If you are an aspiring animator (or artist) and you find yourself spending more time reading than actually DOING anything then I'm writing this for you. No baseball player ever read a lot about baseball and then was an amazing baseball player. If you think that since animation isn't a sport you do not have to practice? Wrong. Articles and tips can get you motivated and inspired to work but thy wont make you great.
The nine old men of animation (9 men who invented the guidelines of HOW TO ANIMATE) they didn't have anyone give them tips or tricks. They had to do Good ol' hands-on-training. I've searched the internet and asked around and I have put together a list of exercises for an aspiring animator to do! Even if you consider yourself advanced I would suggest you still start from level one. never hurts to make sure you have your fundamentals locked down.
- Bouncing ball (loop) (squash and stretch/spacing)
- Bouncing ball across the screen (2 bounces) (squash and stretch/spacing)
- Cinder Block sliding off a shelf, hitting the floor. (spacing, form)
- Flour Sac Jump (mass)
- A blink (spacing/squash and stretch)
- A head turn (transitions/ arcs)
Breaking a Sweat
- Walk cycle (technical)
- Run cycle (technical)
- Character jumping (physical/spacing)
- Suicide backwards fall off a ledge (subtle delays and overlap)
- A character getting up from a chair (physical/ anticipation)
- A smile (face muscles, appeal)
- A sneeze (exaggeration and timing)
- Do an action that requires a 'smear' (technical)
- Laughing (reference studying)
- Animate a hand doing something-close up (anatomy)
- Character lifting a heavy object (weight)
- Animate a dog shaking after a bath (overlap/follow through)
- Hammering a nail (timing/spacing)
- Character blowing up a balloon (physicality)
- Piano falling on a character (timing/weight/debris)
- Character brushing their teeth (personality)
- Character eating a sandwich (personality)
- Getting up out of bed (physical personality)
- Waiting for the bus stop (entertainment/appeal)
Quitters Quit, Winners Win
- Character throwing a bucket of water on another (physical acting)
- Tug of war b/w two characters (tension)
- Character drinking wine (research)
- Character making an egg - full process from fridge to mouth (rhythm and timing)
- A feather falling and being blown by the wind (reference)
- Character reacting to "your parents are dead" (acting)
- Putting on a pair of pants (physical)
- Sleeping character being startled, then going back to sleep (rhythm and texture)
KEEP IN MIND - These will make you better, not get you a job. Studios want to see dialogue and acting. what these exercises above do is help you become a better animator!
You are not animating lines, you are animating a personality, an emotion, the feelings. You are animating something deeper than just what you see.
Keep it simple.
You don't have to show anyone, these tests are for you!!!