Character animation has increasingly become an impeccable tool to inventively express and communicate even the most complex of ideas with ease and poise. It has an innate ability to help propagate and channelize effective interactions across diverse audiences.
If you also think that using them will be beneficial for your business, then yes! You are right!! However, you need to know the best character animation tips so that you can learn how to create realistic animation for your projects.
Generally, animators play a crucial role in bringing the characters to life. Once they craft the characters, the artists strive hard to effectively leverage the possibilities of basic animation principles of clear staging, squash and stretch, follow-through, timing, and secondary action along with anticipation to give a unique identity and endow life to the characters.
It is important that a professional 3D animator must always be at the best of his game to stay ahead of the competition. This brings us to the most important question of how one can improve their 3D character animation skills. What can be the best strategy to learn how to make realistic animations that can improve the value of their projects? Well, that’s what we are about to discuss in this article. Let's start with what is character animation first.
What is Character Animation?
Character animation is the process of animating characters and bringing them to life. The character animators breathe life into the animated characters by making them move in a 2D or 3D context. In addition to that, they also create the illusion of personality, thought, and emotion in those characters.
Character animation has evolved throughout the years. At first, artists used to create characters and present them with certain characteristics and traits on the screen. This required a lot of technical drawing and ideas on how the character will move, behave, think, etc.
However, today, it involves character rigging and the development of object-oriented frameworks to create character sequences. Also, now, voice dubbing is done by celebrities and advanced profiles are used to create the character’s persona and background. Now, let’s take a look at the different tips that can help to improve your character animating skills.
15 Tips to Create Realistic Animations
Tip #01: Explore the disposition of movements
If you need to mimic the movement of a person perfectly, the best way to do so is not just understand the actions but also the emotions that triggered such actions in the first place.
As such, animators that want to gain exceptional work quality can dig a little deeper into the character's thought processes to create distinct and befitting movement patterns that will go along with it.
This will undoubtedly help the animator create realistic movement patterns which is one of the most important animation tips for beginners.
Tip #02: The magic of real-world inspiration
Placing the inspiration on real-world examples is one of the best ways to improve 3D character animation especially when animating faces using Computer facial animation for best results.
There are several techniques to do it. Animators can use their own face as references to know the way face moves while delivering dialogs.
Some animators in anime studio also use the facial expressions of voiceover artists as a reference to animate the realistic 3D characters.
Tip #03: Learn the effect of gravity
Except when you are in space, gravity always has an effect on you. As such it is really important that the 3D design company always understands how gravity affects the animated characters. It will help them animators understand how characters of different masses will have different footfalls.
Tip #04: Time the character movements
If there is one element fully under the control of animator, it is time. Inappropriate utilization of time can lead to irregular shots and ill-timed events that can take away the emotional impact of the scene.
Most of the times, happier moments are typically quick and sharp while moments of sorrow and mourning are illustrated using slow motion.
Understanding the same will help the animators to create better moments that audiences can relate to.
Tip #05: Body movements
The body movements of a character can define its personality and it is imperative that the animator understands this from the initial moment itself.
There are certain elements that have to be kept in mind, such as the movement to an element that catches its attention starts at the eyes then it is followed by the movement of the head, neck and other parts of the body.
Tip #06: Basic animations need to be saved for future
As the character's chief movements, poses, and diverse key frames are applied, they may be saved for various future uses.
Having basic computer animations as standby will certainly provide the animators with the flexibility to bring more characterization and subtleties to the character.
Tip #07: Acknowledging elements of actions, reactions and anticipation
There are three major elements such as action, reaction, and anticipation to all major character movements. These elements must be clearly understood by the animators and integrated carefully into the movements.
Tip #08: Offsetting the Keys
At times, attaining the natural flow of an element that is a part of the character is often tougher than anticipated.
As the movement of the same needs to feel natural, an animator must create the base and implement the same to all other joints. In order to create the desired movement emulative of a wave, each frame has to be edited later.
Tip #09: Observing real characters
In order to create the best and most effective animated characters, it is important to use advanced 3D character animation software. It will probably have all the necessary features that can help you with the 3D animation workflow process.
However, it is also crucial for every animator to understand how the characters intermingle with others, express themselves, and the ways they move. Observing real-life people is an important step if you wish to learn how to animate a 3D character with perfection.
Tip #10: Record yourself
If you would like to have the most comprehensive understanding of how a character moves, then one of the best ways is to record yourself performing the same movements.
It will give you plenty of inspirations to make your character more lively and realistic. This will provide you with the opportunity to rewind and pause the recording to understand the much-needed details.
Tip #11: Key poses needs to be created in the beginning
As the animators need to comply with a layered animation workflow process to save time, the very first layer of the animation should have swift poses at required frames.
This will help to have an effective sense of time and progression. Once the process is completed, the animator can always go back and begin perfecting them as much as required.
Tip #12: Avoid forming each letter to depict the speech
There is no need to animate each letter for portraying a character’s speaking patterns. It is best to animate minimal lip movements to provide a more natural and realistic feel to the animated character.
Tip #13: Make the rig simple
One of the most important aspects of the 3D animation workflow process is the effective utilization of the rig. In order to make the entire process simple and effective, the animator must customize the rig to by using the features of best video animation software.
Tip #14: Character balance
Another important aspect that must be kept in mind during the process is to ensure that the balance of the character is always maintained naturally.
The center of gravity must be shifted naturally to balance the weight as required just like people do in real life.
