How to get ideas for animation

How to get ideas for animation

Are you learning how to animate but struggle to decide what to animate? I have way too many ideas and too little time to create them all. So let me share my 7 of my inspiration sources so that you also become abundant with inspiration and ideas!

This inspiration for this video came from one of your comments on the video "How to animate a cartoon dragon flying" where I was asked to share beginner level animation ideas:


I love getting comments from you because it makes me feel connected to you and inspired to create more content, just like in the series where I am creating creative characters from your comments.  

First of all, if you have decide to learn to animate that is awesome! It can be such a rewarding hobby and it is one of my favourites for sure!

In this video, instead of giving you a list of specific ideas, I will rather show you where and how you can find ideas so that you never run out of inspiration. And to ensure you get to animating your ideas I'll also share a few additional tips.


Keep in mind...

The most important thing to keep in mind is that whatever it is that you animate, you MUST love or at least be interested in what you are animating. Tradigital (= Traditional animation made with digital mediums like a drawing tablet) Animation means redrawing and redrawing and redrawing the same thing over and over with minor changes. So it can feel tedious and repetitive if you don’t enjoy what you are drawing. So throughout the suggestions I share, keep this in mind.

Inspiration Source #1: Existing curriculums & exercises

If you don’t want to give it much thought, I recommend sites like this one from Animation Island. They have a list of 51 exercises with increasing difficulty, ideal for beginners that want to improve their skills.  

Here are a few examples of the exercises I did based on this curriculum:

1. Ball bouncing in place (loop)

2. Ball Bouncing across the screen

3. Brick falling from a shelf onto the ground

I started doing these and plan on doing more, but there was a factor of fun or motivation that I was missing. Other types of exercises motivate me more, so I have been coming up with my own ideas. 

There are other sites that can help you find inspiration like:

  • FramebyFrame where short animation scenes are broken down into frames so you can recreate them, or
  • Animation competitions such as the one from 11 Second Club who upload monthly a new audio transcript to which you can create an animation. It is like using a prompt. And you don't have to compete if you don't want to, so don't let that scare you! 

Inspiration Source #2: Movies, Games & Music

Take inspiration from movies, games and music videos that you love. You will watch them anyway, so why not get inspired by them too. They don’t have to be animated movies at all. 

Here are a few examples of scenes that I want to animate: 

  • The Tom Cruise scene from Top Gun Maverick where he jumps from a cliff on a bike. Like Wow, how amazing was that?!
  • Animate from Mario from Super Mario hitting a question mark block or a fatality or move from your favourite Mortal Kombat character
  • How about you recreate a scene from your favourite music video or a trending dance like the Spongebob Dance

Inspiration Source #3: Sports

Sports are great because they can be quite repetitive in their movement and therefore it is an easy looped animation you can create. For example I created Ivan, the gym nut who is working on his biceps.

 Ivan the gym nut

Outside of the gym, sports that are suitable for beginners could be golf, formula 1 cars, dirt bikes on a track, long or high jumps and so much more. Check out sports competitions, the Olympics and adrenaline rich sports like bungee jumping or sky diving.

What is important is to look for isolated movements where there aren't too many actions happening at the same time if you are a beginner. For example, I'd stay away from MMA, boxing or other fight scenes because there are many movements happening at the same time plus there are multiple characters. 

Inspiration Source #4: Concepts from your existing art

Maybe you already created a concept as a drawing, then why not turn it into an animation?! Here are a few of my drawings, that I think could be easily turned into an short animation or that I have already turned into one:

You can see this cute underwater animation of a leather back turtle on my homepage which is inspired by the leather back turtle from the colouring book "Panama".

This humpback whale, also from the colouring book "Panama" could be easily turned into an animation where it jumps into the water and then breaths out air.

For a non animal example, we have Pierre who is a bit of a grumpy characters. Taking his vibe, he could be animated by nodding or walking with his hands in his pockets and a lowered head to match the attitude.


This rough animatics is inspired by the toucan which I am animating as a Trailer for the Travel Via Art video series, where I take armchair travellers and travel lovers on a world tour through art.

Animals are also a great inspiration source as you can see in my examples!

Inspiration Source #5: Trailers and Openings

I watch a lot of K-Dramas and they often have these really cool and often simple-looking animations for the intro. They often capture the content of the show in an abstract way.

This is different from taking existing scene from a movie, game or song as shared in the inspiration source #1. In #1, we are simply recreating an exact scene. In this inspiration source, we are taking a concept of a TV show, movie or song and summarising is as an animation. This requires a bit more creativity from your side.

Here are a few cute openings:

Inspiration Source #6: Seasonal & Cultural Events

Take inspiration from seasonal and cultural events. You have seen me do this with the Lunar New Year with a dragon animation and the Irish Dancer animation for St. Patrick’s Day that is celebrated here in Ireland. 


Other examples could be Mother’s day which was just last weekend in Ireland, so you could have animated a mother rocking a sleeping baby or Easter is coming up, so you could animate a hopping bunny or a chick bursting from a chocolate egg. And this doesn’t have to be religious if you don’t want it to be.

At high level, you could learn how to animate candles with the Indian Diwali festival, or learn how to animate an object floating with the lantern festivals from Vietnam. There are so many beautiful things that can inspire you from cultures all around the world.

You can start by checking out the holidays of your country or the world (link in description) and see what inspired you.

Inspiration Source #7: Everyday activities

Are you a coffee lover, a foodie, a gamer, an craftsperson… what do you love doing? Take those everyday activities and try to animate them. You could animate:

  • a coffee pot brewing coffee
  • a person twisting the fork in the spaghetti Bolognese
  • a gamer playing an ego shooter game
  • a sewing machine sewing a fabric with the needle going up and down. 

The key point is that it is an activity that you have seen or done a million of times so you can easily recreate it from memory.

Even mundane activities like hoovering, a washing machine shaking, filling up a glass of water, etc can be animated. You could even animate a person chilling in bed pressing on a remote controller watching Netflix!

Just look around you, maybe your next animation project is looking you right in the face!

Additional Tips:

Write down your ideas

When inspiration strikes, write down your ideas. I have a google sheet where I keep all my ideas and I even categorise them. But in the moment, I often just use Google tasks to track them and once I am on my computer I add it to my large list.

This helps me centralise all my animation ideas, so that when I have time to animate I can start animating immediately without having to brainstorm. 

Don't wait too long
Don’t wait too long to create your animation. If you are like me, when inspiration strikes that is when I am most excited and motivated to create it. The longer I wait to start the animation, the less motivated I get. 

If you are interested in reading more about creative ideas, an interesting book I can recommend is Big Magic: How to Live a Creative Life, and Let Go of Your Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

She talks about ideas as if they are personified, so as if they are a person and have feelings. I remember her explaining something along the lines that ideas want to be created/published and that if you don’t create them, they will eventually present themselves to another creator in the hopes that they get created by them. 

Break down your animation
Break down to the animation to your animation skills. There is nothing more demotivating than to tackle a project that is just going to make you want to rip your hair from your head. 

I hope you are now inspired with your next animation project! Continue commenting on my Youtube Videos so that I can create more useful content for you. 

Checkout my animation tutorials or watch my 2D animations next.

Have fun animating!

Disclosure: Some of the links provided in this video description are affiliate links, meaning I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through these links. Your support helps me create more content. Thank you!