a whole lot. I've taken one course of Maya and have learned the basics of 3-d animation, but nothing more. I'm in a flash animation class which is even less helpful wherein I could turn in a ten second animation and pass, but I want more than that. Way more.

Might I hazard the statement that the school(s) you are going to/have gone too probably wasn't offering the level of instruction they should have.

That's all too common actually, because animation is such a niche craft, and so few people outside of it have any inkling as to what's all involved, its very easy for a "school" to shirk on instruction, and none of the students would be any the wiser. Until its too late, of course.

But there ways to pick up the pieces: get a book like Richard Williams' Animators Survival Kit and it'll cover most of the animation timing principles for character animal. That and Elemental Magic, by my colleague Joe Gilland, for effects animation principles. Follow those principles and apply them to the software mechanics ( Maya, Flash, what-have-you) and you've just done what a 12-24 month animation course would mostly teach you. There's lots of other books out there too, you are not limited to the ones I have mentioned.

It's sad to say that I did not understand the importance of story boarding until about three months ago; my current video I'm working on is story boarded, but I definitely have not done exposure sheets. XD I ought and get the audio tracks first before doing the animation (Sorry I'm saying trivial things, I've been working very counter intuitively for a long time, or very intuitively into every wall that the experienced so casually dodge).

This is common too.
Two of the things I have noticed as an former animation school instructor, is the tendency for many students to fail to understand the relevancy of the various steps in the animation production pipeline. That and they tend to compartmentalize every subject irrespective of the other subjects--not understanding that they cross-connect.

Here's an example: Life drawing. Those quick little 15-30 second gesture drawings they get the class to warm up with often seem to be both a pain in the ass and a waste of time to students. Sadly, not a lot of instructors fully explain the relevancy of these drawings.
They don't understand WHY they have to draw that way, when they " don't actually draw that way, in real life".
Do they??

Oh yes. Its not some pointless hoop to jump through for the amusement of the evil demented instructors, the process actually serves a purpose.
Flash-forward to the student's student film where they have X-number of weeks to produce the film from concept to post. They are animating that sucker and its taking "forever".......because they are drawing the thing the way they "have always drawn".

I floor students, abso-fucking-lutely gobsmack them when I say that their ENTIRE student film can, and should, be animated in a single day, maybe a day and a half, tops.
Many of their brains cannot process how that can possibly be done, until I explain that those gestural drawings they had to do waaaaaaaay back are the key.

See, the whole point of getting animation right is the TIMING of the actions , and NOT the volumes and line quality of the object drawn.
You draw out the key frames as quick, supple, gestural drawings, with clear lines of action--not worrying about the look, but instead concentrating on the FEEL of the action. Those drawings take seconds, and therefore a scene need take only minutes to flesh out because its NOT a series of pretty drawings, its a rough guideline of the action that is then shot on pencil test to see if the business works on screen.
Once the whole short film works in that form, THEN the student can go back in and do the mechanical drawing and make it look nice--and its easier because all the thinking work is done at that point.

But many, many students..........far too many really, don't think it out that way.

They spend inordinate amounts of time fussing over "a drawing" when they should be flying through the actions and getting the basic info down on the page. At this point in time, the student is wasting their effort if they are drawing every fucking shoelace on the character-that sort of detail doesn't bring ANYTHING to the animation. Its a learned drawing habit that needs to be UNlearned.

I've come into class on a Monday morning after a weekend to find students in tears because they could not figure out a drawing over the course of the 2-3 day weekend--and they were completely stymied as a result.
The instructor sits down and whips out the solution in a GESTURAL drawing in about 15-30 seconds and the poor students realize then and there just HOW they have wasted their time.
Yeah, 15-30 seconds is how long it need take............and how long were those life drawing gesture drawings again?

Funny how that works out, eh?

I think part of the problem is that students can get intimidated by the entire process of animation, and all the myriad skill-sets that are called upon.
They may see themselves weak at perspective, for example, and thus shirk layout and composition--and in turn it affects their storyboarding because they cannot properly stage a shot, and in turn affect their directing choices.

See how this tends to fall into place?
YES, its daunting, its intimidating and challenging. Yes, you almost need to have a jack-of-all-trades approach to this, and YES you should approach is fearlessly.
The hope remains that students will understand the process as they go, and not after the fact, when the sting of reality and putting food on the table under the career choice can affect whether or not they actually pursue the career.

Again, ALL of this is just a process........and yes, a very common sense one too, and its often gained as a result of some experience or insight picked up along the way. The magic thing is that often a tiny sliver of insight is enough to open the door to the whole mindset behind it. There's no "guru-wisdom" to this.......its a craft with steps that have been refined and proven over time. The model is there for everyone to follow, and the means to identify that model is to just ask the question: "why do they do that".
And the ball starts rollin'......

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

Finals are here

Sorry for taking a bit to reply. Jack of all trades, most definitely. XD I've seen many inspiring animators on the net and they always fascinate me but not in the sense that they are somehow mystical or beyond reach. They fascinate me because I know that I can be one of them, what's being done is not inhuman talent, just sheer determination meeting hard practice and good practice.
That's good that the animation should be gestured in a day or two because that's roughly what my animation looks like when I'm focused on it. XD My current animation is focused on breaking away from my older videos of my characters standing around and flapping their lips into more energetic and believable personas. As I get them to move more and more, my art, perspective, and backgrounds will improve with time, so no huge rush on it. I just got to get my characters to dance first, spin, kick, jump, run, and be active.
Thank you for helping me. When I can scrape two pennies together I'll definitely get the two books you recommended, right now I'm just busy budgeting keeping the house together. T_T Our pipes froze and broke and we just got that fixed, but we're still in the red for getting propane tanks for heating. In a short bit I'll be dawning my McD hat for the summer and my brother will also be getting a job to try and hold out for the next winter. It's been an unusually difficult year, but that's not here nor there. I just gotta keep working. My goal is to be able to market my skills by next year to help ease things here. I might be setting the bar to high for myself, but I'll have to make that call when next year comes. :D
And that was definitely a tangent. So, um, thanks, you've been very helpful, and I hope to be able to ask for guidance a bit every now and again.

But there ways to pick up the pieces: get a book like Richard Williams' Animators Survival Kit and it'll cover most of the animation timing principles for character animal. That and Elemental Magic, by my colleague Joe Gilland, for effects animation principles. Follow those principles and apply them to the software mechanics ( Maya, Flash, what-have-you) and you've just done what a 12-24 month animation course would mostly teach you. There's lots of other books out there too, you are not limited to the ones I have mentioned.

I agree with everything said, just a quick suggestion here based on my personal opinion:

Although Williams is the definitive book on animation technique, I find it very heady and a bit unstructured, meaning there are no chapters or a glossary for quick reference. (I don't own the Extended Edition so if it's different there please feel free to correct me.)
I'll give Williams that everything he talks about builds upon the previous topics but for a complete neophyte it should be almost impossible to digest it all reading it in one go.
That said, I've found Eric Goldberg's Character Animation Crash Course to be more concise and structured. Since Goldberg came out of Richard Williams' studio, he essentially talks about everything that's in The Animator's Survival Kit (albeit not nearly as exhaustive). However, Goldberg approaches everything more comprehensively. Plus, if bought new there's the CD with animated examples to go with the chapters.

Joe Gilland's book, on the other hand, has no parallel because to my knowledge it's the only animation book to date thoroughly dealing with sophisticated FX animation. Books on character animation will usually spare the topic a more or less superficial paragraph or chapter, but Gilland is a master of effects animation covering all aspects - art, technique, design and philosophy, all with extremely beautiful drawn examples.

I agree with everything said, just a quick suggestion here based on my personal opinion:

Although Williams is the definitive book on animation technique, I find it very heady and a bit unstructured, meaning there are no chapters or a glossary for quick reference. (I don't own the Extended Edition so if it's different there please feel free to correct me.)
I'll give Williams that everything he talks about builds upon the previous topics but for a complete neophyte it should be almost impossible to digest it all reading it in one go.
That said, I've found Eric Goldberg's Character Animation Crash Course to be more concise and structured. Since Goldberg came out of Richard Williams' studio, he essentially talks about everything that's in The Animator's Survival Kit (albeit not nearly as exhaustive). However, Goldberg approaches everything more comprehensively. Plus, if bought new there's the CD with animated examples to go with the chapters.

