Humans have been fascinated by the creation of movement from static images since the dawn of time. Paleolithic cave paintings depicting movement were discovered proving that even the Flintstones may have had their own cartoons. But jokes aside, the oldest animation device dates back to 180 AD. The Chinese zoetrope device was a cylindrical device that contained a number of static images and when the cylinder was set in motion, the series of images were seen as a moving animation.
Naturally, the art of animation has come a long way since then and animation today is far more sophisticated in both its development and execution.
Modern computer based animation
Most of the animation we see these days is computer based animation in one way or another, even hand drawn cartoons are animated using computer programs today. With the launch of programs like Adobe Flash, Photoshop, Maya and 3ds Max, animation has come a long way since our cave painting days. These programs have made it both simpler and more complicated to create animations: simpler because now almost anyone can create 2D and 3D animations; more complicated because with the advent of 3D animation, 3D games and high quality 3D animation movies, animation is no longer merely about creating a set of moving images. Animation techniques can generally be divided into 2D animation and 3D animation techniques.
Two dimensional animation techniques
Two dimensional animation techniques is where it all began. 2D animations include hand drawn animations used in flipbooks, rotoscopes and cell animations. Flipbooks are images drawn or replicated on successive pages where the image varies slightly from page to page. As the name suggests, when you flip the pages you visually create the illusion of movement. Flipbooks are some of the most primitive forms of animation and they are easy to make, but the principle involved in creating them is what forms the basis for some of the 2D animation software today because they create animation on a frame by frame basis.
Computerized 2D animation includes the creation of animations using 2D graphics which include 2D bitmap images and 2D vector graphics. Two dimensional graphics can be produced using programs like Adobe Flash, PowerPoint and ToonBoom Animate.
If you love the idea of creating two dimensional animations then you should consider signing up for Mastering 2D animation from udemy. The course will teach you the basics of 2D animation as well as teaching you to create your own first cartoon using ToonBoom.
Another great course that will teach you how to create 2D animations, using Adobe’s Photoshop, is the Adobe Photoshop Video and Animation Masterclass. This course will teach you how to create 2D animation and how to add animation effects to your videos.
Three dimensional animation techniques
Three dimensional animations have really sparked our imaginations since the early 1970’s when the first 3D animation appeared in a short film in 1971. The process of creating 3D animations is more complicated than creating 2D animations because the objects that constitute the animation must first be created before they can be placed within the scene and then the scene must be rendered in 3D.
The process of creating three dimensional objects is called modeling. Modeling is the process used to create a mesh or framework for the animation. Modeling is the process of shaping 3D “computer generated clay” to create basic shapes for your objects. The process can be time consuming since each element of your object needs to be created in 3D, but the advantage of using computer programs to create your models is that once they are created they can be scaled and replicated over and over again. So if you are creating a model of a tree, for example, then once you have modeled a leaf, the leaf can be replicated and transformed so that the tree can appear full of different shaped leaves, without having to create thousands of leaves.
Once you have created all of the objects you require for your animation, then you need to create a scene for your animations. Once again, generating the right scene can take time but scenes, like objects, can be replicated using the right computer software.
When you have your objects placed within your scene, then you need to render the scene in 3D. The rendering process is what lends the scene its air of realism. Rendering the scene includes adding textures to the objects as well as adding lighting effects and shadows.
Although 3D animation sounds more complicated than 2D animation, the software available to produce 3D graphics has improved over the last two decades to such an extent that 3D graphics is no longer in the realm of professional graphics artists and programmers only. Programs like 3ds Max and Maya allow users to create realistic computer based 3D graphic animations in a very short time.
If you love the idea of allowing your imagination to run wild to create 3D worlds for use in animations, games, TV or film, then why not consider a course in 3ds Max. This 3ds Max tutorial will teach you the art of animation and modeling in 3D; from how to get started, to adding amazing special effects.
Or if games light you up, then the complete guide to Maya for games may be the best course to give you your start in the gaming industry by teaching you how to create game assets from start to finish.
The art of animation will always be a part of the human experience. As consumers, we expect more realism from the worlds that artists and programmers create for us, no matter how fantastical those worlds are in real life. We expect our games, adverts and television adverts to enthrall and entertain us.
In the words of the immortal Walt Disney, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” and animation opens the world of imagination. There will always be demand for those who can turn our dreams, hopes and fears into reality.