The Process of 2D Animation

Our world has been used to the idea of animation inserting itself in our daily lives. People often forget about the grueling processes behind an animated film that they see in theaters. Here we are going to dive into 2D animation’s depth and processes that create the films we see today!

  1. Scripts

Typically, these are often found in bigger storytelling animations such as movies or animated TV shows. Scripts are used to establish exactly what is going to be moving in a scene through written form. Additionally, these are used for both 3D and 2D animated films. However, script writing is much different than screenplays or live action films.

"Writing is more intense of an experience than writing for any other medium," said Kemp Powers, co-writer and co-director of Pixar movie "Soul".

2. Storyboards

These are incredibly rough drawings to paint the script. Storyboards are slightly

animated, but mainly sketch out the important motions of a scene. Storyboards are typically done in 2D and are a vital part of every animated film.

These are not simple drawing sketches and motion, according to Pixar story artist Domee Shi, she states that after receiving the script, "[she] would look at it and draw out all of the staging, the camera, the characters, the acting, all the emotion and the dialogue."

Storyboards have a great amount of depth, especially since they are the ground work of every scene's motions!

3. Color Scripts/Concept Art

Color scripts are often small basic thumbnails or colored drawings of what a scene should look like in the end once the animation is completely finished. Artists do not want to

keep recoloring their animation over and over again to achieve their final look, so they try to simplify a color palette as much as they can.

Artists like Mizutamari Higashi, a color script creator for the Pokémon Twilight Wings series, are masters of storytelling through colors, calling color scripts the “blueprints" for the art that is used to direct the lighting or colors of a scene.

4. Rough Animation

Finally, the start of the actual animating process. The animators first start by sketching out keyframes, or the main frames. After that, they will add in between frames which create the fluidity and smoothness of the animation.

Some animation studios actually do their rough animation on paper. This traditional style is not currently used in western media, but is found quite often in Japanese animation. They later scan each paper drawn frame to a digital program during the cleaning-up process.

5. Cleaning up lines

This process primarily uses a digital program to add clean lineart over each sketched out frame. The clean-up aspect of animation is quite tedious since the lineart must be consistent throughout the entire scene, but it also marks the shaded areas of the drawing.

6. Coloring the Animation

Coloring is quite self-explanatory. Artists block in the main colors of the animation. It has become an easier process due to digital programs lessening the amount of time to color each frame, but still is a tedious process.

The coloring process colors in the "flats" or the base colors. These are the hues that are not going to be affected by any lighting sources.

7. Shading and Lighting

The shading and lighting becomes significantly easier because of the color scripts. The color scripts essentially build a foundation and idea for the shading and lighting, and the artists follow it. This truly gives a scene dimension and could make it feel authentic.

One of lighting’s greatest power is that it could convey emotions. Different lightings can make a scene dramatic, casual, or even nostalgic!

2D animators have to go through a cascade of steps to finally accomplish their goal. This process may be summed up in words, but it takes animators months and years to create their product.



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