Over the recent years, with the many advances in technology, animated pictures have become a cultural norm. You will see animation used in many places, for many different purposes. It could be a kid’s cartoon or a company’s advertisement. In the 1900s, with the very first animations, you had to visit the cinema just to watch a small animated clip, which only lasted a few minutes. It was all hand-drawn, every single frame. Clearly, animation has greatly advanced, now there being full-on cartoon series on TV and 70 minute feature 3D CGI films. Animation has become a new medium, a luxury provided in this era of technology.
How does animation work?
These amazing animations that you see everyday have to be made somewhere, and by humans. Animation is very easy to learn, but takes a lifetime to master. But how does it work? In short, 2D animation is literally just moving drawn pictures. 3D animation is just moving 3D models. That’s easy. You take a still item and move it around. But unfortunately, that’s not all. Animation needs smooth movements and appealing aesthetics to fully succeed. But for now, we’ll explain the basics, you can learn the rest on your own (I recommend YouTube videos :D). For example, if you were to animate a square moving from left to right (In the Flash animating software):
You have the square on the left, drawn with the rectangle tool (doesn’t really matter what the item is, it matters mostly about what you’re trying to do with it). In all animating softwares, there are key parts of an animation – the frames. These are the bread and butter of animation. Every frame is every change and every movement in the animation, and when you play the animation, these are rapidly shown one after the other, creating a sense of animation. After all, animation is the illusion of bringing something to life. To make the square actually move, you need to create a new keyframe (you will be told how to do it in any animation software) This is what the frames look like in Flash:
Then, you move the square a little bit to the right, but not all the way, as we haven’t reached the endpoint yet. We need to see how it gets there, or it’s not really animation:
We’re still not quite where we want to be, but we’re getting there. Add another keyframe, and move the square to the right some more.
Move the square a bit more and you’ll be at your end point in this animation.
Press Enter to play it, and you’ll see the square move from left to right! These are the very basics of animation, not too difficult, is it? And if you add a few more layers of animation on top, it can look really cool!
Where can I start animating?
After seeing all the amazing things that animation can produce, you really want to start animating. Where would you? Well, there are many different programs depending on what you want to animate:
For 3D animation:
For 2D animation:
Flash (Macromedia or Adobe, any is fine)
Toon Boom Studio
You can also draw pictures in MS Paint, Paint.net or GIMP and animate them in an editing software such as Adobe After Effects.
The above software have to be bought though, so if you really can’t spend any money but definitely want to animate, you can draw different pictures/frames in MS Paint and edit them together in Windows Movie Maker, though it will require a bit more time and effort.
Hope we helped, happy animating!
By: Uzaer Shahid and Younis Raja