random updates from an irish animation student

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Animation Resources

Alright, here's a slightly updated resource blog with links and so on for various things


if you storyboard your animation well, that is half the battle, here are the basic templates for thumbnails and full size allowing you to map out your film before you hit the desk

X-sheets/Dope sheets:

dope sheets are used to keep track of your frames and coordinate actions and sync with sound, these are basic templates you can use to help keep your work in order

Animation Desk

not completely necessary but useful, if you want to go the classic route an animation desk can bought for various prices, thankfully even the cheap end of the spectrum are quite good, and if you are obsessive and out of range or money like myself you CAN make your own.

For those of us in or near the uk, good portable animation desks can be bought from chromacolour, like this one here
if however you feel the need to make your own here are some references from other bloggers who did the same

there's another one that i just cant think of, i'll add when i do

here is another basic diagram from Preston Blairs' Cartoon animation

With regards to supplies Chromacolour is the most useful. but animations can still be made with normal paper, and a hole punch.

Shooting Animation:

For shooting the animation after the pain of drawing it up is done there are different options,
the first and most painful choice is to simply scan all of your artwork and import into your stopmotion or animation program but it takes forever.

 one can use webcam with any basic program (examples below) and construct any sort of stand, or tripod with enough distance from your work to shoot, or simply mount your work on the wall

finally if your very into it you could get your hands on a copystand, and mount a dv camera onto it, leave pegbars at the bottom and edit directly into your stopmotion program, i use this as its clear and easy and as i am a mac user the dv camera works through firewire and was just simpler for me. it also means you have a permanent set up

here is a diagram of my copystand, they cost around 100 euro and specific lights can be bought with them, i just use different desk lamps, so you can judge the quality by my shorts


Okey dokey, There are lots of options for animation software out there.  It all depends on what you want to do and how much money you have.


(a tablet will be useful here - i use a wacom bamboo fun) Adobe Flash and ToonBoom are pretty standard for the home user, they're vector based animation tools.  

The other side of that you've got adobe Photoshop (cs4 onwards) and TvPaint for raster based animation software.


Ok, so here we have software that can be used for stopmotion and traditional animation.

If you have a fancy dslr Dragonframe is the way to go.  I would go with dragon myself.

For Linux, Mac and Windows there's Pencil, its simple to use and free

all of the above have multiplatform support

below are 2 options for Pc and Mac respectively 

For the PC user there is a great pencil test software called monkey jam best part about it is its free

For mac users the most useful software, i have found is Istopmotion which starts from €50 or so. Its better than nothing and can be used with dv cameras and webcams, useful for pencil tests and multi camera stop motion.

basically all you need for these programs is a webcam.

For scriptwriting with a storyboard component try Celtx also free

Useful Books:

these are just some useful books for reference and inspiration.


The Animators Survival Kit - Richard Williams 
possibly the most useful reference book on principals you will ever read

Cartoon Animation - Preston Blair
this is an equally useful reference to any animator 

If you are lucky enough to live in ireland you can find a copy of this somewhere. It is one of the most comprehensive books on the subject of layout and storyboarding that you will keep going back to 

Dreamworlds - Hans Bacher
another excellent book on staging, storyboarding and art direction

Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes: Volumes 1 and 2 - Walt stanchfield 
click one and 2 for links to each

Other inspirational books i would advise reading:

The Art of Walt Disney - Christopher Finch

That's All Folks The Art of Warner Bros. Animation - Steve Schneider

The Illusion of Life Disney Animation - Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnson

Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: A Complete Illustrated Guide to the Warner Bros. Cartoons - Jerry Beck, Will Friedwald

in the sidebar to the right there there're links to useful sites that have helped me out endlessly, i hope some of this is useful

