The single most important skill that animators learn at Animation Apprentice is how to develop a reliable workflow for animation, so that our students can tackle any animation task with confidence.
One of the key tools our students learn is how to thumbnail their work. Thumbnail sketches are quick, expressive, simple drawings that are used to plan the action and tell the story of the shot in a few simple clear poses.
|"Mrs Copperbottom" thumbnails from "Robots"|
Good planning is key
The secret of good animation is in the planning. If you get your thumbnail sketches right, and plan the shot thoroughly, you'll generally find that the animation itself goes smoothly.
Experienced animators draw simple but clear thumbnails to plan out their work. One animator who has kept most of his thumbnail sketches is Pixar's Victor Navone; you can see his thumbnail gallery here.
Victor Navone's thumbnail gallery is a useful resource because you can see how much planning he has put into his shots. Each one is carefully thought through long before he starts making poses in Maya. It's a great way to work - takes a little extra time up front, before you get started, but it will save you time later on as you wrestle with your key poses in Maya.
Thumbnail sketches should be so clear that they require no explanation. Make sure you know what the timing of the thumbnails are - how long do you plan on holding each pose? A rough rule of thumb is one pose per second.
|"Boog" thumbnails from "Open Season"|
- Medusa Thumbnail sketches by Milt Kahl
- Thumbnailing Mrs Copperbottom from Robots
- Thumbnailing Baloo by Frank Thomas
- Thumbnailing "Boog" from "Open Season"
- Why Thumbnail sketches need facial expressions (think Emojis)
- Fagin thumbnails by Glen Keane
- "Little Mermaid" thumbnails by Ruben Aquino
- How to plan out pantomime animation
- How to plan a Dialogue Shot
- How to block out and plan creature animation
- How to use the Tween Machine
- How do Pixar Animators plan their shots?
- Pixar Animation Workflow with Mike Makarewicz
- Lipsync & Dialogue Tutorial
- Why animators need snappy timing
To find out more about Animation Apprentice, click here for a link to Frequently Asked Questions. To sign up for our next classroom at Animation Apprentice, follow this link.