Joe Gilland's book, on the other hand, has no parallel because to my knowledge it's the only animation book to date thoroughly dealing with sophisticated FX animation. Books on character animation will usually spare the topic a more or less superficial paragraph or chapter, but Gilland is a master of effects animation covering all aspects - art, technique, design and philosophy, all with extremely beautiful drawn examples.

Yes, the critical advice here is to find the book or instruction that works for you. Some people may find Williams' book of use, others might find Goldberg's book to be better for them. Or it might be a Preston Blair book, or perhaps even Chris Hart's books.
Or it might be some OTHER book--SOMETHING out there has the answers.
The necessary thing is for the seeker to determine themselves what they need and what they can use out of the books to get any real value out of them.

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

If you manage to scrape a couple of hundred dollars together.... I'd recommend Jason Ryan's online tutorials. Or buy individual tutorials. The videos are set up like you're looking over his shoulder as he's animating. And you can download a demo version of FlipBook (with watermark unfortunately) and work right along with him. For me at least, it took away some of the terror of sitting down to face the blank computer screen.

And then I jumped in the deep end and went for a postgraduate in animation, and here I am getting deadlines and sheer terror to keep me animating :D I'm going to show this off just because I finished it today. Not perfect by a long shot, and my cleanup line is really ordinary, but....it's done, I took a half-decent stab at applying the 12 principles, and there is *always* room for improvement. So:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FD3CoaGQys

curiosity

ive been animating with flash for almost a year now and im curious about how cartoon animation works. what is the system like to create a cartoon along the lines of the lion king or robin hood. i want to learn about animating actual cartoons instead of using flash.

ive been animating with flash for almost a year now and im curious about how cartoon animation works. what is the system like to create a cartoon along the lines of the lion king or robin hood. i want to learn about animating actual cartoons instead of using flash.

Dear Evergrimm,

If you've committed yourself to learning the art of creating an illusion of life, you can go for a formal structured curriculum and with the right attitude and determination cross the river in 2-4 years (crossing the river leads to a journey which starts from the banks). Alternatively, you can commit yourself to self-learning (which would be life diving into a river in a zeal to cross it, and you may arrive there safely in a few years extra or may never arrive at all depending again on your zeal). If you choose the latter, you can go through various threads on this site to know what to do and where to begin. And wish you the best from here..

http://www.3danimationtrainingstudio.com

I still have not told my story! - Vineet Raj Kapoor

I recommend signing up on these forums. http://satellitesoda.com

They dish out the harshest unapologetic critique all budding artists need anywhere on the whole WWW. Far superior to Concept Art.

And even more insider advice on animation jobs and related.

3D Animation is popular in recent years, and many companies needs the 3D experts as designer, so i think you would be wonderful if you can do this work! And then, you should study it perfectly, or go to a training school to learn it totally! Come on!

What to expect?

Well.........you can expect to work harder and longer hours than in most other jobs.
You can expect NO job security, instead your skills and developed talent will become your job security. You can expect to travel to work in another city at some point.
You can expect competition from other people, both before and after you get a job.
Do not expect to make a lot of money, but you should be able to support yourself once work is steady.
Expect work to be seasonal, in the respect that projects ( games and shows) have starting and stopping times and there's not always another project following it up.
Expect to work for people that, at some point, will not know what they are doing--most do, but there's a few out there that do not.
Expect to really bust your ass in getting the best training you can, it developing your ARTISTIC skills as well as computer skills. Expect that mediocre skills will land you mediocre to no jobs--accomplished skills will give you better options. Do not shirk at talent.
Expect to get stiffed on pay at some point in your career--it might not happened for a long time, it might only happen once, but its VERY likely to happen.
Expect fear, frustration, sweat, accomplishment, elation, joy, devastation etc.--the gamut of human emotions.
Expect to love the job and hate the job at the same time.

OMG what a spot on post. The only thing I could add is that your computer will explode or freeze while doing never ending renders

wedding videographer | wedding video

There was a lot of post sometime back about what it takes to survive in the animation industry and the changes that animators need to go through to be more "realistic" and "pragmatic". I was wondering if anyone can offer some insight on how their passion/love for art changed to adapt to the harsh reality of the industry.

Specifically, I'd like to know where you see your love for arts/animation in your life today (do you draw/ animate? on or off work? maybe you work on some pet projects now and then, etc.) and how it compares to your passion when you entered the industry years ago.

There was a lot of post sometime back about what it takes to survive in the animation industry and the changes that animators need to go through to be more "realistic" and "pragmatic". I was wondering if anyone can offer some insight on how their passion/love for art changed to adapt to the harsh reality of the industry.

Specifically, I'd like to know where you see your love for arts/animation in your life today (do you draw/ animate? on or off work? maybe you work on some pet projects now and then, etc.) and how it compares to your passion when you entered the industry years ago.

Doing art professionally-- that is on demand and for pay--can be demeaning, frustrating, heartbreaking, terrifying, tedious, debasing, and exhausting.
There are times when it can be likened to prostitution, and all the denigrating aspects of that sort of thing. There is little wonder as to why a lot of cartoonists end up jaded and bitter.
The opposite is true too--doing art professionally can be uplifting, rewarding, thrilling, rapturous, deeply profound, exhilarating and exciting. It can be likened to a spiritual experience and something that can leave your soul quivering.
And still there is little wonder why a lot of cartoonists end up jaded and bitter, and why they STILL do this sort of thing despite being jaded and bitter.

When I started out I was VERY naive and wet-behind-the-ears. I did not know good from bad, I was "gosh/gee whiz" about everything. I leaned a lot, made a lot of mistakes but I kept jumping back at it because it was an adventure.

And it still is. But like any adventurer, you wince a bit when you remember the scrapes and the stings, and you don't don't look at the mouth of the cave with such daring or hubris anymore. The zeal is measured after a while, often replaced with a mix of resignation and trepidation because "once more unto the breach" means something different than it used to.
I have worked on a lot of stuff, invested my emotions into it, and seen my investment dashed to bits because those that followed up afterwards didn't have the same investment.
Nothing crushes the enthusiasm and inflames resentments like seeing something you put your feelings into being uncontrollably rent into shit.

Why still do it if its not as fun?
Its a job, like any others. Its a measure of control, perhaps minor in a ways, but control nonetheless. You still get paid, or perhaps acknowledged,for your "judgement" as much as your skills, so its not as mindlessly tedious as other jobs can be.
At the back of one's mind still lies the delusion that somewhere.........out there.......a little kid ( or not-so-little kid) my go gaga over the thing you work one and it might ignite the fire of passion within them and carry on the legacy.
What we do is akin to alchemy. The person-on-the-street doesn't understand the mysteries of our magic-they do not comprehend where "it comes from" in anything but the most superficial sense. Our routine can be where their dreams dwell.
There is something to be said for touching your pencil to a sheet of paper and having awe and wonder be the result.

That or the pay will keep you living in the same place for the next four months and you can eat something other than ramen noodles for half that time.

I exaggerate some though.

In my case the flame of creativity burns far dimmer than it used to. I seldom draw for myself anymore, because once you attach a dollar value to a once-joyous task, it loses a lot of its innocence. Money taints the reason to do things, and if they are emotionally draining it influences the doing.
Drawing them becomes a means to a monetary end, and it the drawing cannot be completed for whatever reason then drawing at all for oneself tends to feel pointless.

But not hopeless.

I still doodle. I still spent an inordinate amount of time thinking and slowly drawing out my own ideas and concepts. These are for......."later" ( I tell myself), and work interrupts or fatigue interrupts them all the time.

I admire and envy artists with boundless energy who still produce work for their own amusement outside of paying work. When I am not working, I like to spend my time with other things that mean more to me; family, friends and hobbies.
I will not lay on my deathbed and think " I wish I had done more drawing..." because my priorities in life are different that just drawing.

But still.......I continue to covertly work upon my comic book ideas. I see the new and unlimited frontier of publishing my work on-line--with no middle-men 'tween me and my audience.
I have secured an art show later this summer at a local comic shop-as a sort of leverage to get me back and creating all new works for a spell.
That kind of psychology can be good to spur the juices back into action.

