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Submitted on
July 16, 2012
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Painting Fish - Step by step/tutorial by Qinni Painting Fish - Step by step/tutorial by Qinni
my Tumblr

Please read below for process!! thanks.

I've had quite a few people ask me how I animate and how the process of animation is done, so I figured that it's better if i share it on dA and not just tumblr, hahaha. I know this isn't actually a tutorial tutorial, but it's the best i can do for now, because animation is such a broad subject it's really hard to actually focus on a part and do a tutorial on it.


I'm going to go through the whole process for my whole short film.

Basically, you have an idea, then you sketch out your characters. Then you draw your storyboards. Once you have your storyboards done (either on cards or in photoshop), you time it out and put it into a reel (storyboard reel) with maybe a placeholder music, called ďscratch tracksĒ. For this I used Adobe Premier to put the storyboard reel together. From that time, you kind of get a feel of how fast everything will be moving and how the cuts are going to go. You keep adjusting to the best of your abilities. You move onto animation.
I like doing my backgrounds first since it sets up the composition a lot better, especially if your characterís feet is touching the ground, youíll have to make sure the perspective is right as itís interacting with the ground. Once i complete the background, I go on to rough animation. I did my animation in Digicel Flipbook, but traditional, flash, or even photoshop will work too. I do all my rough animation at once, so itíll be easier to crop out scenes i donít need and time out each scene easier; after all, itís less heart breaking when you cut off some rough drawing than cutting off the few frames you spent hours on, hahaha. You can see how rough my first pass is, with frames missing in between to time things out properly.

I export the rough scene by scene into separate folders, and then import each sceneís frames into Photoshop.
I clean up in photoshop and drop it back into my leika reel again (thatís the story-board reel you didÖwith your story-boards and then rough animation. Make sure you update your leika-reel often to make sure the cuts and composition work and make sense to each other. After all, animation is a flowing thing.).
I keep working on each scene individually, colouring them and shading them, making sure iím updating my leika often. (side note, i did my leika in Adobe Premiere). I also had a bunch of helpers help me put down the basic colours of each clothing/skin on different layers. (but not this scene though) Once i finish each scene, i make sure to export each frame without the backgrounds into a folder.
I then import them into Adobe After effects. Because I already timed out my animation in Flipbook, I donít have to worry about re-timing my animation in After Effects. I import the frames and backgrounds separately because i want to do camera moves like pans and zoom-ins later, and i would be able to use multi-plane if my background was separated into different layer files (overlay, underlay, background, etc. itís too difficult to go into it right now. google if youíre not sure what iím talking about).

Anyways, i put together scenes as i finish colouring them, and when iím done compositing the scene, i drop it back into the leika reel. I keep doing that until iím done and do some final adjustments. I sometimes go back to do more special effects stuff when i had time, but thatís basically it.

edit: This particular scene has 23 frames in it.


Here's a book that will really help you start animating:
The Animator's Survival Kit

here's some books that are good for composition, storytelling and colours:
Dream Worlds: Production Design for Animation
The Art of Pixar: The Complete Color Scripts and Select Art from 25 Years of Animation
Prepare to Board! Creating Story and Characters for Animated Features and Shorts

I hope these helped :).


for those who haven't seen my film:
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be my master ! please :3
ashvey Apr 2, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
This is really amazing! Did you ever try TVPaint Animation?
Rilguia Mar 25, 2013  Student General Artist
Thanks a lot for the tutorial!! =)
very useful!!! =D
I've all was wanted to do something like this. so thanks for the step-by-step that was very informational.
MorgyBearz Jul 17, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
Wow this is amazing!
thanks for showing your process, I know animation is super tedious but it pays off very well, your work is wonderful
d1v1de-by-zer0 Jul 16, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Thank you so much for uploading this! I really want to get into animation as a profession! Your work is stunning!
sweet! Luv the animation!
CitrusLisp Jul 16, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
This is so amazing and OSM~ 8D Thank you so much for this tutorial ^^
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