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Best animation exercise for beginners

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Have you always been curious about 2D animation?

This FREE animation tutorial is a great start for learning how to animate.

Do this animation exercise from our 2D animation class for beginners and get a feeling for some of the most important principles of animation in just 35 minutes!

  • Click play to start the FREE lesson!
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In this tutorial we will animate a group of balls moving (slightly offset from each other) along a motion path.

You will be learning about basic principles of animation like: ease in/out, anticipation, how to keep volume for solid drawings, and more – all while learning the basics of the animation software OpenToonz.

One of the most important tools we have a look at are timing charts, which help you to plan your animation effectively.

Ready to get started with learning? Click play on the video above!

  • Using a drawing tablet or screen (e.g. from Wacom, XP-Pen or Huion) is recommended.
  • The software used for this demonstration is called OpenToonz. You can download OpenToonz here for free.
  • If you don’t have a drawing tablet, you might want to try creating a flipbook – e.g. on a post-it notebook.

With the gear icon in the video player you can increase the speed of the video playback to 1.5x or even 2x. Useful for repeating information or speeding up explanations you think you already know.

If you stop and come back to this page later, the player will continue where you left off and you can continue the animation exercise seamlessly.

Free animation software

You can start animating right now, because the app in this tutorial is completely free: OpenToonz

OpenToonz is based on commercial software that was used in professional productions e.g. by Hayao Myasaki’s Studio Ghibli. Because of that history it has become an extremely powerful and professional software.

However, some advanced concepts in this animation software can be a bit overwhelming. That’s why such a simple animation exercise is perfect for beginners: You learn the basics of OpenToonz and some principles of animation at the same time without too much frustration. Once you get into the part of this tutorial where we use the straight-ahead method, it might even become relaxing!

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Starting to learn how to animate has never been cheaper. This professional level animation software is open-source and maintained by a community – and therefor completely free!

Want to learn even more?

Becoming a good animator takes lots of practice. But don’t worry if you don’t know where to start! I have a free 2D animation class and affordable in-depth premium lessons to help you build a solid foundation for your animation skills.

When you are ready for the next step, I recommend this premium tutorial: The Basics of Physics – Weight and Impact

Table of Contents

This is a list of all the steps in the animation workflow presented in this video.

While playing the video above, click on a chapter to jump to that place in the animation tutorial and learn more about that specific technique or principle of animation:

0:00 Intro
0:51 Creating a scene in the OpenToonz sandbox project
1:05 Using a brush on a vector level
1:42 Planning the motion path (arcs)
2:41 Tweaking vector lines with the Control Point Editor
4:11 Setting the path as a reference layer – opacity and exposure duration
5:12 Select tool for line positioning
5:25 Planning is animating!
6:02 Increasing and decreasing spacings – ease out and ease in
7:08 Animation timing charts
8:49 Spacings along the arc – halfing method
10:29 Onion Skin
11:14 Create a new drawings on the next frames
12:12 Stretch and keeping volumes
14:20 Size Reference

15:11 Copying lines vs copying drawings
16:18 Animating along the timing chart
16:53 Layer visibility
17:32 Animating on Ones vs Twos
19:51 Animating straight ahead
21:45 Constant speed
21:59 Super fast motions
22:54 Anticipation
24:16 Setting up the loop
24:36 Removing frames / re-timing
25:41 Duplicating and offsetting the second ball
29:01 Coloring
30:00 Closing gaps
30:50 Adding different colors to the different layers

Ready for the next level?

In animation it’s not enough to just make things move – they need to move in a believable way.

For example, you need to learn how the laws of physics cause light and heavy elements to move differently.

This premium lesson will help you to master the most important laws of physics for animation:

Basics of Physics for character animation

Discover how to create the illusion of weight in animation and put together a fun character animation step by step in our premium lesson about animation physics.

Alternatively you can find more free lessons in our 2D animation class series.

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