Importance of Sketching in Animation

Batman Sketch

Batman Sketch

It is said that ‘A sketch is an outline of something, the groundwork of a picture.’ Whether it is a live sketch or a basic design, it is essentially the foundation of the whole picture. Just as painting would be lifeless without any colour, similarly, the world of animation will have a loose foundation without sketching.

Animation is the display of a sequence of images of 2-D or 3-D artwork that create an illusion of movement. The most common method of presenting animation is as a motion picture or video program, although there are other methods.

Current tools for creating animation are extremely complex. This makes it difficult for designers to create animations Simple animation systems exist but severely restrict the types of motion that can be represented. Animation is a popular medium for entertainment, education, and communication.

Sketching is an interesting, yet a powerful element of the entire designing process. Sketching is like a road-map for your journey towards a good design or basic frame on which your great design has to stand. Any creative process requires a lot of thinking and re-takes. Though we have discarded pen and paper for digital technology, the former is still the first step towards starting any creative process. Sketching as a function has slowly shifted to becoming a polishing tool. It gives the animator enough space for re-doing, altering and creating a rough product on paper. The final touches can be then worked on with the help of our latest technology.

Top 10 Mistakes the Beginners Make


Using A Hard Grade of Pencil

If you have no very dark shadows and the whole picture is rather pale, check your pencil. Are you using a Number2 (HB) pencil? These are too hard to draw with (though they are handy for light shading). Get a B, 2B and 4B for darker values.

Using Flash in Portrait Photography

This is the major cause of beginner drawing problems. Using flash photography flattens the features, giving you nothing to work with. When the person is facing you, it is very hard to see the modeling of the face, as the perspective vanishes behind their head, and add a cheesy snapshot grin and you make life very hard! Have the person turning slightly to one side so you can model their face, with natural lighting to give good skintones, and a natural expression to show their real personality.

Problems With Head Proportion

Because of the way we focus on a person’s features, we usually draw them too big and squash the rest of the head. Does your drawing look like the forehead is too small, or the back of the head is flat?

Facial Features Not Aligned

Because we are used to looking at a person straight-on, we naturally try to make their features look level when we draw them. If their head is on an angle, this results in strange distortions in the picture. Sketch guidelines first to ensure that the features are on the same angle as the rest of the face.

Drawing Pets From Human Eye Level

When you take a photograph standing up, you are looking down at your pet. They have to look up, and you end up with their head seeming much bigger than their body, and a rather odd expression on their face. Have someone distract them so they aren’t staring down the lens, and squat down so the camera is at their head level, and you’ll get a much better reference photo.

Being Afraid to Draw Black

Often when shading, the shadows don’t go past dark gray. If your value range is restricted to in some cases half what it ought to be, you are limiting the modelling and depth in your drawing. Put a piece of black paper at the corner of your drawing, and don’t be afraid to go dark. Really dark.

Outline in Value Drawings

When value drawing, you are creating an illusion with areas of tonal value. When you use a hard drawn line to define an edge, you disrupt this illusion. Let edges be defined by two different areas of tonal value meeting.

Using the Wrong Paper

If your drawing is pale, it might be the paper. Some cheap papers have a sheen on the surface that is too smooth to grab the particles off the pencil. A thick notepad has too much ‘give’ under the pencil to allow you to apply enough pressure. Try a basic photocopy/office paper, or check the art store for cheap sketch paper. Place a piece of card under a couple of sheets to give a firmer surface. If you are trying to do even shading, some sketch papers can be too coarse, giving an uneven texture. Try a hot-pressed Bristol board or similar smooth drawing paper.

Scribbled Foliage

Don’t use circular scribbles to draw foliage. Use more convex shaped scumbling – like crescent shapes and scribbly calligraphic marks – to draw the shadows in and around clusters of foliage, and your trees will look much more realistic.

Using Pencil Lines For Hair and Grass

If you try to draw every hair or blade of grass as a single pencil line, you’ll end up with an unnatural-looking mess of tangled wire. Instead, try to make feathery pencil-strokes to draw the shadows and darker foliage behind areas of grass or hair.