Mastering 2D Animation
4.4 (212 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
2,565 students enrolled

Mastering 2D Animation

Learn to be a master 2D animator, using hand-drawn and digital techniques.
4.4 (212 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
2,565 students enrolled
Created by Tony White
Last updated 1/2016
English [Auto-generated]
Current price: $27.99 Original price: $39.99 Discount: 30% off
5 hours left at this price!
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This course includes
  • 4 hours on-demand video
  • 10 articles
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • "Mastering 2D Animation: 01" will cover the following topics and many more...
  • A brief history of animation.
  • The production process of traditional 2D animation.
  • Overview of equipment required to create 2D animation, traditional and digital.
  • Principles of movement including weight, charting, squash and stretch.
  • How to execute a perfect, pencil-drawn ‘Bouncing Ball’.
  • How to execute a colored, digital bouncing ball in an entertaining vector-based, ToonBoom Studio supported environment.
  • How to animate a perfect hand-drawn ‘Generic Walk”.
  • How to animate a rigged, ToonBoom Studio character, walking through a vector-based digital environment.
  • Instruction on drawing techniques for animation.
  • Note: The course material also includes over 3 hours of digital instruction and the screening of Tony White’s 10-minute animated film homage to the rise and fall (and hopeful rise again) of the traditional animation industry – “Endangered Species”.
  • No academic prerequisites are required for this course, although a passion for drawing is always an advantage. Necessary equipment includes…
  • Pencils, punched animation paper, animation pegbar, basic lightbox and image capture device/software is required. •t(Note: Online animation suppliers are a good source for most of this equipment. A cheap beginners package can be found at “Lightfoot Limited” in the USA at A more durable, deluxe European-based kit can be found a “ChromaColor International” at
  • A current copy of the “ToonBoom Studio 8.0” software is required to complete the digital aspects of this course work. (Note: A discount for ToonBoom Studio software is available for students signing up for “Animation 101”… details upon request.)

Award-winning master animator, author and teacher Tony White offers 29 outstanding online tutorials on the core principles and techniques of 2D animation. Through extensive illustrated text-based lectures and over 4 hours of over-the-shoulder, apprentice-style video tutorials, Tony offers the finest foundation material possible in here presenting "Mastering 2D Animation"!

Each of Tony's tutorials embrace a comprehensive, step-by-step, apprentice-style of instruction, using both classically hand-drawn techniques and vector digital ones. Students should note that the core principles of movement taught in this course material however can always be applied to ALL forms of animation - from '3D' to 'Stop-frame', from 'Cut-out' to 'Claymation'! 

(Note: The digital elements of this course are demonstrated using ToonBoom Studio. However, ToonBoom Technologies have since replaced 'Studio' with 'Harmony Essentials'. So students are strongly advised to obtain a rudimentary knowledge of this software before studying the digital aspects in this course. That way they will be better able to translate the 'Studio' instructions with the 'Harmony Essentials' ones without too much trouble.)

Tony believes the 'apprenticeship' style of teaching is the ONLY way to really learn animation and that the instruction offered by some of the big, for-profit animation schools and colleges around the world is entirely inadequate for the modern professional world. Consequently, by literally drawing from his own early apprenticeship experiences with three of the finest master animators of all-time - Richard Williams (3 times Oscar winner), Ken Harris (Warner Brothers) & Art Babbit (Disney) - Tony has crafted here a series of unique and defining courses that are knowledgeable, accessible and perfectly suited to studies in a home-based environment.

Who this course is for:
  • Suitable for students of all interests but specifically...
  • Anyone seeking to make 2D animation his or her career objective.
  • Current students who want to supplement their existing animation course with the most comprehensive animation training available.
  • Existing professional animators who want to raise the level of their own work.
  • Professional artists and illustrators who want to see their drawings move.
  • Animation teachers who want to expand their knowledge of animation knowledge and teaching practices in the classroom.
  • Home-based enthusiasts who want to animate as well as they did in the golden days of Hollywood animation.
Course content
Expand all 31 lectures 05:56:50
+ A Brief History of 2D Animation
2 lectures 52:15
Learning from the past to build more successfully for the future:

"Endangered Species" is a personal animated homage I directed & animated a few years ago with the help of my students at the time. It was dedicated to the memory of Walt Disney and the classical moments of traditional animation history which have always had an impact on me and my career. The characters in the film have been re-designed to prevent copyright complications, using a disguised 'Arnie' template. However, the animated movements featured in the film are replicated as closely as possible to the original movie clips. A more detailed analysis of this film, it techniques and its context, can be found in a scene-by-scene basis on the disk that is included with my Focal Press book, "Animation from Pencils to Pixels ~ Classical Techniques for Digital Animators".

