5 Free Online Resources Every Animator Needs to Bookmark

While there are thousands of free resources for animators out there, we’ve scoured the net in search of some of the best! Below are five of our personal favorites.

1) Free Life Drawing Sessions

There’s no discussion when it comes to whether life drawing is essential to improving your animation. Even Disney – the biggest animation studio in the world – has been holding regular life drawing sessions for its animators since 1932, when Art Babbitt began hosting sessions in his home.

However, if you don’t have access to in-person life drawing sessions, there are a number of online ways you can practice.

Line of Action is one website dedicated to offering life drawing sessions for free.

Their extensive image library has endless photos on a variety of subjects to study:

  • humans (including hands, feet, and expressions)
  • animals
  • shapes
  • still life
  • environments.

You can even set up your own session to include poses that last 30 seconds, 60 seconds, one minute, five minutes, etc.

And, if you’re feeling rusty, they also offer an easy guide on how to get started with life drawing – including how to draw the line of action, capture the limbs, ribcage, and more.

They also offer an upgraded subscription if you’re looking to narrow down their search filter options even more.

2) Free Feedback on Your Character Performances and Lip Syncs

If you’ve ever sent out a demo reel to studios, you know how silent they can be with feedback.

Luckily some online places are very generous when it comes to critiquing your character performances and lip syncs.

The 11 Second Club is one of those places. With over 1.5 million members, it’s most likely you’ve heard of them before. 

Each month they release an audio clip of dialogue and invite anyone to create an animated performance to it. The winner receives a full session of professional critique on their animation.

Even if you don’t win, completing the monthly challenge is an excellent way to practice your character performance and lip sync skills. You can also seek feedback on their active discussion board where members often critique each other’s work.

And even though their online forum has grown considerably since, total monthly entries rarely surpass 200, meaning entrants have a decent chance of winning the monthly competition.

3) Free 3D Models for Any Modeling Software

Have you ever wondered how some independent CG animators can create fully rendered environments lush with thousands of different assets – trees, telephone poles, cars, etc.?

It’s very likely they didn’t sculpt all those assets themselves. Instead, they probably downloaded them for free from a site like TurboSquid.

TurboSquid offers thousands of free 3D models for immediate download. They have models of absolutely anything you can think of: people, plants, vehicles, food, structures, etc. – you name it!

Simply filter their search criteria and download whatever asset you like in seconds.

You can even create an account and upload your own assets to offer for free (or for pay and make some money too).

4) Free TV and Film Character Model Sheets

Ever wanted to see the concept artwork and model sheets behind your favorite animated films and shows?

TraditionalAnimation.com has curated a collection of over one hundred model sheets and concept artworks of characters from popular films and TV series like Yosemite Sam, Ghost in the Shell,  Aladdin, and even the Berenstain Bears.

It’s a great resource for refining your character models to be animation-ready since you can study exactly how the pros have done it.

If you explore their website further, they’ve even collected a number of pencil tests from famous animators as well – like a number of character moments from The Lion King’s Scar by animator Andreas Deja.

5) Free Movie Scene Studies

If you’ve ever storyboarded anything, you know how important it is to study cinematography.

You need to fully understand scene composition, lighting, perspective, dialogue dynamics, and a good grasp of basic movie color palettes.

Animation Screencaps is an excellent resource that helps with all of this. Their website has curated a library of over 800 animated films – frame by frame.

Using this free resource, you can go through an entire movie quite literally frame-by-frame to do things like:

  1. Reverse engineer how shots were set up
  2. Understand editing choices 
  3. Learn frame composition
  4. See how color palettes play out from shot to shot
  5. Learn cutting choices for action/dialogue/etc. scenes
  6. Learn when to use wide/medium/close-up/etc. shots
  7. See character acting choices and when shots cut on action
  8. Learn character posing
  9. And more

Want to learn more? Check out our Maya Animation course

A complete course for animating with the industry-leader software Maya. It includes over 30 video lessons that will take you from scratch to animating your first scene. We cover setting up your shot, keyframing, motion paths, and much more.