Skip to main content

Book Review: The Complete Digital Animation Course

Over the course of my life I've owned a lot of books about how to draw cartoons but only one about how to draw and create animation. In case you're interested it is the Walter T. Foster published book How To Animate Film Cartoons (No#190) by acclaimed animator, Preston Blair.

So I thought it was time to buy another book, this time updated to the way animation is created today. Whilst a lot is still hand drawn, as shown in Preston's book, modern animation has embraced the digital age and gone far beyond hand drawing everything. Computers are a big part, and probably even the central tool, in any modern animators tool kit.

I didn't have a lot of money to invest but I tried to go for a book that I thought would cover as much of the animation industry as possible. That's how I came to buy Andy Wyatt's book, The Complete Digital Animation Course: Principles, Practices and Techniques: A Practical Guide for Aspiring Animators.

As an overview of the industry this is a worthwhile book to own for any beginning animator. It's logically set out and begins with equipment and software then follows with four chapters, Pre-Production, Production, Post Production, and finishes with Professional Practice.

Each chapter is then broken down into about two pages on each subject that forms a relevant part of the chapter. For example Pre-Production covers subjects such as Ideas and Concepts, Story and Visual Research, Script Writing, Storyboarding, Film Language, Character Design and more.

The biggest chapter is Production. Just some of the subjects covered include Animation Techniques, Voice Recording, Digital 2D and 3D Artwork, Backgrounds, Staging, Motion Theory, Stretch and Squash, Expression and Lip Sync, Scene Planning and Types of Shot.

Post Production covers things like Compositing for Animation, Visual Effects, Sound Production and Editing.

Finally Professional Practice talks about promoting and selling your work and yourself as an animator.

The book is very easy to read with plenty of photos, illustrations and diagrams to discover and enjoy. Most subjects are covered by two to four medium sized paragraphs backed up with image captions, side bar boxes of tips and other helpful notes.

It's easy to read, easy to put down and come back to if need be - you'll never be stuck in the middle of a subject given that most subjects are covered in two pages. At 144 pages you'll get through it quickly and probably pick up a lot you didn't know. It may even open your eyes to an area of the industry you hadn't thought about trying too.

Where the book falls down is that it describes its-self as an 'animation course' and starts out with small assignments related to the opening few topics. However the assignments appear to be more like 'activities to try' and don't really link with each other in a way that makes you feel like you're progressing or even learning anything substantial.

The assignments may have been more useful for the reader if they worked through a project in some way so that, by the end of the 'course', the reader would have an animated short of their own creation to promote.

My only other criticism is that describing this work as the 'Complete' digital animation course seems a little overstated on the book's content. Although it does cover virtually any topic you can think of, with only two pages devoted to each, it just barely scratches the surface of any topic.

Despite that I'd certainly recommend it as a good starting point for anyone looking to get into digital animation - especially if you're like me and going the self taught route. However it's not the only book you'll ever need. You are bound to want to go into some topics in a lot more detail eventually.

The idea of using the book as a guide for the novice animator is where its strength lies. Think of it as an assistant who knows every step of making a production, who you can consult to make sure you're not forgetting something.

Good value and a worthy first or second book for any would be animator's library.


Comments

  1. Not sure if I'll have any free funds in the near future, But I enjoyed the summary, especially the good points and where it fell short.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for sharing , i was searching something which can help our animation students, would like to have this book in my library

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi David,thanks for the informative content.I enjoyed very much.In this time animation is the very popular and interesting course in the whole world. Cartoon movie followers are increasing day by day.I think this course is good for career.I am sharing a resource which provides Animation courses institute details which is helpful for every body.Find details here:-
    http://animation.shiksha.com/

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

* Thanks to constant spam comments by a Casino Marketing Moron who won't get the message that spam comments WILL be deleted ALL comments will be moderated and only cool, on topic comments will be approved.

I welcome, read, and respond to genuine comments relating to each post. If your comment isn't that save me some time by not posting it.

Popular posts from this blog

Featured Animator: Christian Haynes - 'Zack In Time' An Original, Independent, Animated Series on the Rise

Christian Haynes - Zack In Time.  If you've ever wanted to create an animated TV series staring your own original characters and stories then Los Angeles based writer, director, and animator, Christian Haynes is taking those next steps of putting together a team, developing a pitch/trailer for their series, Zack In Time. Featuring professional studio quality animation, they hope the show will get picked up by an animation studio for an official series. The path he and his team are taking is one you could easily follow as they deal with real life commitments, and building a following on Instagram and Tik-Tok showcasing their work behind the scenes. TET: Tell me a little about yourself. Who you are, and why you started animating? My name is Christian Haynes and I've loved animation ever since I was a kid. I would constantly be drawing cartoon characters from TV shows and movies and making my own little homemade comic strips.  As I got older, I became a lot more interested in st

Wonder Unit Storyboarder - Free Storyboarding Software for People Who Can (or Can't) Draw