I have a pragmatic approach to this. I don't gloss it over because the gloss is gone for me. But the gloss ISN'T the magic--its just a veneer. Its that bullshit that has not being paid for doing work right behind it. Its that lie that a unimaginative dumb-as-a-stump concept is worth working on. Its the exhaustion that just drains one's soul, the burnout, cold-shoulder, the despair.
The gloss tries to hide that.

The magic, however, is something else.

The magic is sitting in a dark theatre........for the first time........and seeing a giant robot soar into space, to save a little boy and a small town.....and just before, he closes his eyes.......and says......"Sssuuuppperrmaaaaaann".

Nothing in existence reaches into you like THAT feeling.

That is why I still do it.

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

"I Want to become a 3D Animator but i dont know what i can come to expect in this career."
What's your expection? The money or the space of your improve yourself?
If you are interested in 3D, you will do it best! Good Luck!

Be sure a look over the sticky " So You Wont To Be An Animator", which is where you have posted. Also use the search engine and look up Ken posts. There are others but I can not remember their names at the moment.

So help me, I read through all of Ken's posts...and I'm currently four weeks into a one-year grad dip in animation :D I'm enjoying it, although I'm neck-deep in assignments, unemployed until the 5-week mid-year break, and probably can't afford to work in the animation industry on graduation. But that's OK, because I've spent the past 7 years drafting up kitchen benches and school bathrooms, and there's plenty more work where that came from. And it pays just enough to keep the concrete slab over my head and food in the fridge :p This is my metaphorical "year in Paris"...what comes after, I don't know. But I've crossed over to the wrong side of 30, and am getting progressively crustier and more cynical. So I figured if I didn't go back to school now, I never would.

If anyone's curious, here's the first two I've done so far in school. Both my efforts are, from the Disney-12-principles point of view, cringingly bad, but the only way out is forward. I'm aware of the flaws, e.g. morphing, "hitting the wall" with not exaggerating extremes enough, yadda yadda...but all things to keep in mind for the next bout of animating.

Group project, cutout silhouette stop-motion. My character is the bunny with the broom:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYR02KKqRZM

200 drawings, any style, subject or technique, with audio:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QL6l9jm1UqU

And I'm also blogging about my exploits (link in signature), as part of my assessment and also because I Can't Believe It's Animation School! :D

i am glad to hear someone be honest about the amount of thankless work that goes into the animaton industry, and getting the real deal is rare in this world. The amount of disillusionment in the books out there thanks for being honest and giving the heads up

Hi

I am only in High School and i have always been into animation. I take mostly advanced level art classes in school.

I Want to become a 3D Animator but i dont know what i can come to expect in this career.

I just need some advice on how to go about getting a job in 3D Animation

I am also in high school, I want to be animator too. I tried looking for internships but they do not give it to high school kids.. I know it take hard work, creative ideas and a bachelors degree.

Want some really useful advice?

If you are going to get into animation as a career, you'll work one of two ways most likely: freelance, or some kind of salary.

Do yourself a favour and learn THREE things:
Learn a bit about handling money and banking info--and about your taxation rights where you live. Oh, and learn about how accessible lawyers are to you.

Money: you are working for a studio, and you get a pay-stub, usually a cheque made out to you and often a stub citing the taxes and coverage you pay ( that the studio deducts).

Make certain that you check these stubs each AND EVERY time, to make certain that your pay is consistent and only the required amounts withheld for taxes etc, as per the laws of your land. In most situations, the ideal amount of deductions taken off at source account for the annual taxation amount you are obligated to pay.
If you get a paid a set annual wage, these amounts can be calculated in advance so that the portions deducted are averaged out over the course of the year. Usually, most tax agencies demand that statements be issued by the companies tabulating the amounts deducted from pay each year come tax time. In Canada we call these slips T-4's.
These slips MUST be tabulated correctly, as they are legal documents.

But, alas, its somewhat easy to defraud both workers and the government by submitting falsified and incorrect slips. This is where YOU need to be alert.
You pay stubs HAVE TO ADD UP to the tax slip. Its not hard to keep track of them......if you get paid every 2 weeks you'll only have 26 of them in a year.

DO keep them safe and accessible to yourself. This is where the advice here comes into play.....a LOT of people ( some in my own family even) have a tendency to treat these pay stubs and slips nonchalantly. They mean nothing.......until you have to prove that you got paid a different amount than what the tax man ( or the studio claims) you got paid.

Wanna be stupid? Throw them out, like some folks do........and when the shit hits the fan, well you can be out thousands of dollars more, potentially. Pay stubs and bank account statements are a paper trail that can save your financial ass, if it comes down to it. Without them, its your word against the studio......and you can BET they certainly keep records.
Don't shirk this, it can save you are lot of grief.

Alot of people freak out over stuff like this, thinking that its too complex or too much of a headache to manage. If you think that, great........send ME your money, I'll take great care of it. Not for you though....because if you cannot look after your dollars yourself, you might as well just hand it all over to some stranger and never see it, or them, again.

Taxes are the same way. A lot of people just go blithering fucking stupid when you say the word "taxes" to them.......as if its some kind of psychological block.
Well, it literally is with many people, and it need never be.
Take the time to learn about your tax system in your country. If its a fair and legal system, your should have access to info on how it works and what your rights are.

YES, it will be BORING research. Suck it up, deal with it. Do it just once and most of the info will hold you for years.

Do it with the aim of learning three things:
What your obligations are as a tax payer.
What your rights are as a tax payer, including info such as what your tax rate is at your level of income.
What kinds of deductions you can claim on your income, and how to structure your financial affairs so as to pay your tax obligations.
Finally, what you have to do if you have taxes owing, and what your rights are with regards to the tax man coming to collect from you, even if THEY make a mistake.
Look, don't take hearsay for this..........find it out for yourself. You will gain info that can serve you personally for years to come, can serve your family and friends even.
I'm also a big proponent of sitting down with an accountant at last once in your adult life and having them prepare your taxes. Ask them and learn about what kinds of deductions you can take as specifically related to your career/business. You will probably only have to do this ONCE as you can use the tax return as a template for many future years down the road.

Lawyers. Biggest myth going is that even just thinking about lawyers is expensive. A lot of people have it in their brains that access to a lawyer is only for the wealthy.

Bullshit.
An utter lie.
If you buy that nonsense, then you got it from someone who told you that garbage. Trust me, its a lie.
In many jurisdictions, a lawyer is there to serve the public good. Yes, some specialize in ONLY serving corporate interests, but a good number of lawyers are out there serving just you and me.
Understand that there's two things here........there's consultation and there's representation.
In consulting a lawyer, its often just a single visit--you tell them what the problem is, your situation and ask them what your rights and options are. Often they can guide you into the right direction and just KNOWING your rights can be a huge advantage in a "legal" spat with someone.
Typically the cost of a consultation is nil......its just advice. That or it MIGHT cost you a $100. Might be the best $100 you ever spend too ( AND it might qualify as a tax write-off)

Representation means having the lawyer actually follow through and do some work for you. This CAN get into the hundreds or thousands of dollars if you let the lawyer take the lead.....but it need not cost that much.

Look, let's say you are having a spat with the studio about getting paid. Your pay was shorted by their accounting and they insist nothing was done wrong. You know otherwise.
You consult a lawyer and simply ask them if they would write a letter to the studio on your behalf, asking for the pay to be made to you. The lawyer will type it up, and use all kinds of nifty legal terms and such. And they will send it to the offending party ( and you'll typically get a copy too. Cost will likely be maybe....$100, if that.
Now, what will happen?
Usually the recipient--the studio--will shit bricks. They will FREAK.
And they will freak because they now have in hand a letter FROM A LAWYER regarding your problem with them, and they don't know the depths of the legal representation you have now.
All they will see is that you have a lawyer on YOUR side.
In MOST cases, to avoid the cost of hiring their own lawyer.......they'll concede. You'll often get your pay owing and you can get on with your life.

