Animation Toolworks




by Nataha Lightfoot

Tips On Getting Started: there are a number of ways to start the process of learning animation. One is to buy books and teach yourself. The Bible of the industry is the ³Illusion of Life² by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. The information and drawings in this book make it worth the fifty dollars or more that you will pay for it. My advice is to buy this book and start your library of Animation Books to refer to and use as you start your journey of understanding ³The Fascinating World Of Animation.²

The following 7 steps became the gospel according to the nine old men of animation that worked with Walt Disney in founding the industry that you see today. Don¹t just read itŠmemorize it, learn it and use it every time you draw. There is no short cut for skills and knowledge. It all starts will heart and desireŠdo you have it? Next, it takes time and dedication, can you give it?

Seven Steps in Animating A Scene Taken from the ³Illusion Of Life² by Frank Thomas & Ollie Johnson (pp.236-241) *Look these up and read the original version for a complete understanding.

1. Think About The Scene: Plan out how the scene should be animated. Don¹t start animation until you have the action planned out in your mind. Also, keep in mind the character¹s personality and how the scent fits the overall picture. Time spent here will save you time later.

2. Thumbnails: These are small sketches that work out the staging of the characters in the scene and the key poses in the scene. Each pose should tell something about the character. Also, be aware of how your scenes fit into the visual continuity of the sequence. Your thumbnails will guide you and give inspiration for changes. Work out your ideas before you start to save you a lot of time later. These small drawings can be changed easier than the enlarged drawings and solve problems before you get to the storyboard.

3. Mechanics Of Presentation: Make sure your character fits the perspective and scale of the layout. Solve your basic problems of camera angles and camera placement to avoid redoing your work and this will also giving greater interest to the overall film. Recheck the size relationship of all characters before you commit to the animation.

4. Solve Special Drawing Problems: If there are unusual angles or staging angles that are complex, work them out in the thumbnail stage or when you enlarge to full size but have them solved before you start animating. Remember that it takes 12-24 drawing to create one second of animation. Don¹t waste your time on animation if you have problems with the thumbnails or enlargements.

5. Double Check Your Ideas: Make sure you haven¹t forgotten something in the planning of your ideas for the scene. Double check your layout, staging, perspective and key poses. Also, check your animation to make sure it is drawn within the field limits. Use your base sheet to guide your drawings. Trucks and pans can be adjusted to fit the animation, but you need to be sure they are correct before shooting the pencil test.

6. Enlarge Thumbnails To Full Size: Redraw or enlarge your thumbnails with the lucyagraph to fit the layout for the scene and adjust them to work as your key rough poses for animating your scene.

7. Animation And Timing: Now that the animator has his key poses and staging planned, he can concentrate on animating the additional extremes that will control the acting, expressions, dialogue and timing. Timing charts are put on the extremes or key frames so the assistant can put in the additional drawings that are needed to have the character moving at the correct speed and timing the animator has in mind for the scene. The numbers correspond to the key frames and the hash marks are visual guides as to the spacing of the drawing in relationship to the extremes or keys.

Hopefully these tips will help you understand more about the process of animation and spark your interest in the field of ³The Fine Art of Animation².

"The editing features are invaluable for character animation"

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