Learning character animation is hard! It takes hard work and dedication to reach the required level to get a job. It's a craft that is best learnt by doing, but the fastest way to improve is to have someone more experienced guiding you. I have mentored many people throughout my career and believe the best way to learn is though a mentor/mentee relationship.
Whether you are just starting out, or have graduated and not landing jobs with you current showreel, I can help.
I will either set you tasks to complete on a weekly basis or help you improved existing shots, all completely tailored to your skill level and needs.
What I Offer
- An evaluation of your skill level and an agreed plan for the 4 weeks before we start.
- Personal one to one coaching, accommodating your needs.
- Upto 1 Hour session per week over Skype or personal video teaching/critiques (Dependent on your location/time difference)
- I will be available over email throughout the week for guidance and support.
- A friendly and honest tutor service that will help push you to the next level.
- Workflow methods - Keyframe or Motion Capture
- Training in Unreal and creating games including cinematics
- Training in a variety of keyframe styles and Motion Capture
- Training in facial animation and acting techniques, including MetaHuman
- Training in creature animation
- Career advice and Interview Training
What You Will Learn
What You Will Need
- A copy of Autodesk Maya (free student version is available from AutoDesk.com).
- A good level of English.
- A good and hard-working attitude!
I offer a flexible subscription-based model that allows students to not be tied down as other courses do, I only use PayPal for payments. The price per month is £140
How to Apply
Got Questions? Contact me at
- Simply fill out this form and I'll get back to you
“James Lyons is not only a fantastic mentor but a great person too, who has changed my life and my animation career forever.
I was struggling to get into the industry as do most junior animators and I couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, that was until I met James and asked for his mentorship.
To sum it up I felt like I was floating around not sure what to animate and not knowing what the industry wanted to see. I created a very early show reel, to put it bluntly it was terrible!! With this reel I must have applied at 100+ studios, most just didn’t get back to me and some said I didn’t have enough experience.
Thanks to James, after being a student of his for just 6 months I created a fantastic demo reel, one I am very proud of. I again, applied for an animation roll in a very good studio and got the job!! 1 application with my new reel and 1 job secured. And the roll isn’t a junior position but a mid level position! And this was due to James’ fantastic mentorship!! I owe him everything, I wouldn’t be a professional animator if it wasn’t for him.
Thank you James.”
"I recommend taking classes with How2Animate, regardless if you are just dipping your foot in the intimidating world of 3D animation, or you want to push the quality of your reel. James is a patient and motivating tutor. As long as you put in the work, he will be there to guide you through pragmatic exercises with insightful feedback to reach you own goals.
How2Animate offers high quality, flexible tutorage, customized to what you want to achieve. You will work with James to create high quality animation, as well as understanding the reasoning behind it, training your eye in seeing what is needed to push your animation to the next level of detail."
"I had the privilege of being mentored by Sir James Lyons and I would say that I was glad to have joined the personal training for learning 3D animation. I took my baby steps into the realm of animation under him and I am forever thankful for it. The speciality of this training is that he tailors it as per your focus area and interest, so be it a junior animator or senior or even a beginner animator, the training will be as per your requirement and as per your industry choice - film acting/game animation. During the course it was easy to communicate with the mentor, discuss queries and gain feedback. Sir James is a gifted teacher and artist, kind and very supportive and I am always looking forward to learning from him."
"I've been taking James' mentorship for a few months now and I've seen huge improvements in the quality of my work. I was a total beginner when I started taking the classes so James helped me pick shots that were fun but also simple enough to let me focus on the fundamentals of animation. Getting that kind of direction from the beginning has sped up my learning a lot.
Going over my shots every week with James and seeing how he would tackle the problems I've run into has been a big benefit to my workflow and helped improve my eye for critiquing my own animations.
I'd highly recommend signing up for James classes if you're looking for clear, actionable feedback from a very patient teacher. The classes have boosted my motivation to push through the tough spots in animation and made me a more confident animator overall."
