How to get started with animation

So you're convinced learning animation is something you want to do. Great! Let’s take a look at how to get started. 

Luckily, things have changed over the years, and getting into animation has never been easier. But this 'luck' can also be a double-edged sword. With so many software options and YouTube channels filled with animation tutorials, how do you know where to go?

12 basic principles of animation

Regardless of what kind of animator you want to be, you should start with the basics. To be specific, Disney's Twelve Basic Principles of Animation. These 12 principals, outlined by Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas in The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation, are based on the ideas of Disney animators dating back to the 1930s.

Without having a solid foundation and understanding of these 12 principals, you're just spinning your wheels. Below is one of the best videos I've seen explaining these principals.

Animation software

Next up, you need to do a budget check. The price of animation software can range from free to thousands of dollars. But don't automatically assume you get what you pay for; there are a number of affordable tools that offer more than you'd expect. With that in mind, let's take a look at three options:

01. Blender

Blender is ideal for those wanting to start exploring animation

Blender is ideal for those wanting to start exploring animation

Price: Free 

Blender is a free and open source 3D creation tool. While it's primarily a 3D tool, it can also be used to create 2D/3D animations. If you're looking for an inexpensive way to break into animation, Blender is the way to go.

Creative Bloq's own Kerrie Hughes shares with us 38 brilliant Blender tutorials to help you get started.

02. Moho Debut 12

Moho is great for entry-level animators

Moho is great for entry-level animators

Price: $69.99 USD (Basic); $399.99 (Pro)

Another excellent animation software is one published by Smith Micro Software. With this entry-level app, you'll be making your own animation in minutes. 

The basic version is $69.99, but if you're looking for something a bit more robust, consider upgrading to its Pro version, which costs just $399.99. Whether you're planning to be a hobbyist or professional animator, Moho Pro 12 delivers on both ends of the spectrum.

To help get you started, take a look at my ongoing Introduction to Moho video tutorial series, available now on Day Of The Indie.

03. Harmony Advanced

Harmony is considered the industry standard

Harmony is considered the industry standard

Price: $975 USD

For the die-hard professionals out there, take a look at Toon Boon's Harmony. At the time of this writing, it is considered the industry standard.

Although it comes with a hefty price tag, Toon Boom does offer trial versions, which you can download for free. It also offers three different editions: Essentials, Advanced, and Premium. For most jobs, the Advanced edition works well.

If you think Toon Boom Harmony is right for you, take a look at its video tutorials, which will get you on the right track for a career in animation.

And there you have it! The why and the how of animation. If you're looking for more information, hit me up on Twitter. I'd be happy to help.

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Tammy Coron

Tammy is an independent creative professional, author of Apple Game Frameworks and Technologies, and the maker behind the AdventureGameKit – a custom SpriteKit framework for building point and click adventure games. As an innovative problem solver and industry leader, Tammy enjoys working on projects from content creation – including books, tutorials, videos, and podcasts – to the design and development of cross-platform applications and games. For Creative Bloq, she has written about an array of subjects, including animation, web design and character design.