4 Steps to Make Your Bad Drawing Work for You as an Animator

No doubt, drawing helps a person understand the foundations of animation. After all, animation developed from hand-drawn illustrations. Furthermore, drawing helps animators easily bring their conceptualized characters into being. 

Some 2D animators have a knack for drawing, but not all do! In fact some animators are famous despite, and sometimes because of, their “bad” drawing abilities. 

Man saying say what?!

Yup! You heard that right! If you are currently an animator who’s good at bad drawing, whether by pencil on paper or stylus on a tablet or if you want to be an animator but are scared you don’t have the right skills, don’t be discouraged! 

You can create something unique with your “bad” drawing!

Man happy that they're talking

Here are 4 steps to make your drawing, no matter your skill level, work for you as a 2D animator. To show you that you can succeed, we’ll also share some successful animators who, according to themselves, are bad at drawing. 

STEP 1: Choose a 2D Animation Style that Best Suits Your Drawing

So you have decided not to work with other animation forms such as clay animation or motion graphics, and you have decided to use your drawing skills. Now you just have to decide which 2D style best suits your bad drawing. 

Contrary to popular belief, 2D animation is not dying, but it is evolving. It is also still so relevant, even in the fields of business and marketing

You have the freedom to choose your style inside the 2D realm of animation, so you can develop a style that uniquely works for you and makes you stand out. Awesome, right?

2D drawing is alive and kicking; more than likely, it will be used for many years to come. So develop a 2D style you like or are comfortable with, and see the next step!

2d animation drawing

STEP 2: Slay It with a Good Story

After picking a 2D style that works best for your drawing abilities, now it’s time to spice things up. You need a very good story to make your animation interesting for your target viewers. 

Not all people care about the outward appearance of your animated characters, but a good story is essential in order to keep viewers engaged. Even with the best-looking characters, if your story has no appeal, then it almost doesn’t matter. 

a man who is a great storyteller

At times, your bad drawing can even help you convey a good story or portray a message, depending on the message you are working on. 

If your focus is solely on animating, not crafting the stories, then it will still be beneficial to know how to animate “badly drawn” characters to achieve storytelling or to simply portray a scene

STEP 3: Sound Great

Make up for your bad drawing by producing a good-sounding animation. 

Watching an animation involves the sense of hearing too! No matter how good your animation is, if it does not sync with your sound, your audience will not have a great experience. 

rapper using microphone

Ensure your voice-overs are perfect for your characters and use music to your advantage. 

Don’t forget special sound effects. They may not be too obvious, but they do matter and add to the overall effect of your animated video. 

Sounds good? Yeah, it should!

STEP 4: Transition Well 

Last step, but definitely not least, make sure  your scenes transition smoothly and excellently.

man fading away

Select the types of transitions that will work for your animation, and ensure each transition helps make your video engaging and flow well. 

3 Successful Animators Who’ve Used Their “Bad” Drawings

Now that you have tips on how to make your bad drawing work for you, here are 3 animators who made their bad drawing work for them! 

Hans Van Harken

hans van harken

Photo Courtesy of IMDb

Hans Van Harken is an LA-based animator, who has quite a large following on YouTube. He established his own production company, Skel Studio, in 2017.  

His 2D animations are usually just 1 to 2 minutes long, using familiar cartoon characters from TV and incorporating them into his story and style. 

Joy is his work, which Van Harken defines as a series about, “Modern life, first-world problems, in the big city.”

hans van harken animation

Photo: Joy 3: Con Man

Some of his popular uploads are “Mickey’s Surprise!” and “Raichu Pikachu Pichu Pi.” Each video has over 1 million views. In these videos, Mickey and Pikachu have many different events in their lives than the characters we grew up with.

Don Hertzfeldt

don hertzfeldt

A two-time Academy Award nominee from Fremont, California, Don Hertzfeldt is an animator who used his simple drawing or maybe to some, bad drawings, to make his multi-awarded short stories and films. 

Hertzfeldt’s writing ability and the way he presents his ideas (usually abstract and philosophical) set his work apart.

Some of his most notable works are:

The Meaning of Life” shows the evolution of the human race from now to millions, or even billions, of years into the future. It features different, blob-like creatures over the 12 minute short, but all the same, the crowds are selfish and fighting.

man talking about a tv show

It premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and has toured several film and animation festivals across the US.

Everything Will Be OK” is about Bill, whose very simple and routine life is dramatized; however, it has a dark turn as viewers realize Bill may be struggling with a mental illness. 

It was called a "masterpiece" by The Boston Globe and the Boston Phoenix declared Hertzfeldt a "genius.”

Jason Steele

jason steele

Photo courtesy of The Filmcow Wiki

Jason Steele is an animator, writer, and director who founded FilmCow, and he is also a voice actor in his own works. 

His YouTube channel, FilmCow, has about 1.74 million subscribers with his most famous videos garnering about 30 to 49 million views. 

Most will say his works are comedy, but you might rethink that label after watching some of his works. Almost all of his series and videos are watched by kids and adults alike.  

Some of his notable works are: 

Llamas with Hats is a series about two llamas, Paul and Carl. Paul, voice-overed by none other than Jason Steele himself, regularly chastises his friend Carl for unleashing havoc throughout their neighborhood and cities. 

llamas with hats series

Charlie the Unicorn is a series about a sluggish, lazy unicorn, who, accompanied by his two unicorn friends, embarks on a quest to find a mystical mountain called “Candy Mountain.” 

You are not alone!

deadpool drawing

Just because you think you’re bad at drawing doesn’t mean that’s a dead-end for you. As a matter of fact, you can use it to your advantage as an animator. You can use your unique style to explore more and reinvent other areas of animation. 

Using your 2D animation style of choice, great storylines, good animation voice-overs, great sound quality, and on-point frame transitions, you can create a bright future with your “bad” drawing. 

the simpsons asking if he should keep trying

Nevertheless, never stop learning about and practicing drawing. Well-developed drawing skills can be essential to many facets and foundations of animation, but never be discouraged if you are not good at it--you can always learn more, and you can innovate to make your style work for you.

Share these tips with your friends or with the animators you know who are bad at drawing. If you want to learn more, so you can take your animation business to the next level, check out our Business of Animation marketing handbook and sign up for our masterclass.

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