Quickest way to improvement? Practice. It’s a simple bit of advice that rings with absolute truth. Articles, tips, mentors, and study will never get you as far as rolling up your sleeves and getting down to work, be it animation or any other skill. Today we’ve compiled a list of exercises, like animation push-ups, that will get your art skills buff and toned.

Maybe you still need convinced of how important the “Art of Doing” is? Look no further than the early days of animation, especially at the Disney studio. Here were a group of animators (before being an animator was even a thing) who HAD no books to read, or websites to visit, or even experienced animators to ask. They learned via the age old art of hands-on training, experimenting and discovering as they went. And some would argue they created some of the greatest animation to ever be seen. Masterpieces like the dwarfs dancing in Snow White or the terror of the Monstro scene in Pinocchio. So be like them! Get out there and do animation!


Some of these exercises you may have done or seen before; some maybe not. Consider doing each of them, even if you did once previously, because returning to an old exercise to see how much you’ve progressed is a very valuable experience.

Level 1 Exercises

(Do not discount their simplicity! Here you have the principals of animation, which all other animation is built on. They are worth your time and effort.)

  1. Ball Bouncing in place, no decay (loop)
  2. Ball Bouncing across the screen
  3. Brick falling from a shelf onto the ground
  4. Simple character head turn
  5. Character head turn with anticipation
  6. Character blinking
  7. Character thinking [tougher than it sounds!]
  8. Flour Sack waving (loop)
  9. Flour Sack jumping
  10. Flour Sack falling (loop or hitting the ground)
  11. Flour Sack kicking a ball
Level 2 Exercises
  1. Change in Character emotion (happy to sad, sad to angry, etc.)
  2. Character jumping over a gap
  3. Standing up (from a chair)
  4. Walk Cycle [oldie but goodie!]
  5. Character on a pogo stick (loop)
  6. Laughing
  7. Sneezing
  8. Reaching for an object on a shelf overhead
  9. Quick motion smear/blur
  10. Taking a deep breath [also tougher than it sounds!]
  11. A tree falling
  12. Character being hit by something simple (ball, brick, book)
  13. Run Cycle
Level 3 Exercises
  1. Close up of open hand closing into fist
  2. Close up of hand picking up a small object
  3. Character lifting a heavy object (with purpose!)
  4. Overlapping action (puffy hair, floppy ears, tail)
  5. Character painting
  6. Hammering a nail
  7. Stirring a soup pot and tasting from a spoon
  8. Character blowing up a balloon
  9. Character juggling (loop)
  10. Scared character peering around a corner
  11. Zipping up a jacket
  12. Licking and sealing an envelope
  13. Standing up (from the ground)
  14. Pressing an elevator button and waiting for it
  15. Starting to say something but unsure of how
Level 4 Exercises
  1. Character eating a cupcake
  2. Object falling into a body of water
  3. Two characters playing tug-of-war
  4. Character dealing a deck of cards out
  5. The full process of brushing one’s teeth
  6. A single piece of paper dropping through the air
  7. Run across screen with change in direction
  8. Sleeping character startled by alarm then returning to sleepy state
  9. Opening a cupboard and removing something inside
  10. Putting on a pair of pants
  11. Opening the “world’s best gift” and reacting
  12. Any of the above exercises using a very heavy character/object next to a very light character/object. Enhance the differences the weight change makes!
Things to keep in mind:
  • Reading these exercises will do as much for you as reading about push-ups would do for your physical muscles: NOTHING. If you want the benefit, you must animate them. Take a deep breath and just do it.
  • Do not forget the famous words of Ollie Johnston: “You’re not supposed to animate drawings [3D models]. You’re supposed to animate feelings.” If a character isn’t thinking, they aren’t alive, and the animation has failed.
  • Keep it simple! There is no reason to over complicate any of these exercises. Going back to push-ups, would push-ups be harder if while doing them you also recited the Gettysburg Address? Yes. Would they be any more beneficial? No. Keep things nice and simple and clear.
  • Do your best. There is no reason to do these exercises poorly. Give it your all. You don’t have to show anyone, these are for you. You owe it to yourself to try your very best. Something not quite right? Take the time to fix it.
  • As always, have fun. Push ups are not fun. Animation is supposed to be. Be joyful in your work!

