Top tips on getting into animation with Kate Charter

19 Jan 2017

5 mins
Kate Charter ISV at St Cuthbert’s Primary
Kate Charter ISV at St Cuthbert’s Primary

Kate Charter is an award-winning animator, whose work has featured on screens around the world. Following a visit to St. Cuthbert's Primary School, near Glasgow, she has compiled her advice on how to approach the world of animation, whether you're a teacher wanting to diversify your own filmmaking ability or looking to pass her tips on to your class. Read on for Kate Charter's full article.

I've been working as an animator for a few years now, and I'd like to give you guys some tips on how to get involved. Firstly, you might ask "how do I know if animation is for me?" Well, good question. I would ask you, do you have a passion for storytelling? Are you imaginative and hardworking? Well if the answer is yes, then you can work in animation too.

First you need to design your characters. Think about their personality, what kind of a person/animal are they? We can tell a lot from how someone looks. Is your character brave, or cool, or shy, or evil? Think about other characters in cartoons and in films who have similar traits. What do they all have in common looks wise? Also, have a think about what your character is going to do in the story. If they need to fly, are they going to have wings, or a cape? If they fall over a lot, why not make them bouncy! One last tip is to think about their shadow. A good character is always recognisable from their shadow, and it makes it much easier to see what they are doing when you animate them if they are a nice clear shape.

So next thing is to get these characters back into their story. When you tell the story in words, do images pop into your mind? Think about how your imagination is telling the story to you in your head. Then just draw those images. Make a drawing for every part of the story. The idea is that someone would be able to tell what the story was about just by looking at your drawings. Try it out! Ask someone to tell the story back to you from your pictures, if there is a bit that they get stuck on, try doing those drawings again, maybe even add a few more in until it's clear. All of a sudden, you've made a storyboard.

A good way to get into animation is to start with a story. It can be one you've made up, or it can be one of your favourites from a book, or one your family always tells.

Kate Charter, Animator

Now, you might say "But I can't draw!" That's no problem, there are lots of roles in the animation team. If you like playing an instrument and making music, then you could become a composer. If you like imagining sound effects for things, then you are already a sound designer. How about performing? You could be a voice actor. If you are the kind of person who likes to organise things and help people, then you would enjoy being a producer. And even if you want to be an animator you still don't have to draw. If you like building models, then you can look at stop motion animation. Or if you're good with computers you could be a CGI animator or work in the special effects crew. 

There is a role in the animation team for everyone!

Find out more about Kate Charter's work here, and visit our Film of the Month page to see what you can do with your pupils' films once they're completed.

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