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How Animators Look for Animation Inspiration

ben marvazi 2020

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Two questions that come up often in the animation field are “How do you get inspired as an animator?” and “What is your animation inspiration?” Unlike other jobs, which don’t rely entirely on being creative, animators thrive on inspiration and creativity. 

However, when animation is your job, you are obliged to work hard, practice, and have discipline, especially as a freelance animator or if you are starting your own animation studio. Put simply, animation inspiration is a process. 

All animators experience a  creative block at some point in their careers. Don’t be discouraged when you find your animation inspiration lacking. When animation inspiration just isn’t striking, you can rely on research, planning, and activities to help you find inspiration as an animator. 

Producing an animation project is challenging in itself and worrying about finding animation inspiration can make the task even more daunting and ultimately determine the success or failure of your animation project.

Therefore, it is essential for you to find the best animation inspiration to help you create your best animation project and become a successful animator.

In this blog post, we’ll dive into how to find animation inspiration and share some tips from professional animators from revisiting past projects to looking to others for inspiration to the best animation inspiration sites. Here are some important tips for finding animation inspiration as an animator: 

Revisit Past Creative Projections for Animation Inspiration

animators can revisit their past work for animation inspiration

GIF by bigbrickplays via Tenor

One way to look for animation inspiration is to look back at your past animation projects. This could serve as a reminder of your creativity, imagination, and inventiveness.

Revisiting your former animation projects can also inspire you to become more in sync with your personal brand of creativity and help you get back to the top of your game.

Furthermore, celebrating your past successes as an animator can also inspire you to find that success again in future projects. You can see how well you have done in the past, so why wouldn’t you be able to do that again in the future?

Reminding yourself of your successful animation projects can also evoke memories of the excitement that comes with creating something from scratch and the satisfaction when you see the final product.

Think of your past animation projects as your origin stories that got you to where you are today as an animator.

Revisiting early animation projects should also serve as a reminder of how fun they were to make and perhaps reignite your passion for animation.

Reminding yourself of why you started a career in animation in the first place might assist you in identifying things you could be missing and shift your perception of a current project.

Looking back at past projects can also serve as animation inspiration by shedding light on potential mistakes you made or ways on how you could improve on them now, showing you how much you have grown and progressed as an animator. 

Putting your successes and failures under a microscope allows you to accept them, especially when you are struggling to express innovative ideas in a new project.

Keep in mind that the creative process involves assembling old and new ideas and acknowledging the relationships between the two.

Instead of reflecting on creative thinking as a blank slate, find animation inspiration by taking what is already there and blending them in a way that has not been done before.

Spend Time in Nature for Animation Inspiration

spending time in nature as an animator will lead to animation inspiration

GIF by sebvance via Tenor

Another excellent way that animators look for animation inspiration is to spend time in nature. If you have been stuck inside for several hours sitting hunched over your drawing tablet or monitor screen stop what you’re doing and step outside. 

Immerse yourself in the unprocessed beauty of nature by truly taking in your surroundings.

Appreciating the flowers, trees, landscapes, and wildlife can remind you of the various colors, textures, and dimensions of the elements in the natural world and, with some luck, can help you become more attuned with your creative and imaginative side. 

According to a study conducted by Stanford University, spending time in a natural environment also shifts the way we perceive time. To sum up the hypothesis, spending time in nature gives you the sense that time is expanding and reduces the feeling of being pressured by time. 

The severity of those looming deadlines starts to abate and, as a result, provides room for animation inspiration to strike.

Many studies suggest that spending time in nature not only reduces stress but is also effective in terms of boosting your memory, an essential factor when it comes to realizing your full creative potential as an animator.

A study conducted by the University of Michigan found that improving your memory can jump-start your animation inspiration by helping you to formulate new ideas or creative solutions that may not have come to mind before.

Spending time in nature can also assist you in overcoming creative blocks when looking for animation inspiration. Think of spending time outdoors as hitting the mental reset button. 

When you are overwhelmed by tight deadlines and stuck in an office environment your stimuli are of an isolated and stressful nature. However, being in nature introduces you to a different environment with different stimuli, thereby sparking animation inspiration.

Finally, spending time in a natural setting is also crucial for the well-being of your mental health. If your mental health is struggling, your creative potential will flounder too.

There is overwhelming evidence that spending time in nature is a mood-booster and helps to improve your mental health overall.

If you are suffering from depression or anxiety it should come as no surprise that your creativity would wane too.

Instead of staring at your monitor screen or drawing tablet hoping for animation inspiration to strike while spiraling in the throes of a mental breakdown, get outside, spend time in nature, and hit the reset button to get those creative juices flowing.

