So tomorrow, Oct 1, marks the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer affects thousands women and men each year. Go out and celebrate the survivors, remember lost loved ones and fund those research organizations!
Quickest way to improvement? Practice. It’s a simple bit of advice that rings with absolute truth. Articles, tips, mentors, and study will never get you as far as rolling up your sleeves and getting down to work, be it animation or any other skill. Today we’ve compiled a list of exercises, like animation push-ups, that will get your art skills buff and toned.
Maybe you still need convinced of how important the “Art of Doing” is? Look no further than the early days of animation, especially at the Disney studio. Here were a group of animators (before being an animator was even a thing) who HAD no books to read, or websites to visit, or even experienced animators to ask. They learned via the age old art of hands-on training, experimenting and discovering as they went. And some would argue they created some of the greatest animation to ever be seen. Masterpieces like the dwarfs dancing in Snow White or the terror of the Monstro scene in Pinocchio. So be like them! Get out there and do animation!
Some of these exercises you may have done or seen before; some maybe not. Consider doing each of them, even if you did once previously, because returning to an old exercise to see how much you’ve progressed is a very valuable experience.
Level 1 Exercises
(Do not discount their simplicity! Here you have the principals of animation, which all other animation is built on. They are worth your time and effort.)
- Ball Bouncing in place, no decay (loop)
- Ball Bouncing across the screen
- Brick falling from a shelf onto the ground
- Simple character head turn
- Character head turn with anticipation
- Character blinking
- Character thinking [tougher than it sounds!]
- Flour Sack waving (loop)
- Flour Sack jumping
- Flour Sack falling (loop or hitting the ground)
- Flour Sack kicking a ball
Level 2 Exercises
- Change in Character emotion (happy to sad, sad to angry, etc.)
- Character jumping over a gap
- Standing up (from a chair)
- Walk Cycle [oldie but goodie!]
- Character on a pogo stick (loop)
- Reaching for an object on a shelf overhead
- Quick motion smear/blur
- Taking a deep breath [also tougher than it sounds!]
- A tree falling
- Character being hit by something simple (ball, brick, book)
- Run Cycle
Level 3 Exercises
- Close up of open hand closing into fist
- Close up of hand picking up a small object
- Character lifting a heavy object (with purpose!)
- Overlapping action (puffy hair, floppy ears, tail)
- Character painting
- Hammering a nail
- Stirring a soup pot and tasting from a spoon
- Character blowing up a balloon
- Character juggling (loop)
- Scared character peering around a corner
- Zipping up a jacket
- Licking and sealing an envelope
- Standing up (from the ground)
- Pressing an elevator button and waiting for it
- Starting to say something but unsure of how
Level 4 Exercises
- Character eating a cupcake
- Object falling into a body of water
- Two characters playing tug-of-war
- Character dealing a deck of cards out
- The full process of brushing one’s teeth
- A single piece of paper dropping through the air
- Run across screen with change in direction
- Sleeping character startled by alarm then returning to sleepy state
- Opening a cupboard and removing something inside
- Putting on a pair of pants
- Opening the “world’s best gift” and reacting
- Any of the above exercises using a very heavy character/object next to a very light character/object. Enhance the differences the weight change makes!
Things to keep in mind:
- Reading these exercises will do as much for you as reading about push-ups would do for your physical muscles: NOTHING. If you want the benefit, you must animate them. Take a deep breath and just do it.
- Do not forget the famous words of Ollie Johnston: “You’re not supposed to animate drawings [3D models]. You’re supposed to animate feelings.” If a character isn’t thinking, they aren’t alive, and the animation has failed.
- Keep it simple! There is no reason to over complicate any of these exercises. Going back to push-ups, would push-ups be harder if while doing them you also recited the Gettysburg Address? Yes. Would they be any more beneficial? No. Keep things nice and simple and clear.
- Do your best. There is no reason to do these exercises poorly. Give it your all. You don’t have to show anyone, these are for you. You owe it to yourself to try your very best. Something not quite right? Take the time to fix it.
- As always, have fun. Push ups are not fun. Animation is supposed to be. Be joyful in your work!
Have any questions about the exercises above? Leave a comment below and we’ll answer them the best we can! Someone else may be wondering the exact same thing, so you’ll help them too. Likewise if someone is looking for possible exercises, why not share a link to these and give them a hand?
Transparent selfie using colors from this palette meme in #12
Updated with textures from this brush pack
I’ve been getting a lot of asks lately about the brushes and textures I use in my work, so here’s a BIG FAT REFERENCE POST for those of you who were curious! Bear in mind that I’m really lazy and don’t know what half the settings do, so don’t be afraid to experiment to figure out what works best for you :>
I use the pencil tool with SAI’s native paper texture both for sketching and for applying opaque color with no blending. Lower opacities give it the feel of different pencil hardnesses, while full opacity makes it more like a palette knife, laying down hard-edged, heavy color for detail work or eventual blending with other brushes.
