Learning Animation 2016

2000px-Animation_disc.svgWant to learn how to be an animator? In 2016 it’s not as hard as it once was. Years ago, you needed pencils, xerox machines, white out, pencil sharperers, X-Acto blades, tape, animation cels, animation paper, cel paint oh yes and an Oxberry camera! Never mind that there were not many animation school options to choose from. Fear not however, as the digital age is here to help you and thousands of tutorials are available allowing you to learn quite a bit about animation and the various techniques out there. there are also many digital options open to the animator in 2016 allowing you to cast away all those costly supplies once needed.

Schools
In the US there are many solid animations schools to choose from but in my opinion the best of them is Cal Arts here in Los Angeles mostly for the connections it has to the studios. Pixar, Disney and DreamWorks all harvest students from there yearly. There are many others around the country as well such as The School of Visual Arts in New York City and Full Sail in Florida. In Paris, Goeblins seems to produce some fantastic animators and I drool over the shorts their students make yearly. I personally went to a small school called the Joe Kubert School located in New Jersey which is also a good solid place to learn. A decent list of animation schools can be found on AWN and while it can be daunting because there’s so much, it’s a good place to start. I believe most of art school is what you choose to put into it and the plain old ‘pencil mileage’ that you put into your craft anyway so the school does’t matter as much to a focused student.

But what if you can’t relocate or don’t have money to go to a school? There are still options open to you to pursue. One is Animation Mentor.com which will allow you to learn remotely and is run by well respected animators and artists. If you can’t afford that, I would suggest simply studying animation frame by frame and copying what you see. While Youtube doesn’t do frame by frame you can easily download stuff and watch it with Quicktime. DVDs work as well.

Traditional Animation
Of course the old school way of tradition paper and pencil is still a viable way to learn but it’s getting harder and harder to finds supplies. Animation paper and peg bars can be purchased at Cartoon Color and other places around the web and you can film your scenes frame by frame but you’ll still need a computer to digitally put them together. An excellent free option is Monkey Jam which turns your webcam into a pencil test system. You could also use as digital camera and film your scene frame by frame but that’s not the best approach. Honestly most studios expect you to understand how to animate digitally so you’re going to have to learn this eventually.

Hardware
Most gaming PCs are powerful enough to produce animation both 2D and 3d, and even iMacs and Mac Books can do it. Most studios use Wacom Cintiqs to draw with but they’re mega expensive and not for everyone. There are also cheaper knockoffs of Cintiqs such as Yiyinova, Bosto Kingtee and X-Pen but you get what you pay for and they are not as good as Wacom’s flagship offering.Fortunately there are some cheap options out there to help you. Many studios use Pen tablets such as Wacom’s Intuos line which allow you to draw on a pad and look at your monitor. They’re not for everyone and I’ve never been able to effectively use one well but many people do amazing things with them. Another cheap option is purchasing a Motion Computing LE 1700 for a few hundred bucks and installing Sketchbook Pro which has a timeline that you can animate with.

Software
Software-wise, there are a number of free options out there such as Plastic Animation Paper and Pencil. If you have deep pockets, you can’t go wrong with Toon Boom Harmony which is used by Disney, Starburns Industries, Bentobox and many other studios to produce 2d animation. Toon Boom even offers a subscription so you can pay as you go. Finally you can also subscribe to Adobe Animate and while it’s not the greatest to draw with, there are many studios currently using the software to produce network TV such as Titmouse and Renegade Animation. Globally there is Mukpuddy, and Boulder Media.

If you’re into 3d animation it’s hard to go on the cheap but Autodesk now offers subscriptions for it’s Maya, and 3D Studio Max softwares so you can sign up with them and pay monthly. In contrast Blender is a solid 3d animation program and it’s free but most studios use the Autodesk software so you’re eventually going to have to learn their interfaces somehow.

All in all there are many options open to an artist seeking to learn animation in 2016 and so you have less and less excuses to not pursue your dreams, so stop reading this and get out there! (and don’t forget to come back and do an interview for us once you’re established!)

Pierre Collet-Derby

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What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Pierre Collet-Derby. I am currently an Illustrator at Ubisoft Montreal by day and a character designer by night for various animation projects.

 

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I was lucky to be able to find work in the animation industry right after school. When I was a student in industrial design, I had the opportunity to be an intern in a cabinetmaking shop. It was a very interesting experience but I remember being exhausted after each day of work. Being a craftsman can be a physically demanding job.

 

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
In 2003 I had the chance to animate on “Mickey’s twice upon a Christmas” for Disney. It was my first important gig as an animator and working with Disney characters was a dream come true for me. I learned a lot during this production, and met a lot of talented artists.Overall each project I’ve been working on has been rewarding as an artist. You always learn new things, meet great people and overcome new challenges. So I’m proud of all those projects, either big or small.

 

How did you become interested in animation?
As far as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in cartoons and comic books. I started to draw at a very young age and have always been encouraged by Continue…

Andrew Hickinbottom

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What is your name and your current occupation?

My name is Andrew Hickinbottom, and i am a freelance character modeler for illustration and animation.