Alexi Balian High School Animation, Art & Design Teacher, Toronto Canada
"I’m going to start off by saying there are so many online paths out there to learn character animation. What most online schools have is a prescribed curriculum with around four to eight modules, running roughly between two to three months, eventually reaching a defined end to your learning. Most online schools have great intentions and the proof of success it there. For me, what is missing, is the individualized differentiated system of learning that is geared according to where you are in your journey of developing your craft of becoming 3D Character Animator. Without any hesitation, I would fully recommend James Lyons’ tutoring service “How 2 Animate”, with which you can have a customized system of learning personally crafted for you; to me it’s a no brainer. If you choose to learn from James, you will find a very laid-back tone that delivers industry-based knowledge and experience, step by step, assignment after assignment, direct feedback with suggestions and demonstrations for improvement."
I was introduced to James via his YouTube channel, specifically his dragon animation tutorial just at the point where I was thinking of giving up with animation altogether. After brief correspondence, I immediately signed up to his tutorial services and really have not looked back. Like Ben Burns, another former student, I was finding it impossible to find work even at a junior level but moreover, I was finding animation intuitively difficult despite having studied it for a year at a post grad level.
Learning with James made me realise a couple of things. Firstly, I realised that my school days really did not prepare me at all for production level jobs. Sure, they taught locomotion and the main principles but knowing the path is always different to walking the path, as Morpheus once said to Neo in the Matrix. James allowed me to bridge this gap. Secondly, even within the first couple of sessions, I realised that my work up to that point was ...well, not up to scratch. Sure there were good bits here and there but really my shots were the legacy of the old school days, lacking polish and crudely showing what had been taught but not truly understood.
The advent of the pandemic and the U.K. Furlough scheme couldn't have come at a better time, where my full time job, unrelated to animation altogether, paid me to stay at home. This opportunity allowed me to work and create shots that i never dreamed I was capable of on my own. James' highly experienced guiding tutorials , tailor-made videos and Skype chats allowed me to reconstruct my showreel. His advice is priced very reasonably and his teaching schedule is set around you, meaning that if you work full time (like me) you can always flexibly rearrange online meet ups as and when you want. I've often looked at other online schools and thought that as a student, it would be easy to get lost or fall behind. James' tutelage is far removed from this, creating a classic benevolent relaxed master/apprentice relationship which is tailored to your needs and to the direction your career needs to travel. His extremely patient tuition is coupled with a desire to see you succeed and help where he can - he even rendered out a shot for me since my machine just wasn't up to it!! What a star!! I wouldn't hesitate to enlist with James and as a testament to this, I intend to again in the future. I don't think you can go wrong with how2animate.net.
I started off working with James in March 2020. I was looking for a personal mentor to help develop my skills and have more 1to1 support. I have always done better in a more personal environment that is tailored to my needs. This is because I suffer with quite chronic OCD and have high functioning Asperger’s.
It came at a time where I was feeling under pressure with my University and did not feel I had the ability to complete the modules. I emailed James on a whim frustrated and he emailed me straight back assuring me he would be able to help me progress. This started our mentoring journey and since then we have also become good friends. He has broken down the key elements of Animation to me in easy understandable chunks and because of that I have gone from animating a bouncing ball in September 2019 to now having a showreel with company interest. If you are willing to put in the work and do your best, he will be with you every step of the way and tailor his mentoring exactly to your needs. James never makes you feel like you are failing, he always responds when he can, and everything is a learning experience. He is patient, kind and most importantly an amazing animator with 20 years’ experience and knows what the industry are looking for. I would highly recommend mentoring with James if you are serious about starting your animation journey.
I can't recommend How2Animate enough. As a recent university graduate, I was looking for additional training to put together a professional demo reel. James is an excellent pedagogue and great at adapting to his students' goals. He went above and beyond with his detailed and precise feedback and hands-on approach to instruction: the improvements to my workflow and my confidence in animating were exponential. He was incredibly flexible, providing me with everything from body mechanics exercises, acting shot workflows, feedback on pre-existing shots, mock interviews as well as advice and perspectives on his experience in the games industry. His numerous youtube tutorials are also an invaluable resource. The perfect tutor for any stage in your animation career!
