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Workplace animator - animation desk

Introduction

A collection of various Animation Desk designs as reference for those shopping for a desk or as inspiration for do-it-yourself builders who want to make their own.


Workplace animator - animation desk

Wooden animation disc with metal peg bars, from Alan Gordon Enterprises.

Workplace animator - animation desk

Allenwood Director desk

Allenwood made desks for studios such as Warner Bros. Feature Animation and Dreamworks . They are no longer in business ,but these photos of their products might be helpful for someone wanting to build their own desk.

Workplace animator - animation desk

This popular model of Animation Disc made by ChromaColour is available in both 16 Field and 12 Field size. They are made from black plexiglass , with white translucent plexiglass window. The peg bars are black plexiglass, too, but the actual pegs are made from brass.

Workplace animator - animation desk

Allenwood Pro desk

Workplace animator - animation desk

Another version of the Allenwood Pro desk

Workplace animator - animation desk

Download animated drawing table Jim MacCauley

Plans for building a portable Animation Desk by Jim MacCauley (former teacher at Sheridan College) . This has the disc hole properly off-set to leave room on the right side for an exposure sheet or model sheets. (left-handed animators simply reverse the plans to leave space on the left).

Workplace animator - animation desk

ChromaColour Portable Animation Desk with 12 Field disc on the right, Wacom Tablet and computer monitor to the left in this well-designed compact workspace on an "L" shaped work bench. Stacked document trays from an office supply make for low-profile, inexpensive scene stackers to store animation drawings .

Bluth deskWorkplace animator - animation desk

Example of an inbetweener's desk from Fox/Bluth Animation . Shelf space is always a plus, so this built-in scene stacker , with drawers below for storing supplies or personal items is a nice feature of this desk. The wide tabletop is leaves room on both sides of the disc area to clip on model sheets or exposure sheets.

Briefcase animation table

Workplace animator - animation desk

CartoonCarpentry's version of portable ("briefcase) animation table. The use of modern cabinet hardware to allow it to be adjusted to different angles is a nice touch .

Chomet - 1

Workplace animator - animation desk

In this photo we see Director/Animator Sylvain Chomet animating on his film 'The Triplets of Belleville" using a tabletop portable animation table resting on top of a larger work bench . You can see how the back-light unit is attached to the underside of the table, behind the animation disc.

Chomet - 2

Workplace animator - animation desk

An over the shoulder shot of Sylvian Chomet animating on his film "The Triplets of Belleville" . He is using a translucent white Plexiglass (aka "Perspex") animation disc. This style of disc has become a favorite of both professional animators and student animators . It is relatively inexpensive compared to traditional metal discs and is light-weight and easy to turn in the hole and to carry around.

Chromacolour portable - 1


Workplace animator - animation desk

ChromaColour's version of a portable, table-top animation desk. This style of desk can be placed on any freestanding table and the angle is adjustable to three different degrees of angles with the hinged support legs on the back . A fluorescent back-light unit is placed behind the disc , or a low-wattage incandescent light bulb in a clip-on lamp can be used as a backlight. Some versions come with a back light unit pre-intstalled.

Chromacolour portable - 2

Workplace animator - animation desk

Another view of the ChromaColour portable desk , front and back.

Chromacolour portable - 3

Workplace animator - animation desk

ChromaColour portable desk from the side and front , showing the popular 16 Field animation disc that ChromaColour sells . This style of desk would be improved by adding an extension to have space to clip-on an Exposure sheet .

Colin Johnson desk

Workplace animator - animation desk

Colin Johnson of Vancouver, BC makes a portable animation desk that comes with the Plexiglass animation disc and a fluorescent back light unit. Johnson's desks are much less expensive than similar desks sold by other companies.

Colin Johnson desk - 2

Workplace animator - animation desk

One of Colin Johnson's desks set up in an animator's studio. ChromaColour field guide graticule on the disc.

