“A dream is a wish your heart makes when you're fast asleep.” - Cinderella, 1950

The UK animation industry employs around 5,400 people. The animation and games sector in the UK is growing and more and more young people are moving into work in it. This love for animation has resulted in more university courses and festivals popping up across the country.

Would you like to be part of the industry?

Everyone has to start somewhere.

In this article, we’ll explain how you can get started

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Which Are the Best Programmes for Animating?

New technology has revolutionised the animation industry. While animation was originally done on paper or cels, nowadays it can be done on computers.

So which programs should you use?

Which is the best program for animators?
Each program has its pros and cons and you need to decide upon the one that's right for you, your project, and your budget. (Source: KazuN)

Animation Programs for Beginners

On the internet, it’s easy to find sites and programs that do the animation for you. There are a lot of free ones that allow you to try out a little bit of animation and get an understanding of how it works. In many cases, you don’t even need to learn how to draw. They can be useful for those just starting to see what’s involved in the animation process.

These sites and tools include:

  • LightMV
  • GoAnimate
  • Powtoon
  • Moovly
  • FlipaClip
  • Toontastic 3D

Animation Programs for Experts

These programs are those used for expert animators:

  • AutoDesk Maya
  • AutoDesk Softimage
  • Houdini
  • Aurora 3D Animation Maker
  • Adobe After Effects
  • Blender

Animation Programs for Professionals

Professionals use a multitude of programs to create their work (including some of the ones we’ve already mentioned). Which ones are used will depend on the studio.

Here are some programs that you could use:

  • Animation Paper
  • Moho
  • Pencil2D
  • Animate CC

In some cases, animation studios develop software and suites to create animations.

Find out more about animation programs and software.

How to Animate for Free

Programs aren’t the only way to create an animation. At the beginning of the 20th century, animations were done on celluloid, transparent sheets that allowed animators to separate the moving part of the animation from the static part.

How can you animate for free?
To get started and learn the fundamentals of stop-motion animation, you could start with some figurines and a camera. (Source: ErikaWittlieb)

This technique is rarely used nowadays. However, if you’re getting started with animation, don’t have the budget to invest in an animation program, or just prefer this style of animation, why not create your animation like this?

You can start with a flipbook. This is when you use a tiny notepad and flick through the pages rapidly to give the impression that the images are moving.

You can do this on white paper or tracing paper to allow you to see underneath onto the static background. You can make several images, scan them, and then create the animation from there. After that, you’ll need to record the sound.

There’s also stop-motion animation.

You may recognise this from Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run, for example. You can use modelling clay, create figurines, and take photos, moving each character slightly between frames. Play these photos in quick succession and you’ve got animation.

You can also create animation from free programs online as we mentioned earlier. However, don’t expect a masterpiece from your first creations. Pencil2D is one of the few 2D animation software suites that’s available for free.

When it comes to drawing techniques, you can use a lot of free resources to improve your work. Whether it’s YouTube tutorials or blogs dedicated to animation, you’ll find almost everything you need to learn about creating characters, expressions, and animating them for your films.

Now you just need the right scenario to put them in!

Find out more about animation for beginners.

The Equipment You Need for Creating Animations

To get started with animation, you must invest in the right equipment.

What do you need to animate?
If you're doing animation by hand, you may want to invest in a lightbox. (Source: coyot)

Generally speaking, animation requires very little equipment to get started. You can start with just some paper and a ballpoint pen.

This is why animation is so accessible; it’s something people of all ages can get involved with.

However, a complete animation requires a bit more stuff than that. If you want to create traditional animation, you’ll need a tonne of paper. For a second of film, you’ll often need at least 24 drawings. For a minute, that’s 1,440 drawings!

You’ll also need to choose materials such as coloured pencils, inks, watercolour, acrylics, etc. Col-Erase coloured pencils are good. These are coloured pencils that you can find in a variety of colours but also are easily erased. They're good for drafts and sketches. You can go back over your sketches with black or grey lines. These pencils are useful for distinguishing sketch- and construction-lines from the finished product.

Once you’ve done the drawings, you can use a camera or scanner to save the images onto your computer. You can also use a rostrum camera like the pros. This tool helps you to take perfect pictures of your drawings. However, one will cost you quite a bit. When your drawings are saved, you just have to put them in order and record the voices and SFX.

If you’re interested in animating via a computer, you’ll need to invest in a 2D or 3D animation program and even a graphics tablet to draw directly onto your computer.

Find out more about the tools you'll need to start animating.

10 Tips for Creating Your First Animation

Getting started with animation can be scary. To get the most out of the experience, here are some tips.

How do you create your first animation?
For your very first animation, you may want to think small and achievable. (Source: willianfujii)

Be aware of your skills

Don’t throw yourself into a feature-length film if you’ve just started learning how to draw. You’ll run the risk of losing motivation and giving up. Think about the equipment you’ll need, too. An amateur animator shouldn’t be investing in state-of-the-art equipment.

Think about the overall length of your project before you start.

Are you after a couple of seconds or a few minutes?

Ask yourself how much free time you have to achieve this. From there, you’ll have a better idea of how long your film should be.

Think about the techniques that you’ll use

To be ready to start your animation project, you’ll need to be able to draw your characters in a variety of poses and emotions. Head-on, from the side, angry, happy, etc. You need to be able to draw them in any situation.

Next comes the script/storyboard. You need to know what the characters are going to say, especially if you're going to sync their mouths with the audio.

You can get lessons on scripting to help improve your project and drawing lessons will also help an awful lot. Fortunately for you, some tutors specialise in animation and can teach you a variety of useful skills.

Regularly watch animations

From Disney and Pixar to Ghibli, there’s a whole world of them out there to discover.

Find out more about making your first animation.

If you need help with drawing, animation, scriptwriting, or character design, consider getting help from one of the many talented and experienced private tutors on Superprof. There are tutors all over the country and around the world ready to help you learn new skills, prepare for exams, or take up new hobbies.

There are three main ways to enjoy private tutorials: face-to-face with your tutor, online, or in a group with other students. Each type of tutorial comes with its advantages and disadvantages so it's down to you, how you like to learn, and your budget.

Face-to-face tutorials are the most common type of tutorials offered and are usually the most popular. With just you and your tutor in the class, you can be sure that the lessons will focus on your learning and your tutor will tailor every session to you and how you like to learn. As the tutor will require extra time to plan bespoke lessons, they usually tend to charge more per hour for the service. However, while face-to-face tutorials are usually the most expensive per hour, they're also the most cost-effective.

For those on a tight budget, group tutorials are a way to share the cost of the tutors time with other students in the class. These other students can be friends, family members, or even strangers. This does mean that the lessons won't be tailored just to you but you will usually pay less than you would per person for a one-to-one session.

Finally, online tutorials are useful if you can't find any suitable tutors that live near you or neither of you can travel. As long as you have a webcam and a decent internet connection, you can learn a variety of skills and study a range of topics from private tutors all over the world.

Check for available drawing lessons online.

Find different drawing lessons for beginners on Superprof.

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Daniel

A student by trade, Daniel spends most of his time working on that essay that's due in a couple of days' time. When he's not working, he can be found working on his salsa steps, or in bed.