In animation, the quality of your product is directly related to time and what resources are available to you. Obviously, if you have more time and more resources you will be able to create a better product. So how is it possible to achieve the same quality result while spending less time and wasting fewer resources? Let me walk you through it.
Use keyboard shortcuts
The first thing you can do to save time as an animator, which is largely overlooked, is keyboard shortcuts. New animators may overlook this due to the fact that it seems very intimidating to learn so many keyboard shortcuts but I assure you it helps significantly and is worth the effort. Using keyboard shortcuts does save time albeit not a lot of time but it does make a difference. Try out all the shortcuts available on your keyboard and if you can, customize your own keyboard shortcuts. Make sure most of the shortcuts are easily accessible by your non-dominant hand so your dominant hand will not need to move around as much and can stay on the mouse or whatever you use.
Some software may not allow keyboard shortcuts to be made. For this, I suggest buying a gaming keyboard or keypad so if you can’t customize shortcuts on your software, you can always customize your keyboard.
As mentioned, this method does not save an enormous amount of time but it makes things easier and faster nevertheless. You should always start small before moving on to more complicated methods.
To confirm you have used all the resources provided by your client you should make sure to organize all your files in a neat manner so they are easily accessible. File management may also seem like an unimportant tip but with a disorganized pile, it will be near impossible to navigate thus wasting time.
Make sure your audio files are in a separate folder than your reference file and so on so forth. You should also make a separate folder for what resources you will be using for each product. This may feel like an unnecessary step but a more organized desktop and a planned folder full of your required resources for your project at hand will save you much more time in the long run. The time you would be wasting looking for a needed file in your cluster.
While we are on the point of organization, it is also important you keep a clean workspace. With a messy workplace, your mind tends to get distracted much more easily and you will not be able to achieve a proper workflow.
Utilize good rigs available
Don’t waste time creating a rig by yourself if you can find one available. Nowadays almost everything can be bought online, including rigs. There’s a huge market so you can pick and choose a perfect one for your product thus saving time you would spend making a complex rig for your character and fine-tuning. That being said, you should make sure the rig you are investing in is a good one and you won’t have to modify and fix it to make it work. This will be a waste of time especially if you can easily just get a better quality rig.
Think of it as an investment. The better your rig is, the less time it will take for you to finish while also making a better product than you would with a cheaper rig and with a better product you will have a more satisfied client, and with a happy client, you will most likely get more clients by referral. Eventually, you will be making good money since your clients will know that you can produce a great end piece in a shorter amount of time than other animators generally would and your value would increase.
Recycle your resources
A common misconception among new animators is that they, without condition, need to come up with something original and trendy every single time they produce a piece. This is not true and it tends to stress them out as they think they are not doing enough or don’t have the creative talent. If you have made a good product once you can reuse the resources from that project for your new one there is absolutely no problem with that. Use references! It is not cheating if you are just using it as a guideline. Use references to save time so you don’t have to think about how it will look and what you need to do because it will all be there for you to see. If you have created a walking pattern in an older project do not be afraid to use it again for the next. If you have a perfectly good resource from a previous project it is smarter to just reuse it than to create another one all over again. Due to the stress of wanting to create something new, animators may suffer from a creative block where you will feel unmotivated because everything is already done. Instead, do what you think is best and looks better. It does not matter how original it is, in art it is not about originality as much as it is about quality.
This article does not prove that proper time and resources are not as important in animation because it definitely is. However, it is a testament to the fact that if you do not have time and can not afford proper resources, you can still be a great animator. Don’t stress out, create your art in your own way. Don’t strive for originality but focus on quality and your work will be recognized.
Utilize all the shortcuts provided and make more if needed. Every second counts so even the smallest time saved can accumulate to hours. If you have available resources do not go looking for more different ones or making another yourself. If it is available, use it again and again, it is there for you to use. Lastly, keep your workspace clean and organized so it doesn’t disturb you, and just do what you do best.