Animation Station With Neil Patrick Harris | Jon Burgerman | Skillshare

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Animation Station With Neil Patrick Harris

teacher avatar Jon Burgerman, Artist and Illustrator based out of NYC

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Learning Experiment with Neil Patrick Harris


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About This Class

In our latest learning experiment, discover new talents with Neil Patrick Harris, as he learns to illustrate characters and animate scenes with Jon Burgerman.

Neil Patrick Harris is a multi-talented, Tony-winning actor, singer, and dancer, but he’s ready to explore new skills and discover hidden talents. In this one-on-one session with artist Jon Burgerman, Neil learns the basics of drawing and animation to create playful characters and bring them to life through digital animation using Procreate on an iPad. 

Together, they explore facial expressions, body shapes, and using paper scraps to inspire unexpected characters. Then, Neil takes his doodling to the next level and tries animating for the first time. Want to join in and work along with them? You can use a tablet with Procreate for animation, but you can also simply doodle along with some paper, something to draw with, and a passion for discovering your own hidden talents.  

Meet Your Teacher

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Jon Burgerman

Artist and Illustrator based out of NYC


I'm an award winning NYC based artist and illustrator. 

I encourage my audience and students to discover a sense of excitement and daring in making their work where improvisation and play are influencing factors.

I studied Fine Art at The Nottingham Trent University, graduating in 2001 with First Class Honours. In 2008 my 300 page monograph entitled 'Pens Are My Friends' was published by IdN, collating the first 7 years of my professional career.

My work has graced many international brand collaborations (including Nike, New Era, Sony, Puma, Kidrobot, Pepsi, Levis, MTV, Samsung), exhibitions and events around the world (including the Southbank Centre London, Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona, Neurotitan Berlin, 798 District Beijin... See full profile

