be okay friend
Oh shit - I’m really enjoying this new theme.
It’s so… grown up. and. perfect
A mixmash portrait of genderbent Cas for practice purposes :D
Quickest way to improvement? Practice. It’s a simple bit of advice that rings with absolute truth. Articles, tips, mentors, and study will never get you as far as rolling up your sleeves and getting down to work, be it animation or any other skill. Today we’ve compiled a list of exercises, like animation push-ups, that will get your art skills buff and toned.
Maybe you still need convinced of how important the “Art of Doing” is? Look no further than the early days of animation, especially at the Disney studio. Here were a group of animators (before being an animator was even a thing) who HAD no books to read, or websites to visit, or even experienced animators to ask. They learned via the age old art of hands-on training, experimenting and discovering as they went. And some would argue they created some of the greatest animation to ever be seen. Masterpieces like the dwarfs dancing in Snow White or the terror of the Monstro scene in Pinocchio. So be like them! Get out there and do animation!
Some of these exercises you may have done or seen before; some maybe not. Consider doing each of them, even if you did once previously, because returning to an old exercise to see how much you’ve progressed is a very valuable experience.
Level 1 Exercises
(Do not discount their simplicity! Here you have the principals of animation, which all other animation is built on. They are worth your time and effort.)
- Ball Bouncing in place, no decay (loop)
- Ball Bouncing across the screen
- Brick falling from a shelf onto the ground
- Simple character head turn
- Character head turn with anticipation
- Character blinking
- Character thinking [tougher than it sounds!]
- Flour Sack waving (loop)
- Flour Sack jumping
- Flour Sack falling (loop or hitting the ground)
- Flour Sack kicking a ball
Level 2 Exercises
- Change in Character emotion (happy to sad, sad to angry, etc.)
- Character jumping over a gap
- Standing up (from a chair)
- Walk Cycle [oldie but goodie!]
- Character on a pogo stick (loop)
- Reaching for an object on a shelf overhead
- Quick motion smear/blur
- Taking a deep breath [also tougher than it sounds!]
- A tree falling
- Character being hit by something simple (ball, brick, book)
- Run Cycle
Level 3 Exercises
- Close up of open hand closing into fist
- Close up of hand picking up a small object
- Character lifting a heavy object (with purpose!)
- Overlapping action (puffy hair, floppy ears, tail)
- Character painting
- Hammering a nail
- Stirring a soup pot and tasting from a spoon
- Character blowing up a balloon
- Character juggling (loop)
- Scared character peering around a corner
- Zipping up a jacket
- Licking and sealing an envelope
- Standing up (from the ground)
- Pressing an elevator button and waiting for it
- Starting to say something but unsure of how
Level 4 Exercises
- Character eating a cupcake
- Object falling into a body of water
- Two characters playing tug-of-war
- Character dealing a deck of cards out
- The full process of brushing one’s teeth
- A single piece of paper dropping through the air
- Run across screen with change in direction
- Sleeping character startled by alarm then returning to sleepy state
- Opening a cupboard and removing something inside
- Putting on a pair of pants
- Opening the “world’s best gift” and reacting
- Any of the above exercises using a very heavy character/object next to a very light character/object. Enhance the differences the weight change makes!
Things to keep in mind:
- Reading these exercises will do as much for you as reading about push-ups would do for your physical muscles: NOTHING. If you want the benefit, you must animate them. Take a deep breath and just do it.
- Do not forget the famous words of Ollie Johnston: “You’re not supposed to animate drawings [3D models]. You’re supposed to animate feelings.” If a character isn’t thinking, they aren’t alive, and the animation has failed.
- Keep it simple! There is no reason to over complicate any of these exercises. Going back to push-ups, would push-ups be harder if while doing them you also recited the Gettysburg Address? Yes. Would they be any more beneficial? No. Keep things nice and simple and clear.
- Do your best. There is no reason to do these exercises poorly. Give it your all. You don’t have to show anyone, these are for you. You owe it to yourself to try your very best. Something not quite right? Take the time to fix it.
- As always, have fun. Push ups are not fun. Animation is supposed to be. Be joyful in your work!
Have any questions about the exercises above? Leave a comment below and we’ll answer them the best we can! Someone else may be wondering the exact same thing, so you’ll help them too. Likewise if someone is looking for possible exercises, why not share a link to these and give them a hand?
I love you guys. These words are for you, and also for myself.
I thought that by the time I actually got a creative job in the animation industry I would surely feel… like less of an imposter. Nope. Often times when I get an assignment I experience a moment of pure terror. Afraid that my last success was an accident and I’ll be shown for what I am in front of an audience that grows with each day in the belief that I am something that I am not. This feeling comes in white hot flashes between fleeting moments of proveable victory.
A creative act is a leap of faith, and like many who follow something greater than ourselves, we falter often.
When I was in grad school and still figuring out what was possible, I had a revolving door of people telling me to lower my expectations. Friends and foes alike, telling me I wasn’t good enough. And I wasn’t… YET. But it did not matter.
It does not matter if you are READY.
Ready is a lie. It’s a finish line we point to, always far in the distance, where the weather is always sunny and a roaring crowd waits to give a standing ovation.
Ready is always far enough away to create comfort, but not so far that we need admit failure. It is as sweet and delicate a fantasy as exists, but in addition to being only mildly comforting, it is ultimately damaging to our artistic goals.
What creative goals have you been putting off because you aren’t “ready”?
Whether you want to write a novel, develop a video game, be a character artist for animation— whatever your goal is, the only way to BECOME is to do:)
Apply for that position. Go to that convention. Approach that artist for feedback. Do it now. Learn what you can, then do it again. Every time it will become less daunting. You’ll find new things to be afraid of in no time;)
Trying to become perfect in a vacuum, and then present yourself to the world like some sort of gift wrapped God of art making is not realistic.
Immerse yourself in the community.
Fall down and get back up.
Allow people to help you, and help others in earlier stages than yourself.
Be courageous (and positive:)) as you jump in with both feet!!
This year— to take my own advice. I will be creating a book of my artwork, getting a table at at least one convention (ECCC2015), and reaching out into the world of kids book publishing as it’s a huge dream of mine to work in books. And of course creating written content for the followers of this blog;) I may not be ready for any of these things… yet:) But this is the fastest way I know to get there:)
I wish you all the best!! Be fearless!
Jennifer Ely is an artist working in the animation industry as a Color Stylist on a Dreamworks television show for Netflix. She has also worked for LAIKA as everything from Intern to Visual Development Artist.
You can follow her here:
There was a whole story but my phone deleted it. Anyway:
My mom’s friends were learning how to make balloon animals and at the end of the day they had a bunch of balloon animals (I know right, great story).
They were going to pop them, but my mom said ‘no’ because she ‘couldn’t stand to watch cruelty to animals’ so she brought them all home and gave them to me and I was thrilled.