Learning Advanced Animation?


I want to be a good animator. I know how to animate characters, somewhat, but they look very robotic.

I know how to use the graph/F-curve editor (somewhat) and dopesheet.

Now I want to push my animation skills into professional skills (as a hobbyist) and I wonder if becoming a good animator at the level of say Pixar, requires some theoretical knowledge (books/articles, general considerations etc.) - aside from working and trial/error?

As for books/articles, I prefer some for free. But I am willing to pay for a good video course (downloadable, MP4-files).

But I wonder if it would be waste of money?

I currently have The Animation Primer in mind, but it’s quite expensive. I’m in no way a newbie to Blender, but I am new to character animation. Do you think I would benefit from a course like this?

Any advice?

If you need to see my current character animations, I can provide a link, if neccessary.
Then you’d know my current skills and/or lack thereof.


my take on it is that if you understand the theory behind animation, then all that’s left is observation and practive. Filming yourself can be a nice help, too.


Dude, your music is great ! I love baroque and renaissance music !!

What is the theory behind animation?

Btw. glad you like my channel :slight_smile:

What helped me a lot was doing an hour of gesture drawing every evening. It really helps to get a better sense of posing.

If your animation looks robotic, this might be the best advice. Other areas you might want to dive into are the 12 disney principles if you havent already. Hjalti gave two wonderful talks at blender conference about that.

General advice: Study life. If you see something move, try to understand why it moves. Also go for introspection and ask yourself what moves you.

Hadriscus got it right. Study the theory and then practice as much as you can. “The Animator’s Survival Kit” by Richard Williams is great book to start.

Oh I meant the technical side of animation, as in how values interpolate in a graph editor, etc. Once you got that out of the way, to me all there is to animation is a constant study of the living. It’s very good advice that [hris gave above : behind every movement there is a thought, a motive (unless it’s inert, but the we have dynamics for that kind of thing !).

Personally when I animate a creature, I act out the part myself during minutes, hours sometimes, and then only do I sit in front of the computer and actually set down the poses. Try asking yourself at every moment - “why does he/she do that ?” then act it out.

Why don’t you show us what you’ve made so far ?


Thanks. I know how the interpolation works.

It’s the “studying life” (how stuff moves) I should probably study. I tried animating a horse, but it skips frames, and the walking soldiers “moon walk” and their feet are slipping. I don’t know how to get rid of that.

This one is probably my best character animation:

A medieval soldier asleep on duty!

As Chris already mentioned the 12 basic principles of Animation are always a good read for beginners and intermediate. :wink:

Here is a well made video of it:

Good book might help: https://www.amazon.com/Animators-Survival-Kit-Richard-Williams/dp/0571202284

Other than that you should always learn from others. Being stuck in mindset that you already know how to do this or that will only stagnate your progression. Seeing some of these pro animation video resources can be invaluable.

Some good resources:

That soldier animation looks pretty good acting wise, actually. And the poses are not bad at all. Two things : I would revise the timing a little bit, make it more snappy, more contrasted. A good inspiration for timing in acting are the monty python skits :

Comedic timing is hard to get right, even in acting… but animators are actors !
Secondly, I would work on breaking that “continuous” feeling induced by what I imagine are too regularly-spaced poses with auto interpolation, by de-synchronizing some of them, adding some breakdowns, etc.

But let’s do things in order :
My advice (and really what everybody does) is to first work on your entire animation at the blocking stage, which means poses with constant interpolation (stepped tangents). This is the part where you work on your poses and space them so that you get the timing just right.
When you’ve got that laid down, you can add in in-between poses, and once in a while run everything through spline (auto clamped) interpolation to see how it looks, go back and forth between splined and stepped tangents, and refine as needed. This is the basic workflow, given small variations, of most animators.


Hi people Watch the magic of dancing in this videohttp://www.adyou.me/zUqK

On the subject of books, along side Richard Williams book, I think one should always start with the original bible: https://www.amazon.com/Illusion-Life-Disney-Animation/dp/0786860707

One thing I wonder, is why all these walk-cycle-tutorials never explain how to move the character from point A to B?
The vast majority only shows how to make your character move like it’s on a treadmill.

I think a lot of new 3d animators would like to see how to get their characters walk. Instead they end up with the annoying problem of the feet sliding.

Pixar in a Box: Animation

As mentioned above the book and dvd set from the animators survival kit are really good. (can be found on torrent sites, although it’s really worth it’s money) Link to official Site: http://www.theanimatorssurvivalkit.com/

Than having watched at least the first few dvd’s from the survival kit you will know most of the jargon, like “follow trough”, “extremes”, “key-frames”, “break down” etc.

This will help you with your next learning step, go to the 11second club and watch their ecritiques, also have a look at their forums.
Link: http://www.11secondclub.com/

This is a quick video about the principles of animation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDqjIdI4bF4

Also a good tip is to look at tutorials for maya, there are way more (and better) maya tutorials, also on payed websites, the difference is not that big and easily transferable to blender.

I brought both those books recently but I gotta ask, I only about 10% of the way through the Illusion of Life and It really doesn’t read like a tutorial book or How to Book it’s seems to be more Historical in its approach to things, unless this changes in the latter chapters.

I am curious as to why people always recommend it I have this impression that after you are done reading it you will know a lot about the history of Disney but you might not know much on how to practically go about animating.

If you want to be advanced at any subject, don’t ask “how?” ask “why?”. Those classical books are great at explaining the reasons of their decisions by the grandfathers of the animation.

While it’s true I wouldn’t call it a tutorial or step by step how to book, it does provide a lot of concept and practical information with a massive number of images to back it up, you just have to ‘read a little between the lines’. Or as much read any side notes to the images and/or look over the images (in some cases a few pages back or forward or even through out the whole book), to see various examples of what’s talked about in the main text.

Having said that, it’s been a bit of time since I last looked through it, so it’s also very possible that the first 10% or so is much more Historial and you really do get more into the more informational side when you hit the principles of animation and later chapters.

You are right there are almost no tutorials doing a progressive walkcycle, most are static, which is stupid because you always want to start with a progressive cycle, that you can than convert in a static cycle if you need to.

Creating a progressive walkcycle is not that hard, just leave the main-bone at starting position, aim you character as convenient as possible with the main-bone, than just pose your character with the center-of-gravity-bone and IK/FK-bones, just like stop motion kind of.

Than if you made 2 steps, you can use modifiers on your curves to cycle progressive, or use the NLA editor to cycle the action progressive.