Compact desk - 1

Workplace animator - animation desk

A compact animation desk design. A small shelf space above the animation table is a useful addition.

Compact desk - 2

Workplace animator - animation desk

Side view of compact animation desk. Disc is removed to show the back-light unit mounted on the underside.

Custommade desk

Workplace animator - animation desk

This custom-made animation desk is an elegant design and relatively compact, too. The shelf space above the animation disc area is laid-out for maximum efficiency and easy access to supplies. Note that the disc is offset to allow an area on the right side of the table for clipping on ex-sheet or model sheets as needed. Other model sheets or notes are pinned up in the area between the drawing table and the upper shelf.

Desk extension - 1

Workplace animator - animation desk

This shows an extension added to the drafting table. Because the table had the hole cut in the exact center (instead of off-set) there was not enough room on either side to clip on a full sized Exposure Sheet. This problem is solved by screwing on a masonite panel and using the extended panel to clip on an Ex-sheet.

Desk extension - 2

Workplace animator - animation desk

This animator has added other custom extensions to his standard drafting table : easy-to-reach holders for his pencil sharpener, pencils, tape, and other supplies. He's using an Alan Gordon wooden animation disc. Notice the low angle of the desk ; some animators prefer to work with the tilt of the desk adjusted lower , some prefer a higher angle. This animator is actually working while standing up , so he has the legs of the drafting table adjusted extra high. That is the advantage of the drafting table over the portale table-top type of desk. The drafting table is much more adjustable to the individual animator's preference.

Richard Williams at desk

Workplace animator - animation desk

Animator/director Richard Williams is shown here working on a custom designed table-top desk that raises up out of the main workbench area , so it can be laid down flat when not being used for animating . Williams is using an over-sized Plexiglass ("perspex") disc which allows him to use 24 field paper or double-wide 12 field pan paper if necessary. The usual sizes of animation paper are 12 field and 16 field. 24 field is rarely used , but the extra disc space is useful for sticking on Post-It notes around the perimeter.

Disney desk - 1

Workplace animator - animation desk

A contemporary Disney studio desk. This style of desk was designed and built during the 1990's boom period to supplement the Disney studio's stock of the older KEM Weber-designed desks which were built for the studio from the 1940's through the 1960's and were still in use during the 70's, 80's and 90's at Disney. However, the influx of new artists and the addition of satellite studios in Orlando,FL and Paris , France created the need for additional desks.

Disney desk - 2

Workplace animator - animation desk

A second view of a contemporary (c. 1990) Disney studio desk. Note the efficient layout of shelf space surrounding the work area and the storage drawers down below. This sort of set up can be simulated with a portable desk or drafting table surrounded on both sides with scene stackers and a wall-mounted shelf over top of the work area . The main thing is accessibility : you want to have all your paper and other supplies close at hand so you can reach things without a lot of time wasted fumbling around looking for them.

Disney desk - 3

Workplace animator - animation desk

Another view of the contemporary Disney animation desk showing the shelf arrangement.

Disney desk - 4

Workplace animator - animation desk

An exposed view of the "hydraulic" system on the underside of a Disney desk. This allowed the desk to be raised, lowered, angle adjusted , in fine degrees , suited to the individual artist's preference . This made the desks extra heavy (and extra expensive) but it's a very nice feature to have .

Drafting table

A standard small size drafting table. This style of table is sold with a pre-cut hole for the animation disc by companies such as Cartoon Colour Co. and Alan Gordon Enterprises. You can also buy a table like this from many different art supply companies and cut the hole yourself if you have the proper tools (router and/or jigsaw ). Cutting a perfectly round hole in hardwood is more difficult than you might think. Be careful, "measure twice, cut once" and make sure the hole is as precise as possible, so the disc won't stick when you try to turn it.

Drafting table - 1

Workplace animator - animation desk

This is the standard drafting table with pre-cut hole and a Plexiglass disc sold by Cartoon Colour.

