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Animation for Beginners

Updated: Jun 19, 2022

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 video-making technique used to play a series of successive images to create an illusion of life and movement. (motion picture.)

Animation is a genre under Film making. It has multiple sub-genres too. (mentioned below )

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.

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, Boss Baby, PJ Masks etc.)

  • Stop Motion (eg. Kubo & the two strings, The Boxtrolls, Fantastic Mr. Fox, etc.)

  • Game animation

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

The third dimension a.k.a depth. 2D Animation is drawn or constructed on paper and thus lacks the depth dimension perceived in 3D.

The human eye sees forms not shapes since everything on earth has volume. A drawn object doesn't have volume hence the flat appearance, length and width. E.g. A circle is a flat shape. A sphere is a circle with volume. Square vs Cube etc.

From a technical point of view, they both share similar processes only that 3D can tend to be a little bit more complex and has a few extra steps in between the three main production phases.

None is superior to the other since each has its own appeal, especially considering the themes and intended audience. Therefore, good and decisive art direction is quintessential to deciding the visual direction of an animated video.

Uses for Animation

Animation is primarily used as an engaging medium of communication due to its visual appeal and exaggeration of real life. This makes it great for:

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

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

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

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

  • Game Animation ( Edutainment games / Leisure games etc.)

  • Simulation ( Virus spreading & Containment /Crash tests/ Rescue efforts planning etc.)

  • Industrial ( Engineering/ Robotics/ Medical simulations / Green energy Planning etc.)

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 tools, there are:

  • Digital Drawing tablets ( Huion / Wacom etc.)

  • Computer ( Workstation / Laptop)

  • MOCAP Suit / Camera

  • VR gear

Recommended Computer Specs

We're biased toward PCs so we strongly recommend them for animation. Mac computers are still fine...for prestige. The following PC specifications (and Mac equivalent) are ( minimum ) recommended in 2022:

  • 2X 24" FHD monitors

  • Modern Ports (HDMI 2.1A /USB C / USB 3.1 / DisplayPort/ Thunderbolt )

  • 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. (Clock speed is important per single core. Higher is better 2.6 GHz and above.

  • 512 GB SSD Harddrive. (If M.2 NVME is an option go for it instead! )

  • 16 GB of RAM (64 GB is recommended)

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

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

  • High-Speed WiFi Card (WiFi 6) (and Bluetooth Optional for wireless Keyboards, Mouse & Headphones.)

  • 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 $3500.

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, we're contemplating creating an animation beginner course/mentorship program. Would you be interested? If so, click the button below to write us a message on the contact form to express your interest.

We will put you down for first priority and early bird discounts.

In the meantime, YouTube and Google are animators’ best friends. 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 renowned 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 a 3D Animator. 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 the 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 are 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 nutshell, "Chema chajiuza!!"

As a production studio, we could use highly skilled creative artists. Feel free to check out the jobs often available and maybe even drop us your Portfolio link to add it to our expanding talent pool.

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