I work on anime. Ask me anything

Hello guys, I’m known as Beast in the community. I began my journey on anime in this same forum about a year ago, and thanks to the community I’ve since worked in around 10 animes as animator and LO artist.

I thought I would make this topic to answer some of your questions, technical or not, which are probably similar to the ones I had when I began, so feel free to ask until your doubts are solved.

Some of my credits:

-Black Clover
-Boruto
-The Otachan Show
-A ton of other animes not aired yet.

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Should I take on commissions/requests even though I am inexperienced? And if I do, how much should I ask for since I am a solo animator.

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Hello! I just have a few questions! as someone who has been animating for five years, recently completed their first animation gig, and who wants to break into freelancing in anime as soon as possible. I’ve been informed that studying genga animation and practicing the proper notations in order to efficiently fit into the production pipeline is a good way to start. This also means utilizing twitter as a portfolio for staff to notice you. May I ask how did you get hired on your first production? What were the hardest learning curves for a newcomer to the industry that you suggest someone who aspires to get into the industry practice?

Thank you for your time!

Hello Andrew. Good to see you have some experience and enthusiasm. I would advice you, though, to take it easy on trying to enter “as soon as possible”, as it may be counterproductive. It’s way more preferable that you are prepared to tackle the level of quality and work load anime has, so you don’t mess up badly and put yourself and the production in problems.

“Genga animation” is basically normal 2D animation + Layout. You can pick it up from places like Striving or Sakugabooru, or from trusted western sources like “The Animator’s Survival Kit”, which is where I got most of my bases from. For the “Layout part”, it’s important to have good composition skills, perspective skills and being able to follow the character models. Also, learning how to fill the Exposure Sheet following the Japanes standards is vital. For that and for notations, Striving is the best source available right now, along with a few other youtube channels.
That being said, many newcomers get their first anime job doing “douga” instead of genga, so I suggest you take a good look at that too.

Twitter…yes, but make sure you don’t make yourself available for work until you know very well what you are doing. As for portfolio, try to show the Japanese producers you know how to do the job under their terms: use their notations, draw with good models and try not to be too flashy. Some people put too much effort trying to do crazy sakuga and producers begin to doubt of their ability to tackle more normal scenes, which are the majority of the work.

I landed my first job offer after I was invited to participate on a collab with some very famous animators. I was very lucky to be honest, as I wasn’t receiving much attention until then. My first job was in episode 145 of Black Clover, a very important episode too.

My hardest learning curves? Drawing good enough not to be skinned alive by the Sakkan, and Japanese notations. I still have a long way to go in both.

As for my suggestions, study a lot all the above, you will need them from the start, and draw like a mad man too to get better and better. Study anatomy and anime style drawing, try to get really good in
drawing “on model”, so the Sakkan wont destroy your drawings in the future. Also, try to get into a community with professionals in it. The one here in Striving where you have to apply every six months or so is one of the bests.

Hope this helped. Let me know if there is something else!

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Hello Douang. I think it depends on the types of commisions you want to get. If it’s, for example, an independent animation job or a personal commision, I think both you and the person who hires you are aware of the quality level that’s going to be achieved. But for something like anime, everything is very standardized and producers expect a high level of quality and professionalism from the beginning, so I would not recommend getting into something like that until you are really confident of your ability to do an excellent job. That being said, we are all unexperienced to some degree. I’m far from an expert on any of this, but I’m trying my best to do a decent job.

Thank you for responding! I definitely needed a reminder to not rush things, and I appreciate the advice you’ve given! I’ll continue to study from every source you’ve mentioned, and hopefully I can be in a place where I’ll be able to post some practice some animation (on here instead of Twitter for feedback until I’m more ready to tackle anything) with proper notations soon! I apologize if this additional question is a bit odd, but when it comes to practicing douga, genga, etc., would you recommend utilizing established character sheets form a show or movie that’s available on the internet, or original creations, locations, and characters? Lastly, thank you again for responding! Black Clover 145 certainly seemed like one of the most intense of the recent episodes in their production pipeline, so it must have been a lot for a first job. Your response certainly helped me understand what I’m aiming towards better, thank you for taking the time out of your day to respond!

Thanks for the reply. I’ve thought about it and decided to hold off on commissions/requests since anime level of quality is my personal goal.

