“If you put a fully trained animator on a computer, they will amaze you with how well they can bring inanimate characters to life. If you put an animator on a computer, all you get are moving figures. The challenge of the digital age is not to learn to program first and foremost thing, but in learning how to make things move well before touching a computer.”
I write this at the beginning of my book, Animation master classes: from pencils to pixelsAnd With the utmost conviction and faith. Yes, I am amazed, inspired and so grateful for the new animation technology that abounds in our world today. Back in the day—that is, in the era of Disney and Warner Bros.’s “golden years,” when character animation was at its peak—if you wanted to make an animated movie, you would need a huge building with hundreds of people and audiences of equipment. The results, of course, were amazing – and some of the best (and most profitable) films were created during this era. However, such methods are no longer possible, or even desirable, in this digital age. Today you can, in theory, do everything on your computer and in your home! That fact remains absolutely mind-boggling for a veteran animator like myself — who actually trained with the giants of the past, one-on-one, taking everything they taught me back then and working with it in new and innovative ways ever since. These things, I now seek to teach you through this book.
However, with great technical advances also come great challenges. Not least of which is the fact that although it is theoretically possible for an untrained individual to pick up the latest software, watch YouTube videos, and create animated motion, they fall very short when asked to create animations of a real character, who moves with persuasion, with weight, compassion, and expresses real feelings or emotions. One look at the animation on TikTok or Instagram will instantly confirm this. We no longer train “artists”, and therefore we no longer prepare animators to rise to the level of the master animators of the past. The reason is very simple: without traditional technical skills and without knowledge of the basic principles of movement, most of what is created with our amazing new technology is sketchy and unsustainable in a longer format. In short, social media animations — even TV animations — are a far cry from the best and most unique animated shows, achieved in the past with little technology at all.
Animation master classes: from pencils to pixels handle this. It seeks to fill the huge void of real knowledge that exists in the world of animation today. Lots of books teach animation technology but none teach techniques anymore – which leaves me wondering if many of the authors actually know how to make things move nicely themselves. With this book I tried to get as close as possible to the invaluable value Vocational training period Into animation as often as possible – the kind I was into in my early days in the industry. I’ve tried to pack into its 808 pages everything I know, everything I’ve tried, and everything I’ve taught since. The book honors that amazing knowledge I received from the greats of the past, while respecting the techniques of the present, and hopefully prepares students to become the master animators of the future. In this sense, I am undoubtedly that “old man who plants trees in the shade of which I will never sit.”
The book consists of four sections, with each section containing 12 key lessons that will teach, challenge, and introduce essential tasks. In this way, the student will be able to pick it up, knowing absolutely nothing about animation, and then, at the end of all 48 master lessons, will make his own animated film. The four sections of the book are:
section 1) connect many The basic principles of movementusing traditional hand-drawn animation techniques.
section 2) further communication The basic principles of movementusing forged digital character techniques, using “Moho”.
section 3) Developing a strong film idea and seeing it through the film’s long history pre-production Processes.
section 4) Tried and tested application Produce Technologies that make the completion of a high-quality animated film fully achievable.
Each class begins with the task “Draw a note gesture”. I do it in the book and I do it in my live online as well. The lure of artificial intelligence (and associated commodities of the digital age) leads us to believe that technology does it all, and that therefore traditional artistic skills, such as drawing, are redundant. Yet it couldn’t be further from the truth! Computers do amazing things, yeah. But, in the final analysis, they’re still nothing more than glorified animator’s pencils. The pencil does not do the work for you, nor does the software nor the computer. It is the skills of the user that determine how well the work will be done. The quote at the top of this article says it all!
All of this is precisely the reason I always begin my classes by drawing observational gestures. This is not for teaching students how to draw, however. They are more for teaching students how to “see”, then “interpret” what they see, and then “communicate” what they see through timed gesture schemes. Without the Animator’s Eye, the Animator will not create strong keys – which means that he will never create great animations. This is why drawing eye/brain/hand coordination gestures is so essential.
Therefore, Sections 1 and 2 of the book teach the basic principles of movement that every master animator should know. The first section is taught using traditional, paper and pencil methods – although, full disclosure, I now teach live classes digitally using RoughAnimator. Section 2 teaches more basic principles, but with forged characters, in Moho. Section 3 covers all the essential pre-production processes for film production – including idea generation, storyboarding (including basic principles of filmmaking), character design, concept art, character/background layouts, perspective, color theory, timing and playback and of course , the ultimate animated creation. Section 4 then moves on to production – refining animation techniques, digital coloring, scene compositing, sound production and post-production, and even a little about promotion/marketing are covered.
Journeys from my desktop have taken me far and wide around this world, and production quality is always my priority. This was only possible, because I learned the strong foundations of animation from the best, in the beginning. These things have become my go-to point a lot. So Animation master classes: from pencils to pixels It provides readers with such a perfect foundation, too—and for whatever form of animation they’ll eventually do. I have never lost my deep love for animation. In fact, I’m currently busy creating more “old projects” like my book. For me it is necessary to repay the animators for the amazing gifts they have given me and therefore I will never stop sharing what I know and experience in this way.
Animation master classes: from pencils to pixels Available now from CRC Press, currently discounted for year-end sale at $47.89 (regular price $59.95). order here.
Tony White is an award-winning animator, author, and teacher based in Seattle, Washington. Having begun his career learning from 2D legends such as Ken Harris, Art Babbitt and Richard Williams, White now runs his own 2D Academy and has authored bestselling textbooks including Animation Action Book, Animation Notebook, Animation Sketchbook, Jumping Through Hoops: Animation Action Coach And Animation from pencils to pixels.
Learn more about White’s projects at drawassic.com and connect with him at animakers.club.
All photos provided by Tony White.