You’ve read our list of the 100 best animated movies, and you’re feeling fired up. But where to begin? Luckily, animation is one of the most democratic of all cinematic art forms: You don’t need a cast, a crew or millions of dollars. All you need is a camera or computer, and a heap of ideas. From simple YouTube videos to pricy college courses, here are ten ways to begin your cartoon career.
1. Buy the book every animator swears by
‘The Animator’s Survival Kit’ by legendary filmmaker Richard Williams is the standard textbook for cartoonists the world over. Handily, it’s been made into a set of DVDs as well.
2. Take a look at a really simple Web page for newcomers
Bloop Animation is a great online resource for all aspects of animation. Their ‘Animation for Beginners’ page is the friendliest, most accessible one we found.
3. Use YouTube to figure out what kind of computer program suits you
There are loads of videos to help you get started in computer animation. This Adobe After Effects tutorial features a voiceover by the charmingly foulmouthed Ross Plaskow.
Watch the video
4. Not sold on After Effects? Try Flash.
Here’s a long, in-depth look at making key-frame animated films using Flash. Yes, the voiceover is by a worryingly upbeat Australian who calls himself Jazza, but we’ll let that go.
Watch the video
5. Still not convinced? How about Photoshop?
This slightly busy tutorial uses Photoshop to illustrate techniques in Japanese-style anime. Yes, the music is awful, but you can always turn it off.
Watch the video
6. Getting serious? Try an online course.
Animation Mentor offers online study packages and workshops in everything, from narrative fundamentals to lighting, character and creature design.
7. Learn from a master
Director Don Bluth is the man behind animated classics like ‘The Secret of NIMH’ and ‘The Land Before Time’. He’s since turned his hand to teaching and sells DVDs from his website that cover all aspects of animation.
8. Get really serious and apply to college
Animation Career Review’s list of the top 100 schools for studying animation in the US is an invaluable resource, covering courses for everyone from beginners to experienced cartoonists.
9. Join the online community of animators
Animation Blogspot is a hub for animators, enthusiasts and experts. If there’s something you need to know, the odds are you’ll find it here.
10. Soak up new influences at an animation festival
If you’ve already started to make your own animated work, there are literally hundreds of specialised festivals worldwide – from tiny DIY events to huge international showcases like Annecy and the LA Animation Festival. The site Animation Festivals has details and contact information for all of them.
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