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How to Get Started with Animation Design

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This article is based on the Codementor office hours hosted by Pasquale D’Silva, the creative director and co-founder of Keezy. Pasquale shares his experience with how to get started with designing animation.

Classical Animation Principles

We’ve been doing classical animation principles for years at Keezy, longer than we’ve been doing computing. I started hosting little classes with our Keezy employees, including engineers, and making videos to explain a lot of classical animation principles and that helps our engineering team understand how to build stuff to work well with animation as a core part of it. It changes the structure and foundation of how a lot of stuff is structured inside the app

Going from Static Design to Animation

Learn Animation Away from the Computer

My advice would be to learn animation for even a month away from the computer. The best book is the “Animator’s Survival Kit” written by Richard Williams, and a lot of classical in 3D animators consider this to be the animators’ bible. Richard was the animation director of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, trained by brilliant animation greats. In his book, there are a lot of really interesting formulas in theory about drawn animation timing.

I personally started out learning drawn animation. I think it’s very important that you understand timing and animation theories before you hop into these tools, because if you spend time with the tools and worry about the implementation, you’d become blind to muddy animation, and you’d become lazy and you don’t know how to see motion. It’s like learning to draw from life, and then learning to see the same thing with understanding motion.

Practice with Easy Animations

After you spent your time reading, start getting into things that are not software  Grab copy of flash and try animating a ball traditionally. Flash is like a piece of crap right now, but it’s still okay for animation. Put a ball onto the screen and get it to move from left to right with good animation timing; make it spin around, make it bounce. Once you understand how to do those things, you can move over to software. Start playing with After Effects, and then start to worry about Quartz Composer and the like. The thing with these other packages is that you’ll find yourself having to run two mindsets at once: good animation timing (if you want to design well), and implementation. You’re juggling both those things at the same time, so if you don’t have the fundamentals down, you’re just making crap.

Animator, Interaction & Product designer
I'm an animator & software designer in New York City. I'm half of Thinko. I'm working on a video game called OK, Dracula. Sometimes I make music. I founded Keezy.
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