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The Best 3D Animation Techniques Efficient Animators Swear By

ben marvazi 2020

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“Animations are nearly powerful — it’s not just entertainment, it’s a very cunning way to get good ideas across.”

Benedict Cumberbatch, Actor
these 3d animation tips will help you become a superhero of an animator

GIF by Moviestar Plus+ via GIPHY

Animation enables animators to tell stories and communicate ideas uniquely and memorably. 3D animators leverage this power of animation to convey what words and live-action series and films often fail to capture through 3D animation.

When Toy Story was released in 1995, it revolutionized the animation industry by being the first ever full-length 3D animated film. And since then, we have seen how 3D animation adds detail, depth, and lighting even to the most lifeless object one can ever imagine.

Today, the world is continuously advancing in terms of tegichnology, which also fuels the expansion of 3D animation, making it one of the dominating forms of media, from advertisements to full-length films.

In light of this, the need for 3D animators has never been greater than it is right now, but it comes with the drawback that 3D animation is time-consuming. Knowing relevant 3D animation tips gives you an edge to maximize your efficiency as an animator and stay on track.

In this blog post, we'll go through the best 3D animation tips you can use to improve the quality of your animations while also speeding up the production process—this will allow you to create better animations in less time.

3D Animation Production Pipeline

In 3D animation, the animation pipeline comprises software, resources, and hardware that complete the method in a predefined order to create a 3D animated result. This animation process can create a 3D model, video game, animated film, or television show.

A 3D animation pipeline may help you save time, effort, and energy, so before we delve into the main course, let's look at how it can do that.

  • Time Management
time management is essential for every 3d animator

  Image by mohamed_hassan via

Creating 3D animation from scratch is time-consuming, as said. The slightest fault can delay animation production, and these errors can rack up, cause excessive delays, and even fail the animation process.

Using the 3D animation production pipeline, you can better manage your time and avoid potential delays while working on your animation projects.

  • Costs Management
cost management is important when working with your time and resources as a 3d animator

Image by mohamed_hassan via

The 3D animation production pipeline provides a framework for managing costs and assuring the smooth progression of the project from start to finish. 

  • Team Management
team management is important when working with a 3d production pipeline

Image by GraphicMama-team via

Teams of five to hundreds work on 3D animated movies and television shows. These people are divided into groups that must work to create the animation product.

By utilizing the 3D animation production pipeline, it is possible to make the project as effective and productive as possible by ensuring that every team member has the same goal. 

If you're curious to learn more, you can read our blog post about the steps involved in the 3D animation production pipeline.

3D Animation Tips You Should Master To Accelerate Your Production Process

The development of 3D animation has progressed immensely throughout the last few years. In that time, several 3D animation tips have surfaced, intending to push the boundaries of this medium even further.

Several 3D animation tips, such as inverse kinematics, animation rigging, and digital animation keyframing, can help you save more time while animating. As we dive deep into these techniques, take note of the essential parts to use later!

Inverse Kinematics

inverse kinematics help 3d animators work with character animation

Image from Wikipedia

Making a character move realistically in animation requires a lot of practice and tweaking the joints. In 3D animation, inverse kinematics is common practice for creating natural-looking movement and interaction between characters and their environment.

Additionally, inverse kinematics allows animators to configure and animate numerous parts of a character with only one object; thus, it helps animators produce complex 3D animations quicker. 

This is done by setting up the last bone in the chain at the correct location, where you may create realistic motion, and as a result, the rest of the bones will naturally fall into place.

Inverse kinematics works out characters' and objects' arm and leg movements created using skeletal animation. This 3D animation technique allows you to quickly do these:

  1. Grab and pose a character's hand while the wrist, elbow, and shoulder adjust automatically;
  2. Create a realistic interaction between the feet of a character and the different surfaces and slopes they walk on; and
  3. Create realistic interactions between the character and their environment by grabbing and moving one specific target object.

Animation Rigging

animation rigging is a 3d animation tip that will save any animator time

Image from Unity Learn

Animation rigging creates a character or object's skeleton with digital bones or joints. The animation skeleton, called a rig, comprises hierarchically organized joints.

