Animation | It's the Little Things that Count (Observation)

in animation •  6 months ago

As an animator, it is really important how we comprehend the world around us. Not just a mere glance but how we really understand the world and its little things.

Yes, the topic for today would be 'How Animators should see the World' and because we are in a creative industry that requires us to bring characters to life, we should not miss THAT 'little thing' of a personality, an action or an emotion. The understanding of things increases through the years as an animator and this would only add more value to your work. And this come hand in hand with the planning phase that we animators have to go through but I would leave that for another day.

Today, I'm going to talk about the importance of observation.

Observation comes way before any other planning starts. It starts when you've decided to be an animator yourself. Now, you're probably thinking... zord, I've been observing things all my life, what are you talking about?

Well, it may sound simple but it isn't as simple as you think. The way animators observe are different and this will eventually become a part of their everyday life. It becomes natural for us to observe things differently. The way we see how that action moves, the way the feathers of a bird flutters and many more instances.

Observation is much more than just 'seeing' something, it is studying it

Let's put it simply, a normal person looks at a car turning a corner and drives off, an animator sees how the car tilts as it steers around the corner. We see the timing of when the car brakes and when it accelerates. Isit a diesel car? Is the car dirty or well polished?

Get what I mean now?

An animator has to always crank up that observation to more than 'just' seeing things as they are. Of course, we don't go around creepily stalking objects or human beings. That's a whole different story. :D

Take this GIF for example. If you were these two walking in the park, that would be just it. As an animator who observes, they will notice the casual stroll and how the guys are walking.

I would also notice how they're wearing a jacket with one of the guy hands tucked into the pocket. This could be that winter is coming and it is chilly outside. As you can also see from the background environment, that the leaves are falling. The time and day of this shot would probably be very early morning or a late evening where the sun isn't casting a strong shadow on things.

An animator should see SO MUCH MORE

Sometimes, I would look at the postures and expressions of people. All these adds up to your animation memory and can be used whenever its needed.

In most studios before starting a project, the client or the animators would go through a phase called 'referencing' and this would also be another topic for another day. But referencing is needed for animators to observe and study before starting to animate. Usually when there is a dancing animation needed, I would spend a few hours just rummaging through youtube, google images for references of dancers dancing. All these info are needed to create the animation.

How the ballerina twirls, how the dancer leaps up and clenches his fist and brings it towards his chest in anger, so on so forth.

That's Observation!

It's a natural tool everyone can master. Truth be told, I wasn't that much of an observer in the cartoons I watched when I was younger. The time when I would take out my cereal bowl at 8am in the morning to catch my favourite cartoons on a Saturday.

After I started my animation career, I felt a lack of animation sense in terms of cartoon postures and movement. Usually, the cartoon characters would always have a more exaggerated facial or posture so everything is amplified and delivers the story. That being said, I now have to find time to watch more cartoons and observe them.

I realized that my other animation friends who are anime fans since young, are usually good at expressing their characters in the scene.

What I'm trying to say that, observation is very important and if you're in this creative line, and have been missing out all these little things, it's about time to crank up that observation notch by many folds.

Your animation will only get stronger from here on out, so if you're not used to observation the way I've explained it in this post. Then, it's about time you train yourself and sooner or later it will be more natural.

Anyways, the world around you is actually really beautiful if you would just stop and look at these little things.

Thank You

If you like what I do, check out my other posts on meetups, animation, and designs.

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Yes, I often hear people said artsy people are very into details.
I'm the odd one, I often missed that, I only see what I wanna see... haha


Haha, I'm one of those that don't often see so much in details. Only sometimes, it's something I have to learn as well


Yeah, it's important as you are an animator! Love this post!

Hello dear, great work today, congratulations and welcome to the family of #steempress. God bless you.



Thank you! Now I can archive my blogs properly in a nice personal website :)

Reading your post makes me feel like you need THE EYE to be it. I am sure you do!


Hahaha, u also can... I've seen ur works... the cute alphabets remember?


Hahaa yes yes!

LOVE how you explained how animators see so much more into images, pictures and even videos.
I love to people watch (from a distance) and make up their stories (it's the creative writer in me)

I have a daughter that wants to study animation. She draws really well, and has her head in the clouds so this may be her future vocation.
What can you suggest for her? Keep practicing? Specific schooling?

Thanks for the post regardless though, it will be good to share with her


Well, there are a few things you can do.

  1. Definitely Keep Sketching. Drawing is the most fundamental and basic skill to have when it comes to anything art/creative. Instead of just scribbling on a piece of art block, maybe give her a picture and ask her to draw it. Could be an object or a human figure.

  2. Play with software. She can download a free 3D software called blender and watch some tutorials on youtube for beginners. She can start off by learning how to model a 3D object from scratch. Shouldn't be something complicated, something simple like a snowman or a simple spaceship.

  3. Schooling. Find out whether the area you live in have local art/3d academy for her to take short courses during summer break. When she's really serious into it and have decided to pursue this as a career. Find a university that offers a 3D course.


Thank you for the advice. She draws all the time and is getting really good at it too
I will pass on the advice and get her moving. Thanks mate.
Would enjoy seeing some of your work however.

Great post. I want to do stop action animation and I am also doing photography and writing. All of these require observation. Nowadays, observation can save your life.

I am currently reading a book by Amy E Herman, "Visual Intelligence" it is fantastic and I am already improving.

I am your newest follower. People like you are why I am here.

Oh yes, resteemed. @zord189

I agree with you. Great post! Observation is important not only in animation, but also in drawing or other creative hobbies

Observation is not = to stalking... got it! Lol

Gosh, observation sounds so intense from an animator's point of view! My ex was an artist and he would always point out the smallest details, like how someone moved their hand or had a crease in their jacket that he thought was really interesting to draw, so much attention to detail, it would tire me out!


Hahaha, I'm sure he's a perfectionist! Most artist are in one way or another. Yea, it's pretty important for us to really get in there and observe movements and all.

Thanks for the follow btw, will follow back and can't wait to check out your blog :)


Thanks @zord189 :-) Yeah, people watching is really cool, but my observations were not as attentive as his!


Haha, it's also known as 'stalking' :P


Haha that is so true- ok I admit, that’s what I am and I’m not ashamed of it!



Man, I never thought it would be so much to look at to be an animator. Thinking that everything comes naturally to thought. But reading this brings to light that there is always so much more than what you are actually seeing, making your mind as an animator 100X more busy.

Thinking about it, probably gives you great skills on reading people's bodies, knowing their attitudes before they even say hello. A day with an animator? I think that would be one heck of an adventure!


Haha, better not do it too much, people may think I'm judging them all the time. :) Haha, but after awhile, I kinda got used to it. Thanks for dropping by @foxyspirit. Have yet to catch up with you in #steemitbloggers


I haven't had much time to be on discord, doing my daily upvotes to stay included. Soon though I will be able to hang out more. Time is escaping me, will catch up soon though I'm sure :)