Animate like the pros with your own home made animators desk!
An animator's desk is special because they have one extra little item over any other desk a box of glass with a light in it. What could they possibly use that for? Simple with the light under a bundle of paper you can see through up to 7 papers at once! By doing this they can "see" how to draw each frame and make their subjects move the way they want them to.
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Step 1: Type of Desk to Look For.
The type of desk you'd want to look for would have a large flat surface maybe even a large slightly angled surface, like a drafting table. You also want shelves and or drawers. my desk has two shelves underneath that I use to hold my paper and drawn up frames.
Step 2: Tools an Materials
You'll needs some tools and materials in order to construct this.
drill and 1/4 inch drilling drill bit
tools to take apart your desk in my case an alen wrench.
light fixture , obtained from an old fishy tank.
Glass or plexiglass sheet easily obtainable from picture frames or scanner beds.
2 coat hangers
10 screws and maybe 10 washers
Elmer's or gorilla Glue anything that will bond with glass and wood.
card board box about 6 inches tall and big enough to hold a piece of paper
tape ducttape is best.
Step 3: Getting a Perspective.
The first picture shows your goal.
1.Measure the exact with of your desks surface, Divide that by 2 ,and voila you have the exact middle area of your desk. mark that out on the top and bottom of the drawing surface.
2. measure your pane of glass, divide that number by 2 and the number you get needs to be where you place the yard/meter stick. Mark a point on 0 and on the number you got when you measured your pane of glass
3. do the same thing but for the top half of the desk this time.
4. position the glass exactly with one edge on the right line and one edge on the left line.
5.Slide the pane of glass up and down the desk to find your comfortable spot. I put mine in like 4 inches ,from the edge.
6.you should now have 4 points exactly perpendicular to each other, take your strait edge and make lines between each point,
7.From each edge of your rectangle measure into the rectangle 1/2 inch or one cm, make 2 marks on each edge.
8.then draw out the lines you should now have a perfect rectangle inside a perfect rectangle
("umm define perfect?" if you're thinking this id say go back and restart from the beginning.)
Step 4: Cuttin Time!
1st drill out each corner in the ..::inner::.. rectangle pic 1 and 2.
Now get out that jig saw and have at it.... meaning be carfull and follow the lines as well as you can from each corner to corner.
Step 5: Glue on Your Glass
Line the 1/2 inch "road" with glue and then carfully place the glass on top.aligning it with your rectangle mark as perfectly as humanly possible.
Stack up a few books/weights on top and let it dry, or to make things go faster, tape the edges of the glass to the desk and then flip the desk over and move to the next step.
Step 6: Frost You Glass
You can do this 2 different ways ether get some sand paper and just scrub like there's no tomorrow, or tape on some paper towels, I did both but the sanding sure didn't do much, it would be more effective with plexie glass.
Step 7: Adding the Light Fixture
Get out your coat hangers, pliers, and screws with washers.
1st straiten out the coat hangers, now hook the ends of the hangers like a fishing hook.
Note: If you've got wood you're worried about splitting pre-drill the holes out with a small drill bit ,then add the screws.
Now wrap screw one end of the coat hanger on one corner, stretch it to the center and wrap it around your light fixture. (if you have one like I do ) if you're using a tube light im pretty sure there's holes on each corner for this exact purpose if not I'm sure you can drill some. If you must just go from the bottom right corner to the top right, do the same with the other side.
Lay the light across the wires and tape it on, or if you can find a better way to secure it by all means do so. Make sure its not sagging more than 6 inches under your glass.
Step 8: Reflective Caseing.
It's important to keep your project protected as well as increasing it's functionality, so We'll be putting a case around what we just build made from card board and tin foil!
Get a card board box around he same with and depth as your pane of glass preferably a little smaller 1-3 inches smaller is fine so we can angle the edges and make it uber strong. It should be about 6 inches tall just tall enough to where nothing from The light fixture touches it.
Cut out each vertical edge to the corner of the box so you can lay it flat and it would be some what of a + shape.
Line the inside with tin foil! the more 50s it looks the better!
Tape all the foil down make a few double sided tape pieces in the center. and line each edge with ducttape.
Drill in a couple screws on each edge.
Step 9: Put Your Desk Back Together.
You're the only one who knows how you took it apart so dont expect help from me....
Step 10: Final Thoughts.
Now that you have a self built light box as good as any other how do I use it?
Hmm interesting question , fortunately I have a few good answers, get some paper and a pencil draw out your first frame of the animation then go from there! I like to use a bag clip with a rubber grip on it to hold my pages completely perfectly square, It takes a lil' bit of prep work but without it I don't see how I could ever animate anything.
Better to have those chips go stale then to fudge up your animation. ;)
The more advanced answer would be, Plan your animation/movie I wouldn't start a movie jsut yet if I were just starting out try making a stick figure run, that's a challenge in it's self.
So what do I do when i finish drawing all my frames?
I'm not the best one to answer that but what you can do is set up a tri pod tape it to the ground/table lay out your papers and make some sort of vice you can place each paper and they will always be in the same exact spot, you don't want your animation to be bouncing around all crazy. There's a lot of tutorials on the web for doing this in fact there's one right in our own back yard
If you have any questions leave a comment :D