Learning 2D game animations can be hard and can take substantial amount of effort for someone with no specialized school. In this post we will try to figure out how should we start learning, what are the steps, the software and tools we can use to make spectacular animations.
What is animation and 2D animation?
Animation is the process of making the illusion of motion and change by means of the rapid display of a sequence of static images that minimally differ from each other. (Wikipedia)
2D animation figures are created or edited on the computer using 2D bitmap graphics or created and edited using 2D vector graphics. This includes automated computerized versions of traditional animation techniques, interpolated morphing, onion skinning and interpolated rotoscoping.
2D animation has many applications, including analog computer animation, Flash animation and PowerPoint animation. Cinemagraphs are still photographs in the form of an animated GIF file of which part is animated.(Wikipedia)
If you decide you want to learn 2D game animations you should start from the basic. If you followed specialized courses, it will be easier for you to understand the concepts and how to make animations. But to be a successful animator you need to have some years of practice behind. We suggest you to start reading some basic books and see some tutorials before learning any software programms:
- Making an animated short by Morr Meroz – is a free eBook that can help you to understand what it takes to make an animation and what is animation filmmaking.
- Animator’s Survival Kit by Richard Williams – is a technical and applicable book that will teach you the most important principles and body mechanics of character animation.
- Animation for beginners by Morr Meroz – is a step by step guide to becoming an animator.
- The 12 principles of animation by Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas. You can also find tutorials with these 12 principle here.
You will also find many courses and tutorials on the internet that will explain you how to animate characters, tips and trick for 2D game animations, principles of animation, etc. Here you can find some top courses in animation.
2D game animations software
If you read the books, saw tutorials, made an idea about the basic animation principles and learn the theories for creating animations, you can move on choosing a program where you can put into practice the knowledge acquired. Nowadays, animation technology is in a continuous progress and there are plenty of cool 2D animation software on the market from where you can choose.
You can firstly start with some free 2D game animations software to practice the animation techniques acquired, then you can move on programmes that have more features and tools, but aren’t free. Some interesting free 2D animation software are:
Pencil is a free 2D game animations tool that has a lot of features. It is a simple program, but has the tools you need for an animation. It works on Mac, Windows, Linux operating systems and supports both vector and bitmap images, multiple layers.
This software works also on Mac, Windows, Linux operating systems and has advanced features that can help you to make professional animations.
Marionette Studio is a web-based animation software with many tools and animating features and clean interface. You can quickly make an account and start immediately your animations. It is compatible with Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera and Internet Explorer.
Some software that are not free, but very popular between animators, user friendly and with advanced features are:
Toon Boom is one of the most used 2D animation software. It comes with many spectacular features that will help you to make professional animations. It has many tools and because of that its interface is not so friendly and it might take a while to get used to it. It works on Mac OSX, Windows operating system and Premium Version costs $1.100 annual, which is quite expensive.
Spine is another software in the top choice of animators, programmers, etc. It has many interesting features like meshes, free-form deformation, graph editor, inverse kinematics, weights, etc that help animators to make more alive and advanced animations for their 2D games. Spine Professional costs $299 and includes all features.
Spriter is a 2D animation software that is designed for gamers. The Pro Version which costs $59.99 includes all the latest features: advanced easing curve options, onion skinning, full IK support, sound effects, etc that will help you to create professional animations for the 2D games.
I hope this post was useful for you and helped you to make a plan for how should you start learning 2D game animations. Some articles that inspired me and may be help you: