February 27, 2012

Getting selected for Animation design

Animation design is a subset of visual communication that uses motion of various elements as a primary means to communicate. Branches like product design and automotive design build products that are often executed by engineers and are usable products in themselves. While the animation design produces media that engages the attention of the human. This is most crucial element of animation design, that it is much emotion oriented than product oriented.

This post will help you build necessary skills for getting through an interview for animation design course. These principles can also be applied to admission to film making and motion graphics courses also.

Building necessary skills

Must have skills :

1. Sketching skills – This is the most essential skill. Your sketches should communicate the message. Its not just another groovy car sketch that is needed but, it should be saying how masculine the car looks! Your sketches can include any variety of sketches, but ensure that they have a ‘human’ factor to them.

2. Sketching of human anatomy – You must build skills for sketching human anatomy. For example it is often required to show hand movement in communicating body language. Also facial gestures convey much more meaning than words! Therefore you must practice sketching human forms proportionally and in different scenarios.  

3. Study those ads! - Now a days we are constantly bombarded by ads. Some of these are excellent examples of course you might be looking at!  You can study the ads you like and analyze them. By doing so you will get a grasp of how the messages are conveyed effectively using this medium.

4. Storyboard skills – Storyboards are simply sequence of sketches that indicate an event chronologically. The most common storyboards are cartoon strips that appear in news paper. You should be able to build simple story boards like making a cup of tea, stitching a  button on your dress, etc.

5. Music skills – No, no, you are not expected to play banjo during the interview! An action is often communicated most efficiently by the sound it produces. Remember the ‘dhishum’ sound in classic Hindi movies when the hero  punches the villain? Or the typical sound produced by gun? These are the kind of sounds you should know and their application to actions. Remember that music itself is excellent for timing any sequence of actions.

Optional skills:

1. Vector graphics skills – There are two ways graphics are made. Either they are made of very small “building blocks” called pixels or they are build based on their mathematical definition (called vectors). If you zoom in on a non-vector image you will easily see pixels. Thus you have a limitation how big you can make the non-vector graphics. Knowledge of typical vector packages like Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW or Inkscape can help you sell yourself with additional power to express yourself. Out of these Adobe Illustrator(AI) is an expensive and slightly difficult to learn package, while CorelDRAW is relatively easy to learn and Inkscape is a open source free package, that is earier to learn than AI.

2. Knowledge of Flash – Often Flash package is used to create vector animations seen on internet. This is additional skill set that will fetch you some additional points, but is strictly optional as this skill set can be very involving to learn and master.

3. Camera skills – camera is a simple device to capture real life images and creating movies, therefore it is a good skill to know a thing or two about photography and shooting

4. Study of representations of real world in animation – Have you seen a cartoon strip showing “zzz” over a sleeping person? That is how snoring is represented in world of animation. You can read an interesting article about cartoon laws on Wikipedia

Building an animation portfolio:

Animation portfolio often contains elements that have motion and is best recommended to be shown on a laptop or at best on your own web page!
A basic animation portfolio can contain all or some of the following:
1. A lot of sketches containing caricatures, cartoons, figure sketches, concept art work, etc.
2. At least one story board illustrating a story or an event. A fully functional, hand drawn page is considered to be ideal
3. Study of at least one animation. For example, study of your favorite Walt Disney animation, or an ad that you loved
4. A simple stop motion animation. Best ones are the ones made using clay dough, etc
5. A short film containing some of the subject you would like to talk about
6.  Graphic design samples like visiting cards, websites, illustrations, logos, etc
7. An example of animated typography . It can be simply done with MS PowerPoint if nothing else ;) 
8. Samples of your photography/video works

Additional resources:

[site] 12 basic principles of animation on Wikipedia

[site] Animation Book by Rick Parent, Ohio State University

[video tutorial] Video tutorial for making simple animation in Inkscape

[PDF ebook] A wonderful guide on basic techniques of story-board making from School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering (ITEE)

[site] Resource page for animation on Wichita University website

The following tips are compiled by request from Tanvir Kaur. I really wish to thank a lot of people (especially Abhishek Joshi, who is in this field for last 10 years) for helping me to make this post credible and as complete as possible


Tanvir Kaur said...

Thank you so much for the response. this is a great help...i am very bad at sketching though(slightly better than an average 5th grader..but i am Ok with illustrations..pen tool seems easier to use than an actual pen..i practice facial expressions most of the time when sketch, (though my favorite animation movie, WALL.E, didn't have a lot of them. i justhope i go somewhere with this..

Thank you again for all the trouble you went into for this post..God bless you..:)

Prasanna Gadkari (M.Des in Product Design from I.I.Sc. ) said...

Hello Tanvir,
Thanks for all the blessings :)
Even i feel the same about pen tool, especially combined with the Wacom Tablet.
If you like WALL.E, you can consider adding some of the character analysis to your portfolio.
Also the facial expressions sketches will fetch a good weightage.
I am available to review your portfolio if you wish to have a second opinion.
Best of luck :)

Tanvir Kaur said...