Tip #15: Use a basic model
Working on full-resolution models can be tougher and time-consuming Therefore, it is always important that you have a basic 3D character model to work on and it will certainly improve one's 3D animation skills, when it comes to developing impeccable character animations.
So, now that you are aware of the best tips to create character animations like a pro, hopefully, you are ready to create your first animation.
However, there’s another important thing that you need to take care of, i.e., knowing the best character animation software and tools to work with. Below you’ll find the needed information to get started.
Top 10 Character Animation Software for Beginners
Adobe Character Animator
The Adobe Character Animator is a newly added tool to the Adobe family. With this tool, you can create cartoon characters really fast. It is simple and easy to use. It contains powerful pre-defined functions and triggers that can make your characters walk, hold objects, make gestures, etc.
Free: Free trial is available for 7 days. The Creative Cloud All apps will be billed for $52.99 per month annually.
- Real-time animation and live-streaming support
- Automatic lip-syncing
- Streamline editing and recording
- Functions such as replay, magnets, etc.
- In-app template for character puppets
- Automatic animation of facial features
This cross-platform 3D creation suite contains a variety of tools for developing animations, models, renders, video games, and other 3D-related projects. It is open-source, hence created by contributors from all over the world. It is suitable for both beginners and professionals.
- Runs on Windows, Linux, and MacOS
- Advanced sculpting, modeling, and UV tools
- Advanced animation and rigging tools
- Visual effects
- Built-in path tracer engine
- VR rendering support
This is an online animation tool used by both beginners and enterprise-level professionals. Apart from creating animated characters, the software also comes loaded with various features that can help you to create videos in varied styles.
Price: Both free and advanced versions are available. The price for advanced versions will range from $12-$99 per month, which will be billed annually.
- Sound effects
- Camera in and out
- Enter/ Exit effects
- Transition effects
- Predesigned template library
Cartoon Animator 4
It was formerly known as CrazyTalk Animator 3. It can be used by both beginners and advanced users for creating professional and high-quality character animations. It also contains a huge database from where you can choose 2D characters.
Price: It offers a 30-day free trial. The pro edition is available for $99 and the pipeline edition for $199.
- 4K video support
- Live facial motion capture
- Audio lip-syncing
- Rigging and bone tools
- Pre-made character and motion templates
- Talking head creation tools
- Easy importing of PSD files
If you’re looking for a light and easy-to-use tool for developing hand-drawn 2D animations, then Pencil2D is the one. You can use both raster and vector graphics for creating animated content and also switch between both types of artwork. It’s an open-source tool. So, you can easily get access to source code and include features.
- Multiple handy tools
- Import/Export as GIF
- Raster and vector image support
- Distortion and light effects
Stop Motion Studio
This software is best suitable for beginners. It can help with both character animation and video making. You can also create a stop motion animation in 4K. The software is powerful, cost-effective, and contains super handy features.
Price: For iOS and Android, it is available for $4.99. For Windows, it is $1.99 and for Mac, it is $9.99.
- Easy editing
- Frame-by-frame view
- Manual/Automatic control of focus, white balance, ISO, exposure
- DSLR camera support
- Background library
- Green screen option
It’s an open-source 2D animation software that can be used for creating 2D character animations. If you’ve previously worked with Flash, you’ll find this software easy to use. It is based on vectors and can allow you full control over editing vector artwork for animation.
- Automatic frame calculation
- 50+ types of layers
- Advanced controls for developing character puppets
- Control over characters with bone systems
It is one of the most easy-to-use software available in the market. It can help you to create frame-by-frame traditional animation. For creating animated characters, you can either scan your drawings drawn on paper or directly draw on the software.
Price: Free version is available but with a watermark. The advanced version can range from $19.99 to $199.99.
- Runs on Windows and MacOS
- Lipsync support
- Can work on one or multiple frames at a time
- Import/ Export functions
- Shoot and scan drawings
- Pan, rotate, zoom, dissolve, blur, etc.
Toon Boom Harmony
This software can give you professional results and is used by both beginners and professionals. With this software, you can create a variety of animations, such as traditional, particle effects, a combination of 2D and 3D, flash-style cut-out animation, etc.
Price: It offers a free trial of 21 days. The basic version costs EUR €400 per purchase or EUR €16 per month. However, other costlier versions are also available.
- Advanced palettes and tools for painting
- 2D characters can be integrated with 3D elements
- Advanced bitmap/ vector drawing technology
- Special effects
- Control over the composition
- Cut-out animation with master controllers
Moho (Anime Studio) Debut & Moho (Anime Studio) Pro
This complete 2D animation software is best for beginners. It can even be used by kids. It has an easy-to-comprehend interface along with revolutionary tools containing a wide range of features. It has two versions, debut and pro, the latter being quite expensive than the former.
Price: The debut version is available for 30 days free trial and $69.99 for purchase.
Pro version is also available for 30 days free trial and costs $399.99.
- Multilingual support
- Advanced masking options
- Tablet with pen pressure support
- Easy to edit and animate brushes
- Image and layered PSD support
Anyone can create a basic animation by utilizing the best character animation software, but creating one that looks completely realistic and lively is challenging. By utilizing the character animation tips mentioned here, you can develop the best and the most reliable 3D character designs for your projects.
These tips will save you from implementing hours for creating realistic animated characters and provide you with proven techniques to make your designs stand out from the crowd.
Overall, it can help you to deliver high-quality work and improve your brand name in the industry. Apart from that, you also need to choose the software you are comfortable working with.