Animation Secrets Ignored by the Amateur

I want to share a couple of secrets that are obvious among professionals, the high rollers, but for some reason, they are not told to the amateur animator, because they want the interns to focus on the simple tasks like coloring, drawing outlines, optimizing vector lines, etc.

Of course, those tasks are important but what I want to share with you is the most important aspects of any animation that a successful producer and director has in mind.

1. The Story is the most important part of any animation

This is the most vital tip anyone can give you, and is most of the time ignored by amateurs. Why? Well, if get lucky and get hired by a small studio, you probably won’t be doing the fun stuff, nope, those are for the veteran, you only get technical things, like coloring, line corrections, etc.

They tell you how important it is. So when you start a project on your own, you go with this idea in your mind: “Correcting the lines is the most important task”. NO! The most important thing is the story. The director knows it, the producer knows it, the studio knows it, and if you are going to direct your own projects, you have to know it.

2. Pre-Production would be the second most important.

Pre-Production (Storyboard, style decisions, character design, backgrounds, etc.) is the most common tip ignored by amateurs. They learn something new and they want to try it out as soon as possible.

It’s OK to try things out as “exercise”, but you have to know it's not actually a project, only a simple test. If you are serious about doing animation, you have to stop thinking like “an animator”, and put on your producer/director hat.

Prepare everything and then, when the time comes, you start animating. Producing a project is about planning and making a lot of decisions before you even start to animate.

3. Your target audience matters

Most people think that the animations are just ideas of characters brought to life, with no premeditated decisions, that’s because this is something only successful directors know, sometimes consciously or by intuition, but in their heads, they answer the big question:

“Who is this story for?”

Meaning, who is going to like it? Your mother? Your little sister? Your teenage cool-guy “wanna-be” cousin? Does it have dark humor that only adults can get?

Answering this question will prepare your animation for a success of for its future failure. Because once you know your niche, you can decide the other secret that only directors know about.

4. Animation Style matters

This one is very common, most of the time beginners fail to choose the appropriate style for their targeted audience. And how do you know what your targeted audience loves?

Easy, what other cartoons do they like? Is it Amazing World Of Gumball style? Combining 3D characters with 2D characters in real environments? Or Sponge Bob style? With thin outlines and big thin noses? Or a little unreal, like The Regular Show or Adventure Time? Or does it have disgusting sequences like Ren and Stimpy?

Most amateur animators only go for what they can draw. Not knowing that drawing is not actually as important as knowing how to animate.

Here is the real secret, something that producers know and is ignored by amateurs: If you can’t do something, outsource it (have someone else do it for you). Don’t have the money? Give free service in return. For example a friend of mine wanted a local band to compose a song for his project, and in return, he would make them a musical video for their latest single.

Just be smart and think, anyone has something of value that they can do for someone else, and if you don’t find anything, think harder.


In summary, I think most amateurs are forced to only focus on the simple tasks when they work as interns for a studio, is not that studios are evil, no, you actually learn a lot, but what I’m saying here is that when amateurs try to do a project on their own, most of the time the project won't be super awesome, because of the important aspects they are ignoring: The Story, Pre-Production, Target Audience and Animation Style, and they seldom know the importance because they are only thinking as animators and not as a director/producer.