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Teaching myself 2D animation: Possible?

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Teaching myself 2D animation: Possible?

Is it possible to teach myself 2D animation without going to the Uni?

If yes, how?

Which books or kits would you recommend to learn 2D animation on my own?

Closest so far is John Kricfalusi's blog, but he hasn't reach the part on actually animating something, like drawing frames, pencil tests, etc.

Can you help?

Good for you!

Good for you Germania9!
I'm doing it too! Yes, it's possible. Somebody had to do it for the first time, and they taught themselves, right? You have the luxury of this forum, and a lot of great people of have been doing it for a long time.

Animated Ape gave me the following response earlier to one of my questions; regarding "frame rate" (i.e. how many images get shown in 1 second to create the sense of movement):

"You should really get a good animation book that covers all this stuff. Look into the Preston Blaire or Tony White books. The new Tony White book covers the whole animation production from developing a story all they way through output. His first book and the Blair book are good for animators just starting out since they explain a lot of the animation principles and give you exercises to practice them."

I checked the usual on-line book sellers, and eventually found books by both authors on Ebay, for a better price. They should be arriving any day now! Check the spelling on “Blaire”, I think it’s actually “Blair” – anyway, you’ll find him easily enough, I did.
My drawing skills are weak, and have a ways to go, so if you have drawing skills, you got a leg up on me! Good luck with your journey, and show us your work over at the show and tell forum when you get something done, it's a wonderful place to have your work critique by everyone, and get some ideas on what going right, and whats going wrong.

Good luck and HAVE FUN!

Thank you for your kind comments with regards my books Adam. I think in all honesty 'The Animator's Workbook' would be the best 'home schooling' textbook to use as it takes the reader through the principles of animation in a very simple and easy to absorb way. 'Pencils to Pixels' gives a much more expansive, topical and current approach with regards the new digital industry (there wasn't one when the 'Workbook' was written!) but essentially the earlier book would be best for anyone to study without coaching.

Coincidentally 'Gemania9'... I have just submitted a proposal to my publisher for my third (and final!) book on animation and it is out to review now. The book is called 'The Animation Apprentice' and basically I will take readers through an entire degree-level course of assignments that will enable them to start from scratch and end up with a professional level understanding of animation... presented entirely to the reader is if they are my apprentice. The book will include copious still images to illustrate the text of course but the accompanying CD will have an interactive, i-book, PDF version (as with 'Pencils to Pixels') where I am on film, talking to the reader, demonstrating each assignment and generally taking the view through an A-Z of the animation process (while covering all the core principles of animation at the same time). It will draw principally from my two previous books but will refer to other classical animation books, such as 'The Animator's Survival Kit', etc. The idea behind this is that with these three books anyone will be able to teach themselves animation to the highest level possible.

Unfortunately that will not be ready until next year but hopefully by then you will have found a way to learn animation without paying exhorbitant fees to do so! :)

Good luck (and thanks again Adam!)...

Tony. :^{)}=-

Personal Blogsite:

"The Animaticus Foundation"

Thank you for your kind comments with regards my books Adam.

Hi Tony,
What a treat to learn you are moderator here! I just received your book "The Animator's Workbook" in the mail yesterday, I'm pleased I purchased the book you would have suggested for a beginner. I have only thumbed through the book at this point, but I can tell already it's exactly what I need. I'll be sure to keep the forum appraised of my progress in the "show and tell" section. I must tell you, the kind words came straight from Animated Ape, who led me to your books. That Ape... he's alright.

Coincidentally 'Gemania9'... I have just submitted a proposal to my publisher for my third (and final!) book on animation and it is out to review now.

Germania9 - Tony's response punctuates my point, that there are some very talented individuals here, who are willing to share years of experience with beginners such as ourselves. I would PAY to have a access to this place, and to think, it's all free! I'm overwhelmed and with the amount of support I receive whenever I post a question here.

Tony, good luck with the new project, it sounds ambitious, and I’ll be ready for it when it comes out next year! Do you have a mailing list, either snail or email, that I can sign up for, so I will be in the loop when the book comes out next year?

Good luck Germania, and Tony, thanks for the introduction, and comments.


Thanks, atom, and thank you, Mr White! What an honour to meet an animator such as yourself!

It's something I should've asked for: Books & kits for beginners where lessons are assignment based.

Will The Animator's Workbook offer those kinds of lessons?

I'm also looking at books & lessons by Brian Lemay. Would you recommend them? Any better alternatives can you recommend?

What about hardware? What should every beginning animator start with to begin his assignments? Of course, pencils. And then there's the pencil testers, lightbox, pegs, etc.; what else?

Speaking of pencil testing, should I get a pencil tester or a scanner?

Again thank you, thank you!

I have the "workbook" too and just need to finally sit down after work and go through the exercises.

A very helpful book

If I may I would like to add my two cents worth with regard to Mr White's book.

I believe I have read all the important books on traditional drawn animation available but it would not be difficult to say that Mr White's ANIMATOR'S WORKBOOK is by far the most helpful. Few books have inspired me to get off my backside and get going on learning the rudiments of this beautiful art like that one has. There are other good ones available but there is something about the warmth, the charm and the clarity of this book that make it just about the finest one out there.