Preview 10:20
+ Establishing a 2D animation studio to work with
2 lectures 16:38

In the previous lessonwe looked briefly at animation’s past and saw your instructor's own personal animated homage to the classic moments of traditional animation that influenced his career and gave him a solid foundation of expertise to build upon. Now its time to learn how you can begin to make your own mark in this great tradition. This lecture give you a list of all the tools and equipment you’ll need to begin to become a great animator in your own right.

Preview 11:26

I've included this video here to introduce students to a current example of my work. The center section particularly provides an insight into how a traditional/digital 2D production need not have a predictable 'cartoon' approach.

Introduction and production overview of "Spirit of the Game" teaser:
+ The process of traditional 2D animation
1 lecture 14:29

This lesson outlines the actual process that all the best traditional animators take when creating their work. Every animator will have their own particular variations to it of course but what is outlined here will provide you with a solid overview of the ideal process. From it you can test it out and then eventually evolve your own personal approach as you gain further experience of what you want to do.

The basic 2D animation process:
5 lectures 01:26:17

We now get to the point where you will at last start your journey as an apprentice animator.

What will follow is a series of over-the-shoulder, stage-by-stage video lectures on how you can animate a basic 'Bouncing Ball'. In this sequence, you'll possibly learn the secrets of not only drawing animation for the first time but also some of the core principles of movement - such as 'gravity', 'squash' and 'stretch'.

These video's are uniquely made in such a way that its almost as if you'll a genuine apprentice animator from the old days in the industry - sitting at the shoulders of a master animator, learning first-hand as you go along. As has been said before, this has always been the best and only way of learning the core process of animation, after all is said and done!

Before all that though, let's quickly go over a brief, illustrated overview on the process of 'Bouncing Ball' animation. By doing this you'll be better prepared for the one-on-one video lectures that will follow.

Later, when your pencil-drawn Bouncing Ball exercise is complete, we'll move you on to the vector-based, 2D animation program, "ToonBoom Studio", where you'll ink and color your animation digitally, add a background of your choice and then render it out to become the first animated QuickTime movie clip you'll create on your exciting journey towards being an animation master!

Preview 06:09

This is the first 'apprenticeship-style' step you will take at the 2D Academy. Here you'll learn the foundational basics of the 'bouncing ball' action in as simple a way as possible. The instructions are designed to be easy to follow, so if all goes well your final 'bouncing ball' assignment will very quickly amaze you!

'Bouncing Ball' ~ first pass:

Having created your first, hopefully perfect, 'bouncing ball' it is now time to add a simple effect that will make your animation even more convincing. Here you'll learn the process of adding 'shadow' to your action - both on the ball itself and to the ground beneath it. This will provide more of a sense of spherical volume for the ball and a better contact with the ground when the ball lands on it.

Bouncing Ball - adding shadows:

This is where things get really interesting! Here you will import your 'bouncing ball' pencil-test into the "ToonBoom Studio" vector-based software to ink and color it. You'll also add a ground shadow to complete this particular lecture. Its amazing what even a little coloring can do to take your pencil-drawn animation to the next level!

Bouncing Ball in ToonBoom Studio ~ Part 01

Here you will learn to add a colored shadow to your actual ball layer artwork. You will then import a background into the proceedings to give it all a better sense of presence and location.

You'll then learn how to modify and adjust your animated ball and shadow within your chosen background - as you then animate the ball to bounce towards us in perspective.

Finally, you'll learn how to animate your ball bouncing across the screen, erratically, from right to left and against a different background. Its surprising how this too can give a greater sense cinematic personality to your ball action - which, after all, is only comprised of 6 really simple drawings!

TBS_Part 02
+ Tutorial: GENERIC WALK ~ the hand-drawn way:
7 lectures 01:14:38

Once upon a time in London...

At the beginning of my career I apprenticed with some of the greatest master animators ever _ i.e. Ken Harris (Warner Brothers - 'Bugs Bunny' & 'Roadrunner'), Art Babbit (The 'Tenth Old Man' of Disney animation in the golden era) and Richard Williams (3 times Oscar winner).

They all told me that the hardest thing to create convincingly in animation was a basic 'Generic Walk' action. The went on to tell me that if I could pull off a good, solid, generic walking action then I should be able to just about animate anything! This is because the principles involved in a good generic walk pretty much apply to everything else in animation. I was totally determined therefore to learn everything I could about walks - and the principles of animated movement - from that moment onwards!

The 'golden triangle' of mentors I apprenticed with at the beginning of my career - left lower, Richard Williams; center, Ken Harris; right/lower Art Babbit. Featured in orange is another great mentor I learned from at this time (1975) - Grim Natwick (creator/animator of "Betty Boop"). The fresh-faced kid in the white circle next to Grim, daunted by all this animation greatness around him, is 'yours truly' incidentally. Great, great times indeed!)

