Letter to Mom of Aspiring Animator


I got an email from a proactive mother of a hopeful animator asking me for classes and inspiration for her daughter. After I finished the email with all the information I could think of, I figured it might be good to post the information here. Hope this helps other people who want to break into animation! ~Angie

[Email from Mom]

Hi Angie, I found your website and am a Mom of a 12-year-old daughter that is excited about Animation. What advice do you have for her? As a 7th grader, what software tools would be great for her to try? Any advice on what type of classes she should take...Traditional art classes, computer software, any advice is so much appreciated. She was able to attend an Animation Camp this last summer. She also took a Flash Animation class. What software might good for her to try to "get started" at spreading her wings? Thank you so much...If you have the time to respond. If not, congratulations on an amazing career.

Mom of Samantha
7th grader

[My response]


Here are a few things you can get her started with...
Since you are in Oregon, I will give you things you can buy or have access to online.

Step #1 Get her a light box

Light box choices...

Old School
You can pick one up at Cartoon Colour...


There is also a cheaper one at Utrecht too that will do just fine and some hole punch paper and some pencils of varying leads and a peg bar she can glue to your scanner

OR! You can get her a nice stylus tablet and she can draw straight into the computer.

The CINTIQ is amazing!

Wacom Intuos


but its gonna run you some serious cash!
So, you might just start with paper,
pencil and the light box to see if she takes to it?

Step #2 Buy her these books:

Thinking Animation: Bridging the Path Between 2D And CG

The Animator's Survival Kit: A Manual of Methods, Principles and Formulas for Classical, Computer, Games, Stop Motion and Internet Animators

The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation

Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes: Volume 1: The Walt Stanchfield Lectures

Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes: Volume 2: The Walt Stanchfield Lectures

Draw the Looney Tunes

Cartoon Animation (Collector's Series)

Timing for Animation

The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation

Step #3 Online Classes

Classes for her to take would include life drawing and illustration. Life drawing is key to understanding weight shifts in the body and strong gestures. All of this is an important foundation to establish before she ever picks up a mouse to animate.

Glen Vilppu

SketchHere are some courses offered at the Art Academy of Los Angeles that should be the type of courses you should look for up there in Oregon.

Figure Construction
This online self-study class covers the basics of figure construction, a simple and effective method that helps the artist draw from life, reference or the imagination with ease. Each week, we will break down a different part of the body and learn to design or render it using various forms and rhythms. We will also learn to use different methods of measuring the proportions as well as study and render the volumes measuring the quality of light and its contrasting shadows. This is a class for all artistic levels from the beginner to the professional.

2D Anatomy

In this online self-study course, students analyze the important muscles needed to create convincing figures and learn about surface anatomies such as the fat distribution and the fasciae that surround every inch of the living form.  Through thought out, easily understood assignments, the student better understands the living form of the model and is able to more easily create from the imagination.  Most importantly, the student will have the confidence to edit the living model and therefore interpret more poetically what he/she sees to make their drawing or painting more personal.

  • Videos Are Yours To Keep*
  • Total Course Time: 19:08:42 Hours

Beginning Composition

In composition, there are no standardized or predetermined rules. Beginning Composition will introduce students to a unique and proven method of learning the fundamental concepts of composition and visual literacy. Students will be exposed to information and demonstrations that will enable them  to see problems and correct their own compositions and become more visually expressive.

  • Videos Are Yours To Keep*
  • Total Course Time: 22:18:36 Hours

Fantasy and Illustration

Explore the aspects of Fantasy Illustration, including the successful design of the fantasy elements in an illustration such as costumes, props, and architecture. Improving the structure and underlying emotional impact, and the composition of the illustrations will be discussed.  The composition of real and limited space (graphical space) will be compared and experimented with.  Creature and human character design though posing and integration into the composition will also be explored.

  • Videos Are Yours To Keep*
  • Total Course Time: 20:09:14 Hours

Step #4 Online Blogs and Resources
Here is a list for her to study on... (in no specific order)