Drafting table - 2

Workplace animator - animation desk

Another adapted drafting table, with Plexiglass disc . (plexiglass disc with thin metal tape-down peg bar). Note the coiled metal pencil holder at the upper right hand corner. Pencil holder available from ChromaColour, Lightfoot Ltd., Alan Gordon Enterprises, and CartoonColour Co. Drafting tables like these are much more adjustable than the portable table-top animation desks. You can adjust the height on these drafting tables as well as the angle of the table.

Drafting table - 3

Workplace animator - animation desk

Here is another view of the standard drafting table, with the added-on exposure sheet extension on the far right and the pencil holder clip at the upper right hand corner. The animator shown here is using an Alan Gordon Enterprises disc.

Drafting table - 4

Workplace animator - animation desk

This is a standard drafting table (like those available from CartoonColour Co. or Alan Gordon Enterprises) with a plexiglass disc. The addition of the tall scene stacker to the right of the table makes this a well-organized work space . (There is also a short scene stacker/tabouret over to the artist's lower left , which is out of camera range in this photograph).

Drafting table large

Workplace animator - animation desk

This drafting table has an extra large table top. This is useful and if you buy a drafting table to use as an animation desk then try to get a larger top. Notice how the animator has plenty of extra room surrounding the animation disc to pin up model sheets , notes, and an exposure sheet. This set up has 4ft. long folding tables on either side to hold the animator's paper and other supplies, and to organize scene folders. A scene stacker would be a nice addition, but the folding side tables are fine.

Haskett desk

Workplace animator - animation desk

This shows the animator using a "Haskett Desk" model formerly manufactured by Cartoon Carpentry. (no longer in business) This very practical desk had side and top shelves built in and storage drawers down below. The tabletop could be adjusted to different angles . Disc shown with this one is the Alan Gordon wooden disc. To the right is a tall scene stacker for additional storage. To the left hand you can partially see a 4' ft. folding work table with the animator's iMac computer.

Haskett desk - 2

Workplace animator - animation desk

A closer view of the CartoonCarpentry "Haskett Desk". The upper shelves and side shelves are clearly seen. The animator can easily reach up or to the side to grab fresh paper or a new pencil in one smooth action, with no time lost fumbling around for supplies. The tabletop can be adjusted to whatever angle the artist finds comfortable , high angle or low angle or somewher inbetween. There is room on either side of the disc for an exposure sheet or other notes. The disc shown is an Alan Gordon Enterprises wooden disc with metal peg bars.

Lightfoot box

Workplace animator - animation desk

Lightfoot Ltd. sells this box model table-top unit. Shown here without disc, so you can see the backlight unit . The angle can be adjusted with the knob on the side. A very compact unit. They sell an addition which clips on to the top to hold a model sheet or an Ex-sheet. Does not fold flat like the other portable desk sold by Lightfoot. (this one may have been discontinued, but there are a lot of these units out there, mostly in schools. If you could pick one up cheap on eBay it would be a good compact model to start with).

Lightfoot box wdisc

Workplace animator - animation desk

This is the Lightfoot box table , shown here with Plexiglass disc . The disc has an inset plastic peg bar. The plastic peg bar works "ok", but it's better to replace it with a thin metal tape-down Acme peg bar. (sold by most animation supply companies, Lightfoot, ChromaColour, Cartoon Colour, etc.; be sure to get the "thin model" tape-down bar, not a standard metal peg bar which will be too thick to tape down to the surface of the plexi disc).

Lightfoot easel

Workplace animator - animation desk

The newer model of portable table that Lightfoot Ltd. sells, their "Easel Pro" model. This one is similar in size to their boxier model shown earlier, but is lighter-weight and folds down flat . Shown here with a Plexiglass disc, but the hole is cut to take any standard size animation disc.

