As a mentor of the 2D animation courses at CG Spectrum—an online training center—Hubert Lapointe (Rick and Morty, Solar Opposites) knows a thing or two about e-learning. With years of experience, including his own educational pursuits, Hubert shares his core tips on how to optimize learning animation online.
Although Hubert's article uses animation-specific examples, his advice still applies on a more general level, no matter your career path.
Hubert is a 2D Animator, Online Educator, and Founder/Creative Director of Bon Jam Animation with over a decade of experience. He's had the privilege of working on hit TV series and animated films and completed contracts with dozens of freelance clients.
Read his informative short piece below. (Originally published on LinkedIn.)
I've been a 2D animation mentor at CG Spectrum now for two years and am beyond grateful for the chance to give back to the animation community by teaching the new wave of artists.
I’ve always been a big fan of online learning. When I was just starting out as an animator, the internet was how I gained my first tips and tricks from actual artists working in the industry. This access to quality knowledge was pure fuel for both my creativity and my capacity to envision a positive artistic future for myself.
Now, reflecting back—after mentoring dozens of students and my own personal venture into online learning—I’ve come to realize that apart from the quality of the material you’re learning from, there are two major components that will influence a good deal of the outcome of your educational journey:
- Time commitment
- Attention commitment
Animation is a very process-oriented craft; you learn—in part, yes—by watching, listening, and analyzing but mostly by doing, experimenting, and feeling.
You can watch all the YouTube tutorials, you want but you’ll only be as good as your muscle memory and pattern recognition, which can only be built and strengthened over hours and hours of messing around with your pencil, mouse, or stylus.
You have to practice your craft so much that you eventually recognize when you’re doing the right thing and when you’re way off. Like anything in the good old analog world, the physical experience cannot simply be thought of; it has to be lived through.
Without full attention, e-learning can quickly become mindless binge-watching. Again, you can watch as many lessons as you want, but you have to be invested in internalizing the information given to you.
Attention commitment is also important because art is sometimes hard to get. You’re not just trying to learn facts, you’re trying to understand why something good is "good" and how you can replicate that yourself by using a technique that you’re most likely still exploring.
Doing will make you good, but understanding what you are doing will make you great.
That being said, I think it’s important to try to keep things as simple as possible, so to all online students out there, here are two tips that will help you make the most out of your e-learning experience:
- Plan & Track your time
- Create a learning-friendly space for yourself
Plan & Track your time
Every week, plan in advance how much time you think you’ll be spending on learning this week, decide when you’ll be allocating that time, and then—this is very important—WRITE IT DOWN (preferably in a calendar).
Every time you finish a practice or learning session, make sure to write down how much time you spent. If you ever need to skip one of those sessions, find a new time on the calendar and commit to that new schedule (extra points if you write down the reason for you skipping that session as well, it's a precious way to analyze yourself and your potential patterns).
At the end of every week, take a moment to assess how well you did, compared to the initial schedule you had made, and plan for the week ahead.
This might sound a bit technical or boring, but, trust me, it will help you build the discipline you need to become a great artist.
Create a learning-friendly space for yourself
Keeping your learning environment free of distractions (phone, computer notifications, other people, etc.) will be the superweapon that could make or break your learning experience.
Create a space that feels conducive to learning and practicing your art — customize the layout to your liking. Also ensure the temperature is comfortable, that you have some water nearby, and that other basic workspace requirements (good chair, desk, etc.) are met.
Make sure you want to sit in your designated space for the time you’ve allocated in your calendar, and once you're locked in, don’t start adding distractions by watching videos online or playing with your phone.
Our minds need to be bored and free of excess noise to properly soak up all the new information we’re ingesting.
Whether you’re watching a lesson or doing an assignment, this time has to be a 100% dedicated to you learning something new.
Good luck and happy e-learning!
For more great advice from Hubert, check out our recent interview with him on The CG Spectrum Podcast.
You can also head to Hubert's website Bon Jam Animation, his LinkedIn, and IMDB, and follow him and his studio, Bon Jam Animation, on Instagram (@bonjam.ca and @hubert.lapointe).
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