What Does it Mean -
"Learn How To Draw"?

learning to draw - basic boxes

"Do I have to know how to draw to be an Animator?"

The answer is Yes - BUT - What does it mean, "Know How To Draw"? 

Let me tell you a secret: 
"Learning to Draw" really means "Learning to LOOK"

This is the process of Drawing:

  1. Look
  2. Understand what you see,
  3. Choose. Decide what to draw out of everything you see,
  4. Draw what you see, instead of what you know. Draw with pencils, pixels, plasticine, pen, beads, sand, oil, spray – anything.

To be a good animator, then:

Master the basics:

For character animations:

  • Learn to Draw People.
    Sketch them doing things and moving around.
  • Learn basic anatomy for animators – bones and muscles and how the joints work.
    This will help you draw better human figures because you will understand what you see when you look at them:
    Learn how the Spine moves
  • Learn to draw faces.
    Find out what are the things that make up a unique face and expression.
  • Learn to draw in perspective.
    Give a sense of depth to your designs.

Practice, Practice, Practice!
Animators need to go a step further:

Animators need to learn how to draw movement

Drawing for animation is a specialized branch of drawing in general.
We really need to study and understand how people, creatures and all sort of things move.
How weight, thrust and impact affect the shape of things.
How do the joints work in a living body.
Even if your character is some wacky imaginary creature, you still need to consider basic rules – like Gravity, if you want the animation to look good.

"But why do I have to learn how to draw?
I can make things move in After Effects without all this academic stuff!"

It is true that some people started animating directly on the computer and became good animators, with no academic education.
What happened to them was that they learned to draw - on the computer.
If you have an eye for detail, can create great compositions, know how to articulate the weight and mass of your character – then you are drawing, no matter what you call it.

Let me bring back an old word to describe all this:

The Study

A Study is what an artist does before putting the brush to the canvas, before the chisel hits the stone.
It is a planning stage.
The more complicated the piece of animation you're planning is, the better you should prepare for it.

Drawing with a Computer

If it's the paper and pencil that worry you – I have good news:
You can learn how to draw with a computer.
The computer is just another tool. It only puts out what you put into it.

Drawing of a Tiger Moth bi-planedrawn with a Wacom tablet in Flash

Learning to draw can shoot you and your work sky high.
It’s worth the effort.

Get going with one of these articles:

Go to the next step:
Try a Classic Animation Software