1 - pre-production

Finding inspiration

To make an animated movie (or any movie in general) you need to think of a story first. However, trying to come up with a good story can be really difficult sometimes. The story is the most important part of any animated movie. If the animation isn’t the best but the story is great, you have a good movie; but when it’s the other way around, then the movie is worthless.

To come up with a good story you need to find inspiration. How can you do that? You just have to observe what is around you. Inspiration can come from everywhere, a movie, a song, a poem Use anything from your own life to get inspired. Any person you’ve ever met, any place you’ve ever been to, any experience you’ve ever had might make all the ideas in your head click and create a story.

2 - pre-production

Market Research

It’s now time the director and producer(s) get together and think of the changes we want to add to the story we have chosen to animate. We propose different ways to add depth to it, the message we want to transmit, the main plot, etc. We try to make them more complex and appealing to the contemporary audience.

3 - pre-production


In this stage, all the dialogues of the animation are written. When writing, it is important to take into account the audience of the animation is going to be addressed. It’s worth mentioning The script evolves a lot during the creation of the movie, it changes many times until we get the final one.

4 - pre-production


Just like the way you prepare your suitcase before a trip and make sure you have all you need to make the journey, in the same way, you need to plan ahead when and how you’re going to start producing your animation project. Although it can sound very boring, it is essential to organize the project and prepare everything before starting to animate. Some of the things that are worth planning are:

    • Delivery date
    • Preliminary data
    • Crew plan
    • recruiting
    • budget
5 - production


Once all the scheduling is done, we start designing the characters and backgrounds for the animation which comes down to two sub-categories:

  • Character designing :

When it comes to designing characters, everyone contributes with their ideas. Every animator takes a pencil and a paper and they start sketching different designs of the characters over and over again. Finally, they come up with a reasonable character design that all the team is into. Sometimes artists outsource this stage to character design studios that are able to deliver fast and reliable assets for their projects.

one of the most important aspects of creating a character is visual.

  •  Location designing

Animators also have to design the backgrounds of the movie, even if it is just the bedroom of the main character, a school class, or a whole village, everything must be planned. When designing backgrounds, they sometimes use photographs they had taken during the research process. Other times, they just draw from their imagination.

6 - production

Concept Development

This part of the process consists of composing the songs that are going to be sung by the characters. This step is only applicable when talking about a musical film, not every animated movie has sung in it. When composing, musicians tend to add easy and catchy songs so that people remember the lyrics and they get stuck in their heads. Just take a look at some of the best Pixar movies like COCO in which a type of song is sung by the characters.

7 - production

Visual Exploration

Storyboards are sketches similar to comic books that follow the action of the script and show how the characters will move in every scene. To plan the storyboard, animators use a bar sheet to
organize the scenes. A bar sheet (or exposure sheet) is a table that contains the breakdown of the action, dialogue, and sound of every sequence.

It determines exactly which posses, drawings, and movements animators will have to draw later. It is organized in a similar way as a music pentagram and it is usually smaller than an A4 paper. Once the bar sheet is completed, storyboard artists begin to draw everything.

Storyboards don’t have to be as clean as the final animation, they are just rough sketches. The character’s features don’t have to be very exact either. However, there are storyboards that are very well elaborated and even colored. It depends on
the artist who draws it.

8 - production

Concept Refinement

In doing concept art, We develop the style, tone, color, and overall artistic approach to each and every sequence.
Concept art will not be in any part of the movie, it just helps the animators to get inspired and know how the movie will finally look. Everything has to be designed, from the major characters to the smallest of props. They make thousands and thousands of drawings, paintings, blueprints, sculptures, and models to design everything.

9 - production

Client Feedback

When the concept art is already finished, it is time to record the voices of the characters. This process can be divided into three steps: casting, character presentation, and recording.

10 - production


This is when animation truly begins. All the storyboards and the planning is done so now it’s time to let the animators do magic. Animators are divided into two groups, the key animators (or main animators) and the inbetweeners.

  • Key animators

Every character is assigned to one main animator, usually, the one who designed them, that will draw all the scenes where the mentioned character appears. Key animators draw the frames that have the essential poses of the characters without taking into account the fluidness of the movement.

  • Tweening artists (Inbetweeners)

The inbetweeners are the animators that receive the mainframes the key animator has created and fill them with more frames to make the movement flow and
look real. The average number of frames a second has to contain is 24 f/s.

This procedure of filling the mainframes is called tweening

They have to keep in mind that the characters must do simple human things like breathing and blinking, etc. They have to give them the feeling of having flesh and bones. Tweening is also a difficult process because everything has to look the same, unified.

To see if there is any mistake in their animation, they put all the drawings together in a videotape called a pencil test. It is a preliminary version of the final animated scene, sometimes they even add the dialogues to see if the lip-sync is
done correctly

11 - post-production

Inking and coloring

When all the scenes have been animated, they are taken to the inking department. That is where they pass the pencil sketches into celluloid. Celluloid is a thin, clear sheet of transparent plastic. There, they ink or photocopy the outline of the drawing onto a cel, depending on if they are doing it traditionally or digitally.

Originally everyone inked the sketches by hand, and they could spend a lot of hours with just one of them. Luckily, with the invention of the computer, the process has become a lot faster and easier.

Take a look at our comprehensive guide on character colors as choosing a color palette is one of the most important aspects of designing characters for your project. 

12 - post-production


The backgrounds are the sets where the action of each animated sequence takes place. As well as the previous step, they can be done by computer or by hand. Traditionally painted drawings are usually made with gouache or acrylic paint, though some animated productions also use watercolor and oil paint.

13 - post-production

Visual effects

Sometimes, a sequence requires some type of animation that would be very difficult to do by hand and that is when we use computer effects. They are used for many different things. Animators use the computer when they need to animate a scene with a huge crowd or with some kind of magic effect or fire on them.

By animating the background characters with a computer, we are able to save extra work and time. Using the computer, animators change the angle of the camera, edit possible mistakes, correct the lighting, the speed of movement, the atmosphere of scenes, etc. They give the final look to the movie. They also use the computer to add the initial and ending credit.

14 - post-production

Sound design

This is the last part of the animation process. The sound designers create and record sound effects and ambiance (footsteps, clothes rustling, doors opening,…) to create the textures and layers of sound that enrich the story. Nowadays they are created digitally but at the beginning of the animation, sound designers had to make the sounds they needed themselves. In Snow White, they recorded the sounds of broken dishes, animals, doors knocking, etc. because they didn’t have another way to do it.

After that, the background music is composed. Background music reflects the way the main character is feeling at the moment. That is why, depending on the type of scene, the music will be fast or slow-paced.

15 - post-production


Then, the dialogues recorded before are added making them coincide with the lip movement of the characters. Finally, the dialogue, music, and sound effects are assembled on the sound
mixing stage. They add audio levels, equalization, perspective, and treatments (Echo, TV, or radio sound…) as tracks, and they are mixed into the final version of the movie.

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