Animation Frequently Asked Questions
These are just some of the many questions I get asked every time I post an animated tag on FP. It doesn't bother me, I'm glad people are interested in something I can do. But I think, until I can get my animation tutorial together, a FAQ for all these questions will be a good thing to do.
Personally, I believe if you can draw, you can animate. You do need a good understanding, though, of anatomy and how joints move to successfully create a believable animation.
I started animating in about June 2009 sometime after I learned how to work with programs other than MS Paint. My first animation was just an ear flick and blink. Now I've progressed to walking, running, and much more. So I've only been doing this for about 2 1/2 years. I have never been to any school to learn any of the art skills I know. I mainly learned from watching people, observing animated films, other artist's animation, and books. And of course practice.
1. What program do you use to animate?
I use GIMP 2.6. I draw, color, and put together every frame in GIMP. I do not use any other program, website, or whatever to do my animations.
2. Do you use a tablet?
Yes, but you can animate with a mouse or trackpad. Animation is just a bunch of still drawings so if you can draw with a mouse, you can animate with a mouse.
3. Can you teach me how to animate?
Not really. I have always had trouble explaining myself when it comes to tutorials and similar things. And animation is not easy to do or explain. If you really want to learn, check out some books from your local library on animation or buy them. This is the main way I learned what i know now.
Something else that helped me is taking apart the animations of others. By this, I mean opening an animated gif in GIMP and observing each frame to see how the person puts their idea in motion.
If you want to try this, use the example of my animation up there.
- Right click on it.
- Choose "Save Image As..." or whatever your browser says like that
- Save it to your computer
- Open GIMP and then find the tag. Open it
- You should be able to see all the frames I used in the layers panel of GIMP. You can play it back to yourself by (in GIMP) going to "Filters -> Animation -> Playback". Click the play button and watch it move again. You can also study how each frame works together to make the final movement. This is also how I sometimes use other gifs for frame-by-frame reference. But please, always credit your references and never, ever trace them.
4. When I save my animation, it doesn't move when I upload it. I saved it as a gif. What's up?
When you save something as a gif on GIMP, you get a prompt that looks like this:
You must make sure to click the "Save as Animation" highlighted above.If you don't, your animation won't be moving.
5. Can I use your animations for reference?
Sure, if it helps you, go ahead. I would appreciate it if you let people know my art was used for reference though.
6. How long do animations take?
For me, it varies. If I dedicate myself to an animation and do nothing else, something like a run cycle could be finished in a 2-3 hours. Something like what you see on this page could take up 2-3 days with 3-5 hours spent on it per day. Animation done right and using little cheats isn't quick so those who aren't patient or who give up easy may not enjoy animation.
7. Do you know how to animate on Photoshop/Flash/SAI/some other program? Can you make a tutorial on that?
Sorry, but I don't have the money to even dream of having Photoshop or Flash so I don't have them nor have I ever used them. I have SAI, but I have yet to actually use it. From what I understand, the methods used for GIMP are somewhat similar to Photoshop. If not, then in any program, you can draw each frame and put them into motion using an online tool. I don't remember the URL for the site though. Google it. :P
8. I made my own animation, but I'm not sure if it looks okay. Would you be willing to critique me?
I don't mind taking a look at your animation and helping you out, but you could also try posting it on the art nook looking for critiques. Even those not experienced with animation can notice flaws with your work such as jerky motion, or a place that may need more frames. And remember, take the critiques you get to heart and actually work on what needs to be fixed. Its the only way you can improve.
9. I want to animate but I don't think I have the patience for it. Are there any cheats or ways to make it faster?
As I touched on in #6, animation is going to be time consuming if you want it to look good. Like I also said, I personally believe that if you can draw, you can animate, but its not for everyone. there are little cheats and gimmicks animators use to pull off motion using less frames, but these must be used in moderation as they will ruin your animation if you use some of them to much or if you don't know how and when to use them.
10. Can you make a lot of money from selling animations?
From my personal experience, not really. If you're already a popular artist, sure, you could probably charge $50 for a run cycle and get orders. If you're an unknown or somewhere between popular and unknown, you may have trouble selling. Here's why: The average player on Furry-Paws has no idea how much work is really put into animation. To prove this point, I've asked how much I should charge to make completely custom run cycles. Those who knew about animation and those who were animators themselves suggested 200+mil, $10-$15 or the FPP equivalent. Other players suggested something like $3-$5, 5-10 FPP, or around 50-ish million FPD. This is the price for most still tags. And there is also the fact that many of FP's players are either too young to have a job or just don't like spending much money on art so if you want to be paid what its worth, you might not in the end.
Each frame of animation is, essentially, 1 tag so a 10 frame animation is really redrawing, recoloring, and re-shading 10 tags. Not only that, you have to make sure the drawings flow correctly and look normal and natural with movement. You have to make sure the markings are correctly placed so they won't fly all over the character when put into motion which may involve editing the coloring multiple times. Depending on the movement, you may have to time and re-time it. Who wants to do 10 tags and all this for such low prices?
Now if you want to get tons of orders and don't mind being underpaid, then go ahead. If you're like me, selling animations will be rare and only if you feel like being a bit underpaid for your time. There's nothing wrong with getting an early start in animation if you want to eventually get into it professionally or just for fun, but you may not be able to make much on FP. I would suggest going to different site where people pay what art is worth if you really want to make money.
11. You mentioned looking for books, do you recommend any in particular?
Note that these books are on how to animate, not how to do so in a program
- The Animator's Survival Kit by Richard Williams
- How to Draw Animation by Christopher Hart
- Chistoher Hart's Animation Studio by Christopher Hart
- My favorite: Character Animation Crash Course by Eric Goldberg
The Animator's Survival Kit is recommended by many animators and is very, very helpful, but I personally feel its more aimed at those who already have some experience with animation. If you are a beginner, Christopher Hart's books are for you. Eric Goldberg's book is for the beginner, intermediate and advanced animator. I personally love this one the most. It's written in an easy to understand way with easy to follow examples. These are the only four I have been able to use that were most helpful to me. Feel free to look around for others.