10 things that complete every animator’s desk
I refuse to say “creative juices” (ew) but every studio definitely needs something to keep their animator’s creativity flowing. By nature, animation is a repetitive job. At Fudge, we’ve worked out that you can find inspiration and renewed motivation just by having a few extra bits and bobs on your desk.
So whether you’d like to treat this post as a ‘gifts for animators’ resource, you’re an animator that wants to improve their abilities, or if you’re just a bloody generous production manager that wants to treat your animators – read on to find out what an animators desk isn’t complete without.
There’s something charming about putting down a stylus and doing some good old fashioned hand-drawn animation. It’s pretty trendy right now, too. Just look at Cuphead, a video game that blew us all away with its 24 frames-per-second hand-drawn visuals based on 1930’s cartoons that displayed a style never before seen in video gaming.
It can be mighty refreshing to dabble in more traditional media on occasion. Squinting at a screen all day does take its toll, you know.
If your animators are expected to sit through meetings and concept building sessions, you can bet they’ll be much more productive with a nice set of inking pens, brushes, pencils, pastels, sketchbooks, markers and coloured pencils livening up the desk!
9. Light pad
In a similar vein, these backlit tracing pads are great for animators that still yearn to do traditional hand-drawn pieces. Even if your studio doesn’t really do anything that isn’t digital, there’s something therapeutic about getting your mitts on some stationary and putting nib to paper.
Using one of these babies is definitely the best way to go about it. Or you can just mount it to a wall and stick up x-rays to make yourself feel important and doctor-y. Up to you.
8. A decent pair of noise-cancelling headphones
Doesn’t matter if you want to listen to music whilst you’re animating to keep you focussed, or to better listen to the sound from a scene you’re working on, a good pair of headphones that keep out all distraction are a godsend for any animator.
If you happen to sit in the direct vicinity of an animator that’s listening to the audio of their scene over and over and over, slap a pair of these on their head and it’ll save you from feeling like you’re living in Groundhog Day. There: a treat for the whole studio!
7. VR viewer
Whether it’s jumping into their scene to assess their work in a fully immersive 3D environment or to just muck about in Google’s Tilt Brush, a VR viewer is always a good call.
Working in a new and exciting medium like VR or AR isn’t exactly an everyday occurance. We know that our HTC Vive has been a big part of keeping morale up in the studio and inspiring our animators by encouraging them to interact with animation from new perspectives.
6. A 3D print of one of the models you’re most proud of
Loads of companies can do this with relative affordability nowadays, making it dead easy to get your hands on a physical version of your digital models in plastics, ceramics or even metals.
5. Creative magazine subscriptions
Animation magazines contain a cracking mix of tutorials, interviews, production features, and artist spotlights that are sure to entertain, teach and inspire any animator lucky enough to have one land on their desk.
They’ll help keep your studio abreast of the latest trends, styles and technological developments in the field. Check out 3D Artist and 3D World for some awesome examples. Not into 3D? The simply titled Animation Magazine has been going since 1986 and has a little something for everyone, too.
4. Wooden artist’s mannequin
Ah yes, the classic pose reference tool for animators, artists and sculptors alike. They’re versatile, durable and you can even pick one up for as little as a fiver – thrifty!
Great for when you need a quick reference for a pose but don’t want to find a full-length mirror to go and strut in front of, that’s just impractical now isn’t it?
3. Anatomy Maquette
These maquettes are objects of beauty as well as reference. You can go nude like a marble statue, muscular, skeletal or even some ungodly mix of all three.
Sure you can look up most of the sorts of references you’ll get from these in image searches, but that’s never really as useful or informative as poring over a real 3D model, is it? Plus, you get to show off and look all artsy, which is all we really want isn’t it?
2. A mirror
Not just to peer at your ugly mug (although that’s part of it) – you wouldn’t believe how often our animators are found gurning into a little hand mirror at their desk for reference purposes. It’s cheap, it’s effective, every animator’s desk needs one.
1. The Animator’s Survival Kit app
We’ve banged on about how essential this book is for animators of all skill levels many times before. Well we’re bringing it up again because now you can buy this animation bible in app form.
Even though any animator worth their salt no doubt already has their copy displayed in pride of place, the greatest thing about this app version is that all the wonderfully drawn animation examples are now, well, animated!
Not only does including real animated examples make this classic even more effective as a learning tool, having it always at your fingertips means it’s way more useful and engaging than a book sat on your desk, despite how legit it makes you look.
There you have it, 10 things that you can buy for the animator in your life (or yourself if you’re greedy). Increase productivity in your animation studio, make the quality of your animation improve or just increase the morale in the studio with some fun odds and ends.