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation? 
Not sure on the ‘crazy’ side of things, but my first ever job was working in my dad’s factory as a general handyman doing various laborious jobs like sweeping, painting and grass cutting, before moving on to being a machine operator and packer there. I once worked in a videogames shop as well. Since i got my first job doing what i love, i cant see myself doing anything else – i’d whine too much!
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of? 
I modeled all but 2 of the characters in an advert for the International Olympic Committee at Nexus productions in London. Really nicely stylised characters – I was really pleased how that job came out. Also, I was the lead character modeler on the 3D sections of a 2D / 3D cartoon series called ‘friends and heroes’ – i made over a hundred characters during the series production run of 2 years. The art director i worked with was an really inspirational guy who worked with Disney, and he taught me a lot about character design, appeal and composition. This job helped me find my style which i progressed it to what it is today. Im proud of all of my personal projects too, but that’s because they are labours of love – i can take as long as i want on them, without deadlines, client feedback or budgets complicating things. Im especially proud of the limited figure run i had made from one of my personal pieces (Trixie) and are now selling via my website.
How did you become interested in animation? 

As a kid i loved cartoons. Garfield, Tom and Jerry, Transformers, Looney Tunes, Disney. I doodled a lot and was pretty good at drawing for my age. I always wanted to become a cartoonist, but i figured that was Continue…

Ian Dorian

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What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Ian Dorian. I currently work as a concept and character designer, toy sculptor, and, Adjunct professor.

 

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I have done lots of things that required me to really learn about myself, I worked for butchers, sold hardware, worked for the government, and as an investigator.

 

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
To be honest, I’m proud of everything I’ve worked on. Not because I think I always did a smashing job. Because I’ve had failures almost as much as successes..or is that the other way around? Hahaha! I have to say I really enjoyed the early years working for a start up studio. I created some of my best characters and had the chance to work with some great talent. Jim Krueger was a great guy to work with. He was the writer on a big project I created and developed. He taught me a ton. He was very open minded and very accommodating to the needs of the company. I also enjoyed working as a sculptor for a few Toy and Game companies. I still haven’t created my dream “piece” yet but being able to challenge my 3D skills is a lot of fun. As far as my current work goes working with Atlas Model Railroad Train Co. is always a pleasure. Those guys are so involved (in a good way) in everything they produce and they have been very supportive and creative to what we are doing. Mila (Milafilm.com) Is a project I recently joined. It’s an animation that deals with the survivors of war. Cinzia Angelini (the creator) is a wonderful person to communicate with and the team is very down to earth and top professionals. I’m glad to be a part of such a great and ambitious project such as this one.

 

How did you become interested in animation?
Bugs Bunny, Battle of the Planets, Ninja Scroll, Thundercats, Transformers, Johnny Quest, Jungle Book, Every single Pixar animated film especially Monsters incorporated, Ratatouille and Toy Story….and the list goes on. Animation has always seemed like a dream set to pictures. The drama! The tension! The sadness! The ability to go beyond your fears! The ability to Continue…

Larry MacDougall

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What is your name and your current occupation?
Hello. My name is Larry MacDougall and I am currently illustrating several children’s books although I have also recently been doing some visual development work and character design with Disney designer Harald Siepermann for Zipfelmutzen Film in Germany. They are working on a 3D animated feature.

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Well, I’ve certainly had a few odd jobs in my time. I’ve cleaned buses and I’ve worked in a steel mill. The steel mill gig was pretty horrible at the time but the memories of working in that extreme environment and some of the nutty people that worked there have been fueling my imagination ever since. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.

 

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
A couple of recent book projects I’m rather proud of are The Secret History of Giants and The Secret History of Hobgoblins, both of which were written by Ari Berk. The Secret History of Hobgoblins is finally due out this fall after a rather long delay.

How did you become interested in animation?
Like most people in the animation business I grew up watching cartoons and always enjoyed drawing. I was a big fan of comic books and Mad Magazine as well – you know, Mort Drucker, Jack Davis etc.. Anyway, one day during my stint at the steel mill, just after I’d finished high school, I was introduced to Continue…

Jennifer Harlow

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What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Jennifer Harlow and I’m an animator at DreamWorks Animation SKG, where I’m currently working on “The Croods” which is due out March 2013.

 

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Prior jobs have included working at Subway with the job title of “Sandwich Artist”—a fancy name for the not-so fancy job of making the customer’s order. I was also an assistant manager on Sundays, so I kept the business running from 6 a.m. until almost 9 at night when the other manager would take over. I also worked for 2 years at Target as a cashier, but I also spent time in the photo lab and behind the customer service desk. I have a lot of wild stories from my time there, ranging from encountering a homeless woman who was convinced Target employees like myself were stealing her freshly purchased toilet paper, the chaos that is Black Friday, to random strangers pulling my curly ringlet-like hair because they thought I was wearing a wig. A slightly crazier job was during the summer after my second year at CalArts, while staying at my home in Oregon I worked as a freelance caricature artist and this led to one memorable event where I was hired for a wedding. Nothing stranger than drawing tons of already self-conscious strangers for about 4 hours. Everything went very well though, the crowd was extremely nice, and I had a fun time—though I made it a point to make the caricatures a little more flattering than my usual style.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
It’s still pretty early on in my career to be able to state a specific project. I’m really enjoying working on my first feature project, “The Croods.” It’s been a really wonderful experience, and the crew is very supportive and awesome. But I’m proud of everything I accomplished during my time at CalArts and while my students films are less than perfect, I’m glad I have them. They were each a huge learning experience.

 

How did you become interested in animation?
I always drew as a kid, even before I can really remember, my Mom likes to tell this story about how she found me in the living room drawing with a big red crayon on Continue…