51 Animation Loops to practice your animation skills.

Thousands of animators have discovered our post 51 Great Animation Exercises to Master. It’s time to get to practicing once again with this sequel, all about animated loops!

Animated loops are extremely valuable. With minimal work you can:

  • Create something that feels substantial because it plays as many times as you’d like.
  • Pour maximum effort into polishing the shot because there are a limited number of frames.
  • Try variations quickly and easily by altering one or two aspects of the loop.
  • Practice and move on. Since loops are short, there’s no long-term commitment.
  • Focus on clarity so that your audience has no misunderstanding of the action taking place.
  • Let loose and have some actual fun practicing!

An animated loop can technically be boiled down to just two drawings, though three or more tends to be a better choice. Whether you decide to make your loop five frames or five hundred, keep in mind these Loop tips by Eran Mendel as you plan. The last frame of your clip should feed right back into your first frame so it can be set to repeat endlessly.

Animate some loops!

From the days of the Phenakistiscope, animators discovered loops were a way to create short stories while keeping frames to a minimum. You can create an animated loop to use (in moderation) as part of a longer animated short, or to include in a demo reel, or make it into a gif to share online. Whatever the final presentation, the effort you put in will continue to improve your skill as an animator. The only way to master this craft is to put in the work, so get looping!

Level 1
  1. Simple ball bounce in place (no decay)
  2. Waving
  3. Sleepy blink
  4. Jumping
  5. Exaggerated chewing
  6. Blowing bubblegum (Can then combine with #5!)
  7. Character bouncing/dribbling a ball
  8. Sawing a wooden board
  9. Candle flame
  10. Seesaw
  11. Sleeping
  12. Clapping/Applause
Level 2
  1. Chopping at a tree trunk
  2. Juggling (hands)
  3. Shoveling
  4. Dancing
  5. Blowing up balloons
  6. Spinning/twirling (Level 3 if 2D!)
  7. Climbing stairs
  8. Skateboarder pushing along
  9. Running, driven by a particular emotion
  10. Flying
  11. Climbing a ladder
  12. Robot production line
  13. Eating chips from a bag
Level 3

Jump Rope Time

  1. Jumping rope (Get that squash and stretch practice in!)
  2. Playing an Instrument
  3. Tasting bitter coffee, adding sugar
  4. Playing catch
  5. Stroking a long beard
  6. Chasing something
  7. Swinging on a tire swing
  8. Swimming
  9. Searching (w/ Flashlight or Magnifying Glass)
  10. Character Painting
  11. Firing a cannon (Bonus: Loading the cannon as well)
  12. Chopping vegetables
Level 4
  1. Washing dishes
  2. Filing folders from small cart to cabinet drawers
  3. Line of creatures/people jumping off a cliff
  4. Nose picking
  5. Heavy weightlifting
  6. Mixing beakers of chemicals
  7. Tennis match (Bonus if they’re playing Doubles!)
  8. Putting on more and more sweaters
  9. Peering, taking off glasses to clean, peering again
  10. Picking up a gem from a large pile, studying it, placing it into a second pile
  11. Pouring drinks, serving/drinking them
  12. Football (Soccer) juggling
  13. Boxers trading blows
  14. Taking selfies (several different expressions)
Things to keep in mind
  • Only you decide how great you want to become, and you decide by how much you practice. Reading this list of ideas will do you zero good if you do not open up your animation software or grab a pencil and give them a try. Go for it! Make practicing your craft a priority.
  • Always remember the famous words of Ollie Johnston: “You’re not supposed to animate drawings [or 3D models]. You’re supposed to animate feelings.” Don’t be a robot. Keep the feeling of your story in mind, even when your story is only a few frames long and set to repeat.
  • Avoid over-complicating things. Keep your loops simple and clear. You can always take things further and add more once you’ve finished a beautiful, polished loop. Start with beautiful simplicity.
  • Animated loops are fun to share, but if you want to do these just for practice, they can remain yours and yours alone. Do your best either way. If you do decide to share any loops you create, let us know with a link in the comments or on Twitter @AnimatorIsland!
  • Use reference. All artists use reference. It isn’t cheating. At the same time, don’t copy reference directly. Refer to it. Use it as a platform on which to build.
  • You don’t have to go in order! While each level gets progressively more difficult, if you see a loop that sparks your interest, jump on it! That creative spark is something to be nurtured. Don’t hesitate, get some paper and thumbnail your idea right this second. Then animate!
  • As always, have fun. The joy you put into your art will be felt, however subtly, by your audience! Be joyful in your work!

Whether you decide to tackle all 51 or just start with the bouncing ball, commit that today you’re going to put your best foot forward and get something accomplished. Declare which loop you’re going to try in the comments below, and post a link when you’re finished. Plus if you have a loop you enjoy animating that isn’t on the list, share the idea with the rest of us!

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