Search form

Experienced Animators Please Help Me

18 posts / 0 new
Last post
Experienced Animators Please Help Me

i am a 3rd yr undergrad in pharmacy school in the NY area (UB) and have consistently worked on creative projects all my life as a writer/artist. i have come to terms with the fact that my true passion and greatest talent has always lied in animation (anime) and am ready to completely change gears to pursue this dream, hard as it is. my drawing skills are absolutely top-shelf which is why i believe i could be successful (i have been selling portraits, tattoo designs, and other originals for a long time). however, i know nothing about the animation world and need serious guidance as to the best way to go about this. information on the best schools, whether learning animation could coexist with pharmacy school (i.e. in the summer/winter), how anime companies recruit, and anything and everything else could literally change my life. please help me. thank you very much.

Funny you should mention....

Since you're this close to finishing up pharmacy, stick with it, keeping your sketchbook at hand. With the six-figure salaries being dangled in front of full-time pharmacists, you can grab a part-time job, get a decent 30-50K per year, and use that as ballast to fund your other animation work.
I began animating at age 13, and kept with it despite the better intentions of other well-meaning souls and relatives. Believe me, when you're 50, it isn't the prospect of counting by fives, fighting with insurance companies, or dealing with fake Vicodin prescriptions that will get you out of bed. Get bitten by the animation bug and you'll always have a reason to get up in the morning.
There are loads of good advice being presented you in this discussion...and all of the books mentioned are valuable. I wore out my Laybourne's "Animation Book" years ago, and use the Williams text in a class on animation I instruct here at the junior college.
If you cannot get the street cred with a studio, keep plugging as an independent. That way you build a portfolio. Use ToonBoom or Flash to bring your experiments to reality and keep entering festival after festival, and then start attending them whenever possible. It really cracks up animators that you're a pharmacist, easily considered one of the dullest, least-inspired professions on the planet...and then, of course, get ready for the equally dull, least-inspired question, "What drugs are *you* on!?"
After a while, you'll have a decent amount of material to show others, and you'll have a few bucks tucked aside for later, because, since you are an animator, you'll definitely *have* a "later" because you'll have a reason to get up in the morning for the next 80-100 years.
Best of luck!

Jim Middleton - Edmore, Michigan, ASIFA Central secretary

Hi Lax,

The animation industry is a well oiled machine now. wasn't always, education is super important now also but you tell someone you have a diploma in animation and they wont give a monkeys until they see your artwork.

You can learn what is needed over the internet mostly. for example:-
I'd say about everything u need are in Larry's lessons. Squash and stretch, antisipation, wave action/overlap, breaking of joints, weighting timing. all the most important points of helping you get life into your character.

if you can afford it the bible is:-
this is full of stories and occasionally tips and techniques, hehe, but mainly stories. a must have.

the most important thing about animation is that it feel right, when u animate don't say i have a nice wave action there, say he has attitude, personality, life. so easily forgotten is that you want to lie to people/audience, u want them to believe what u have created is thinking, deciding, feeling.

if you can animate and do it well then all you need is some nice artwork and no company will ignore you without at least offering tips or a job! i would avoid bottlenecking yourself with anime, i would say the same to someone who only wants to do disney style art. be flexible and show you are worth more by being so.

Hope my ranting is of help. keep us informed and please don't hesitate to ask for advice. if possible start to get your work on the net for advice or comments.


thanks ash

thank you very much ash, your 'ranting' was very helpful. i will study larry's lessons as well as buy the book you recommended and study it as well. however, you said education has become a necessity as well and so any insight regarding schools, admissions, summer/winter sessions (as i am a pharmacy student), etc. would be of great assistance. can't thank you enough for your guidance.

I'd finish what you are doing and use that time to learn more about what you want to do (there are plenty of options) and build a portfolio.

The one bit of advice that I would give you if you are a "top notch" drawer is to stay away from the anime if you want to get into some of the better art schools. Anime is a well established style that with enough practice many can pick up. Most people who look at applications want to see YOUR style and technique and not someone else’s. It would be like handing in a portfolio of Disney characters; it wouldn't tell me you can draw but only copy.

Other things to consider are:

- don’t go to an art school that doesn’t require a portfolio
- the job opportunities for 2D are few as compared to 3D
- [font=Arial]learn to capitalize the letter “I” and the beginning work of each sentence
- employers want to see that you can animate and not just draw, the competition is fierce out there you have to have both skill sets
- for learning to animate Richard Williams’ book, The Animation Survival Kit is better book than The Illusion of Life.[/font]


Department of Computer Animation
Ringling College of Art and Design
Sarasota Florida

From a student perspective, Survival Kit is how you animate, and Illusion is why =)

But yah, you could learn a lot from a Dick.