THAT is the whole point here. Its not the power of the legal machine........its the THREAT of the legal machine.
Point blank, if you cannot afford the cost of legal representation, tell the lawyer. Often something can be worked out.
Remember, there is a concept in legal circles called "pro bono", which means "for the public good". Pro bono legal work is typically free of charge, or very minimal charge. Most jurisdictions abide by this principle of law. Sometimes the payment can be by barter; the exchange of goods or services instead of capital.
Hey, if you are an artist, offer to do a framed caricature of the lawyer for his office. Some of them appreciate talent and might go for that.

Pro bono work usually is intended to be forthright and speedy. The lawyer wants your case done and dealt with....so things can happen quickly. A letter can be followed up by a phone call, and or a fax--and again the intimidation of legal representation might be all you need. They lawyer can also be the sounding board on if and when to cut your loses, if the other side seems to intractable.

Be fearless in each of these three things--as you may some day need them.
Learn your rights and options because many people around you likely will not. Don't accept hearsay......get the EXPERT advice. Keep your paperwork--its not hard. It'll help you if trouble strikes....because its prima face evidence--not just word of mouth.

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

So you want to be an Animator Heres what to expect

taking into account unforseen issues above
If it was a healthy maturing young one I would expect to get a horse back I could take out and do a fairly presentable low level test at a training show.
It also would depend on the level of rider that was to take over after the 60 days

The Disney way to swim

Lest that anyone gets discouraged, this industry is not about lawyers and lawsuits. It's about creative work most of the time. Sure you may get knocked around sometimes, but that happens with every boxer too! So, there's not much to worry. Well, if you're caught up in a legal tangle, you can go either the way suggested by Ken above, or alternatively you can choose to Disney your challenger. Well, Walt instead of getting into challenging (and showing the other party down) went ahead and put his energies into showing himself (up), and we all know where he got. I am sure Gandhi too appreciated that kind of response. But, yes they have had access to more refined thought process than most of us.

http://www.3danimationtrainingstudio.com

I still have not told my story! - Vineet Raj Kapoor

Lest that anyone gets discouraged, this industry is not about lawyers and lawsuits. It's about creative work most of the time. Sure you may get knocked around sometimes, but that happens with every boxer too! So, there's not much to worry. Well, if you're caught up in a legal tangle, you can go either the way suggested by Ken above, or alternatively you can choose to Disney your challenger. Well, Walt instead of getting into challenging (and showing the other party down) went ahead and put his energies into showing himself (up), and we all know where he got. I am sure Gandhi too appreciated that kind of response. But, yes they have had access to more refined thought process than most of us.

virtualciti thanks, it will be pleasure please kindly share your story

Lest that anyone gets discouraged, this industry is not about lawyers and lawsuits. It's about creative work most of the time.

Of course, its about creative work, most of the time.

My missive was regarding the "rest of the time".

Hey, its up to talent to manage their lives. If they want to be sheep and let business matters bulldoze them over, that's up to them. Or they can learn a few things and be forewarned ( even prepared) when bad things happen.
Walt Disney was very savvy about lawyers and lawsuits, as his brother Roy drummed that into him constantly. Walt didn't ignore it by a long shot, he rode the crest of the wave of what was possible and impossible and floundered more often than not. Gandhi was also a lawyer too, and used his knowledge of law a great deal in his crusade.

I guess learning about this stuff can be handy after all, eh?

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

There's been a numbers of posts/threads lately wherein newcomers have asked a question to the tune of "should I/can I undertake a career as an animator?".

Its an understandable concern, certainly an intimidating question to ask and have answered.

Its a universal-enough question that there's really only two ways of looking at it: you can be unsure about the enterprise and jump in full of hope, dread, expectancy and remorse.
And every other emotion imaginable.
And HOPE that you develop/learn enough to start and make a career out of being an animator.
Its been said many times before, by myself and others, that what YOU bring to this will determine WHERE you go with this, how far you go with this. If you are not "doing it" to a considerable degree already.......well.....there isn't a magical moment when it all comes together on its own. You have to do it.

The other way is different.
In the other way........you don't even ask the question.
You don't have to.
There simply is no question of it.
Doing this.........achieving this as a career is a nigh-unholy act of necessity that its as much an essential as breathing. You look at it as if you do this, or you die. There's no in-between to it. You just do it. Nothing stops you, nothing deters you. Its an absolute feeling. Your eyes are ALWAYS on the goal....no matter what life throws at you. Your lock never wavers.

This is how it was for me, how it was for a number of colleagues I know. For almost all that still work in the biz, it was always a case of wanting to do it, from the first moment, the first inkling of doing this.
It was truly a cause set in motion.
With this conviction comes action, the body starts drawing, creating, filming, imagining what-have-you. Usually this happens when the artist is young......around, say, 5 yrs old is an average--and it never lets up.

To my mind, this is the distinction between the two camps, if you will.
The former, I have observed, often take on the challenge, work to competency and gain employment, maybe having some measure of success working for a time. But they do not have the emotional stamina for the down-time, the drudgery, the abuses, the travails etc., and...........eventually, they fall by the wayside. They quit the biz and go onto something else.
Likewise are those that tell themselves they'll "give it a shot"--and they do just that. They might attain all the above, they might try their hand at school, get saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in debts from student loans etc..........and then find that the studios will just not consider them.
For whatever reason, they just don't have the level of skill or artistry that the studio demands.
They too, also fall by the wayside--and because they realize THEIR future in the biz is so bleak and forbidding that they decide its better to do something else that lets them eat, and sleep under a roof and live a life.
The third aspect is even grimmer; its those folks who never had a hope in hades in the first place. They simply do not draw, or create or imagine in any expressive way. They see the career solely as a glamorous one, and its an affectation of theirs to jump in and see if they can "play" at being an animator, so they can share in this arm's-distance-away thing they admire so much.
And of course they fail at it. The sobering reality hits home at some point, and they trod off to something else. Thankfully.

But the other camp, never sees things that way. Never.
The innate stubbornness is fuelled by a metaphorical "stone-cutters" mentality. That despite the derision of those that look on, the stone-cutter will continue to relentlessly strike the giant boulder, seeking to split it in half. The stone-cutter is smart.........cagey even, because he's patient despite whatever swirls around him. He'll rest as needed, and strike the boulder in different places as he weighs the effectiveness of his strikes. And he never stops, never gives up. There's no futility in his cause, ever. There's only determination.

One day, of course, the boulder WILL split in half. The stone-cutter knows this from the outset, so the event is not really a surprise. He saw it coming a LONG ways off. Everything to that point was just a process. The event itself is less an achievement and more a confirmation. Make no mistake, this isn't always a clear vision......it might just be an ephemeral feeling, a notion even. But everything builds to the goal.

And it never stops there. Its not just that final strike and boom its all done. The process continues, its ongoing......like breathing. The metaphor in this case is just part of the story. Its not the person, or the obstacle that is the measure......its their deed.

Someone who wants to become an animator.......who simply convinces themselves they CAN do this, will do it.

Again, there's no question of it. There's no need to ask the question in the first place, because.....well, the right person knows they were meant to do it all along.

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

Walt Disney was very savvy about lawyers and lawsuits, as his brother Roy drummed that into him constantly. Walt didn't ignore it by a long shot, he rode the crest of the wave of what was possible and impossible and floundered more often than not. Gandhi was also a lawyer too, and used his knowledge of law a great deal in his crusade.

I guess learning about this stuff can be handy after all, eh?

Sure Ken, knowing the stuff is handy, i was referring only to the precedence. I understand that experiences vary and there are a lot of people who may get swindled. However, I was just afraid that a rookie might assign priorities wrongly. So my note is just an addendum to yours and not a diversion of path. I understand that most of the people reading this are starters in animation. So I hope they don't end up as lawyers ;-)

About Walt, he got swindled a few times with people taking away his artists and even his first character. He didn't get into lawsuits (maybe the contracts were not favorable to him) but recovered and created even better characters. Sure Gandhi too was a lawyer, but all his knowledge of law actually formed the basis on which he negotiated for people's rights, and not for any copyrights. But yes this is snowballing into the wrong direction.