In 3D animation, rigging allows people and objects to be manipulated to move more realistically. Rigging a model allows for the creation of motion that is more realistic and beneficial to the animation process.

One of the benefits of rigging is that 3D animators can use the rig to control all of the animation's movements. So, the rig gives you control, flexibility, complexity, and fluidity of movement that has never been seen before in other animation techniques.

Another benefit you can get from rigging is that it allows you to look at your renderings from different angles. Rigging lets you see any problems with the shape of the bones before the animation is made.

And since rigged characters and objects may be altered as needed, this 3D animation technique accelerates the animation process and boosts production efficiency.

Digital Animation Keyframing

digital animation keyframing helps animators with their timing

Image from O’Reilly

Simply put, keyframes serve as landmarks for animators. They give direction to the animation software system, instructing it on which images to animate, how to animate them, at what rate, and when to stop. It is a frame used in animation to denote the beginning and end of a sequence of frames.

One of the many advantages of keyframing is instead of having to follow individual drawings one at a time and figure out what should be drawn next, you can immediately see where they are currently at in the animation process when you do an overview of the keyframes. Keyframing saves time and allows 3D animators to work more efficiently.

Also, making adjustments is much simpler using this animation technique. Suppose you wish to change a movement or add another feature. In that case, the editing process at this stage could not be much easier because you simply need to make a few little adjustments to the keyframes rather than 100 individual frames.

3D Animation Tips to Improve the Quality of Your Animations

  • Use a Storyboard 
using a storyboard gives any 3d animator direction with their work

Image from Yans Media

You must have a clear plan in mind for your animation project before you begin the animation process. 

Creating a storyboard is one way to accomplish this goal. You will be able to keep track of your goals and guarantee that the animation process continues on track by mapping out each scene in the animation process using still frames.

  • Find Real-Life References
real life references help both 2D and 3D animators

Image from Jennifer Borton via WordPress

To develop a thorough knowledge of motion, time, weight, and other concepts, you must pay close attention to people and how they interact, express themselves, and even move around. 

When developing your 3D animations, it can be helpful to take some photos and videos of moving people or objects and use those as references. This will not only make your animations look more realistic, but it will also be helpful to you when you are developing new animations from the ground up.

  • Use Simple Yet Great Rigs
keep it simple

Image from Wallpaper Flare

A generic system will offer you the fundamental tools, but you  must adjust the rig to your needs to give your character an edge. Optimizing your 3D animation pipeline requires a great rig. It makes you more creative and free when animating and speeds up the process.

Additionally, a solid rig makes character changes faster and more lively, saving time. Inverse kinematics can help you evaluate if your rig is good or not.

  • Updated Animation Software 
a simple 3d animation tip is to make sure you update your animation software for the latest tech

Image from Appsumo

Outdated animation software slows your computer or tablet and impacts 3D animation creation time. So investing in updated animation software will help you speed up your production time.

It is also great to try alternative animation software to test what works faster on your computer or drawing tablet than what you use presently. However, it may take time to learn new animation software, but it will definitely speed up your work!

  • Reuse Basic Animations
reusing some basic animations can help speed up production

Image from Laughing Squid

Once the character's primary actions poses, and keyframes have been applied, the animator can save the animations for later use. 

The more time animators have to focus on the finer details, the better; therefore, it's in your best interest to keep basic animations. Like when you're developing a new character, it can be helpful to incorporate even a simple walk or run cycle into a scene.

And since the fundamentals of the character's motion have been established—their primary poses and keyframes—you can focus on fine-tuning the timing, weight, and style to reflect the character's unique traits.

3D Animation Tips That Decrease Production Time and Increase Animation Quality

In this blog, we covered eleven 3D animation tips that will decrease production time and increase the quality of your animations. 

Using these 3D animation tips makes developing ideas for characters, scenes, backgrounds, and other animation elements much simpler and calls for a quicker turnaround time.

Be one of the most in-demand animators in the industry by applying these 3D animation tips, checking out 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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