From a student perspective, Survival Kit is how you animate, and Illusion is why =)

I think that is more of less a true statement. But if a student of mine could only buy one book I'd pick the Survival Kit.

When you read IOL you can see how Disney's original animators struggle to create an animated character with personality and life and how that mirrors an individual’s journey into animation. But for me the real meat of the book is Chapter 3 where the Principles of Animation are outlined. The rest is interesting but didn't do that much for me and you find the principles anywhere on-line these days. It's been a while and maybe I need to go back and look at it but I still think you get more bang for your buck with the Survival Kit.


Department of Computer Animation
Ringling College of Art and Design
Sarasota Florida

I have read both books twice cover to cover and I really liked them a lot. I was glad to see that the survival kit was on the shelf for required texts in the Ringling bookstore when I visited. My wife saw it and was like "hey that's the one of the same books you have." Glad to know I am ahead on the reading. Right now in my free time I have been going through the lessons in the Survival Kit. I am trying to do each one a few times before moving on to the next. Working on it around a full time job, wife, and creating my portfolio has been tough, but definately doable. i highly recommend this book to anyone interested in animation.

If you are in pharmacy school I would suggest finishing and graduating, but maintain an interest and practice every day. If you can make a decent living as a pharmacist you can use that to fund your animation dreams. I think you have the right mentality that you don't go into animation for the money, but you need to be sure that's what you want to do. Dabbling with it by reading and doing the lessons from books and online websites will give you a better idea of what you want to do. Also look into character and concept design. If you can illustrate very well, and you like anime, fantasy, sci-fi, and such there are opportunities out there if you work hard enough for them.

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that has been given to us." ---Gandalf

I think that is more of less a true statement. But if a student of mine could only buy one book I'd pick the Survival Kit. For me in IOL the real meat of the book is Chapter 3 where the Principles of Animation are outlined. The rest is interesting but didn't do that much for me and you find the principles anywhere on-line these days. It's been a while and maybe I need to go back and look at it but I still think you get more bang for your buck with the Survival Kit.

Considering it's half the price, I'd have to agree. I think it's important to have all that technical knowledge, no doubt about that; I just appreciate people who animate because they have a determination to do it and really love and respect it as an art. Anyone can learn methods and formulas for a given concept (notice I'm not saying that makes them a great animator) but not every person has the creativity and -intelligence- to use those abilities in a way that's obviously motivated by passion. That's where we get the carbon-copy legions of people who know more about 3D Studio MAX than the developers themselves but have never even heard of a single principle (or some idea approaching one). A perfect world would have the person reading both books. But if it comes down to what you buy for an educational environment, Survival Kit is quite visibly more suited for a textbook and classroom instruction.

Hett, that's funny that you said that you're working through the techniques. I did the same thing with Tony White's book. I think I still have animated GIFs on AngelFire somewhere, it was a couple years back. I have a portfolio that blends decent with outstanding, and I'm starting to wish I'd kicked out the decent and found time to put more life drawing in there in its place. Only so much of yourself you can draw, y'know? God bless the zoo! What's more, I have two recommendations saying I'm a dedicated painter and the best thing I've ever done for craftsmanship was a Vermeer (ie strictly technique since colors, drawing all based on pre-existing and thus not able to be submitted) so now with just a teeny piece of time to go I have to paint life drawings to get the best of both worlds and prove myself. =) Wish me luck.

Oh, and my voter's registration card came today. You are SO going to Ringling ;)

The one thing to remember about the "Animation world" is that us folks that have been in the biz for more than 20 years and are out there teaching at schools and such have something that students today don;t have have.

Rather, its something we DID NOT have....

There were no schools, not books, no on-line resources, no how-to's....all the "old farts" learned doing it.

It always puzzles me why newcomers seemingly work themselves into a panic about "trying to get it" when the resources for doing just that are so plentiful.
Nowadays, the field of material is incredibly rich and indepth.
You don't really NEED any guidance--truth be told........

BTW, Forget about employment in Anime--the Japanese simply do not like to hire gaijin--outsiders--to do their craft. Getting into anime in Japan is pretty much impossible.
Doing it here in North America has never been done right anyway........

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

You don't really NEED any guidance--truth be told........

I believe you can only get so good by yourself. Maybe not everyone needs a four year program but I would think everyone needs some sort guidance or apprenticeship to hone their eye and talents; someone to show you technique and an efficient workflow. How does one know good from bad if there isn’t anyone to tell them.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with some very talented students and even the most talented need direction or they keep on making novice mistakes.


