The single most important thing I’ve learned about animation workflows is:
No one’s workflow is the same.
Ok, so maybe a lot of animators work similarly, but after listening to many interviews with industry pros and seeing how my mentors worked I can safely say that there is no one way to animate correctly.
One of my mentors who worked at Disney would block out his animation in Spline. Wait, what? Aren’t you supposed to block out your poses in Stepped tangents before moving to spline? Whelp, if it works for you why not do it that way?
Another mentor of mine showed my class a demo of a bouncing ball exercise. He solely worked in the graph editor for the entire demo. It blew my mind.
Some animators work in a layered approach. Some set a key every two frames before going into spline.
Some animators like to get a lot of video reference, some animators prefer to thumbnail their ideas, some like to feel out their animation, and some like a mixture of all of the above.
I heard about an animator at Disney who only needed to look at his video reference once before he tackled his shot! (Disclaimer: This is not the not the norm and may have been exaggerated. Do not feel like you have to be able to do this to be a good animator.)
So, the point of this post is don’t worry about figuring out the “correct” workflow. Experiment! See what works for you. If you find it hard to animate pose to pose try a layered approach. In the end all that matters is that you have a killer animation!