Books You Should Read for Animation Inspiration

animators also find animation inspiration through books they read

GIF by Spongebob Squarepants via GIPHY

Reading books and blogs about animation is not only a good way to brush up on your animation skills but also a fantastic practice when it comes to looking for animation inspiration. 

Take a break from screentime and plan an outing to your local bookstore or library and browse the animation section for animation inspiration. Perusing the wealth of book titles and subjects available can provide some ideas on where you can improve when creating your animation project.

If you don’t have time to take a field trip, you can purchase eBooks on Amazon or most online book distributors. You can even download some audiobooks to listen to while walking the dog or cleaning the house.

Look to Others for Animation Inspiration

an animator admitting to another animator that they've inspired them

GIF by ABC Network via GIPHY

Another helpful tip when it comes to finding animation inspiration is to look to others and be motivated by other experienced animators. Watch interviews with famous animators or find time to have a conversation with other animators, online or in person.

Speaking to other animators allows you to get a different perspective for your next animation project.

Think about a famous Pixar or Disney character. When the character was created it was not a single animator solely responsible. To this end, creativity builds on creativity, and sharing ideas between animators can result in something beautifully creative.

Surround yourself with animators who serve as inspiration for your animation projects. Scour the internet and watch videos of animators creating. This can be a great source of animation inspiration.

Watching other animators create can provide you with new ideas in terms of dividing scenes, pleasing transitions, and beautiful scene design.

Draw animation inspiration from the way other animators use composition, color, and assets in their animation projects.

It’s important to note that you should not plagiarize the sequences you’re watching but rather consider how you can incorporate these ideas and combine them with your own animation style.

Consequently, it can be difficult to be objective with your own animation projects. This is why it is important, as an animator, to be involved with other people’s work.

When appraising your own work, often it is bad that makes an impression, and you are consumed by the struggle it took to conceive this animation project. 

However, looking at other peoples’ work affords you objectivity. You obtain ideas from it, you can communicate with these people, bounce ideas around and this, in turn, can re-energize and provide you with that animation inspiration you desperately crave.

Equipment You Need for Animation Inspiration

having the right equipment for animating is also inspiring

GIF by The Fast Saga via GIPHY 

Although it may seem obvious, having the right animation equipment and tools is essential for creating the best animation project possible and setting you on the course for success as an animator.

If you are lacking the correct equipment, it should come as no surprise that you would find yourself stressed out and lacking the animation inspiration to produce great work.

The repose that comes with having all the equipment you need to reach your full creative potential is a surefire means of achieving animation inspiration.

Work Every Day for Animation Inspiration

an animator saying "i put in work everyday" to get animation inspiration


When you are feeling blocked and uninspired as an animator the worst thing you can do is to become unmotivated and put off working on your animation projects. 

This is when you should put your nose to the grindstone and make sure that you work on your animation project every day, for as many hours as you can.

Some days you may animate for several hours, others you may only work for half an hour. The important thing is to make some progress, however much you are able to, every single day.

Animating every day helps you to stay in a rhythm, provides you with a sense of routine, and is evidence that you are capable of making progress on your animation project. 

One of the most daunting aspects of beginning an animation project is not really knowing how to approach it, where to start.

However, if you cross something off your checklist each day, the work becomes less overwhelming and you know that you are capable of completing the work because you’ve done it the day before.

Not only will working a little each day on your animation project yield animation inspiration, but it can also help you improve and become a better animator. And, more confidence in yourself as an animator will also help you to find animation inspiration. 

For example, if you complete a 3D animation design every day for a year, you will become incredibly well-versed in this specific area. Venerable Looney Toons animator Chuck Jones claimed that you have to draw 100, 000 inferior drawings before you have one good one. 

In a way, not being particularly proficient at something can also inspire you to be more determined and diligent in terms of improving your skills as an animator.

Allow yourself to be motivated by the idea of delivering quality and value to your animation clients, and, with that, you may find more animation inspiration to produce superior animation projects. The necessary takeaway here is to make headway every day without fail.

Learn as You Go Along for Animation Inspiration

learning as you go is another way of getting animation inspiration

GIF by lulubbfan via Tenor 

Regardless of how experienced we are as animators, there is always something we can learn, and this new knowledge can afford us further animation inspiration. 

Before the advent of the internet and modern technological advances, learning often meant having to ask someone like a teacher, colleague, or mentor, to explain it to you.

Of course, there is always value in learning from those around you. However, learning as you go along now is much simpler.

The internet provides us with unlimited knowledge at our fingertips. Need to know more about an animation style? Search for informative material on Google. Want to learn how to perfect a specific transition? Head over to YouTube and watch an educational video tutorial.

One of the most significant inspirations you can receive as an animator is creating animation projects that are mediocre and improving by learning as you go along.