Department of Computer Animation
Ringling College of Art and Design
Sarasota Florida

Thanks guys

Thank you Ed, Scattered Logical, hett15 and Ken. I will be less careless with grammar for your sake, Ed. Regarding my portfolio I have never imitated anime or any other kind of art, my style is very much my own. Anime appeals to me most because of its realism as my style is most certainly realistic. I suppose I will get both books, it doesn't seem like it would hurt. I think that I will follow through with pharmacy. I was unsure but it certainly helped to hear your story, hett. I was very curious, Ken, as to the attitude of the Japanese toward the gaijin regarding employment in anime. I suspected it was as you say, yet I needed to hear it from someone who knows what they are talking about. Thanks for the insight. You're absolutely right, anime hasn't been done right outside of Japan. I suppose my move now will be to continue pharmacy, get those books, use up all my energy practicing from the books, and start putting together a formal portfolio. I would love to hear any further suggestions or criticisms with regards to this plan. Thank you all again, sincerely.

Well....mostly realistic...

(my sister at


Your right, anime is only mostly realistic. I meant my style is wholly realistic.

Cartooning 3D


Good job- it's good to cartoon 3D- too many insects, aliens, robots, retiles, mutants, monsters and zombies out there!

A couple of suggestions:

1. Present character designs at a slight 3/4 view- it adds appeal to the design and keep the design from getting too symmetrical and flat. For even better results add a head tilt.

2. Put the highlights to one side- where ever thr light source is coming from.
(right now they are too straight on)

3. Re-check your proportions, the mouth is 1/3 of the way down the face and not 1/2 wayas you have indicated (again, the 1/3 proportion will avoid symmetrical design).


If animation is your passion, a job in animation may not be the

I have a degree in Multimedia Design with a focus on animation. After I left school I found that it would be very difficult to express myself and ideas in the animation industry for two main reasons. First, entry-level work often involves monotonous activity using few creative skills. Second, only the most creative and talented individuals have ultimate say over what an animation looks like. This does not even mention that much animation is moving overseas to Australia and Korea.

Instead of becoming a Working Animator, I opted for the title Animation Artist. It is a great job that I don't get paid for, I work at my convenience (when not in a "real" job), I have complete creative control and ownership over my material and there is a lot of room for experimentation. Best of all, I am able to fund all of my own creative endeavours working in a completely unrelated field (marketing). If animation is truly a passion of yours, it may be worth considering the independent artist's route.

Puzuki | Creative Productions
abstract, experimental, textures, motion art


Welcome to the world of animation, Lax! I just wanted to warn you about anime. I like it and all but there are a few things you should know...

1. Schools dont want to see anime in your portfolio. They want to see life drawings more than anything. If you include things from your imagination, they want to see that you have your own style, rather than that you can copy someone else's style.

2. There aren't any anime studios here. The closest thing to anime that you can get in the USA is psuedo anime like the Teen Titans. Since there aren't any anime studios here, the studio you send your demo reel to more than likely won't want to see anime. That want to see that you can bring your character(s) to life. Plus anime causes a lot of disagreements in this field since so many people either love it or hate it. I'd leave out any anime just in case the HR person who watches my reel happens to be one of the anime haters.

3. All of the studios who do real anime are in Japan. My roommate loves anime to death and wishes she could work at an anime studio. She has done some research into it and found something interesting. She found out that the Japanese don't really like foreigners when it comes to animation. They don't hire foreigners at their studios no matter how good the foreigner's reel is. I don't know how true that is, but I thought it would be good to mention it.

Learn how to animate, focus on anime after you've gotten your job in the industry. As you have heard, the competition is fierce, so you should spend as much time as possible becoming a better animator.

"Animation isn't about how well you draw, but how much to believe." -Glen Keane

Thanks for the welcome, MightyMew1. It's a good thing for me that life drawings are given priority as my style of art is either real life depictions or equally realistic depictions from my imagination. I have never drawn anime the way it is commonly seen and have none of it in my portfolio; my vision is rather to create a wholly realistic form of anime. I will heed your warnings, however, as all those with experience share the same sentiment. I am very curious, pApAPHReaKY, as to the harsh realities of the animation world. Those you have shared were very enlightening and any more would be appreciated. Although I am extremely confident in my artistic talent I have been considering the route of the independent artist as that is what I always have been and also because I will be a pharmacist. If you could explicate a bit further on the concept of the "animation artist" it would help me a great deal. Your situation seems closest to mine of all those I've encountered and so I would benefit greatly from your guidance. I have many questions I think you could answer. Mainly I would like to know if one can really privately finance and independently create a finished product to rival those of actual companies with all their resources. If so, details would help. Also, I won't be attending formal animation school unless I can find it in the summer, and so I am curious as to what you think is the best way to go about learning animation. Thanks a bunch, both of you.