So the bottomline, as Ken said, do understand the laws and remember to make contracts before starting work.

http://www.3danimationtrainingstudio.com

I still have not told my story! - Vineet Raj Kapoor

Sure Ken, knowing the stuff is handy, i was referring only to the precedence. I understand that experiences vary and there are a lot of people who may get swindled. However, I was just afraid that a rookie might assign priorities wrongly. So my note is just an addendum to yours and not a diversion of path. I understand that most of the people reading this are starters in animation. So I hope they don't end up as lawyers ;-)

About Walt, he got swindled a few times with people taking away his artists and even his first character. He didn't get into lawsuits (maybe the contracts were not favorable to him) but recovered and created even better characters. Sure Gandhi too was a lawyer, but all his knowledge of law actually formed the basis on which he negotiated for people's rights, and not for any copyrights. But yes this is snowballing into the wrong direction.

So the bottomline, as Ken said, do understand the laws and remember to make contracts before starting work.

walt got swindled sometimes when someone taking away his artists and his first character is absolutely correct and then he worked more hard and created better charcters which was the formula of his success

A real eye opener

Thank you all for the wisdom.

Hi, everyone. I've been reading through every post on this thread for the past few days and I have finally caught up. The discussions/advices here have been extremely helpful, I just want to say thank you very much to everyone who contributed their nuggets of wisdom. I really wished I had realized earlier that forums can be helpful; when I was younger I was blinded by DeviantArt being the only art community. Clearly, I've been deprived. There's also conceptart to check from.

If my brain were a computer, it would be showing the blue screen right now because it's so saturated from everything I've read here. After that, here comes a plethora of text like the flood of HTML codes when your PC tries to boot up again. Let me give a brief introduction of myself:

My name is Kaf and I'm 18 years old. I finished high school last December and I'm currently an Illustration major. Drawing is something I've been doing religiously since I was 10 and I know I cannot live without and but I have yet to incorporate drawing EVERYDAY into my self-discipline. My initial goal ever since I were a preteen was to be a comic book artist (the Japanese kind). However as I grew older, I have learned to appreciate different art styles (thank god). My goal to publish a comic book hasn't changed one bit but I intend to dive into other fields of art too.

Animations was something I had only cared for aesthetically and I did not think of being involved in an animation production until I watched How To Train Your Dragon. There was a scene that I found particularly inspiring and wow. After that, all I could think of was, "Wouldn't it be great if something you created could give other people those same feelings?" And basically that's how I got a deeper interest in Animations. That and I am past being intimidated by the industry. I was ready to take the risk the moment I chose Visual Arts over Law anyway.

My main goal is to be involved in preproductions of film animations like concept work and boards. I don't mind diving into cartoons like ones you see on Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network too. A friend who was an animation graduate recommended me a few books (Preston Blair's Cartoon Animation, Richard William's Animators Survival Kit and Harold Whitaker & John Halas's Timing for Animation) before I found this thread. I've yet to read them all but I'll slowly finish them. My question now is that:

What daily practices I can do to improve movement in drawings besides gestures? I realize that illustrations can be very different from animations where we want to polish everything and it would come out too stiff for animations.
Incidently, what are your opinions on the French school, Gobelins? I found their shorts to be impressive and I hope that one day I can attend a short course there, maybe summer school.
After reading so many posts here, are you trying to say that people should be pursuing an animation career as a freelance?
I'm in a good art school in my region and there's so many things to harvest from it. What habits, skills and mindset I should develop/pay attention to? (Ken has addressed this before but I feel like asking again for extra input)
How do people decide if a newcomer is 'skilled' enough for them? What are the first things they seek out in a portfolio?

These are the questions I can think of for now. Thanks for the answers in advance.

I'm in a good art school in my region and there's so many things to harvest from it. What habits, skills and mindset I should develop/pay attention to? (Ken has addressed this before but I feel like asking again for extra input)
How do people decide if a newcomer is 'skilled' enough for them? What are the first things they seek out in a portfolio?

Hi Kaf--

I might have mentioned this before in this thread, but here it is again:

How "skilled" do you need to be?

You need to be able to produce work at the level of the studio that is hiring.
That is the benchmark.

How do you find that level?
Look at the work the studio produces. At the quality of drawing, backgrounds, animation movement, timing etc. If you can get material from their pre-production work ( say from DVDs of the shows) then study those as a gauge of artistic ability required.

To do all this, you need to develop the skill of self-evaluation, and suppress the tendency of your ego to delude you into thinking you are good enough, at too early a point. Just compare your work to the work of the studio--what it produces. Learn to draw the way they draw, paint, design etc.....

Yes, those things are always changing, evolving, but there tends to be a common benchmark standard of ability. Its a bit hard to describe: a kind of robust ruff drawing that is sketchy, yet supple, appealing and has strong design elements, yet isn't too tight or stiff early on. The work should have some "life" to it, at all stages. This can apply to drawing, painting, CGI, rigs/builds, what-have-you.

Along the way, try to show your work to professionals--get their opinions. Don't show it to people that are not drawing professionally--their opinions are valueless because they don't know what to look for.

As for what to put effort into--aside from what is mentioned above---all classic drawing disciplines are worthwhile, especially strong life drawing skills.
Perspective, composition, gestures and expressions and the range of human types and archetypes.
Strive to challenge yourself, find those things that you feel are intimidating to draw, and work on mastering those things. It will keep you from getting lazy and it will challenge you.

Good luck.

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

To do all this, you need to develop the skill of self-evaluation, and suppress the tendency of your ego to delude you into think you are good enough, at to early a point. Just compare your work to the work of the studio--what it produces. Learn to draw the way they draw, paint, design etc.....

Yes, those things are always changing, evolving, but there tends to be a common benchmark standard of ability. Its a bit hard to describe: a kind of robust ruff drawing that is sketchy, yet supple, appealing and has strong design elements, yet isn't too tight or stiff early on. The work should have some "life" to it, at all stages. This can apply to drawing, painting, CGI, rigs/builds, what-have-you.

Along the way, try to show your work to professionals--get their opinions. Don't show it to people that are not drawing professionally--their opinions are valueless because they don't know what to look for.

As for what to put effort into--aside from what is mentioned above---all classic drawing disciplines are worthwhile, especially strong life drawing skills.
Perspective, composition, gestures and expressions and the range of human types and archetypes.
Strive to challenge yourself, find those things that you feel are intimidating to draw, and work on mastering those things. It will keep you from getting lazy and it will challenge you.

Good luck.

Okay, thank you very much!
Many of the things you've pointed out are stuff I'm weak in, I'll keep that in mind and on paper.
I'll read up the books first, if I've more things I need help on then I'll return here to ask.

Ah, I feel like sh*ttiest artist in existence almost all the time rather than "I'm a good artist". But usually I just draw and don't think about all those things.
It can get depressing and I often imagined what it would be like if I hadn't started drawing as a hobby at all. I would probably end up in law school.

From the previous posts, you state that you dislike your job. But have you ever regretted going into art? Has animating become just a job for you and nothing more? Have you published a comic book yet or intend to get it out? Are there still things you're looking forward to creating while you're in the industry and if it okay, what are they?

Sorry for the bombarding of personal questions but I'm curious.

Okay, thank you very much!
Many of the things you've pointed out are stuff I'm weak in, I'll keep that in mind and on paper.
I'll read up the books first, if I've more things I need help on then I'll return here to ask.

Ah, I feel like sh*ttiest artist in existence almost all the time rather than "I'm a good artist". But usually I just draw and don't think about all those things.
It can get depressing and I often imagined what it would be like if I hadn't started drawing as a hobby at all. I would probably end up in law school.

Well, there's always a need for lawyers.
Don't beat yourself up about drawing though. Learning and growth are incremental. The frustration comes from not being able to gauge or measure yourself properly.....you don't know whether you are progressing or floundering--and THAT'S NORMAL. Approach things intelligently--chunk things down to manageable sizes. Learn to spot what is working in the stuff that inspires you, and then translate that stuff that works into your own work.
As long as you persist, you will grow.

From the previous posts, you state that you dislike your job. But have you ever regretted going into art? Has animating become just a job for you and nothing more? Have you published a comic book yet or intend to get it out? Are there still things you're looking forward to creating while you're in the industry and if it okay, what are they?

Sorry for the bombarding of personal questions but I'm curious.