Wonder Unit Storyboarder.  As an independent and solo animator I'm always tempted to try and skip storyboarding my animated shorts because they're usually only single scene sketch comedy type jokes. As a result I have many unfinished projects that kind of petered out due to having no clear finishing line. Storyboarding your productions, no matter how small, gives you a step by step guide of every shot that needs to be completed (no planning shots as you animate). It also allows you to create an animatic that gives you a rough preview of the finished production. In short, you shouldn't skip storyboards as they, generally, increase the chance of the project being completed. Disclaimer - I'm Not a Fan of Storyboarder Upfront, Wonder Unit's Storyboarder  is not my preferred storyboarding software. However it's completely free, has a number of very compelling featu

Shotcut - Free Open Source Video Editor for Windows, Mac, and Linux

Shotcut Open Source Video Editor. I've been on the hunt for a while now for the best, free, open source, video editing application out there. In Shotcut , by Meltytech , which has versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux, I think I may have found a real front runner. This won't be a feature filled review, rather it will be my first impressions after having used Shotcut on a few of my YouTube videos so far. One of my key criteria for a video editor is the ability to import any video format directly into the project. This may seem like an odd focus initially but having convert video to something your video editor can use is annoyingly time consuming, and it creates a new generation of footage, potentially with a loss in quality if you don't really know much about video format specs (that's this guy right here!). Shotcut will happily work with my OBS recordings (.FLV), and .MOV, .MP4 files that I get from two different cameras. Not only that but Shotcut doesn't hold me up

How to Use Plask and Reallusion's 3DXchange to Create Full Body 3D Motion Capture Animation for Cartoon Animator

Last month I reviewed Plask , a free, browser based app that allows you to create 3D motion capture files for animation from a webcam or prerecorded video footage. At the time my hope was that Plask could be used to create 3D motion capture files for Cartoon Animator 4. Unfortunately my knowledge of how to export 3D animation motion files between applications is fairly basic and I wasn't able to figure it out. However, thanks to 3D animation enthusiast and game developer, Freedom (of the YouTube Channel Freedom Arts ), who published a tutorial on how to use Plask with iClone7 characters (in my review I wasn't able to work that out either) there is now a workflow from Plask, via Reallusion's  3DXchange , to Cartoon Animator that is relatively easy to follow and works well. Note: If you want to try this out, 3DXchange is available as a free 30 day trial download if you don't have it. Creating Your 3D Motion Capture File in Plask I'm not going to do a detailed run

Create 2D Animated Characters with 3D Character Creator Tools and Artistic Filters

3D CC3 TET Character, based on my Oppa Doll Avatar, used as the base for a 2D CA4 character. One of my favorite things to do is to create characters with any type of Avatar/Character creator app. In fact the first test I usually try with these tools is, can I make an avatar of me (or at least my The Extraordinary Tourist persona). Previously I've used 2D character creators like Oppa Doll as a source of artwork for some characters I've made for Reallusion's Cartoon Animator 4 animation studio but 2D character creators are limited to... well 2D. 3D Character Creators While you may think 3D character creators have no place in creating characters for 2D animation there are quite a number of advantages including: No drawing skills required. Render characters in any style. Use an art filter or even hand trace into line art. Need to animate the character in a specific pose or angle? Render out an image of the character in the required angle and animate it in 2D. Quicker to crea

KIT Scenarist - Free, Open Source, Screenwriting Software that Helps Research Your Ideas Too

KIT Scenarist Script Writing Software's Mascot, Alexander Cat. While you can write a script in any word processing app, if you're writing stories (screenplays) that feature characters and dialogue, a dedicated script writing app can save a lot of time formatting, letting you focus more on the actual story. Script writing apps are also very useful if you plan to send your screenplays out to production companies, or if you're collaborating with actors and other production people, who are used to scripts being in a particular standard format.  [Note: In case you're wondering there are reasons scripts follow a standard format and are always written in Courier (typewriter) font, including but not limited to; being easy to read by actors, plenty of space for notes, and the general rule that one page of a script (in this format) equals approximately one minute of screen time.] KIT Scenarist , in my opinion, is one of the best script writing apps out there for ease of use, simp

Artbreeder - Using AI created Character and Background Content in your Animations

A selection of User/AI generated images from Artbreeder. If you're looking for an endless supply of 2D character and background images for your animations then Artbreeder , an online Artificial Intelligence (AI) that generates image mash-ups you can tweak as much as you like, could be the ultimate content library. What is Artbreeder? Artbreeder is free to use though there are various paid plans, that give you additional features, such as higher resolution download images or more settings to play with. All images created on the site are Public Domain (CC0 License) and can be used in commercial projects. Using Artbreeder's online app you can generate head shot portraits, full body characters, landscapes, and other scenes simply by choosing two or more existing images to mash together then, using a series of sliders, to select which traits from each image you wish to lean toward in the final image. Photo Comparison - Top is my original uploaded photo. Bottom is Artbreeder's ap