Mostly made this because I’m lazy and I didn’t want to have to keep turning my textures off/opacity up when I wanted to ink something (even though I don’t do it very often), or lay down flat colors. I find the line quality to be much more crisp than Photoshop, and you can manually adjust in-program stabilization to help smooth out hand wobbles.
The plain ol’ brush tool acts as sort of an in-between for me in terms of brush flow. It’s heavier than my usual workhorse brush, for faster color application and rough blending, but not as heavy as the pencil tool, which has no blending at all. I like to use the canvas texture on this brush to help break up the unnatural smoothness that usually accompanies digital brushes, but it works just fine without.
A brush tool set to flat bristle is by far my favorite to paint with. I don’t use any textures with it because I think the shape of the brush provides enough of that by itself. I use it for everything from rough washes to more refined shaping and polish. It’s just GREAT.
Best used for smooth blending, washes, gradients, and smoky atmospheric effects.
Basically a grittier version of the watercolor tool, because too much smoothness weird me out. Good for clouds and fog, as the name suggests, or just less boring gradient fills.
To further stave off the artificially smooth look of digital painting, I almost always overlay some sort of paper texture, and it’s almost always this one, which I scanned and edited myself. You’re all welcome to use it, no permission required!
Using overlays in SAI is just as easy as using them in Photoshop. Just paste the texture into its own layer above everything you want it to apply to, and change the layer mode to Overlay. That’s it!
Want a more prominent texture? Up the contrast. Something more subtle? Lower the contrast or reduce the layer opacity. You can also use a tinted overlay to adjust the overall palette and bring a little more color unity to an otherwise disparate piece! Just be aware that too much texture can hurt the readability of the work beneath it, so I’d err on the side of subtlety.
Hope that helps!
Meet Frankie the french bulldog :) He’s part of my logo design for an imaginary surf shop that caters to dog owners. It’s still a WIP for now.
Please do not re-post my work or remove my captions thanks :)
Another round of torsos~ I tried to give this set a bit more variety in body type? Not an easy task, I suppose I still have a lot to learn.
If you enjoy em, please use the idea to help you study. It helped me better understand anatomy while making these. Maybe you can learn from what I’ve studied.
Also, any suggests on another reference sheet? Hands? Hats? Wings? I’ll do my best!
Male torso reference here.
i’ve had a few people asking me for skin colouring advices, so i decided to just touch upon the subject and show how i generally paint it, without going too much in depth, nor telling you “how to do it!!!” these are just some tips i’ve found useful, and it’s all really simple.
there are some minor lightning differences in the faces, but none of them are especially hard to work out, it’s mostly very straight-forward lightning. colour of course works differently in different settings, so this is just super simplified.
i hope i was able to help somewhat! i still feel so strange offering art advices, because i know i’m in need of those too.
A delightful fuck-ton of mermaid anatomy references.
A bit of a talk-through; Consider how natural swimming is to mermaids/men. When swimming, they often won’t be utilizing their hands and arms to help them move forward, ‘cause they’re adept to using their tails and want to keep their arms free for multitasking. Of course there are situations where it’s required, like when fighting currents and twisting around. Because they’re swimming on a horizontal, their heads will be turned upward, just like if we humans were standing vertically looking up to the sky. Mer-peoples’ chests are often puffed outward, because the arms are typically pulled back behind them (just like when humans are told to “sit up straight and show good posture” by rolling the shoulders back). Do keep in mind that the GIFs above don’t show full tail movement, as human legs don’t bend outward; mer-tails will be like the side-to-side fish swimming motion, but flipped to the side (if that made any goddamn sense). Don’t forget they’ll be breathing underwater (and maybe on land, depending if you want to grant them that ability)! Are you giving ’em gills, or are the human lungs somehow acclimatized to breathing water? Think about whether you’re designing a mermaid for practicality or aesthetics; if it’s gonna be practical, their hair will more than likely be cut short or tied up, ‘cause, though swimming with long hair isn’t too difficult, it tangles wicked easily and can impede sight (in the ocean, a mere second can cost you). Of course we all like the long flowing hair (I do too), but that’s just something to think about. (Be aware that good haircuts on land might not be good underwater, and vice versa. Consider how the water will affect the hair movement.) And designing the fins, too. Think about whether you’re splicing them with another sea creature or if they’re a new design entirely. Think about how you want them to swim and how the fins will help that work. Also, depending on how “cultured” you want ‘em to be, they probably won’t be wearing clothing, because no other creature under the sea does. But, then again, they’ve been in contact with humans (otherwise there would be no myths and rumours), so maybe they took after us. Who knows. Just food for thought. (Merpeople can be creepy as fuck, too; they don’t have to be these gentle maidens.) And of course, there’s the reproductive/excretive system. If we assume mermaids take after whales, the genitalia will be just about ”mid-shin” level in front. Some people put it at the end of the tail (between the two fins), and some make the fish half disappear slightly at the waist to expose “human” genitalia. You can get creative with it, since they’re mythical creatures. Maybe their belly-buttons are also anuses. Who really knows. “What about merman genitalia?” Look up “male whale genitalia” on Google, or “male fish genitalia.” That might help.
[From various sources]