Someone asked about this a little while ago (on a tumblr msg), and I’ve been chewing on it. I want to say first that I’m not an instructor, and I’m not super good at explaining things. If you want some really good animation resources I highly recommend these two books:
Cartoon Animation - Preston Blair
The Animator’s Survival Kit - Richard Williams
They are both very good (and they’re on amazon for way less than I bought them for!) , but if you can only get one, and you have no animation experience, I suggest the second. It’s absolutely huge and has a very detailed explanations and diagrams for basically everything you could think of, starting from the very basic of animation principles.
Soooo animation tips? I guess the first and most important thing I learned when I went to school, is that more drawings don’t necessarily make better animations. I always thought that was basically it. The difference between beautiful feature films, and not so great Saturday morning cartoons? More drawings. Right? That might be part of it, that’s what makes it smoother, but it’s not the secret. The most important parts of making an animation look good are:
In other words, what you draw and how you get there: They should be interesting! Spending time on that is more important than spending time on making lots of frames.
Now…. I started writing up a bunch of stuff about keyframes, breakdowns, squash and stretch…. and it’s just this giant rabbit hole of explanations. And I’m sure there are a lot of YouTube videos that already exist and are great for all of those things. So… short version: are you making short silly GIFs? Then you want to see how few frames you can get away with and still have it look okay. If you put your poses too far apart, they will look like your character is teleporting. If you make them too similar and / or close together, it will be boring.
This is 5 frames:
lil unicorn guy: 5 frames is the minimum for a “boiling line” that looks good (the kind of line style that you see in Ed, Edd n Eddy, for example). The heart and the eye are wobbling around just enough to be interesting, and the tail is the one piece that’s really moving. If the whole drawing was done with a boiling line, it would probably look better, but that is so much more work and this looks okay!
This is 2 frames:
cutiefly toot toot: the body moves a little bit (but doesn’t change), the wings move a bit more, and the feet don’t move at all, they’re like an anchor. it’s only two frames! but it looks okay too.
This is 27 frames (but don’t freak out):
hugs wolves: so the bodies don’t move. pink tail: 8 frames. purple tail: 9 frames. heart: 5 frames. the moving parts all move a little bit differently in terms of distance and frame count. They don’t start and stop exactly the same time. That variation makes it interesting. But when you break it down, there aren’t actually that many different drawings to it.
TL;DR: Don’t move everything the same amount. Variety is interesting! See how few drawings you can get away with. Or not! If you don’t want to. And most importantly, just make stuff, even if you don’t think it looks good.