Advice Needed for a Novice!!

Greetings! I have a 17 year old son with good drawing and graphic skills and who is now interested in learning 2D animation. He a birthday very soon and has asked for animation software. A friend of mine who worked on Coraline suggested Synfig. I will certainly introduce my son to your site. I would also love to hear from as many people as possible with recommendations for other free or purchasable software (windows), tutorial sites, good old fashioned books, etc. I really want him to have a sense of success and not be immediately overwhelmed with technical complexity and information overload. Please help this future colleague get off to a fun and satisfying start! Thanks to everyone for whatever help you can provide!

I can definitely recommend Synfig, it is a fantastic piece of software. For any software as powerful as Synfig there is going to be a bit of technical complexity (I’m still learning it) but there’s some great tutorials linked on this site and on youtube. Also the forum is a great source of knowledge and help (there’s not much software out there where the developers are so involved with the community of users.)

In terms of other software, I don’t know much about the paid software, it is usually well out of my price range. In terms of other free stuff, ‘Pencil’ is another good piece of software. Its designed for frame by frame animation, flick book style animation. This is extremely easy to learn, however making anything more than a brief animation using this style will take a long time.

All in all I’d recommend Synfig all the way. Still has it’s faults, syncing sound to video needs some external software, and the rendering engine is a bit slow (I personally find it works best in Linux if that’s an option for you) But it’s still a fantastic tool, improving all the time.

May I suggest a book instead? - The animators survival kit. It’s THE standard learning and reference book on animation.

Learning animation isn’t learning a software, that’s just a tool. Animation is learning motion and how to act through your pencil (or clay or paper or whatever technique you use). If you know how to animate you should be able to pick up just any software and animate with it (after some learning of that specific tool of course).

That said, show him Synfig, it’s a great open source animation tool. Also it’s primarily for vector animation with computer interpolations, not hand drawn frame by frame animation as traditional hand drawn paper and cel animation.

Borance and Rylleman: Thanks very much for your replies and advice. The Animator’s Survival Kit keeps coming up in various locations as well as The Illusion of Life, so I’ve ordered those. Pencil also sounds perfect as an introduction. I will direct my son to both Pencil and Synfig, encouraging to join the latter and post his own inquiries. I appreciate that you took the time to share your thoughts!!

Someone should make a free version of animation survival kit . I was wondering why no one has made their own version of animator’s survival kit under CC-BY
Perhaps Zegaldis can teach the basics of animation.

Hi, streamlinedcat.

I agree with rylleman about focusing on learning animation itself before getting too involved in software. In addition to the excellent suggestions already made, I think Brian Lemay’s video tutorials are great for learning the basics the old-fashioned way. If a student can master what’s presented in Lemay’s YouTube channel, that student could then proceed in pretty much any direction (hand-drawn, vector, 3D, etc.) with a firm foundation in the basic principles of animation.

Here’s his YouTube channel:

And here’s a page on his main web site that gives links to the videos in more of an instructional order: … Index.html


While reading the suggested literature and watching the needed youtube videos I would advise to start using Synfig as a pure vector drawing program first. Just learn how to draw simple shapes and try and learn all the drawing tools. Use an outline and find out the difference between the normal and advanced outline. Play around with regions. Group them in layers. Rotate shapes with tools and then try rotating using layers. Don’t start animating when you are not comfortable with the drawing tools. It will just lead to unneeded frustration.


+1 :mrgreen:

Synfig is a great tool to start off when learning vectors and tween animation, because they’re usually very simple. But I’d still recommend learning Frame-by-Frame drawing, because they hone your skills to actually visualizing animation dynamics and teaching you how to draw well and fast.

For that reason, I’d recommend Tupi, a free Frame-by-Frame drawing software. Pretty cool, really! Tupi and Synfig always go hand-in-hand.

And then I’d recommend tinkering around with Blender, a 3D modelling and animation package. Making simple models and animations in that tool can easily boost you into the industry the more you practice and have fun with it. XD Plus, Blender’s Video Sequencer also is crucial for compiling the animations done in Synfig.

In other words, you can’t get any better combination anywhere else (for free)!