Cartoon Classes and Recommended Reading for Animators
the secret is out! Mark has jam-packed a book full
of information on how you can work with the
greatest animation device since the WACOM tablet,
a software package called Flash!
The title is The Art
of Flash Animation: Creative Cartooning, and is
available on Amazon.com, or directly from the
publisher, Wordware.com, a software publisher in
don't think it's ONLY about Flash. Mark set out
to write the manual not only on Flash Animation
that he wished he had to begin with, but also a
on animation from script to storyboards and layout,
character design to inking, scanning, and/or
digitizing your drawings with a WACOM tablet.
even goes in-depth to talk about getting a job
animation! In the last chapter, he interviews
animators from Turner Studios' Cartoon Network.
They talk about the importance of career networking,
drawing, favorite Disney animators, and more!
if all THAT wasn't enough, Mark even has a bunch
of Tales from Tangent Man, nice little
about his own experiences getting started
(For instance, can you believe at age 16,
he made his
now infamously sarcastic remark: "Animation? That's
for children!" Find out why, by reading his
book... and better yet, what film changed his mind!)
includes a personal wish list of great animated films
STILL not available on DVD!
What's wrong with you? You STILL haven't ordered
a copy of his book? Get to it! (Poor guy's
gotta make his car payment somehow! Seriously...)
to Draw Cartoon Animation
by Preston Blair
In this comprehensive, definitive book, acclaimed
cartoon animator Preston Blair shares his vast
practical knowledge to explain and demonstrate the
magic of cartoon animation as well as many of his
Blair shows you how to develop a cartoon character’s
shape, personality, features, and mannerisms; how to
create movements such as walking, running,
stretching, and dancing; and how to construct
dialogue and coordinate it with movement.
Full of familiar and famous sketches, drawings, and
other artwork, cartoon Animation is a book no cartoon
animation enthusiast should be without!
by Richard Williams
The definitive book on animation, from the Academy Award-winning
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (available at Amazon.com).
Classes - Introduction:
In response to the question, how do you work?
have to work in silence. Ever since I took
the Animation MasterClass from Richard Williams
(Roger Rabbit's Animation Director), I've
had to work in silence. In his book, the
Animator's Survival Kit, Richard's got a
terrific caricature of the incident between
himself and Disney's Milt Kahl, explaining--at
the top of his lungs--the importance of working
in silence. (I'll let you look for yourself;
this terrific book is available on Amazon.com)
The members of his class get a hysterical
performance recreating the "incident" from
Mr. Williams himself.
In summary, a photo of himself after the "incident" shows Mr. Williams
wearing a shirt reading (on the back, to discourage interruptions), "Animation
Up until the time I took the class (in San Francisco, 1997), I liked working
with instrumental music (usually movie scores, or classical) playing. But after
receiving this groundbreaking revelation, I noticed that I worked better in silence.
I could focus, and do better work, and more productive work, in a shorter amount
Oddly enough, when I got back to my job (at KinderCare, where I was a Multimedia
specialist) working on a Kinderoo informational CD with animation, I found even
the most casual conversations between my coworkers were highly distracting. I
solved the problem by a pair of ear protectors I had bought for working with
noisy power tools. (Sorry, folks, but it's true. I hope my former co-workers
don't read this...)
I've used The Animator's Survival Kit as an unofficial secondary textbook in
my Character Animation Class I teach at Auburn University Montgomery; I'm requiring
it next semester (The official textbook is currently Preston Blair's Cartoon
Animation book from Walter Foster.) So naturally, I tell my students the same
advice. Rule #1: Unplug! Turn off the radio, the CD player, the TV, yank those
earphones off your head!
Oh, sure I cheat. I'll admit that. But only after I've done my planning work.
I'll usually do my thumbnails (if any) or work straight with my light blue Col-Erase
pencils onto Bristol, with no sound.
Once I'm done PLANNING, after my staging, layout, or character drawings are done,
THEN I'll cheat. When I start inking (with a brush or my favorite Pilot Precise
V7 pens, which make for nice line art scans/photocopies), I'll usually allow
myself some classical music, or a nice music score like Jerry Goldsmith's Legend,
or Marc Shaiman's The Addams Family. Or maybe even Alan Silvestri's Roger Rabbit
music. The point is, I MUST have silence to plan, but I'll ALLOW myself music
Mark S. Smith
has taught Character Animation at Auburn
University Montgomery's Fine Arts Department since
1995. Character Animation is one of the requirements for
Graphic Design majors, and can be repeated for credit.
In the class, it is the responsibility of each student
to produce a 20-30 second animated cartoon. That may sound
simple enough, but when one discovers that animation for
video requires 30 frames or drawings per second (in film,
it takes 24 frames per second), a student begins to realize
all the work ahead. The student has to draw storyboards,
record, mix and break down the soundtrack into frames,
and then draw, ink, scan and color the characters and backgrounds.
Think that's all? Not quite. The student then has to arrange
the characters' many drawings (in registration, in order)
in MacroMedia Director, the multimedia animation program
used to teach the class since Mark first took it in 1990.
Dahl of AUM's Continuing Education Division got word
of Mark's animation class and thought it might be interesting
to offer a week-long workshop of the college-level class
to high school students in AUM's Youth College program.
Mark called this workshop the Desktop Animation class,
and has since taught four Desktop Animation workshops
over the past three summers.
1998, Mark has added Flipbook Animation, Cartoon
Construction, and Drawing Comics to his Youth College
Pictured at left is a Thank-You card from one of his most attentive
students, a talented young lady who shows a lot of promise.
When any teacher wonders if they're doing any good to their students,
all it takes is a sweet card like the one pictured here to calm
Anyone interested in taking any of these or other classes at AUM's
Youth College can contact AUM's Continuing Education Division at www.conedweb.aum.edu
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