Interested in making animation your profession? Well then it's time for you to enter the world of having your passion become your job, and having suicidal thoughts on a daily basis!
• I am going to come out the gate saying I am not a professional animator.
Howeve, I have taken many classes in animation and have spoken with many well known and successful animators such as Michael Chang and GianCarlo Volpe, who have given me advice on this topic.
• This mostly comes from experience as an artist/freelancer as well, and knowing the survival tools of being part of animation teams/studios in general. I have gone through personal tours of Nickelodeon studios and have gathered many interesting facts about how these people came to be and how they found their work.
• I'm writing this myTake because a lot of people want to either animate to become famous on YouTube...which if I'm being honest, you have to brand yourself pretty well to do. Or they want to become an animator and aren't prepared for the intensity and expectations of the profession.
• That being said using YouTube as a platform to practice is a very good start, and can get you some freelance work depending on how far your work reaches.
• Becoming a professional animator requires many fundamentals and principles that I will explain in this myTake. So here are 9 things you must Learn to be able to fit in the animation profession without wish death upon yourself...to an extent.
THIS IS EXTREMELY BORING IF YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT ANIMATION, CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED!
• Learn to storyboard.
• I cannot stress how important it is that you learn to properly thumbnail and story board. You'd be surprised how many young and old anime don't actually know how to make a proper storyboard, and still work professionally for animation companies. Take advantage of this, knowing how to storyboard can get you some good positions in the animation department, storyboarders are as needed as writers, even in live action films where a screen play and a storyboard is needed.
• Buy a teddy bear.
You might need a hug.
• I recommend you have something to hug as you realize whoever looks at your work is going to think "huh, cool" and move on with their lives after you spend 3 nights at a minimum drafting, and coloring it. It's the grim reality of being an animator, that your 64 drawings that you colored, and perfected in detail, will take up 2.5 to 8 seconds of someone else's time. Let your patience become your passion, and hug your teddy bear so you don't decide to kill yourself with an X-acto knife.
• Develop a work ethic/space.
• Learning how to be able to sit down and get started is very important, having the proper work space allows you to work efficiently and set your own pace. Get up every once in a while, you don't want to get carpal tunnel from drawing for too long, and you certainly don't want to get writers back of you aren't sitting up straight.
• Learn to avoid distractions and begin to see yourself move faster and faster without rushing youself, just as a result of working diligently and avoiding over thinking your work.
• Also quick note, if you draw, trace, and color each frame one at a time, slap yourself before I come over there and backhand you for working so inefficiently. Learn to storyboard, draft, test your line art, then color all of your game in proper order, or you'll leave yourself discouraged and unmotivated.
• Draw every single day.
You can't animate if you can't draw.
• This is extremely important, and every single animator I've met has told me this. Drawing every single day is the true test to see if you even want to become an animator, and how you will make continuous passion.
• Even if you don't know what to draw, find something, Draw it, and practice this at least two or three times a day. 2D Animation requires zeal, motivation, and at the end of the day, it's debatable that it's the most time consuming art form out there. Having the passion to draw from model will become your best friend of you ever want to get into the industry, and it will become essential in developing your art style as well.
• Study multiple styles from other artists.
Expand your knowledge, try new things.
• Study other animators, Learn rubber hose magic lantern. Practice tweening and flipbook, find time to try some stop motion using paper puppets or clay.
• Take out books from the library on how to animate like Don Bluth, Walt Disney, Shinichiro Watanabe, or Hiroyuki Imaishi.
• Or even check out books about how to Draw certain styles, or even how to Draw in general. From people like Stan Lee, Quentin blake, Jack Kirby, Kimon Nicolaides, or ...*sighs*... Christopher Hart.
• Emulating other people's styles and improving your own is a great way to become a reliable and efficient artist, and especially as an animator.
• Practice both digital and hand drawn animation.
Practice on both paper and pixel.
• Hand drawn animation (drawing on paper and a light desk) is an essential skill to learn before you learn to draw/animate on a computer or tablet.
• That being said learning to Draw and animate digitally using a tablet ( if you can afford it) is a good skill to practice, especially if you lack experience in coloring and shading the digital canvas. If you must you can get using a mouse to trace over your hand drawn work that you scan/take pictures of after you finish.
• Study and become familiar with every software.
People like it when you're literate.
• If you are tech savvy, you'll have more of an advantage in the industry, Learn programs like flash, toon boom, maya, blender, illustrator, macromedia, etc. Some of these have free trials, and some are also just free in general, buuuuut I wouldn't worry about price. Let's just say out of the MANY animators I have met and talked to , most of them have admitted to never paying for these programs.
• If you want to be a good noodle and pay for the ridiculously overpriced software that's fine, I'm just putting it out there that unless you're a Mac user, programs that can properly render your animation are hard to find for free (and it's kind of bullshit if you ask me.)
• Having certifiable experience and intuition for these programs is very important to cementing yourself in a studio, and adding expertise in these programs to your resume makes you a hot candidate for hire.
• Learn the principles of animation in 8 - 24 frames a second.
It's very easy to get stuck only animating at 8 fps.
• I recommend experimenting in how to adapt animation to certain generates so the company you end up working for never has to force you to tween or copy frames to Make your work look finished. Learn the principles of motion in every type of animation, Study the rule of four's, and practice walk cycles in different frame rates to enhance your expertise in the subject.
• Make some friends, get contacts, and develop a portfolio.
Find your people, and then maybe they'll find you.
• Honestly, getting to know people from this sort of community is pretty important, especially if you're trying to get into the profession itself. You need to make it so people can see your arsenal of skill, and be able to have your work on display. Create a website, post your work on social media, Have a platform that will allow you to be recognized as at least an amateur before you start shaking hands with the pro's.
• Find people that share your passion, offer to help with projects, be available, Make yourself known for your reliability, and maybe you'll be commissioned on occasion, or modern enough to make a living.
• Have your work leave an impression.
Have someone want to call you back.
• If you are capable of getting freelance jobs and being assigned to projects, Make sure to use all the skills I talked about to impress those who hire you. If you want freelancing to earn you some extra money, or even want to become a professional animator, you want you work to be done amazingly , and fast. Make producers and directors believe they need you, and have them pay to just have you add your work to their production. Become your own brand, and you will find your comfortable chair in the industry.
• Now the one thing I don't want to do is discourage anyone from wanting to pursue their dreams, if anything it's the opposite if that. I want to give advice that only you as an artist can choose to listen to , and be prepared when the industry bares it's sharp teeth. Being an artist has always been a tough job, and no matter how much you claim art is unique, at the end of the day, animators are labor workers, and people expect things out of you when they start productions and hire employees.
• Ultimately your work and style will leave an impact on someone later or early in their life, inspiring and entertaining those who love art and animation, leaving a sense of satisfaction and motivation to those who wish to pursue their dream. Just never move to Japan to become an animator unless you're good enough to not be expendable, I didn't write this myTake to raise the percentage of suicide rates.