Learning to Animate - Part I
Becoming a full-blown animator is a long, arduous process that most won't ever make it even halfway through. This is not to discourage you, but rather, to state the obvious: art is difficult to create. Even if you're lucky enough to have all the true assets required to be successful in the field (i.e. artistic talent, drawing capabilities, production efficiency, etc.), that doesn't mean those factors will mesh together and set afire a glorious road to success for you. Instead, you'll have to rely on your current talents, continue to build on those talents while adding new ones, and hone those skills while you wait for just a bit of luck to cross you by (OK, maybe a whole hoard of luck).
Now that I've sufficiently depressed you, let's get back on a positive note. This is not, I repeat, NOT impossible. Laying out an effective game plan for your approach to success is key to making this all work out for you in the end, however, so let's begin with the first step. Though not the most exciting part of becoming an animator by any means, laying out your vision for the animation you want to create can help you identify what remaining needs you have. Once identified, you can start working towards acquiring the tools and skill sets you require to overcome or accomplish those needs.
The most essential thing to remember about animation is that it amplifies any problems that you may already have with still images. Even though a still picture often tells a story, story doesn't play the same crucial role as it does in animation. Motions need motivation to make sense, so laying out a story line is absolutely the first thing you want to do. If your animation idea is primarily visual at this point, setting up a blackboard or easel and drawing out parallel visual and story elements can be very useful.
One of those easels with multiple sheets of paper that you can fold back, similar to those easels your elementary school teachers used, is probably your most useful tool. Start by drawing a simplified version of the first 10 seconds of the story you want to animate. Now, turn each second into 3 pictures, so you can show some of the minute motions happening during those three seconds. Remember, each second will eventually contain 24 separate pictures, or frames, so if this process is already becoming tedious for you, now may be the time to reconsider becoming an animator. Continue drawing until you have those first 10 seconds sketched out. What have you accomplished? A lot more than you'd initially think. You've created your first crude animation, and in the next article, we'll talk about filling in those missing elements. If instead you've decided to give up, I still insist that you keep on drawing. The animation world is vivid and complex, and though we're approaching the whole process here, you would never be hand animating a motion picture by yourself, so don't stress yourself out too early.
If you're interested in learning more about this step in the process, I recommend two resources. The first is a guide to creating flip book animations, which is a significantly simplified version of this process. The second is an easel resource, where you can seek out a large scale area to display your visual and storyline ideas. Learning to Animate - Part I - Fluser General Business Directory - Business Directory