Its not so much that I dislike my job, its that I am realistic about it.
I don't animate any more, I storyboard, and they are both different disciplines in the same line of work. I'm not awestruck by the stuff any more. The projects I work on are not my own creations, they are jobs I'm hired to do. My contributions are under the auspices of other's oversight. My input is governed by the limitations of the script and the director's notes/advice.
I do not necessarily LIKE the projects I work on......and I don't have to, as I'm just hired to bring what I can to it and get paid for delivering what the client wants.
In essence, I am just a hired wrist.
Because the project is not mine, once the work leaves my hands, it is out of my control. The person that follows me in the production pipeline may be more or less competent--something that cannot be predicted or influenced.
I do a specific task, give it what I have and then hand it it. My participation ends there. The work isn't magical in any sense because I have seen follow-up work rendered unto shit, by people that simply did not care enough.
You cannot force someone to like something, so one must simply accept that not everyone is going to give their all.

Keep in mind, that indifference or dislike does not equal incompetence.
The skill-sets are so varied in this craft that finding the people who all love a specific genre or style is nigh-impossible.
A job ends up being.....a job.

This is the main point of a thread like this, to introduce the "reality" of the biz to newcomers--even though the reality can vary somewhat, based on personal experiences.

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

Its not so much that I dislike my job, its that I am realistic about it.
I don't animate any more, I storyboard, and they are both different disciplines in the same line of work. I'm not awestruck by the stuff any more. The projects I work on are not my own creations, they are jobs I'm hired to do. My contributions are under the auspices of other's oversight. My input is governed by the limitations of the script and the director's notes/advice.
I do not necessarily LIKE the projects I work on......and I don't have to, as I'm just hired to bring what I can to it and get paid for delivering what the client wants.
In essence, I am just a hired wrist.

Yes, I suppose it makes sense seeing as the work you do is not your own, there's nothing personal there. The drawing is just to get pay.
But that's the same with any other job so I think I'd still rather prefer to go mental or frustrated over something like animations or illustrations than regular 9-5 jobs.
Well, I'm still new to this so maybe when I'm older and into the industry, I'll be less awestruck over every little thing hmm.

Have you had enough time for personal projects while working? Stuff to do to retain your sanity or do you wait until your job is done?
Do you allocate your time daily like an organized, sensible person or just do it when you feel like it?

Edit: And what are the negative/positive aspects of plateauing? Plateauing early would be horrible of course but what if everything you draw ends up generally having the same style even though you've become a pro? Is trying to diversify your styles a method to get out of it? It kind of scares me at the moment.

I can tell you honestly I dont always start off enjoying the jobs I do for others. but along the way, as it comes together that changes. while my main thing is animation, I do general work modeling, painting, video editing, graphic work. all creative work but animation and painting I enjoy the most. whenever the need hits me. thats when I work on my personal work. sometimes I have the time, other times I make the time

it isnt a set thing

I can tell you honestly I dont always start off enjoying the jobs I do for others. but along the way, as it comes together that changes. while my main thing is animation, I do general work modeling, painting, video editing, graphic work. all creative work but animation and painting I enjoy the most. whenever the need hits me. thats when I work on my personal work. sometimes I have the time, other times I make the time

it isnt a set thing

Hmm, sounds just like balancing school work and personal work. And okay thank you :)
I was just unsure whether going into animation is going to give me a lot of sleepless nights until I finish the given work or is there a tiny bit of free time I can squeeze into.

Have you had enough time for personal projects while working? Stuff to do to retain your sanity or do you wait until your job is done?
Do you allocate your time daily like an organized, sensible person or just do it when you feel like it?

No.
I've not found or set aside sufficient time to work on my own stuff while working on paying jobs. Some folks can muster the juice to do so, but I have not been able to as much. When I'm not drawing for pay......I usually don't like to draw, as there's other hobbies and interests that I like to do with my time.
I see-saw back and forth between being organized and scheduled with my work, and times when I work according to my moods. Working in studio is more conducive to the former, and working at home is a trap for the latter.
There are some days when the drawing ability is just gone.....and other days where every line that touches the paper is just gold.
And then there's those days where you don't feel like it but you HAVE TO get it done. And you do.

Edit: And what are the negative/positive aspects of plateauing? Plateauing early would be horrible of course but what if everything you draw ends up generally having the same style even though you've become a pro? Is trying to diversify your styles a method to get out of it? It kind of scares me at the moment.

If you know what you are doing, you won't have to worry about plateauing. The jobs I have done ( in storyboarding) often called for completely different styles from series to series. There was a time when the jobs would change every few weeks, and so would the styles and genres. One week it would be a pre-school show, the next it would be a action-adventure, then a comedy etc....
The key to surviving that is to understand design and to be versatile.
Niche-talents fear plateauing, as much as they fear style or genre changes.
This is what I talk about when I say an artist should be somewhat fearless. Foundation skills are really about problem-solving--if you have solid drawing skills, then most things amount to a "drawing problem" that can be solved with some study and application. That's the mindset I have: anything is solvable--I might be just a technique, a method or just a bit of study away from a solution.

Now, a bit of a rant: When I was teaching, I saw a lots of students field a lot of manga or anime work. In and of itself, that is fine.....but its a common style that presents a problem: its the only thing these students tend to draw.
I remember one fellow who would show me drawings with very small variations/alterations of a single to them and he expected me to comment on what he thought was his progress. Well, there wasn't much.

If one wants to work in animation in North America, all one has to do is look at the output of the North America studios. The styles of almost all the shows are not anime/manga. There's the odd influences here and there......but there's a wide gulf between the two camps.
So limited one's tastes in drawing to just that spectrum of style.........well, it can cripple or hamstrung a career.

This is why I have long advocated becoming a fully-functional cartoonist, able to show a range of styles and genres.

Want to never be without work?
Be able to produce appealing work in multiple styles, and be sensitive to the nuances of different genres.
Understand what makes an action adventure sequence thrilling, understand how to stage and pages a funny bit of business in a comedy. Understand how to keep things simple, clear, appealing AND entertaining in a pre-school show.
All you have to do is be clear on how to deliver to the client what THEY want, and then do it.
That is all there is to it.

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

If one wants to work in animation in North America, all one has to do is look at the output of the North America studios. The styles of almost all the shows are not anime/manga. There's the odd influences here and there......but there's a wide gulf between the two camps.
So limited one's tastes in drawing to just that spectrum of style.........well, it can cripple or hamstrung a career.

This is why I have long advocated becoming a fully-functional cartoonist, able to show a range of styles and genres.

Want to never be without work?
Be able to produce appealing work in multiple styles, and be sensitive to the nuances of different genres.
Understand what makes an action adventure sequence thrilling, understand how to stage and pages a funny bit of business in a comedy. Understand how to keep things simple, clear, appealing AND entertaining in a pre-school show.
All you have to do is be clear on how to deliver to the client what THEY want, and then do it.
That is all there is to it.

Okay, I'll take the chance to explore other styles while I'm still schooling.
I'm trying to do something styles out of anime/manga seeing as it was the only style I've done for years and I get what makes it appealing.
But somehow it's hard to try a new style. It's not so much that I cannot appreciate artwork from people like Bill Watterson or John K but it's the feeling of that the work I create while trying to emulate their art style turns out like the crappier version of the original.
Maybe it's probably because I don't understand much about other styles...

Another question is: Throughout your career, did you move a lot? You said you've done many jobs but were they always within your state or out of it?
I just want to know if I should take note of the moving expenses in future...

Okay, I'll take the chance to explore other styles while I'm still schooling.
I'm trying to do something styles out of anime/manga seeing as it was the only style I've done for years and I get what makes it appealing.
But somehow it's hard to try a new style. It's not so much that I cannot appreciate artwork from people like Bill Watterson or John K but it's the feeling of that the work I create while trying to emulate their art style turns out like the crappier version of the original.
Maybe it's probably because I don't understand much about other styles...

Now comes the unfortunate time to scare you a bit.

