How to Start Animation for Beginners

Entering the magical world of animation can be both exhilarating and overwhelming. Animation allows you to bring characters and stories to life, offering a unique blend of storytelling, art, and technology. If you’re new to animation and looking for a place to begin, this guide is for you. Here, we’ll cover the basics to get you started on your animation voyage.

Understanding Animation

Animation is the process of creating the illusion of motion by displaying a series of pictures, or frames, in rapid succession. Each frame slightly differs from the last, making objects appear to move when displayed quickly one after another.

Types of Animation

There are several animation styles, and as a beginner, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with these:

2D Animation (Traditional or Vector-based): Frames are created using 2D artwork, either hand-drawn or computer-generated.

3D Animation: Using computer software, three-dimensional characters, and environments are animated over time.

Stop Motion: Physical objects are manipulated in small increments and photographed frame by frame.

Motion Graphics: Animated graphic design, often incorporating text as a major component.

If you’re interested in exploring motion graphics further, consider reaching out to a freelance motion graphic designer. They can help you bring your creative concepts to life with dynamic animated designs.

Getting Started with Animation

Equip Yourself

Firstly, you’ll need some basic tools:

A Computer: Any decent modern computer can get you started.

Software: Starting with free or trial versions is a good idea. Look into software like Blender for 3D animation (free), Adobe Animate for 2D vector animation, or Pencil2D if you prefer a traditional hand-drawn feel (also free).

A Drawing Tablet: Essential for 2D digital animation, not necessary but highly beneficial for 3D.
Learning Resources: Online tutorials, books, and courses can guide your learning process.

Learn the 12 Principles of Animation

The 12 principles of animation, developed by Disney animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas, are critical to creating engaging and believable animation. They include:

  1. Squash and Stretch
  2. Anticipation
  3. Staging
  4. Straight Ahead Action and Pose-to-Pose
  5. Follow Through and Overlapping Action
  6. Ease In and Out
  7. Arcs
  8. Secondary Action
  9. Timing
  10. Exaggeration
  11. Solid Drawing
  12. Appeal

Study these principles and aim to incorporate them into your projects; they are the foundation upon which all great animation is built.

Start with Simple Exercises

Before jumping into complex projects, start with foundational exercises like:

  • The bouncing ball
  • The pendulum swing
  • A simple walk cycle

These exercises will help you understand the basics of timing, weight, and personality in animation.

Practice Regularly

Animation is a skill honed over time with consistent practice. Set aside regular time each week to practise and absorb what you have learned.

Learn From Others

Join animation communities online, follow forums, subscribe to animation channels, and study the work of others. Platforms like Reddit, Discord, and dedicated animation forums are available for support and critique.

Create Your Own Projects

Start experimenting with your projects as soon as you feel comfortable with the basics. Create short animations; these can also serve as a portfolio to showcase your growing skills.

Stay Updated and Network

The animation industry is always evolving, so keep up to date with the latest news, software updates, and techniques. Networking with other animators can provide opportunities and valuable insights into the animation process.


No matter which path you take in animation, remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Whether your interest lies in 2D or 3D, hobby or career, the key is to start, keep learning, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Every animator began with a single frame. Now it’s your turn to start one frame at a time.
Happy animating!