What Skills Do You Need To Become An Animator?
As the owner of an animation studio, I often get asked “What skills do I need to become an animator?”. The world of animation is forever evolving, of course most of it is computer based these days but core skill still comes from the traditional space. Basically if your drawing is a bit rusty, get back down to those life-drawing classes.
Be forever drawing
No matter how well you know a piece of software, drawing should always be number one on the list if you want to be an animator, if you can’t draw you can’t animate, if you can’t draw you can’t build models, if you can’t draw you can’t design backgrounds etc., etc.
To be a good animator you must understand shape and form, and you only get that from drawing. Make sure you ask people to critic you drawings too, and be willing to accept feedback, it can be hard to take on, but you always need to be practising and improving.
(side note: stay away from copying Manga style drawings!)
This book is great at showing you how to break down shapes that create (super) human form: How to Draw Comics the “Marvel” Way by Stan Lee
One of the strangest things I had to do in my first proper animation job, was acting out my scenes, even though I had spent previous years studying drama and doing formal drama exams (LAMDA), it still felt weird. You don’t need to go that far, but understanding how humans and animals move is key to being a good animator.
You will hear a lot of talk about ‘timing’, that’s the bit where there maybe a pause then a fast piece of action, a stare and then a reaction, a recoil and then throw, all of these have been well observed by the animators that created them. I used to watch films and then view them back frame-by-frame, to see how it was all broken down. Have a look for yourself and see how far you can push your style.
Know what you want to do
In the world of animation there are many types of jobs, you may want to think about specialising, but also think about being a generalist. There is a place in the industry for both types, but if you specialise make sure that your job has longevity and always keep up with trends. You will also want to think about whether you prefer 2D or 3D animation, or indeed both. Go networking, talk to other animators about what they do to get a feel of the types of jobs there are.
I believe there is no ‘fast-track’ into the industry it’s all about, practice, and more practice! Trust me, by doing that you’ll get there.
Festivus over on Facebook, host regualr animator meet-ups in London: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2375758420/?ref=group_header
Future thinking VR/ Unity
As mentioned above, future thinking is key. One of the biggest upsets in the animation in the last 10 years was the death of Flash. Many animators loved the application (and still do) but its place in the new online space was doomed. Flash was extremely vulnerable from a security perspective, and took up quite a lot of processing power it had to go.
The digital world is a wide open space now, and animation plays a key part in content creation, especially considering new channels such as virtual reality, augmented reality and holograms (watch this space!). If you are thinking about going into this area, do consider leaning more around coding, using apps such as Unity or Unreal.
I hope those little snippets help, feel free to contact me via the channels below…
Written by Jamie Denham
Managing Director of Sliced Bread Animation
Sliced Bread Animation produces high-impact, bespoke immersive experiences for marketing, corporate communications and e-learning, including virtual reality and augmented reality projects. Our work has won many awards for both us, and our clients.
We have an unrivalled reputation for offering complete and seamless project management, partnering with clients to create innovative, original multi-platform digital content strategies. We transform messages into compelling stories that captivates target audiences. So whether clients are looking to increase sales, develop brand awareness, or reach out to employees, we work hard to get the results they want.
We create games, apps, animation, explainer, films, infographics and illustrated content for education, marketing and internal communications that push the boundaries of technology and design, whilst working seamlessly across all platforms.
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