Traditional Animation.. why bother?

I’ve had a lot of people inquire why I taught myself hand drawn ‘traditional’ animation and focus building my portfolio and knowledge around that area. It felt as though within this module it would be a good time to justify and expand on what I have learnt through approaching animation and developing my practice via hand drawn animation.

It seems more apparent than ever, having a good showreel and portfolio is key to getting a job or even contacting other creatives (as well as obviously being a genuine and nice person!). But the issue with a showreel today is that there are millions of them out there, and millions of people who want to become an animator or creative, with a limited number of opportunities.
With this in mind, it’s clear that you need to stand out from the ‘crowd’ and showing that variation and passion is key to gaining the attention of viewers. Something that I heard over and over again when listening to practitioners and listening to creatives giving advice, is that your work needs to have appeal and show that understanding of movement. For me personally I could not have achieved any of the development I’ve had within animation without having taken on the hand drawn approach. Through teaching myself the ‘traditional’ process of animating, I have been able to gain a better understanding of what the principles are and mean, as well as develop my own theories and approaches towards animation that have been fed through various experiments, studies and research.

I have noticed that although there’s a higher demand for 3D artists, animators and modelers because of the change in consumer demand, a lot more people have neglected ‘traditional’ methods as well as developing their core and key skills with the basic act of drawing. It’s something that has and most likely never will leave the medium as it’s a basis that every artist must develop. It’s been refreshing and interesting to see that all creative mediums whether it be for games, animation or film, uses preliminary hand drawn sketches and 2D animation even if it’s within Photoshop or other software. Even within 3D animations, the studios or creators tend to create the animation in 2D within either animatics or full rough animation. It’s even come across when animators tend to draw out the animation in 2D to understand and break apart the movement before animating in 3D.

2D traditional animation has influenced a larger group and hits an audience with nostalgia due to the higher number of other mediums and more specifically a large number of CG animated films. Of course it isn’t an aesthetic piece of art that makes 2D so powerful, but its direct connection to the animate and its ability to exaggerate the real and observed world.
Most recently I’ve had a lot of feedback on my animation work and it’s been nice to hear and get comments about my hand drawn work and development. What’s most interesting is to people’s reactions and how some animators have noticed my take upon hand drawn animation. A lot of feedback has been great upon teaching myself hand drawn animation with its appeal, lessons is visibly taught me and variation from the majority of people’s showreels today.

The main point I wanted to get across within this blog post is why I chose to take the hand drawn approach to animation and, in general, what it’s taught me and why it’s been useful. For my own career and ability to animate, I think this has been the biggest factor to the success I’ve had so far, but I have much much more to learn and experience to gain.

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