Lightfoot portabledesk

Workplace animator - animation desk

More views of the Lightfoot portable animation desk, shown here without disc. Any standard animation disc will fit this 16 3/8" hole. Note: the hole for an animation disc is cut 16 3/8" or just slightly wider 16 1/2" in diameter. 16 1/2" is sometimes used to create a slightly wider hole which allows the disc a bit of extra wiggle room to turn smoothly. A precisely cut 16 3/8" hole should work fine , but the extra 1/8" of an inch in the 16 1/2" hole ensures that any disc will turn. But be careful not to make the hole too wide or the disc will fit too loosely and it will wobble when you turn it. You can always sand down the inside edges of a 16 3/8" hole if the disc sticks a bit. Apply sand paper and afterwards a light coating of wax along the inside edge and the disc should turn smoothly.

Metal 12, 16 disc

Workplace animator - animation desk

This is a traditional metal animation disc with extra wide peg bars which convert this from a 12 Field disc to 16 Field by reversing the pegs from the inside edge to the outside edge . (that cuts off a bit of your drawing area at the top and bottom of the paper when using 16 Field, but it works ok and it is handy to be able to switch from 12 to 16 Field . (BUT probably better just to use a one-piece Plexiglass disc which will take both 12 and 16 field paper. The sliding metal peg bars are not really a necessity anymore since hardly anyone has to physcially measure out pan moves on the disc anymore. Practically all scene planning and camera moves are done in the computer now, with digital compositing software such as Digicel, Toonboom, or Animo).

Older disney desk

Workplace animator - animation desk

This is one of the classic Disney studio desks from the 1940's designed by KEM Weber. Shelf space is optimized for comfort and efficiency. These are hard to come by and usually very expensive if one does show up at auction. However, the basic design is an inspiration for those who want to design and build their own version.

Plexi disc

Workplace animator - animation desk

The versatile Plexiglass (aka "Perspex") animation disc, with inset plastic peg bar. These have gained favor in recent years because they are relatively inexpensive and very light weight. Turns easily in the hole of the animation desk. You can even hold one on your lap and animate with ambient light coming in through the back of the translucent disc. The plastic peg bar works "ok", but better to replace it with a thin metal tape-down peg bar available from Cartoon Colour, Lightfoot, and other animation suppliers. Be sure to get the thinnest metal tape-down bar , not a standard metal peg bar , which is too thick to tape down flush with the surface of the plexiglass disc.

Scene stacker

Workplace animator - animation desk

An animation scene stacker. The multiple levels of shelves are the best way to organize your animation drawings. One or two of these placed to the side of your portable animation table or drafting table will greatly increase your workspace organization and is almost as good as the bulkier studio desks like the Disney desks ,the CartoonCarpentry , or Allenwood desks.

Scene stacker - 2

Workplace animator - animation desk

This photo shows a tall scene stacker behind the animator. Notice how the animator has labeled each section of the stacker with Scene and Sequence information. As he finishes his work on a scene it will be filed in the stacker and can easily be retrieved by the animator or one of his assistants when they need to reference the drawings in the scene or do further work on it . This type of organizing saves a lot of wasted time shuffling around papers and folders looking for a particular set of drawings.

Tabouret

Workplace animator - animation desk

Short scene stacker by Cartoon Carpentry on the left. On the right , this Winsor & Newton artist's tabouret works very well as an animation side table/scene stacker. The lower shelves are large enough for standard 12 field animation paper. More paper and other supplies can be kept in the drawers , and the top folds out to an extra shelf . Now that Cartoon Carpentry is out of business it's hard to find custom made animation scene stackers , so other artist tables like this one are your best alternative. Of course, on a lower budget you can use stacked up "milk crates" as very functional scene stackers. Wall-mounted metal wire shelving is also good for organizing your home studio workspace....

Tabouret - 2

Workplace animator - animation desk

A good low-budget scene stacker can be made from stacked up "milk crates" or file crates available from office supply stores. The standard size will fit 12 Field animation paper. You'll need the over-sized crates to fit 16 field paper. The crates can be further sub-divided with sheets of stiff cardboard or masonite panels to form extra sections.