If I had had that book in my hands thirty years ago my life, perhaps, would have changed, and would have been propelled into creating traditional hand-drawn animation when I was much younger. That it still has that effect on this writer even now is a testament to its motivational power. Mr White hits the nail right on the head in many passages of the book and takes rather complex problems and simplifies them beautifully in my opinion. And his brief comparison at the conclusion of the book between hand made animation - with its emphasis on those elusive "human idiosyncrasies" - and the current stuff was perhaps the single most perceptive (and inspiring) thing he wrote.

If a book can move a geezer like me to get going on animation at this late date in my life think of how it will help everyone else. Most highly recommended in every way.

Hello. I am realitivley new concerning the animation world, my extent with actual animation includes the numerous shorts I made while attending USC this past summer. My intel is limited, but drawing was one of my weak points as well. While at USC we went through each of the basic types of animation. Cell, Stop Motion, Plain paper, ect.

I have found that even though you may have the ambition to be an animator, that ones artistic skills can lack. This was my case. In my opinion, I wouldn't listen to anyone who says "If you aren't a natural drawer, give up you will never make it." If you have the drive to be a good artist I wouldn't let anything short of a nuclear holocause stand in your way. In my case, I just lacked knowledge/direction/attention span.

Books that I am very impressed with as far as animation books go are the workbook and the Animators Survival Guide.

Drawing books that I find extreamly helpful are Drawing The Head and Figure, as well as Cartooning the head and figure, by Jack Hamm. They are old, but so extensive as far as detail that they are invaluable to an aspiring artist.

You can't see me, but I'm bowing down right now like Wayne and Garth.

I was going to say that I was largely self-taught, if you count reading "The Animator's Workbook" as self-taught. I didn't realize that we had the author of that book as this forum's moderator!

That book along with "The Illusion of Life" gave me all the basics I've ever needed. While I did end up going to school, I still learned all of my practical skills before AND after school on my own, from a few Disney guys, and from practice practice practice.

Hi everyone.

Thanks for all your kind comments. The bottom line with me is that I just love animation and always will. (I will carry my pencil with me to the grave!) :)

I of course love sharing my knowledge with everyone, hence the books I have written (and intend to write) and I love to see animation... especially traditionally-drawn animation... thrive and evolve. I have never accepted the misguided and foolish notion that '2D animation is dead'! Indeed, when I see the enthusiasm of you guys to learn and to 'do', then I know the future is still in safe hands. Neither do I believe that 2D animation has even begun to explore the infinite potential that it is capable of exploring... even with Hollywood style movies!

My main frustration is that although I am the moderator of this forum, my time is so pressured with teaching and my own creative work that I can't always respond to everyone as I would like to do... or in a timely manner. However I do read all the postings and I do respond when I can, or when I think I can add something new. But I apologize in advance for my not always being responsive... it is not indifference, its just outside pressures.

I don't think I can deny that drawing is important for 2D animation but I am the last person to say that you can't do traditional animation if you can't draw! So many wonderful films by 'non drawers' have proven that point. The reality however is that by being able to draw... or at least by taking classes or teaching yourself to draw better... you are better able to capture expression and personality in your animation (especially with your key poses). Additionally, being able to draw does make the process so much faster and less of a struggle. But that is not in any way to say that it is impossible to animate without a drawing ability. You have to express what is in your heart first and then explore the means by which you are able to express it through animation. Many ideas are best expressed through 2D while others lend themselves better to 3D, or Flash, or Claymation, or whatever, animation. The core issue has to be... is your story good in the first place and if it is what medium will be best to express it well?

In terms of equipment? For traditional animation the 'toolkit' indicated in 'The Animator's Workbook' will serve you well. Pencil tester or scanner? It depends on what you want to do. If you want to make a fully-colored, professional-quality film then you will definitely need a scanner. If however your love is animated movement and you don't mind about the look of the final product, then a pencil tester is all you need. In fact, some pencil testers have a coloring capacity built into them... such as DigiCel's 'Flipbook' for example... so you can even have the best of both worlds. Scanning gives an infinitely better quality of finishing but for many the pencil tester/coloring software route is fine. You will need a capturing device of some sort for the pencil tester approach of course and the better the camera the better the ultimate screen quality will be. However, for basic un-colored pencil testing alone, I have even seen a cheap, golfball-style, webcam camera used as a capture device for pencil testing and it is fine and long as final sharpness of quality is not a factor.

Anyway I must get back to the drawing board now, but I just wanted to thank you guys for visiting the forum and for your kind feedback. Ultimately we all serve animation in whatever way we can. Its just that those of us who have served it longer have more visible grey hairs and wrinkles to show, that's all! :)

Keep animating folks!

Tony. :^{)}=-

Personal Blogsite:

"The Animaticus Foundation"

Sweet. I've owned "The Animator's Workbook" for about a decade and it's been one of the only books I've recommended to anyone for learning animation. I look forward to Mr. White's new book.

Germania9: I think study would be the word for you. Just study. I've been collecting animation that I enjoy as things to study from. My collection ranges from "Ghost In the Shell" to Fleischer Studio's Superman shorts. I recently got a DVD of Alexander Petrov's "The Old Man and the Sea" and if you've never seen it, you want to.