Plus, in retrospect, you will look back at your older animations and may cringe, but you will also realize how far you have come and how much you have improved.

To that end, here are a few YouTube tutorials you can watch to upskill yourself and perhaps find some animation inspiration.

Bringing Things to Life as Animation Inspiration

an animation brought to life by an inspired animator

GIF by Cryptore via Tenor

Emblematically, bringing things to life is what animators do, perhaps the most fulfilling aspect of the job. Seeing your early notions, objectives, and concepts shining through in the final cut of your animation project is a fantastic feeling.

From the early storyboarding scribbles to the creation of your characters, from a 2D sketch on your drawing pad to a moving, breathing, thinking 3D animated character, bringing an idea, a mere notion to life can be a real source of animation inspiration.

Looking back at past animation projects and mapping out that process from idea to inception can provide you with a sense of direction, motivation, and animation inspiration for your next or current animation projects.

Re-ignite your sense of childlike wonder by reminding yourself of why you became an animator in the first place. Perhaps it was the awe-inspiring magic you felt when watching Disney films as a child, for example.

Regardless, recollecting the fun of animation and bringing a whole world to life on screen can certainly serve as animation inspiration.

Finally, creativity requires imagination. Just being able to be able to breathe life into your vision in this medium is particularly gratifying when it comes to fruition. Even if you do fail, you will be appreciative that animation gives you the prospect to explore your concepts so comprehensively.

That said, sparking imagination and creativity is often easier said than done. Here are some ways to galvanize your imagination and boost your animation inspiration:

  • Focus on a single concept, story, or character at a time
  • Think about multiple scenarios, outcomes, and choices for each story moment
  • Watch new animations that you haven’t seen before starting to work
  • Exercise to release endorphins and increase divergent and convergent thought processes
  • Go to sleep with questions about your story and character on your mind

Take Breaks and Bounce Back for Animation Inspiration

to get animation inspiration, its okay to relax

GIF by Saturday Night Live via GIPHY

As with any job, there are times when animation takes its toll on us, mentally and physically.

We often find ourselves spending long hours sitting behind our monitor screens or drawing tablet, sketching, and animating. This can cause a significant amount of strain on our mental capacity to be inspired and imaginative.

This is when we need to hit pause and take a break in order to avoid those dreaded burnouts. When you are burned out and mentally exhausted, there is little hope of that animation inspiration striking. Productive breaks set you up for passive inspiration.

Animation has the ability to be a very frustrating process. You’re trying a bunch of different stuff, you’re working with software that can be buggy, and you can begin to feel negative about yourself.

Moreover, if you close down your work when you’ve just had enough, it’s very difficult to come back to it. You avoid it. 

However, if you can work to a point where you feel satisfied and energized about your work and then shut it down, you’ll be inspired and energized to come back to it. You can’t wait to come back to it because you’re excited about it.

Remember that taking a moment or two to analyze, discover and participate in new things can lead to a rejuvenated mind, a boost in creativity, and, consequently, help you find that much-needed animation inspiration.

Here are a few tips on how to make the most of your breaks and bounce back with a renewed sense of animation inspiration:

  • Make your own creative process by spending time on personal or passion projects.
  • Make some deposits into the creativity bank by surrounding yourself with things that inspire you, like nature or art.
  • Empty your mental hard drive by not thinking about anything work-related for a few hours.
  • Do things that excite you to let ideas come to you organically, rather than trying to force animation inspiration to strike.

Why it’s Important to Find Animation Inspiration as an Animator

an animator saying that animation inspiration is important

GIF by Mojo37 via Tenor

Animation inspiration rouses us and opens up new opportunities by allowing us to surpass our prosaic experiences and limitations.

It’s important for us to find animation inspiration as it drives us toward possibility, and alters the way we comprehend our own capacities as animators.

Animators who are more inspired on a day-to-day basis also more frequently set more inspired animation goals and, consequently, achieve greater success in their animation careers. 

That is, the relationship between animation inspiration and achieving goals is mutually beneficial - goal progress equals future goal inspiration for animators.

According to researchers, goal inspiration and goal progress build on each other thereby manufacturing a cycle of improved goal inspiration as well as enhanced goal objective.

Another important reason for the pursuit of animation inspiration is that being inspired is also closely linked to increased personal well-being, future satisfaction, and sets a goal for animators to work towards. Therefore, animation inspiration is a key factor in terms of overall life satisfaction.

As an animator, creativity is a prerequisite and animation inspiration is a creator of creativity and can provide you with a clear understanding of your achievements in the long run and allows you to measure the standard of your work as an animator.

For more on how animators look for animation inspiration, we recommend watching our free masterclass, downloading a copy of our free marketing handbook, and checking out our blog on “How to Start an Animation Studio”!

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