Studio Ghibletz's Nathan Smith explains how Cartoon Animator 5 allows you to start animating your drawings to a professional level: no experience required!
As an illustrator, you've often dreamed of bringing your 2D drawings to life as animations. Not animated GIFs, but proper-looking cartoons, like you'd see on the TV. But you just don't know where to start.
Well, we'd recommend giving Cartoon Animator a try. Because you don't need any previous animation experience or special skills to use it. This friendly and easy-to-use software makes it a cinch to start animating your drawings, with a great range of free tutorials that walk you through the process.
But you don't have to take our word for it. We spoke to Nathan Smith to find out how he went from total newbie to becoming director of independent animation studio Studio Ghibletz, thanks to Cartoon Animator.
Nathan began using the software in late 2021 after seeing an ad for Cartoon Animator 4 online. "It seemed perfect because I wanted to make a cartoon, but I didn't know how to animate," he recalls.
"I don't have any kind of training as an animator. My background is in teaching," he continues. "I'd never even used Photoshop before. But I just saw the ads, and I gave it a try. And I was able to pick it up because it's very user-friendly software. It's perfect for people who have never animated before."
It proved to be a decision that fundamentally changed his life. "I still have the first character I created, and man, it looks terrible," he smiles. "But I'll always remember putting that character into Cartoon Animator, clicking on a little pre-built animation, and seeing this weird little character I'd made moving around the screen and dancing.
"That was just a magical moment because I had previously never thought I could animate. Don't get me wrong; it looks like garbage. But even so, to see it move around on the screen and to have made something animated myself was so very special."
But while Cartoon Animator is a great tool for beginners, it's not just a beginner's tool. In fact, the software is packed with advanced features, which means it's perfect for a smooth and efficient studio pipeline and for creating animations with high production values.
One of the highlights for Nathan is the automatic lip sync feature. "This is as straightforward as it sounds," he explains. "You just plug in your voice file, and it will automatically match the lip to the different parts of speech that people use, like your vowel sounds, and your letter sounds. It does this all with the press of a button, and what it creates automatically is very impressive. I'm a perfectionist, though, so I'll always go a little bit further with it: clean it up and add another layer of detail."
Another feature Nathan has found super-useful makes it easy to turn the heads of his characters smoothly and realistically. "They're called 3D heads in the software, and they're, honestly, as simple as moving the character around. Cartoon Animator 5 provides what's called a puppet tool, and you just move the head around with your mouse. They're super easy to use, and the concept is not really anything too difficult to wrap your head around either."
Recently, Nathan has been experimenting with using this functionality for a whole character rather than just a head. "I did a short about a little toaster called Floppy," he recalls. "He's bouncing around the obstacle course, and his whole body is a 3D head. Most of these characters only exist from one angle, but that little toaster, he can turn all the way around; he can turn his whole body around. It's kind of mimicking a 3D character but in a 2D space."
There are so many ways that Cartoon Animator 5 can speed up your workflow, but we'll take just one more: the colour adjuster. "Normally, you'd take one of your vector characters into an external editor like Illustrator," Nathan explains. "But the colour adjuster allows you to adjust the colours right there in Cartoon Animator.
"It's very easy: you just click the colour and choose what colour you want to change it to. And the colours are grouped. So, for example, with some of my alien characters, I can change the colour in the antenna, and it'll change that same colour on their whole body."
Advice for newbies
So what advice would Nathan offer to someone wishing to get started with animation with no previous experience? "The thing I would tell them is to just hunker down and do the tutorials," he responds. "Cartoon Animator have some great little tutorial videos, and really I only did the first 15 or 20. And by that point, I didn't need the rest of them; I was able to figure it out on my own from there. So there are several hours of tutorial videos in total, but if you watch three or four hours worth of it, you'll figure it out. It's not that difficult."
You can try out Cartoon Animator 5 for free for 30 days and get access to 1,700 pre-built resources. Get started with Cartoon Animator 5 today.