I'm new to blender and 3d art in general and I'm trying to make animations which can be recycled for multiple models. Which process does one go through to make such a thing? Say, I have a generic humanoid skeleton, and I have animations which make this skeleton move, and I want any new model I have to able able to be swapped in the place of the skeleton so every model can be animated from the same animations without having to animate every single model every time. Or if you could point me to the right documentation to achieve that, I don't know where to start.
If two models share the armature (one armature is a clone of the other, with exactly the same loc, rot, scale and name of every single bone), the task is absolutely easy: create a dope sheet window, turn it into an "Action editor", select the second armature and select the action you made for the first model: in this way the two armatures will perform the same animation. If the two armatures are not clones, you will need a procedure called "retargeting", wich is not so easy, you will have to make some researches about it.
As explained by Josh Sanfelici you can use the same action for several different armatures. An action is not the property of an armature, it can be shared by as many armatures as you want. The action will only move the bones that is supposed to move, whatever armature the action is assigned to.
Let say you've created an action X for armature A and within this action X there are some keyframes for a bone called bone1. If you give this action X to armature B, and if B has a bone called bone1, bone1 will be animated exactly the way it is in armature A. The bones for which no keyframes have been created won't move.
To assign an action to an armature, select the armature, open the Dopesheet, switch it to Action Editor, and choose the action you want in the dropdown menu.