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5 Reasons Why Animators Should Keep Drawing

ben marvazi 2020

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The internet is filled with questions like: “Is drawing really important for animation?” Many aspiring animators want to know if they can animate without great drawing skills. In a previous blog post, we talked about “4 Steps to Make Your Bad Drawing Work for You as an Animator".

In this blog post, we won’t tell you if great drawing skills are necessary for an animator; rather, we explore the essence of drawing and what animators can learn from it. Here are 5 ways drawing can help you develop more as an animator. 

Drawing Educates Our Visual Sense

space chicken visual sense

GIF by Space Chickens In Space via GIPHY

Visual sense or visual perception is how we visually understand the things around us. 

Animation originated as a set of drawings. As time has progressed, animation has developed more with the use of computers. But these drawings as a foundation can help animators capture specific moments. 

Practicing drawing and understanding form can help animators understand how bodies are shaped, how they work, and how they move. Having these understandings better allows animators to simulate every intricate detail of a movement in their animation. 

Practicing drawing also teaches you about the dance of colors, the importance of shades, the thickness of lines, and the importance of curves in a drawing, among other things. 

Drawing Inspires Imagination

squidward using his imagination

GIF by via GIPHY

You may think imagination is creating something out of nothing. In Ralph Ammer’s TEDx Talk, however, he defines imagination as the connection of what already exists and what is around us. 

And guess what the best, most affordable, and one of the easiest mediums for capturing these abstract connections is? Drawing. 

Drawing helps us translate the abstract into something tangible for the eyes to consume. 

Do we all have imagination? Yes. But why do some people explore extended interpretations of things through their drawings?

It’s not because they are better or more talented than others. It’s because they have captured and practiced these connections many times through drawing, and they keep on making connections.

Think about it: Drawing helps you interpret the things around you into something abstract, and it can also help you translate the abstract things within you into something visible. 

Drawing Helps Us Communicate (Without Telling)

man communicating with another person

GIF by Reaction Gifs via GIPHY

Ever seen cave drawings in Nat Geo or in those documentaries your parents have on VHS or DVDs? They are not words, but drawings. And there’s a reason why.

Over time, art mediums have changed and technology has advanced, but drawing still remains as one of the best modes of communication. 

No matter the type of animation, animation is also a form of communication. As an animator, drawing helps you compartmentalize animation into still pictures that give meaning to the whole sequence of frames. 

Words help us understand, and they can perfectly describe a moment. But as the English adage puts it: “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

What makes a moment last? Drawing. Drawing helps words stick into something visual, making moments of communication more memorable.

Drawing Heightens Our Attention to Details

person drawing on a canvas

GIF by Toby Cooke via GIPHY

Animation involves a multitude of details, and most of them are visual. In modern animated films, details are so specific that even the hem of a garment or a type of fabric can often be seen. 

Overtly noticed or not by viewers, these details add to the overall viewing experience. But how do these details come to exist?

The little wrinkles on an animated character’s face, the little healing wound, the slight scar across the cheek. Someone drew them first; imagined these details, drawing from their observations of the world around them.

As Karl Gnass, a teacher and a former Disney storyboard artist, puts it, “You can draw animation and gesture without life drawing, but life drawing skills give you proportion, structure, perspective, and a certain vitality through rhythmic gestures.”

Okay, let’s get a little personal here: You can know a person through dating apps or through chatting online, but sometimes, the experience of knowing someone up close, the observance of their mannerisms, the way their hair sways, the subtle scent of cologne -- those are the things you can only realize up close. 

Similarly, practicing drawing helps you focus on and understand these small details that can add so much to an animation.

Drawing Is What Legends Did 

Animator Walt Disney

GIF by Disney Parks via GIPHY

Most iconic cartoon and animated characters who have existed and continue to exist are the products of animators who drew them to life. Through drawing, you can develop your own unique characters and your own style. 

If you haven’t really started drawing yet, you don’t have to be good at drawing to start. You just need to do it. 

Shia LaBeouf telling you to just do it


"If I cannot draw it, it probably means that I don't understand it yet,” Ralph Ammer says in his TEDx Talk. Our inability to draw something doesn’t mean we can’t; we just have to understand it more. Drawing is a tool towards greater understanding. 

To keep on drawing means to keep on learning. If drawing helps you become more creative and helps you become better at animating too, what’s stopping you from practicing? 

If these 5 reasons have inspired you to continue drawing, share this post with your friends and fellow animators. Also, check out our free Business of Animation Marketing Handbook and sign up for our free masterclass.

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