Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Animation Tools & Resources

Whether you got here because you saw my presentation at the STEAM Carnival or you enjoy animation, here are some animation resources that I have found and use myself.

I hope these resources will help you start a path in the field of animation.

Animation Software



Easytoon is one of the programs I used to learn animation. It is simple and free. I checked the download link. It still works and is virus free.  It makes simple, black and white animations. It isn't the tool, but the person using the tool that will make the animations shine.
My Work - This is an old example
Someone Else's Work - Another example for reference

Pencil 2D

Pencil is a free, open source tool. This means you could download the source code and explore both how the program works and design features.  Over the years it has gained a following and has become better and better as the community supports it.


This is a 3D program. It is another example of a program that is community supported.  It is a very powerful tool, which production companies have begun to notice.It's a strong and fully featured production tool thanks to its community

Source Film Maker


Source Filmmaker is a very strong tool that uses in-game assets from existing Steam games.  It has a large community.  It is primarily an animation tool but it is something that will let you learn the core concepts of 3D animation and film making without the cost of a big budget program.


Digicel Flipbook

Digicel Flipbook is a program that I have used for the past 8 or 9 years.  It is simple, quick, and relied on the illustration abilities of the user.  It is easy to use and does not use effects. It is a solid, traditional animation program that will work for both learning and production.

Examples I have made:

TV Paint

This is a production tool that can complete everything from a short to a major motion picture---to anything you think you could use 2D animation.  The price point is steep, but there is a free demo that allows you to figure out the tool. This will let you know if you want to make an investment to help you in your animation adventures.    

Example of a feature film that used this tool


Not for practical home purchase, but tools used in large productions.
Educational licenses are available for some when going to school for animation.

Motion Builder

I have used Motion Builder every day for the last 7 years.  It is well worth knowing for movies and video games alike.  It is not a modeling tool, but it has the capability for motion capture that surpasses all the other tools.

3D Studio Max

This is the program I used to learn animation. It is a powerful modeling tool and it can be used for several animation purposes.  It is a complete package that will allow you to learn a lot of the basics and improve in all animation areas.


This is a strong animation and modeling package.  If you are a coder it will work in your favor, since it is geared towards using tools made by the user.  Its a very very powerful tool.  It is one I still need more experience with.


This is my favorite modeling, simulation, rigging and animation tool of the Autodesk products.  Once you familiarize yourself with its shortcuts it is absolutely one of the best tools in the lineup of 3D tools you can use.


These are all Autodesk products and depending on which aspects of animation you are interested in they will all offer you different benefits.  



Gesture Drawing

Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes: Volume 1

Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes: Volume 2

These are the best books that I have found on building a foundation for drawing.  They teach you to draw loosely and simply first, so that you can build upon your foundation with a better drawing over top of it.  With the simplest drawings you can create a foundation with a lot of implied 3D aspects to emphasize pose and and emotion.


The Animator's Survival Kit

This book has a lot of information and stories about Richard Williams' adventures in animation for the movie "Who Framed Rodger Rabbit" and beyond.  His take on the the basics of animation and the core fundamentals of animation is very useful and something that every animator can build upon.  It's the first book I read back-to-back on the subject of animation. I would still suggest the Drawn to Life books be read first to help to understand some of what Richard Williams talks about.


Acting for Animators
Ultimately, animation is acting. This book covers the subject for animators in a way that people inclined to animation can understand. The author of the book teaches acting. He teaches animators how to think about what they're animating on screen.  It is a good read. The more advanced you become the more sense this will make to help you build upon your animation foundation.