You NEED to develop a range of styles that you can draw in. You NEED to be able to discern what makes those styles work and to become competent in them.
If all you want to do is computer animation, swinging rigs around and such, then drawing will be less of a consideration--it might not necessarily be terribly creative per se, but it can be a job and a career.
If you want to contribute to designs, storyboards, the LOOK of a project......then drawing skills are going to be an asset.
Anime/manga have very limited exposure in North America animation productions--you only need to look at the output for proof of that.
Nothing wrong with it as a style choice, but it'd be like drawing only like Jack Kirby, or Marv Newland, or Ben Wicks--there's limited applications to those kinds of styles.
The "style currencies" of value that I have seen in most North American studios tend to start in the Disney, Warner Bros camps. Those encompass a broad ranges of styles themselves, but they tend to be the defacto starting point for a lot of North American animation design philosophies. Add a bit of UPA, some Hanna Barbera etc into the mix and you have the "style template" that tends to work over here. The reasoning is that if you can drawing that stuff then you can draw anything.........including anime/manga.
I've just spelled out a broad spectrum here, and that is bound to leave you somewhat lost.

Take about 10 distinctive appealing styles and master them. That's all you need to do. Isolate the most commonly sighted styles or stylists and work on those.
As I have probably said before....while you are at it, draw from life as well. That is the foundation of all classical drawing skills. The rhythms and tempos found in good life drawing are present in all other good drawing.

But if all you can muster is a niche-range of style......then you are going to encounter difficulties.
I'm not talking about appreciating them, I'm talking specifically about being able to draw them.
You just have to get to work on it.

Another question is: Throughout your career, did you move a lot? You said you've done many jobs but were they always within your state or out of it?
I just want to know if I should take note of the moving expenses in future...

In my own case, I've stayed within the Western Canada region for most of my career. I have colleagues that have done a far amount of moving about from studio to studio for jobs, but I spent a great deal of my time working in my home-town of Vancouver, BC. Much of my freelance work still comes out of there, even though I live a couple of provinces away now.
Depending on the work and the projects, a lot of the work tends to gather in central hubs, like Vancouver, Toronto/Ottawa, Los Angeles etc. and a lot of it is due to financial/tax reasons.
In the case of Vancouver ( for example), the tax incentives that help make productions viable and profitable demand that most of the talent be Canadian citizens, as well as residents of BC for a certain amount of time prior to the production. This affects hiring choices, and thus affects the transient movement of talent from one part of the country to another.
It affects freelance assignments too, as I live in another province and I don't always get gigs out of BC now because I am not a resident.

This is evolving though, because telecommuting has changed the working landscape a lot. I do my work digitally now, and upload my storyboards via internet to a client's FTP server. I don't HAVE TO live in the same city as them, nor even the same country. I'm wrapping up a job for a client in Ireland right now, in fact.
So, to answer your question: it depends on the job and the studio and your own point of origin. Early on, the studios will likely want you in-house to be able to supervise you and your work--and it can be a condition of employment. As you gain work experience ( years) and a good rep that can relax considerably.

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

hi Ken

Ken, you seem to be seasoned in this field. Where are based? Im going to guess LA. Id like to see some of your work if you wouldnt mind sharing. I myself am in New York and have been out of the field for a few years, work here is scarce, Ive had to partially sell my soul to be a computer technician to get by. Being a 2D animator here does not seem to be proving lucrative.

Ken, you seem to be seasoned in this field. Where are based? Im going to guess LA. Id like to see some of your work if you wouldnt mind sharing. I myself am in New York and have been out of the field for a few years, work here is scarce, Ive had to partially sell my soul to be a computer technician to get by. Being a 2D animator here does not seem to be proving lucrative.

Nope, I'm not in LA.
I reside and work in a prairie province of Canada.

Some of my stuff is posted here; http://forums.awn.com/showthread.php?t=6135&highlight=Davis
I'm trying to work in more of my own projects these days, trying to ease off the paying work for a while. Not sure what this summer will bring, I do have a gig scheduled for July, and have some comic-book pages to complete on my desk right now.

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

Hi,
I'm new to the forum and have read a few pages of this thread (obviously not all of it, it would take me a long time!)

So, I'm 14 and a big fan of animation and cartoons. I'll admit, I can't draw that well, I've always wanted to be able to (Up until I was 12 I always wanted to be a cartoonist) but I've never really put in the effort and my BIG problem is that I'm a perfectionist, and if there's just one small thing wrong with a drawing then I'll scrap it/give up. However, seen as it's actually getting towards an important time in my life when I actually have to choose a career, then I've decided that I'm going to draw at least once a day to practice, and try my hardest to not want to perfect everything.

I'm living in England at the moment and I definitely want my own business, so, I would love an animation studio. From reading things on here, I can see that it is almost an impossible task, so please, instead of laughing at it, give me advice?

Yes, it's probably far-fetched, but ideally I would finish school, go to University in America, get some work experience for 5-10 years, then open up my own animation studio and become as big as disney :D

Obviously that's incredibly unlikely, so in reality what I WILL do to start off is when I'm 18-20 (Assuming I can draw like a master by then) work on shorts/cartoons in my spare time and create an Internet presence, which can also be used in my portfolio.

I hope I haven't missed anything vital, so feel free to ask me questions.

And, if it helps, when I was little I literally ran through a patio door and smashed my head open, resulting in a scar on my forehead :)

Hi,
I'm new to the forum and have read a few pages of this thread (obviously not all of it, it would take me a long time!)

So, I'm 14 and a big fan of animation and cartoons. I'll admit, I can't draw that well, I've always wanted to be able to (Up until I was 12 I always wanted to be a cartoonist) but I've never really put in the effort and my BIG problem is that I'm a perfectionist, and if there's just one small thing wrong with a drawing then I'll scrap it/give up. However, seen as it's actually getting towards an important time in my life when I actually have to choose a career, then I've decided that I'm going to draw at least once a day to practice, and try my hardest to not want to perfect everything.

I'm living in England at the moment and I definitely want my own business, so, I would love an animation studio. From reading things on here, I can see that it is almost an impossible task, so please, instead of laughing at it, give me advice?

Yes, it's probably far-fetched, but ideally I would finish school, go to University in America, get some work experience for 5-10 years, then open up my own animation studio and become as big as disney :D

Obviously that's incredibly unlikely, so in reality what I WILL do to start off is when I'm 18-20 (Assuming I can draw like a master by then) work on shorts/cartoons in my spare time and create an Internet presence, which can also be used in my portfolio.

I hope I haven't missed anything vital, so feel free to ask me questions.

And, if it helps, when I was little I literally ran through a patio door and smashed my head open, resulting in a scar on my forehead :)

The effort you put into this will determine the results you get. Its true of anything in life, but its especially the case with animation.
Figure out what you'd like to do.....2D or 3d animation, and systematically prepare yourself to able to do excellent craft in those medium.
Draw very well, or animate very well, use the tools with aplomb.
There's no mystery here, the targets are all in plain sight, the methods are largely all spelled out.........its just the physical/mental work that needs to be done.
If you want a head-start over everyone......look at the various steps involved beforehand. What are the basic requisites--find out. Then do those things and master them. Look at the work of the pros you admire and break down what they have done: colour, composition, perspective, figures, designs etc...whatever they may be. That's the road map to follow.

But its not easy, because if it was........y'know......everyone would be doing it. All that means is they see the end results and they soon learn its intimidating to go through all the steps to get to those results. But a number of people have already gone before you and done it.
Be smart, learn all you can. Do the craft, and do it well. Do not give up, be patient, methodical, persistent.

And I have owned an studio before, its an attainable goal. its going to start out small whatever you do, so understand that a "studio" is you and another person (or persons) that can do the stuff required by your client. Its not a mystery either, and they clues to success are out there to find as well. You do the work, provide the service, gain the rep......get more work, grow, gain more work, field your own stuff, grow.....makes deals, more work.......on it goes. Its not for everyone, but its not impossible.

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

The effort you put into this will determine the results you get. Its true of anything in life, but its especially the case with animation.
Figure out what you'd like to do.....2D or 3d animation, and systematically prepare yourself to able to do excellent craft in those medium.
Draw very well, or animate very well, use the tools with aplomb.
There's no mystery here, the targets are all in plain sight, the methods are largely all spelled out.........its just the physical/mental work that needs to be done.
If you want a head-start over everyone......look at the various steps involved beforehand. What are the basic requisites--find out. Then do those things and master them. Look at the work of the pros you admire and break down what they have done: colour, composition, perspective, figures, designs etc...whatever they may be. That's the road map to follow.

