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What to consider if you want to start with animation?

“What software do you use when animating, I would really like to start animating as well!” This is the most common question I get.

1. Software choice is not important

“What software do you use when animating, I would really like to start animating as well!”

This is the most common question I get. I know the feeling, I’m also curious about what software other animators use, but I really do not know what to do with that information.

All animation programs work basically the same. What separates them is small things that are not decisive for how the animation will be. It’s simply just a matter of taste.

If you know from the beginning that you want to work professionally in a studio, it’s smart to learn either Toon Boom Harmony or TV Paint, as it’s industry standard. But these programs are expensive, and if only animated for fun, any animation software will do.

I usually recommend those who ask me about software selection to try out as many as possible, in order to find what is most compelling to ones needs. It works great to animate on an iPad, see my guide here.

Software for PC / Mac is for example:

  • Photoshop
  • Adobe Animate
  • After Effects
  • Toon Boom Harmony
  • TV Paint

If you are a used user of Photoshop before, it’s a simple step to stay in the same environment, but do animations instead. Youtube is flooded by tutorials on how to animate in Photoshop. Or any of the other softwares as well.

2. Start small

It’s easy to be inspired by animated TV-series and other animated films like Disney. Sure, it’s always good to find inspiration, wherever it may come from, but don’t have any expectation to create such a thing. At least not all by yourself.

Making animation takes longer than you can imagine before testing.

The first animations that are good to start with, is simply playing with the timing and number of frames for understanding the motion and how to create it. Then you can start to do something “real”, a character, a ball ..

It is easy to become discouraged of how long a single measly seconds will take to create. And if you want it to be perfect, with a lot of detail, it takes an eternity. Working with the simple forms, the details will be added when and if you can.There is much to feel in when you animate. Does this movement feel right, does it have a life?

3. Find inspiration sources

Look everywhere on the web for inspiration. Always. Who animates, signs, creates what you would like to approach? But keep in mind that copying is no sport, but finding and picking a little here and where to create your own thing is good. An animator may make amazing transitions between clips, an illustrator doing absolutely fantastic feet, another good-looking ears. And then you draw your own crazy arms and noses, and suddenly you have something big going on.

When I find animators that I like, I usually try to understand HOW they built their animation, where they simplify, where they focus and what color palettes are used? How can I use that knowledge? Why does it work? Is there something I would like to change if I could?

Bonus Tip – have fun

A little silly to have it as a bonus tip, when it is actually the most important point to succeed in creating something interesting. Have fun! Have fun, have fun! What triggers you? To draw jumping mushrooms, or fast cars, singing monkeys? Whatever it may be, what works for you. You will sit with that animation for several hours, then you might as well have fun while doing it.

Often I find myself giggling when I browse between different frames in my animations. Then I know it’s right. That I did something good. The joy shines through.

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