Karim El Hannouti
I've never done any acting shots before and didn't learn much about it in school! That's the reason why I took a class with James. I was positively surprised about the quality of the one-on-one reviews. James is flexible and takes his time to explain in detail. I would definitely recommend James for anyone seeking to upgrade his skills !
I’ve been taking classes with James since January 2020. I finished my college degree in 3D arts confused and a bit frustrated because I learned a little about modeling, animation, rendering and other areas of the 3D field but I did not have any specialized knowledge to get me a job in the industry.
Nevertheless, I was curious about animation, and since I started having classes with James, I began to discover animation more in-depth, at the point that now, I enjoy it so much that it is the only way I want to spend my days. After seven months of hard work, I pulled off my first portfolio. We went through the basic exercises, body mechanics, combo attacks, two people fight, and even a fight using a dragon. I think the key has been that James takes the time to go over and over through the principles of animation. For him, teaching the principles is not a one-time class thing, he goes through them every single week in every single correction.
Having a tutor like James really allowed me to achieve professional work that I never thought would be possible. James for me is the best teacher someone can have in the 3D Animation field, on top of his animation skills he also cares about your progress and your career path. The sessions with him are lots of fun, and I feel that it is an enormous privilege to be his student.
James Lyons is the best teacher I've met!
Let me draw an analogy.
James mentoring looks like the light in the storeroom where did you stumble all the time and tried to do something to the touch in a dark before!
I've found James Lyons site when I took one test in game studio. I didn't pass again and I decided to improve my skills. I had a long break (maternity leave) and my skills have declined indeed. It was huge luck for me that than James had free space in his class and agreed to be my mentor!
Spoiler: I received a job offer in game studio without experience in gamedev – the Lead animator saw that my skills improved a lot last months :).
James Lyons definitely saw my weaknesses in animation and strengths too – last is important too. It supported me!
His mentoring is based on your individual request, level, abilities, even personality! Considering that English isn’t my native language, we structured our meetings in such a way that I was comfortable in this regard. So, I could study as productively as possible. I am so thankful for this one too!
It isn't my first studying animation in English, but I've never been so comfortable, productive, and interested before!
My motivation had skyrocketed every time after each completed scene! Each time James gave me a more difficult task, but the difficulty increased gradually so that I could complete it without giving up. I realized that I can do more and better with each shot. And this gave me the confidence to do more difficult tasks! All time I discovered something new, helpful and saving time!
This wouldn't have been possible without James's professionalism, support, sensitivity, kindness, faith in me and sincere desire to lead me to my goals! James shares not just knowledge, but his experience too - it's priceless!
Let me be clear. Mentoring with James is very different from teaching in a general class (the last one is good too in due time) : it improves your skills a lot in a shorter time. And I'm happy that James is my mentor! He is a great person!
Thank you so much for all, James Lyons!
You changed my career and gave me confidence when I got stuck in my break!
I first started working with James after a friend recommended his tutoring at university during the pandemic.
I was really unhappy with the level that I was at, as well as with the teaching being provided by my university.
I felt like I just wasn't understanding animation very well at all and felt like giving up often.
From the very beginning, James retaught me animation in many ways. He taught me a completely new way of working through multiple animation exercises, increasing in difficulty each time. The recorded feedback was super beneficial, as well as live Skype sessions where he'd reassure me I was doing well and to keep going. Throughout his mentorship, I would often get down about my work when I wasn't feeling confident, but James was always there being incredibly patient and encouraging with me.
I can confidently say that I wouldn't be remotely close to the animator I am today if it wasn't for his mentorship.
I would highly recommend James' animation tutoring, no matter what stage in your animation journey you are.