But its not easy, because if it was........y'know......everyone would be doing it. All that means is they see the end results and they soon learn its intimidating to go through all the steps to get to those results. But a number of people have already gone before you and done it.
Be smart, learn all you can. Do the craft, and do it well. Do not give up, be patient, methodical, persistent.

And I have owned an studio before, its an attainable goal. its going to start out small whatever you do, so understand that a "studio" is you and another person (or persons) that can do the stuff required by your client. Its not a mystery either, and they clues to success are out there to find as well. You do the work, provide the service, gain the rep......get more work, grow, gain more work, field your own stuff, grow.....makes deals, more work.......on it goes. Its not for everyone, but its not impossible.

Thanks for that advice :)

A few more questions;

Ken and other animators - what qualifications do you have that have helped you in animation? I'm starting the JCB Academy soon so I will have quite a few Engineering and Business qualifications. I'm not sure if I will get a GCSE for Graphics yet but I am good at that.

And can anyone recommend the Drawn to Life books (the notes of Walt Stanchfield), I've used how to draw books before and they weren't very helpful but this only has positive reviews so I'm definitely considering buying it.

what qualifications do you have that have helped you in animation? I'm starting the JCB Academy soon so I will have quite a few Engineering and Business qualifications. I'm not sure if I will get a GCSE for Graphics yet but I am good at that.

Qualifications..........let's see, drawing is first amongst them, as I work primarily in tradigital 2D medium ( storyboarding, etc), then general artistic skills. Understanding appeal, design to a degree, composition, perspective, sensitivity of line--basic art skills.
Then story, story structure, basic acting, drama, comedy, pathos, the cadence of dialogue, the economy of gesture and poise.
Then a bit of psychology, history, film/tv history, philosophy.
I understand the various animation processes well enough to know how things like storyboard can influence them, and be influenced by them.

And can anyone recommend the Drawn to Life books (the notes of Walt Stanchfield), I've used how to draw books before and they weren't very helpful but this only has positive reviews so I'm definitely considering buying it.

I have heard them come highly recommended, and I plan on purchasing them myself.
Here's the trick with "how-to-draw" books and materials: Look for the stuff that shows how to draw the way you would like to draw.
It has to break down the methods to attain that goal, and you should be able to grasp what they talk about on the spot--if not put the book down.
There's a number of books out there that feature weak art, or weak methods--but you'll have to weed through them. The ones that come highly recommended by a number of people are usually a good investment.
One of my all-time favourites is How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way. Yes, its devoted to comics, but its got a very good set of methods for basic drawing that I found to be a paradigm shift for me when I was in my teens.
The basic idea of using a stick-man in under-drawing was novel to meway back then, and it took me to the next plateau of drawing. Its simple and easy to grasp, and THAT is a key criteria for me in looking for how-to instruction.

Let's face it, most of us learn via emulation and repetition, so finding stuff that you can copy for the meantime is going to be valuable. If the material in the book is at a level you want to reach, and you can emulate it via their methods, then that is a book to use.

To that end, use your intuition in looking for instructional material, and take some chances. Buy, borrow or use whatever you can, don't dismiss anything without looking through it.
I have lots of books and magazines still and I constantly look over the 'Net for blogs and sites on various aspects of the craft.

Some examples: you can find complete downloadable sets on-line of the Famous Artists Course series. Published from the 50's to a few years ago, there's several slightly different iterations of this course, updated over time. There's a wealth of top-notch material herein on all manner of art, drawing cartooning, illustration etc. You cannot NOT go wrong with this.

The other is TwoMorrows Publishing and their various magazines like DRAW! or Rough Cuts. More biased towards comics, they do have forays into animation. Again, a lot of value in these pages and they can be had on-line in print or digital PDF formats.
Another mag by a different publisher is called Sketch Magazine, which is also pretty good.

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

Drawing books

I would recommend "Drawing the head and figure" by Jack Hamm. Burn Hogarth books are also good but far less instructional.

I have bought Volume 1 of the Walt Stanchfield lectures off Amazon and will start reading it as soon as it gets here :)

May I ask how old you guys were when you started learning to draw and how long it took you to become very good?

I have bought Volume 1 of the Walt Stanchfield lectures off Amazon and will start reading it as soon as it gets here :)

May I ask how old you guys were when you started learning to draw and how long it took you to become very good?

I started drawing when I was 5 yrs old. I still don't think I'm very good(just competent), but apparently others disagree. ;-D
I think I hit my stride in 1995, after having worked in the biz for 10 yrs at that point.

But understand that asking how long it took isn't going to give you any kind of a use gauge on how long it will take you to get to professional level.

That benchmark will depend on all sorts of things, but mostly on the focus and intensity you bring in working at your craft. The more intensity you apply to growing as an artist, in finding solutions to the drawing/artistic problems that vex you, the quicker your abilities will expand.
Let's be candid here; life is going to do its best to distract you and see you stray from the path. The balance you attain between the craft and family/friends and life will determine how soon you'll reach the goal......if ever.
The thing about any "journey" in life is that who you are at the beginning is not who you are going to be at the end.
You can decide in advance who you want to be, but the path you take can steer you in other directions, based on who you are at the time.
Example: falling in love can definitely change your priorities and steer you away from a goal, and the thing is.....you may not even mind abandoning the goal because of the other person in your life. That sort of thing can definitely influence your focus on a goal, and squander your intensity.

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

Can you ever get "very good" at drawing in your lifetime? :D Mind you, after sketching out a 5-metre-long roll of storyboard panels and *then* actually animating the darn thing, even on twos....that was quite a bit of practice, and now making single illustration drawings is a walk in the park.

Can you ever get "very good" at drawing in your lifetime? :D Mind you, after sketching out a 5-metre-long roll of storyboard panels and *then* actually animating the darn thing, even on twos....that was quite a bit of practice, and now making single illustration drawings is a walk in the park.

Yes, you can.
The key is just not giving up.

Its sounds so simple and even cliché now, we've all heard it endlessly now....and yet many people simply do not heed it any more.

You work away at something, throwing your heart, soul, passion into it, you try and try and try some more.....and maybe you get frustrated, maybe you don't get the results you want.
Maybe you get REALLY frustrated and then that little thing, that crossroads we call Reality arrives and you stand there making a choice.
And for many, the choice they make is the "practical" one: they want the roof over their head, food on the table, their bills paid etc.
They take the "practical" fork in the road........and Reality smiles.
The smile is because the other path, just a bit further on, perhaps just around the first bend, is the attainment of the original passionate goal.

We cannot see this, of course, because we are all blind to the future, but......BUT........the folks that look at the practical path, that stare Reality/practicality in the face.....and they don't succumb, they don't give in.
They stand there and they say "fuck it, I'm not giving" up and they defy all reason, even sanity and they continue down the path of passion. They ignore all the siren calls of practicality, of sound reason.......they don't care, because they HAVE TO address this thing inside them.......this drive that says DO OR DIE. That no sacrifice is too great to attain their end-goal--a goal they can see clearly in their imagination. Their stubbornness is their fuel, their resolve. They HAVE TO see it through.

And usually, they do.......and because of it, they are both successful and few.

Again, it sounds so simple.....but life has a way of drowning us in things, so that we cannot see clearly and when the needs of life are presented to us in stark fashion, we forego our dreams to fill those needs more easily. We start by questioning our needs, then our wants, then our haves......then our worths, and then our goals. Reality just takes a callously gleeful scythe to those things and its aim never fails.

But here's some additional perspective on "not giving up" that I was just reading about this morning:

-If Howard Schultz had given up after being turned down by various banks 242 times, there'd be no Starbucks Coffee shops.

If JK Rowling had stopped after being turned down by various publishers for years, there'd be no Harry Potter.

If Walt Disney had quit too soon after his theme park concept was trashed 302 times, there's be no Disneyland.

Most of us, will take a handful or rejections(or failings) and often only a couple before giving up and thinking the goal is hopeless or impossible to achieve. Sticking with trying something hundreds of times is considered crazy. But there's "crazy" for ya......

In scale, good drawing is so much more mundane in comparison, but the drive to get to good drawing is no less that the above endeavours. We have those above things because those folks never gave up.

All you have to do...........is never give up.

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

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