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  • Writer's pictureshadrachmunene

Animation for Beginners

Updated: Dec 23, 2020

Many are curious or fascinated with animation. Some want to be animators and don’t know where to start, some ask whether one needs to know how to draw well to be a good animator. What software should they use? What hardware should they use?... Any of these questions yours? Well, let's attempt to address them. What is Animation?

Animation is a technique used to play a series of successive images to create an illusion of life and movement.

In the above animation, some drawings are played in succession at 24 frames per second to give the illusion of a character walking while chewing gum.

Uses for Animation

Animation is primarily used as an engaging medium of communication due to it's exaggeration of real life. This makes it great for:

  • Entertainment ( Movies /Cartoon shows/ Short films/ Skits etc. )

  • Advertisements ( TV Ads, Shopping mall Ads, Outdoor Billboard Ads, Motion graphics/ TV Bumpers etc.)

  • Explainer videos ( Concept / Process / Product / Service description)

  • Story-telling especially when the subject matter is sensitive, difficult to explain or no pictures or footage can be found.

  • Game Animation

  • Simulation ( Hazardous environments/ Crash tests/ Crowd control etc.)

  • Industrial ( Engineering/ Robotics/ Medical simulations)

Types of Animation Animation is a technique applied in:

  • 2D Animation (eg. Scooby-doo / Tom & Jerry, Teen Titans Go, PowerPuff Girls etc.)

  • 3D Animation (eg. Ice Age, Kungfu Panda, Frozen etc.)

  • Stop Motion (eg. Kubo & the two strings etc.)

  • Game animation

What's the Difference between 2D & 3D Animation?

2D Animation is drawn or constructed on paper thus lacks the depth dimension that 3D has.

The human eye sees forms as everything on earth has volume. A drawn object doesn't have volume hence the flat appearance, length and width.

What Tools are used in Animation Production?

Over the years, animation has evolved due to factors such as access to technological advancements and more animation schools. We'll break it down into Hardware and Software. For Hardware, there are:

  • Digital Drawing tablets ( Huion / Wacom )

  • Computer ( Workstation / Laptop)

  • MOCAP Suit / Camera

  • VR gear

Recommended Computer Specs

I'm biased to PCs so I strongly recommend them for animation. Mac computers are still fine...for prestige. The following PC specifications (and Mac equivalent) are ( minimum ) recommended in 2021:

  • 2X 24" FHD monitors

  • Windows 10 Pro (or Linux if you're geeky ;-) )

  • Full QWERTY Keyboard and Precision Mouse (Logitec Recommended)

  • i7 10th Gen or Latest Xeon E processors.

  • 512GB SSD Harddrive

  • 16GB of RAM

  • 8GB Graphics card (NVIDIA RTX Cards recommended eg RTX 3060~ 3090)

  • Adequate Cooling and Power Supply (1000w PSU recommended)

  • High-Speed WiFi Card (and Bluetooth Optional)

  • Video Conferencing Kit (FHD Webcam / USB mic or Headphones with a mic)

  • Good headphones or Desktop audio speakers (2.1 Channel)

HP Offer reliable workstations for both Desktop and Laptops. Consider their Z Workstations. However, there are so many brands with good computers. You can also assemble your own rig if you know what you're doing. The price range for the above specs ranges from USD $900 to $2000. In the Software category, there are two sub-categories, 2D & 3D For 2D Animation:

For 3D Animation:

  • Autodesk Maya

  • DAZ Studio

  • Reallusion Character Animator

Where can one Learn about animation? Well, at JR Animation Studio, where I work, we're contemplating on creating an animation beginner course/mentorship program. Would you be interested? If so please Click HERE to express your interest.

In the meantime, YouTube and Google are an animator’s best friend. Learning basic character animation types and techniques of animation, common vocabulary and the 12 principles of animation. The information is abundant but not curated. It's more pragmatic to consider attending an animation school since there's a structured curriculum with clear objectives, all meant to mould you into a proficient animator.

It takes about two years to become substantially good at animating and that's with a regular and consistent application. It takes longer if the later isn't true.

In Kenya, there are three schools you should look into:

Globally, there are many renown physical and online schools like:

Does one need to know how to draw?

YES!! Especially for 2D Animation. There is a debate arguing that one doesn't need to know how to draw if they're going to be 3D Animators. It's true to some extent, but the lack of drawing skills results in bland-looking work. Animation started as 2D, thus the foundation is in drawing. How can you expect to build something solid without a solid foundation? Career Opportunities

The global animation industry is highly competitive and full of eager animators looking to show the next big hit. As you can imagine, there's a ton of animators presenting top-notch work therefore the consumers are spoilt for choice. This means that a lazy animator's work will drown in the piles of industrious animator's work. In Kenya, the market is gradually warming up to the concept of animation and thus is ripe in terms of opportunities. At the same time, it becomes a challenge to get paid your worth as it's a new concept. For the few who've managed to sell value, they're breaking bank. In a nut shell, "Chema chajiuza!!"

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