Now, your 2 'Generic Walk' exercises:

The following set of lectures are two definitive approaches to creating your own convincing 'Generic Walk'. We start with the classic, traditional, hand-drawn approach, then we follow that up with a definitive vector animation approach, possible through the ToonBoom Studio software technology.

Nowadays, I have also come around to the belief that it is fundamentally important for a student animator to know how to animate a good and convincing walking action before anything else. This is why it is offered here, virtually at the beginning of your long journey to animation mastery.

I would strongly advise that you tackle the traditional approach first, prior to taking advantage of the valuable shortcuts that ToonBoom Studio offers. 'Knowing it by drawing it' is the best way of the principles of animated movement really sink into your brain - and this will definitely enable you to raise the game of your animation to a much higher level in the final outcome.

That said, if you do struggle with drawing it is still perfectly possible to pull off a good generic walking action using the ToonBoom Studio approach alone. The choice is entirely yours. Although ultimately, the real secret of anything is in knowing WHAT you are doing - and WHY you are doing it and doing the drawn version definitely helps in this process!

Have fun with your animated 'generic walk' assignment...

How to animate a drawn 'Generic Walk'

With the 2 key stride positions in place, we now move on to create the position that is half-way between them - the passing position.

03 The 'Passing Position':

The firm foundation of any good walk action is fundamentally the animation of the legs and pelvic area. Upon these everything else is built. Consequently, here we will just focus on the leg action and establishing the 2 key stride positions.

02 The key stride positions:

Setting-up the first full-body, key stride position, from which everything else is developed.

01 Setting up the full body position:

To make the walk action look more dynamic and natural you now need to add eccentric foot positions to the movements at the front and the back of the stride action. These are therefore not just straight in-betweens. This lecture explains the mystery!

04 Eccentric Foot positions:

With the animation of the legs completed (and hopefully looking great) it is now time to add body and arms to the action. This will really start to make your walk look like a walk!

05 Adding the body and arms:

Here we will complete the entire walk action - giving it a greater sense of fluidity and flexibility at the same time. We'll do this by adding the head and hands and giving them overlapping action.

06 Adding the head and hands:
2 lectures 26:50

As inbetweening is a crucial part of the hand-drawn animation process, I think it would perhaps benefit students if I shared some of the instruction I learned when I was also a young apprentice myself. We start with this lecture I once recorded, which covers with the basic principles of inbetweening. Then we'll dig deeper into more advanced inbetweening, including superimposition.

Introduction to Inbetweening:

The art of inbetweening is a whole study in itself. Here you will observe the entire process of inbetweening two key drawings within a full-body Generic Walk cycle. Of special interest here is the invaluable technique of superimposition - which is rarely written about anywhere else, as it was really only ever demonstrated in the kind of apprenticeship studio environment that sadly no longer exists.

Advanced Inbetweening - with 'Superimposition':
+ GENERIC WALK - the ToonBoom Studio way:
6 lectures 01:02:54
First, download your ARNIE RIG!

Here you are introduced to both the ToonBoom Studio interface and the Arnie Rig. You will also learn how to create a key stride pose with your rig and add ground lines that will help with the generic walk animation later.

GW_TBS_Part 01:

Here you will create your opposite key strides in the walking action with both arms and legs - and then you will add the 2 passing positions. At the end of this section you should begin to see the first rudiments of your digital generic walk shaping up!

GW_TBS_Part 02:

Now you will be adding the extreme foot positions to your generic walk leg action - as you did before with the hand-drawn version.

GW_TBS_Part 03

Here you will be effectively completing your ToonBoom Studio generic walk by adding overlapping action to the hands and head. Woo-hoo!

GW_TBS_Part 04

And now the 'cherry on the top'! Finally you will be extending your walking action along the timeline - that is, beyond just the repeated looping action you had before. Then you will match this extended walk sequence to a panning background - so your character can walk bravely forward through an environment of your own choice.


GW TBS Part 05
+ Final advice for an Apprentice:
3 lectures 12:02
'Drawing for Animation' - a recommended assignment:

A simple video test like this will give you an initial idea of how the filmed element of your sequential drawing exercise is looking. Specifically, if all looks good, it will then enable you to move on to the next stage of final colored rendering.

Test video render of 'drawing assignment':

Here is the conclusion of this recommended drawing assignment. By adding color, lighting effects and music you can transform your initial drawing sketches into what might be considered as an interesting example of moving art.

"Chair Bach" - Final drawing exercise movie:
1 lecture 00:50
Testing yourself with the knowledge you now have...