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What Animation Advice Would You Give Your Younger Self?

Great animation comes from experience. The more you animate, the better you’ll get. Still, there are a lot of helpful things you learn along the way, some of which you discover and immediately think “Why didn’t someone tell me this a long time ago?!”

Today we’re putting out a call for those sorts of lessons! What are the things you know now that you would love to hop in a time machine and hand deliver to your younger self back when you were new to animation? What would you sit yourself down and impart? It can be one tip or a whole book’s worth of knowledge, up to you!

la luna
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We’ll collect the responses in the comments below and compile a list of the best ones so that even though we can’t travel back in time with them, maybe a younger animator in the present can take the wisdom with them in their own journey! Or maybe someone else’s advice will hit home for us as we read them. So let’s hear it:

What animation advice would you give to your younger self if you could go back in time to where your art journey began?

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Ferdinand Engländer

I thought about this for almost a week now. Lots of tips and tricks about the handcraft came into my mind (for example how straight against curves, a clear silhouette, a strong motivation and attitude make poses soooo much better). But then again those things are in art books everywhere and you hear about them when you start learning way before you actually are able to apply them correctly. That will come over time… So that would be a pretty unsatisfying advice.

Maybe I wish I had practiced more to get to this point earlier. Maybe the advice could be “draw, create, write, animate a lot, whenever you have time, whatever you want and wherever you are. Don’t be afraid to do bad stuff, because quality will only come over time – after many, many fails. Every work you have done will help you advance”.
That’s good advice, but also no big secret. Many artists preach this philosophy. And there is more of this like “learn and practice systematically!”. Good advice, good advice. My younger self would nod… and then not learn and practice systematically. We sometimes don’t listen to things like that because we just don’t… understand… what it means and how much it really means. And one day you are more experienced and you think “yeah if I would have learned A first I would have learned B faster.” But most creatives just don’t learn like this. It’s like you need to be ready for some kind of advice, before you can apply it.

So what would be “big” advice I actually could have convinced myself to do differently?
Sometimes I envy animators that are an active part of a community like deviantart or newgrounds. I was far to inactive to ever build a network there, but for some artists it really seems to work out great. They collaborate with musicians, voice actors, sound designers, animators and other artists. Some of them even work together their whole life. These friendships, contacts and feedback-givers are so valuable. And when I meet animators that worked and work within such a community it seems so fascinating to me. Sometimes they even have a big or small audience that appreciates their work. And the best part is that most projects start out as “just for fun” passion projects, which is the best soil for creativity.
And… I mean I could be a part of it now, but somehow I feel like an intruder (which is not really the fault of the community, usually everyone is very friendly). But I have commercial work to do now, that keeps me from diving into these communities.
So yeah… toy around, connect with other dreamers as much and as long as you can and try to create the best, crazy stuff you can come up with! The internet and cheap production software makes this easier than ever… Especially when you are still in school and your parents are taking care of the difficult stuff in life. You might never, ever have this much time and freedom to create just whatever you want. The things you can create may be the most unprofessional work of your career (and that’s totally okay) but in a way it could also be your most creative and most… free. And some people do stuff that I find to be completely idiotic, but you know what… mistakes are part of the process as long as you work on gaining the ability to spot mistakes and improve, you will be fine.
Does that make any sense?

plam

I find this post very helpful 🙂
Thanks for sharing. I’m a beginner and that helps!

Jerson

Well I think the best advice would be go step by step, knowing the level that we have, and learn the basics, ask for feedback, and think more in telling one story, emotion, not confuse with fancy movements, and for improve one way can be see frame by frame, movies, all type of movies, comercial, independent, 3d, 2d, real, and the gifs of funny things XD

Lobie

I would tell myself to actually practice the principles of animation. It’s not as boring as I thought it was, and I wish I’ve tried it sooner.
Also, I’d say that I should start making use of storyboards and thumbnails, so that I’ll have a better plan of what I’m going to animate, and I’m not gambling for a final product.
Lastly, I’d tell myself a whole bunch of the stuff I know now, like how to draw better poses! :3

Toonio

Do not take a job for TV animation early on your career.

It will mess up your development and people won’t take you seriously later on, no matter if you complied or exceeded the production demands.

Also mind that many supervisors don’t play nice and the production will protect them no matter what. Ask for any animators you know working at a potential studio for feedback on supervisors and directors, and hold them accountable for their opinions.