Have any questions about the exercises above? Leave a comment below and we’ll answer them the best we can! Someone else may be wondering the exact same thing, so you’ll help them too. Likewise if someone is looking for possible exercises, why not share a link to these and give them a hand?

Article featured on 
Article composed by J.K. RIKI
MARCH 18, 2013
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Hey! There’s a Discworld lego set being voted on over at It needs 10,000 supporters to be considered as a viable set, and if it gets made, 50% of the proceeds will go to Alzheimer research in Sir Terry Pratchett’s name!

Discworld fans and those effected by Alzheimer’s should go click ‘support’ right away.

It’s super easy and free to log in to Lego Ideas and there’s a ton of really really cool stuff on there (like this LEGO Gyarados) that just needs votes. THIS DESERVES YOUR VOTE MORE THAN A FREAKING BIG BANG THEORY SET (which, btw, already met the 10,000). 


Death on the Librarian’s motorcycle with the coat he borrowed from the Dean - from Soul Music.

The American Pie pun in this moment is one of the best and most subtle bits of wordplay in the entire series. I still get giddy about it.

"When the jester played for the king and queen…."

The Winds of Winter Prologue

I just finished re-reading A Song of Ice and Fire and as I was making my way through A Dance with Dragons I had the foolish notion to try and guess who would get the Prologue chapter of The Winds of Winter. Crazy, yes, but I actually stumbled on an answer that would be both heartbreaking and immensely satisfying (at least for me). This fits GRRM’s MO to a tee, so I felt the need to have written it into the world so if in some one-in-a-million world this DOES happen I can feel verified (though I hope my chances are better than that). Also, it has to do with Azor Ahai, so… 

Spoilers for ASOIAF especially A Dance With Dragons!

Read More

A message from bowielovesbeyonce
Do you have any plans to sell a print of the big House Sigil collection? I know I'd buy one. (I'm boiledleather when I'm not bowielovesbeyonce.)

A few people have asked me about this - I am thinking about it, and figuring out the best way to present/print it. I am also thinking about possibly selling individual house cards as well (the originals are all done on small trading cards and I like that physicality), either as a set or in random packs or what I haven’t quite decided. Plus, I also plan to add more (yes more) after I finish re-reading Dance with Dragons, so be patient and there will be an extended edition! I don’t already have any sort of store set up so it might be a little while to get everything organized. 
I will of course let you all know as soon as everything is a go! I appreciate all the interest!

A message from Anonymous
HI John, My name is Casey. ON Second Life I have just become Kensa Blackmont, Lady of House Blackmont around the time of the Hedge Night. May I use your sigil artwork in our Sim?

Hi Lady Blackmont! Because you asked, you can certainly use my art for your arms. Thank you! May all your babies stay in good hands (and preferably firmly on the ground) :)

My wife was drawing a witchsona earlier this week, and I decided to draw myself at Salem Witches’ Institute. I thought it was a Harry Potter thing; I’d be a bit different if I was a more generic witch (let’s be real though, not much different). Anyway, I liked designing SWI uniforms which would be colored based on your hall (1 of 6) and they’d be more random, just like housing at an American university, as opposed to sorted by personality or whatever Hogwarts does. The double band on my arm designates the SWI equivalent of a prefect (um… RA? Haven’t gotten that far yet). Leaves mostly because they’re pretty but also because nature magic is cool and Charms would be my subject.

The Price

About time I put up some animation! This is my MICA thesis, based on the short story by Neil Gaiman. Music from The Secret of Kells (Bruno Coulais).