One of the many great and wonderful things about the internet is that it gives all of us almost unlimited knowledge about anything with just a few taps of our fingers. Anyone can be an expert with time and the desire to learn. This is especially true for animation. For aspiring animators, doing an animation course is still the best option and highly recommended if you have the resources, but there are plenty of online options out there now to learn the craft and spending years doing a college course is not as essential as it used to be. What's important is that everyone can be an animator if they want to.
There are LOTS of on-line resources available - for both budding animators wanting to know where to start as well as more experienced animators wanting to improve their skills and stay up to date with new trends and technologies. Here we have collected 10 of the best sites.
Animation World Network is one of the largest (if not THE largest) sites on everything to do with animation on the net. If you want to find out something, chances are you'll find it here. There's news, blogs, interviews, reviews, profiles, technology updates, events and much much more. You could spend days looking through all the relevant and informative content here.
Being part of an animation community is really important too and AWN has a thriving and busy forum where you can interact with animators around the world to chat, share knowledge and work or find out new stuff.
Animator Island is simply one of the best animation websites out there. You can feel the passion for the craft radiating from your screen when you browse through it. It's a topnotch resource site (for both creative and technical info) but it's also a community where animators come together to share work, skills, info and stories.
They also run some excellent free tutorials to encourage and inspire you.
Cartoon Brew is another essential animation site for finding out what's moving and shaking in the world of animation. This one is more focussed on the animation industry at the higher end of the film and TV industry but there's also news about festivals, regional news, projects in development and technology. If you want to know what the big boys are up to, be sure to bookmark this site.
Blender (a free and open-source 3D computer graphics software toolset) along with Unreal Engine (a free 3D creation tool) are two animation tools that have revolutionised the 3D animation world. Maya and Max may still be the industry standards for 3D, but with Blender and Unreal Engine you can still create top quality animation with mind-blowing detail and effects. A new generation of animators are growing up on these tools and creating amazing work.
One of the best sites for everything Blender is Blender Guru who has some excellent free tutorials.
The 11 second club is one of the most fun sites. The idea is simple: it's a monthly competition whereby an audio file of a character speaking a line of dialogue is released and then entrants must create an animation for the dialogue. The results are fantastic but what makes this even more interesting is that entrants are encouraged to show and discuss their works in progress so the sense of collective creativity is infectious and inspiring.
With over 1.5million members it's a thriving and thrilling community.
As an inspirational collection of animation styles, this site is hard to beat. It's like walking through an art gallery and every frame is just gorgeous eye-candy. Get lost in here for an hour and you won't regret it.
If you want to do an online animation course, there are plenty out there to choose from. Some are great and some are not so great so it's worth doing some research and finding out which is the best for you. Experience level, style, cost, time, quality of tutors etc. are all factors to take into account. As with most things in life, reddit is always a great place for this kind of research and inquiry.
Animation Mentor is one of the most popular and respected online courses. It's run by experienced and passionate animators who have plenty of practical experience in the industry and love passing that knowledge on.
Youtube is an epic oasis of resources for animators. It's all free of course and so the quality of advice and level of professionalism may vary, but there are some gems out there if you look for them.
There are also hundreds of channels created by animators to show their films and the quality of work out there is a testament to how much animation has grown as an artform since the availability of computers and internet.
Jazza is one of the rockstars of Youtube animation with nearly 6m subscribers, over a billion views and hundreds of hours of tutorials. His high energy delivery and knowledge make great viewing. He covers everything - from simple animation to inspire beginners to more high end computer stuff. Definitely worth checking out.
Alan Becker shot to fame in 2006 with his viral video Animator vs. Animation, which has since clocked up an impressive 76m views. He's developed that original idea into a thriving channel where he animates stick figures into mini storylines. It's animation at its simplest but is fun and inspiring - just like it should be.
Short of the Week is a brilliant site for getting inspired and knowing what everyone else is up to these days. They have a whole section devoted to animation and every film is top quality with a wide range of styles and techniques.
From high end motion graphics to animated stick people, there's a whole range of animation styles out there to pick and choose from. Here in the Czech Republic, we have a soft spot for stop motion and are very glad that this classic and endlessly inventive format is still alive and well.
If you want to try your hand at it, a good place to start is Guldies' channel which features lots of his hand-crafted work and some handy tutorials.
This is just a taster of the amazing array of resource sites out there in internetland that cater to all tastes and skill levels. Whether you want to learn, to share, to be inspired or to join an animation community, the net is a vast sea of possibilities. So stop reading this and dive in!