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1. Trailer: I'm Neil Patrick Harris, actor, singer, Tony winner. But today, I'm going to learn to draw and animate thanks to Skillshare. Where do we start? Let's start with the pen. Let's start with a character. Will you teach me how to draw a rabbit? A rabbit? This is good. What about a figure jumping into the water? This is so fun. Can't wait to teach this to my kids as well. Explore your creativity at 2. Learning Experiment with Neil Patrick Harris: Hey, I'm Neil Patrick Harris, actor, singer, dancer, Tony winner. But today I am going to learn to draw and animate thanks to Skillshare. Here we go, Jon. Hi, Neil. How are you? I'm excellent man, thank you. I'm excited to be doing this. I'm very excited to meet you and thanks for joining me. Let's make some stuff. I don't even know what we're going to be making. Honestly, I knew I should make a plan, but you got to have room for improvisation, I feel. I want to learn how to illustrate things because I have twin kids. They're both 10, a boy and a girl, and I feel like I need to step up my skillset. Where do we start? Let's start with a drawing. Let's start with the pen. Let's start with a character. This is my sketch book. This is where all my work begins in a little notebook like this. That's amazing. You'll see here are some drawings that I've made previously, and then they become different things. I like the taco man. Like this egg might become a sticker. Any little drawing here can become a painting or teacher or animation. I'm competent with the drawing of the face, that seems like I can do the face. It's then turning it into the body. Oh, all right. Then it feels like a balloon that's deflating. It starts off as a great idea and then it suddenly becomes sad. I think that's the skill that I need. Let's draw a face, and then we're going to give it a body. I have no pencils, I just have markers which seems very dangerous. Where we're going, we don't need erasers. What happens if I screw up and I need to tell you just rip off the page and start? There is no screwing up. Look around you, this is all screw up. The great thing about working in a sketchpad, if you don't like a thing, you just turn it over and you never have to see again. Nice. I always start with some eyeballs. Beautiful. See, you're almost there. Mine looks pretty frightened already. Drew any kind of shape around it like so. He's rotund. He's bigger than I had imagined. It's all right. That's why he's so sad, look at him. Let's experiment some body type stuff. Now, you might have some colored paper, tear it there, let's see what happens. Don't think about it, just like tasks and shapes. Once you've got some little shapes, we can start placing them below our head. That's cool. We could start to think about different body shapes you might want to give it. I love it. All right. That's a nice little kebab leg. I don't like this guy, I'm starting over. But the thing about this is that you get to try it all out and not have to worry. Yeah, worrying about having to undo. I love that. Construction paper is the best. It's just a thing of joy, I find. How does that feel to you? Is that the body of your dreams? It's the body I've always wanted. It's just to find shapes maybe in our muscle memory. I think when we do it all and we draw a lot, we don't really think about it. We stick to what we know and it's like human nature to break out of those things. Sometimes it's good to just work in a different material thing, and then we might unlock some new shapes. Will you teach me how to draw a rabbit? A rabbit? Magic is my hobby, and I thought like to be able to master a rabbit, even if it's a cartoon rabbit, in a top hat or something like that. That will be upskill that I would actually used. I tear a v out, to make some ears. Have you ever pulled a rabbit out a hat? I have. Yeah. I'm into this, but now it becomes complicated of getting this back onto this. We could either draw around it and going over the edge a little bit. That's very rabbity. It's much more rabbity than mine. Yes. But here's when this is now I'm in a standstill. Because I have this outside shape that I like of rabbit, but I'm terrified of where I put the eyes and the nose. So again, it's just trying out and we can even cut out some circles. These will be our eyes. I do love this idea of using scraps of paper to set what it is that you're going to do before you do it. Yeah, you can start playing around with, maybe I'll move the eyes, tear per part or they should overlap, and you can see how that changes the expression of your character. What does a rabbit's mouth look like? Rabbits have big teeth, like that. Oh, yeah. I love the tube. That's a great idea. Now we can have a little rabbit puppet show. Hello, Neil, how are you? I'm okay that's crawling under here. Or you could just give it a different body altogether. This is good. Is it? Okay, the pen will guide you. That's it. Feel the rabbit, be the rabbit. I think this is wonderful. Do you? Yeah. I think drawing is always bear when they're just from the hall. Look at that cute little body. That's great. I think that's wonderful. That's like an early model. Creepy. Now he's happier. I wish we could make him move around some. Have you ever experimented animating anything before? I feel like it's much more challenging than my bandwidth is capable of. So we're going to start with real basic stuff. We use your rabbit, made it's inspiration. We're going to use an iPad. If you've got a helmet, you might want to put it on because we're going to go. The first thing we're going to do, we've got a little new bar has appeared and there's a little rectangle. That's the first frame of our animation. We're going to do the absolute basics we just draw one of your favorite shapes, and we'll draw it slightly towards the left hand side of the screen. Then you've seen that button toolbar that we opened up? That's a thing that says Add frame. You're going to hit that. Now the drawing that you just made, that circle is slightly grayed out. That's what it's called onion skinning. That's a previous frame, it allows us to see what we used to draw. Now let's draw another circle on the opposite side of the screen. If we hit play, super basic, but something is missing. So we're going to go back to that first frame and hit "Add frame." Then we could draw a circle in-between those two circles, and hit play. A little bit smoother? Yeah. The principles of animation really is; now you would go back in and draw lots of circles going from left to right, and you would have this smooth role. Now this time, instead of drawing a circle, let's draw like a stretched out circle that kind of overlaps those two circles a little bit. This is a technique called stretch. So when we hit play now we have this idea that the