I think when you are drawing and developing ideas and skills you need to develop a kind of feedback from your work to develop and improve it – to be able to ‘feel’ the quality and the nature of the media. To do this you have to get on and actually do it. I’m only a beginner so I don’t yet have any real feel for the media of animated films, but I know about what I call ‘feeling the media’ from other disciplines.
I have also learnt the value of the pencil test for cel animation. I had been in such a rush to get on with animating, that I had gone ahead with inking the cels before I thought of doing pencil test with the drawings, in fact it was only when the painting of the cels was taking so long that I decided to do a pencil test, because I could not contain waiting to see how the movement looked any longer.
It showed up all the faults in my animation; I had difficulty in turning the figure through 90 degrees while maintaining a full 3D consideration. The figure went a bit out of shape as a whole, as it turned and the walking pace of the girl was slower than I had intended. The boy skips along after her and this action is also a little bit slow but I don’t think it is too bad.
You may wonder if all these slightly late discoveries have put me off making this part of a longer film, or you may think it would be best if I went back and animated it again. But I think I will leave it as it is. I doubt if it alone will spoil the film because I am bound to make more mistakes, this being my first film.
My attitude to it is this, it is like your first home movie, it’ll have lots of filmic mistakes in it but you will love it just the same. As you practice the craft you learn in the best way possible, in fact the only real way to learn is by actual experience; how to do it; how to get over problems. For instance, in the future I will probably pencil test all my scenes before inking the cels, and try to improve the drawings before inking.
Getting into animating is bringing back my love of drawing.
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Originally printed in Animator’s newsletter Issue 4 (Spring 1983)