Aaand here are some simple tutorials for anyone who's curious and just wants to give it a go

also, this is a bit shameless but feel free to check out the rest of my blog, enjoy!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Extra cut out stuff

i actually have allot to post at the moment but i'll try to spread the posts out for evenly after this.  I'll show you two cut out clips i was playing with, the bear one was made to try put something to sound, and also to try and slow things down as my fly cut out animation is all over the place.  The other is the test of a footballer project for class, that i shoved some sound effects onto it, (amazing effects by yours truely), there are bits i like and bits i don't but oh well.  Also the characters in the animation are the same, the footballer is based on the bear. anyway... does anyone read this? comments are appreciated

Sunday, December 7, 2008

been busy

ugh.. so much work, but its over now, just one more week and its midterm break. i've learned allot since my last post, but haven't really improved, here's some old and new quick pencil tests in chronological order. i've added sound so they're less boring. enjoy

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

pendulums' a tickin

well i haven't put anything up in a while, busy busy, this is the only other college project i have finished at the moment. Hopefully tonight i'll have my balloon project in some sort of finished order. we'll see. On a separate note, any messing or pointless videos unrelated to college can be found here
This is also the first video (on my blog) shot with my brand new copy stand. it came a few days ago. I'm blogging right now to avoid the balloon.. so irritating,

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

cut out fly

Ah, a very long day. I only had one class, the afternoon one was cancelled  and yet i was still in till about 7. I'm wrecked. This is the only thing really i have to show for it.  Our second cut out project (so much easier and more fun that current classic work.. too many balls).  We were basically just told have a fly come in screen, interact with the face and leave. they face had to have elements of manipulation and substitution. Its not great but was fun and i like some parts.  I know i've left things in the frame etc, like replacements but our whole class use the pvr, the girl before me took an hour and a half and i didn't wanna hold up anyone else. Ah i liked it

Friday, October 17, 2008

First cut out project: falling leaf

my first go at cut out animation. im just going to regularly update this with animation tests from class. i love abstract animation class, its a lot of fun. i know its not very fluid, the ending jitters on purpose, its just my timings bad

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

First animation

i did a cat running across the screen first first but the o'le bouncing ball is my first real go at animation. just to show you that my desk works ok. its short and sweet and far from perfect but it'll do for now

DIY animation desk

Well. I'll Break in my blog. During the summer i got accepted into an animation course.  This pushed me to build an animation table. There aren't a lot of examples of how to build one online, except for brock-o-rama's great one, upon which mine is based, so i know its been done before but i thought i'd put another one online for people to reference. Also its handy for those of us in the uk. 

For the desk i actually just modified a desk i bought in a b'n'q for 50 euro. Its a simple computer desk. I liked the shelf on top.

I ordered a 12 field milky perspex disk from chromacolour for 30 odd pounds.

After getting the disk i was able to measure it and make a template on cardboard. After that i went to a lumber place and bought 12 euro of mdf. Which is about 4 foot by 5 foot. Its really cheap.

I marked out the circle and left it slightly off centre for some arm room. Its 54 cm high by 70 cm wide. 

I used a wood router to cut a perfect circle out. Its what Brock used. I never knew, but my dad filled me in.  We cut about 5 mm deep, 1cm wide all the way round to make a shelf for the plastic disk. then just cut out the middle. if you misjudge the hole at all you can just alter it afterwards with a wood chisel, just be gentle. (You dont need a woodworker to do it but its probably better. My dad  and i did everything in a day) It was 30 euro to rent. They are 100 euro to buy

A second equal piece of mdf of equal dimensions was used for the base. The two pieces were attached by piano hinges. A simple solution.

It is propped up by wooden arms on either side of the disk at the back attached by hinges. Pieces of wood are placed on the base to give height options. This is an alternative method to using wedges.

We bought a circular tube light, built a wooden shelf for it and fixed it inside. It was the most expensive thing, and its easiest to find in a light specialist shop.  Its not necessary though.
I bought a switch and added that for convenience. 

Also, varnish or coat your mdf if your using it as it reeks of cat wee and I'm sure its not healthy.

I hope you'll see what i mean from the pictures, just ask and i'll try answer any specifics.