circle is moving so quick that it has blur to it. That is basically everything I know about animation. It's amazing. Thank you so much. If we go to the middle frame again and hit "Add frame," what we could do is then draw a circle that's going to overlap the final circle in the middle circle, but go halfway. You see now the circle looks like it's slightly coming to a stop. That's cool. When you're doing this, is the smart call to do the first frame then the last frame, and then fill in between, is the way you're heading, or do you just go sequentially? Normally, what animators would do is they would draw the key poses. I see. We would have the starting position of the character or the object, and maybe the final position, and then those drawings are called the in-between drawings. We know where we start and we know where we want to end up. Then the fun is working out how to get there. What about a figure jumping into the water? Okay. Do you know what I mean? Like a little squat thing that can go [inaudible] and then drop in, and then [inaudible] at the bottom. Why not? Let's give it a go. Let me see what I have in my toolbox. What can I recommend? Gel pen. I'm all for the gel pen. I wish it well. I think it's a great pen. It's just not a pen for all occasions. Hey, I have a question. Yeah. Within this, can you draw something and then have it exists in all of the frames, all of the subsequent frames? This is amazing, yes. You can, it's called a background. What's it going to be leaping from? From the top of a cliff into water. Let's draw, on one side, our cliff. I'm going to put a bit of grass and then there's going to be some water at the bottom. Yeah, you've surpassed me. The student has become the master. Let's toggle on background. This is now the background? Yes. No matter how many, whatever frames we put on, that's going to stay the same, static. Okay. Let's draw the character that's going to make the leap. That is our starting position. Okay. I'm loving what you're doing. I think we will do the end position and then we'll go and do the middle one in a sec. Great. Now, we'll go back one frame and add a frame. So this will be our middle one. I want you to imagine the arc that the blob is going to take into the war. For me, it would be like that shape. I'm going to put my blob somewhere in that imagined arc. What I'd like you to do, stretch your blob, like we did with the all drawing earlier. You've already done it. You sure you've not done this before? I haven't. But I'm digging it. This is cool. Yeah, it's really fantastic thing that's come about. Now if you take the pen and so go back and forth along the bottom, this is what animators do a lot as well. Just to give you a sense of the motion, you can see it with the onion skinning anyway. Let's go back and start filling in those in-between frames and we can add the face at the end. This is so cool and way simpler than I thought. Yeah, don't let Disney tell you that it's all difficult and stuff. Just about to reach impact. Wait, give me two more frames. I just want to connect this long one here to the squat one at the end. Now I've got the blob do jumping and [inaudible] , but I don't have water splashing. So you can see on my one, that is the impact. I drew some little blue splashes. Okay. I'm done. I think I'm done. You think you're done? All right. Well, I was going to say let's animate the splash, but there, you've done it. You've just made it already. I've got nothing more to teach you. Can I press Play? This is so exciting. I had mine do a flip in the middle. What? Flip is meant to be the next lesson. How have you just gone ahead here? This is so fun. Yours is amazing too. Well, it's very kind, but mine doesn't do a flip. I'm very disappointed. That's amazing, from a circle to blob man taken a dive into shark-infested waters. Amazing. That is so cool. I can't wait to do this more often, but I can't wait to teach this to my kids as well. Yeah, they're going to love it. They're going to love this. What a fun thing to do. Now, what? What do you do with this? Is this just a fun diversion or can you turn this into a GIF? I'm glad you're curious as to what we can do with it. In Procreate, there's a way to export it as a GIF or as a movie, so then you can start posting it or sharing it. All right. I'm exporting. I'm exporting too, and I'm going to save that to the camera roll or wherever it is on the iPad. I hope there's not a lot of weird photos on this iPad. This is right before Ashton Kutcher jumps out as an accorder and it says I've been punked. I can tell. There it is. Look at this. How much time do you spend as a professional illustrator and animator? How much time do you spend in the actual drawing with actual markers versus using the pen and the tablet now? When I'm at work in my studio, I'm all analog, and that's the stuff you see around me. I see. But I love using the iPad on this as well, different tools for different things. I loved the idea of making fun, little, clever GIFs. It has little guy scaling something. That's hilarious. That Jeff Bezos coughing up money. Nice. But this is what often happens when teaching basic animation. We could all leave now. I think Neil, we've lost him now to animation. I'm loving this. He's gone down the rabbit hole. A lot of this stuff is, okay, these are the real simple parameters of how to make an animation. Then the creativity isn't necessarily learning all the different options. It's what you put into it. It's like, "Okay, well, I can move objects on the table and take photographs." That's loads. Now, what objects do I have? What can I add to that? This is so fun. I can't wait to apply this in all kinds of different weird ways. I'm on social media some, but my only toolbox would be an image, a picture that I'm taking or a video that I'm making myself or something. But what you're doing right now, I could see it having an editorial vibe, so you could take something that's happening and take a picture of it, and then animate it in a way that makes it have some, I don't know, political slant or comedic slant. Definitely. I learned new tools for just coming up with free association drawings. I learned to draw a rabbit. Then I learned all about Procreate, which I was really excited for, and I had no idea I would even be excited for it. Then learned how to animate, make a stop motion film. That's a lot of lesson. It's a lot of lesson. Well played. I'm a little tired now. Well, thank you very much for opening up your home and joining me here. My pleasure. Thank you very much. You're very welcome. I just hope that you learned some stuff and that you're excited about making stuff, because no matter what it is, I think it's such a powerful feeling to be excited about creativity. You're a fantastic teacher. Thank you. You've taken to this like a blob to water.