Hi, I’m sure this will be helpful for many people so thank you for doing this.

How long did it take you to learn proper notations and timesheet? Are there any tools you would recommend to make anime work easier? What kind of routine should I follow to be well prepared for my first job?

Hi, I have a problem with camera motion something like this : com-gif-maker

How they do this cut. I thought they doing it frame by the frame around the character but I don’t think so now

Andrew, glad I was able to hel a bit.

About your question, I think that if you are aiming for professional anime, you should practice with the real thing. Places like setteidreams.net have thousands of production model sheets for you to use freely. Of course you can make your own characters and original animations too, but it’s very important to get used to production quality materials, and to show the producers you can work at that level.

Hello Theo.

I studied animation at college, so I already was used to fill timesheets and such. I only had to learn the Japanese way to do it, which varies only in details from western ways.

As for Japanese notations, I think it would be a bit much saying that “I learned them”. I know how to use the basic ones, but I can hardly write most of them by memory, so I use a big file with dozens of notations I’ve used previously so I can copy an paste them in my cuts (I cheat). The important thing is knowing when and how to use them, and that has taken several months for me. I’m learning every day.

About tools… I’m not really sure if I undertstand what you mean by that, but I’ve never been too focused on tools, like software, for example. If I needed, I could animate on paper and the results would be very similar, as it’s basically the same ammount of manual work. What’s really going to make your work on anime much easier is your ability to draw well and fast.

For that, the boring answer is “draw a lot”, but there are a few things that can help you develop that ability faster, like practicing gesture drawing. I recommend you the book “The Natural Way to Draw”, by Kimon Nicolaides, as most of the information about gesture drawing on the internet is actually full of misconceptions, don’t even bother with youtube.

As for practice routines, my personal way finding a subject to study and draw as much as I can of that in the least ammount of time. Example:

-There’s an artist I like and I want to learn his drawing style, so I get as many images of his art as I can and I trace them non stop for an hour or two. I can do several hundreds a day, and the style gets saved in my memory.

-I want to learn from realitic fight scenes (or anime fight scenes, it’s the same), so I download a king fu movie and copy every single frame of a fight in gesture drawing, spening at most 10 seconds on each drawing. I can do a couple of thousands of drawings in a day of work. After that, you get a really good feeling of the kind of movement and mechanics existing in the scene.

-Same if I want to study anatomy, for example. I get some good guides or book and I copy the thing several times very fast until I learn them.

This is the way I’ve found I can learn my subject and improve my speed at the same time.

Appart from that, It’s always good to study perspective and composition very carefully, and to practice sketching backgrounds, because Japanese Layout requires you to provide a background sketch.

It’s all my personal view, but I hope it helped a bit.

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Hello Mohamed.

The gif looks reaaaaly small, but I think I know what you mean.

If it’s 2D animation and not CGI, it can be done in several ways:

-You animate the character spinning, and do a “Tsukepan”, which means that you move the camera over a flat, long background, while the layer with the character is fixed to the camera.

-You animate the character spinning and leave the camera still, but you slide the background behind the character so it looks like the character and camera are moving.

Either way, you have to animate the character frame by frame to make it look like it’s spinning, as it’s 2D and you can’t actually rotate a camera around the character, you have to fake the effect.

I animated a similar cut for Otachan a while ago, and these are the keys of the character without the background, hope it heps:

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Hey Beast, thanks for sharing your experience.

Any hints for “work on model” routine?

Thank you very much Beast for your time and for sharing your experience.
and sorry for the gif i didn’t see it after i publish it

Sorry for the disturb, another question.

I had a problem when I draw frames of something to animate I always making the lines not smooth that making a problem with trace if it’s a paper drawing and painting in digital & paper drawing.

The final result is not like it should be.

something like that (I don’t have a digital example from my drawings now :sweat_smile:)


Thank you

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I have a question. I wonder if there is someone in charge of the character designs rather than just the character designer. Like when the character designer is adapting the design from a manga series, but that character is too complex to be animated in 2d, is there anyone else that says what the character designer can take out from the original design to make it easier to draw for the animators? For example: a character from a manga series has an armour wtih a lot of features that would be really time consuming to draw.

Hello Al.

“On model routine”… I don’t really have something like that, tbh. Maybe I should?
The thing is, anime is my full time job right now, so most of that “routine” for me is doing cut after cut after cut, trying to do better each time.