Thank you for helping out Prasanna..it would be awesome if i could get your help for the portfolio..is it ok if i mail you..

Prasanna Gadkari (M.Des in Product Design from I.I.Sc. ) said...

Hello Tanvir,
That’s what I had in my mind. Plz mail it to me on this id If the attachement is more than 5Mb, plz split it onto two :)

Anand said...

Hi Prasanna,

It would be better if you could give us some tips on how to prepare for NID studio test .. particularly for product and transport design

Prasanna Gadkari (M.Des in Product Design from I.I.Sc. ) said...

Hello Anand,
I , myself, am not eligible to write tips about NID studio test since I have never appeared for it, and none of the people i know have anything to contribute, therefore i am still waiting for some inputs

Delwar said...

your blog is on of the best blogs. I pass. I have blog which is also containing PowerPoint I am delivering every events that count.

Prasanna Gadkari (M.Des in Product Design from I.I.Sc. ) said...

Hello Delwar
Thanks for all the nice words
I went thought your blog too, guess u can make it a bit more interesting and fun by including screenshots of what you are saying. Sometimes too much text is becomes boring after a while :( Recommend you to have a quick look at my CRUDE attempt at a tutorial here


Gautham said...

hello prasanna, if it's not of much effort, can you post something similar for visual communication?

Prasanna Gadkari (M.Des in Product Design from I.I.Sc. ) said...

Hello Gautham ,
I have asked few of my friends to write some tips for visual communication, since I believe that I am myself not eligible to write about it

Ankita Deb said...

hi prasanna
you had once mentioned you would tell us what to do if we don't have substantial stuff to put in our portfolio....could you now? :)

Prasanna Gadkari (M.Des in Product Design from I.I.Sc. ) said...

Hello Ankita,
Its very easy to 'populate' your portfolio. here are a few quick tips:
1. Go through the old photos you have taken. there might be something worth adding
2. Design a new logo and make a fair copy in CorelDraw for a, say, transport company
3. Design a new product like, lampshade, mobile holder or chair. Make a scale model in paper or clay

hope you found the answer. you can always mial me on FB or gmail :)

Take care

Ankita Deb said...

thanks again prasanna.....great tips as always! :)

Akshay said...

Hi prasanna
i am going for the animation design and I only have sketches of the cartoons or anime i watch....
anything else i need for my portfolio cuz i'm only good at drawing and don't know about the adobe designer or other tools......
plz advice me on this......

Prasanna Gadkari (M.Des in Product Design from I.I.Sc. ) said...

Hello Akshay,
Its good that you are good at sketching. Your portfolio can consists of purely sketched material. Rest are just tools to convert and modify those sketches, so you need not worry about it :)

Paul Ventura said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

hello prasanna
I am going for product design in IITB. Can u please tell me what should I include in my portfolio fr dat reason??

Prasanna Gadkari (M.Des in Product Design from I.I.Sc. ) said...

Hello Anushree,
Following are few of my ideas about product design portfolio
1. sketches showing ideas of new products like a watch for kids, or a urban three wheeler
2. mock-ups showing form of say, much user friendly headphones, a comfortable chair design
3. A prototype made from wire or modelling clay, like a mobile phone holder or a wallet
4. sketches for new technology like a microwave using touch screen
You can focus more on sketches of ideas, about 10 sketches, and can include 2 - 3 models and at least one prototype to showcase your versatile skills :)


Thank you so much Prasanna for your invaluable tips..:))

Adarsh Paul said...

Hello Prasanna,I want to know about the NID studio test for graphic design. I m going for Animation and graphic design.What do they ask in the studio test and how should i go about my portfolio ?

Prasanna Gadkari (M.Des in Product Design from I.I.Sc. ) said...

Hi Adarsh ,
I am sorry, but i dont know much about the Animation and graphic design studio test or interviews at NID

jhonny depp said...
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This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Saurabh Sain said...

hi sir ! i recently gave a CEED exam for M.des . i think i m okay in pencil work. i can sketch stories caricatures and cartoons. but the problem is i don't know about any software for animation. so if i don't put any software work for animation in Portfolio, does it would be negative for me? should i apply for animation design Or Not?....please guide me.

Prasanna Gadkari (M.Des in Product Design from I.I.Sc. ) said...

Hi Saurabh,
Normally we have observed that people having lots of diversity in their portfolio have a better chance of selection. The diversity can be brought out using software, using many different stories, or kind of works you present. You can surely apply for animation design, but make sure to make your portfolio has lots of variety of works including caricatures, character design works, storyboards, etc. Using simple software like Windows Movie Maker, you can even sequence your hand sketched work and set it to music. This will make a sort of movie of stills and add a plus to your software skills :)
All the best :)

Kashish Panjvani said...

Hello sir, I am having a lot of difficulty in drawing a storyboard, I am not getting the approach( I am really good in Sketching), if you could help in any way, thankyou 😊

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