I can tell you, though, some of my practices for being as “on model” as I can, and most of them consist in using the model sheet to the fullest. It’s not always easy, there are good model sheets and very mediocre ones, you’d be surprised. But, for example, before beginning to draw a character on the scene, I generally copy and paste the model sheet drawing into the scene and draw the character right next to it ti try to match the proportions. Wether it’s full body or head/face drawings, it works the same. Now, if for some reason I can’t seem to get something right, like a character side view, a weird eye shape or whatever, I can always trace lightly over the model sheet to get just the right impression. Cheating? Not, really, I always make sure the drawing isn’t exactly the same (someone would notice, believe me). Also sakkans usually do the same when fixing your drawings. The thing is working smart and delivering a good quality product. Over time, you beggin to take note of several pointers that help you keep your drawings more consistent, like distances and shapes: “distance between the eyes”, “this is not really a circle but an oval”, etc…

Now, If you have the time, which I usually don’t, you can study an specific model sheet to try to get used to it as much as possible. Copy it a number of times or, if you want to crank it to maximun, trace it several dozens times, the more the better. I will only take you a couple of minutes per drawing at most instead of the 10+minutes trying to copy the thing on the side. After trace that character more than a hundred times, you’ll most likely get used to the thing.

That’s my take overall for the moment. Sorry if it wasn’t as sofisticated as you might have expected. Now, if you work day after day on the thing like me, you get better pretty fast. My first job was quite attrocious, now some months later it’s looking a lot better, hehe.

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Hello Mohamed.

If you mean you draw with too many lines and the drawing ends up looking dirty, it’s a problem we all face when we at the beginning. My first job was quite rough in those terms, and the guys at the community made me take notice of that. I noticed that the more experienced animators used less and less lines to make the same drawing as I, and therefore saved a lot of time too.

After that, I tried consciously to use less and less lines to do my drawings, I began using a very fine brush (digital, of course) without any presure sensitivity, which always delivers uniform lines and makes them easier to see: I found that one of the reasons I sketched and sketched so much the same line was because it took many passes to actually make that line visible. Crazy! That small change helped a lot.

Overall, the process is like this: you need to train your brain to be more efficient, that is, to make the same drawing with less lines, less work. That eventually came natural to me after I had to deliver hundreds of good looking drawings in crazy short ammounts of time. It’s still hard work!

I have one final warning, though. One of the most important things when drawing for animation is the “gesture”, that is, the internal energy flow of each individual drawing. If you haven’t practiced the gesture, then trying to deminish the lines and all as I explained above can cause your drawings to look very plain and lifeless, rendering pretty much useless for animation. It’s escencial then, that you have good gesture experience so that when you try to deminish the number of lines you use, the energy is still there. One good example of that is Kim Jung Gi, that Korean guy who draws cool stuff without any previous sketch. One guy once asked him “so how do your drawings keep the energy if you don’t do the gesture?” and he replied "…but I do the gesture, I do it in my mind and with my hand on the air. It’s just that I’ve done it so many time before that I don’t need to actually draw it". It’s all a matter of practice.

Gesture can be a bit of a dense topic, full of misconceptions as I pointed in another reply above, so I recommend you the book “The Natural Way to Draw”, by Kimon Nicolaides, the only place I’ve found the right explanation of the topic.

I still sometimes sketch lightly under my drawings:

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Hello, Maximum.

Of course! Adapting a model from other source to animation is a whole process that must be done really carefully. In western animation, for example, the task is done between the Art Department and the Animation Department, generally. They have to decide on a design that’s viable to animate consistently, but at the same time, that it still communicates the same that the original.

In Japanese animation, the process seems to be a bit more “closed”, with less people participating on the task, but the same care has to be applied. Generally the character designer of a Japanese production ends up being SouSakkan, or the Chief Animation Director, who will , among other things, supervise the models on the whole production. Of course, the General Director supervises closely the whole process, as he is responsible of the whole production, therefore, he can order changes to be made to the designs and all. Other high level employees may also have a saying in the matter.

This recent production I worked on had tons of these modifications. The designers were kind enough not to kill us with too many details:

Hope I answered your question. Let me know if there’s something else.

Thank you a lot for your time Beast. Indeed you answered my question.

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