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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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NightFuryTerritory Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2017  Hobbyist Artist
What's the difference between the 3rd one and the last one? 
TheWillowFox Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
was the scene draw on physical pieces of paper
MoonStorm6 Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2017
Thanks for ur help!
xXAlexandriteXx Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2017  New Deviant Hobbyist Artist
I think that animation is very Unique and Creative! Love it <3 Keep up the good job!
SuperSarcosmic Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2017  Student General Artist
This has been a source of wonder and inspiration for me for years. 
Ravenscreation Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
AngelofSmiles Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2016
OMG I just found you on DA but i saw this animation with my children last week on youtube. It is beautiful! wow! You are ridiculously talented!
coMITCH-Art Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Great Work!  I'll use this as reference!
DubiousTemp Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2016
This makes a really good reference!
sorastar4 Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2016
Ooooh jojojo OwO beatiful magnific /w\
VeronicaRaddSherwood Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Very helpful. Thank you :)
Sinchanpelman Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2015
Thank you very much!
I-Do-Care Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2015
Thank you for this! It may not be an actual step-by-step tutorial, but it gives a really good overview of your workflow and contains valuable tips. Being so general has the advantage of not tying you to one set of tools, so your help is useful no matter what software you use. :+fav:
(Love the story, by the way!)
MiyakoAizawa Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2015  Student Digital Artist
beautiful! what did you use to make this? flash? :O
FrozenMaple Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2015
i love this animation!!! I watch it on tumblr every time its on my dash :3
artisswaggy Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
HebaWOA Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
It would take me 50 years to make an animation like that!!!
 Hamtaro Mouse Emoji-03 (Squee) [V1] The truth is... I LOVE IT
DolphinChild Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2015
I never forgot you film !!! its so pretty and cute that i would catch myself thinking about it randomly xD it really made an impact on me :D thanks for the tips, years after watching it i still remeber it lol i would love if you had time to make a more detailed tutorial, but for now, this is great , im a beginner :D thanks soo much for making this!! idk i cant pick works to describe how much it touched me !!!!!!!  *-* !!!!!!!!!
andreborges73 Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2015
Divine-ryushe Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2015  Student Digital Artist
iLyriics Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I'm in love with your art. Pikachu KAWAII DESU 
Jgarcia24 Featured By Owner Oct 24, 2014
O my god... I've miss judged this website entirely
killallpixels181 Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is great!
DrawWithNessie Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2014
This is inception. We're watching you paint her painting. Love it!
AuroraArt Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Truly amazing... :wow:
FullmetalSKETAngel Featured By Owner May 3, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Whoaaa. Complex. o.o I'm gonna bookmark this page so I can learn how to do this though! (>D<)/
BatmanFangirl Featured By Owner May 3, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Vyndicare Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2014  Student Digital Artist
I have a question if you don't mind me asking ^^;. Since I don't have Adobe Premiere and I don't have the money to get it, is there anything else I can use that is cheaper or even free that I can substitute for it? I was thinking about making an animation and the only software I have are Adobe Photoshop and Flash CS4. Could I make the same kind of animation with just those two and still have good quality or would it turn out less "professional" and not as smooth? Please help ^^

Thank you!~ :)
I-Do-Care Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2015
Your best bet is to do an Internet search for "open source animation software". Open source means it's community-developed, so it's truly free, legal, and much safer than cracked commercial software. Mature projects are generally of the same quality or higher than commercial ones. You can download and try as many different options as you like, and often you can use more than one, forming a chain of tools.
Vyndicare Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2015  Student Digital Artist
OOOOO ok thank you so much!!! ^^
scaryk26 Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2014  Hobbyist
Hi there. I absolutely love that short film. It was incredible. I was hoping to make some little animations myself, but I need to be 'approved' first. I was wondering if maybe you could help me out on that. Do you know how I can upload my animations? Or do you know how I can be approved by someone?
Qinni Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
thanks :). the FAQ should have something about that. I remember I followed the instructions there and one of the moderators contacted me for approval. 
scaryk26 Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2014  Hobbyist
FAQ? Right, I'll have a look. Another thing: How long did it take for you to get an approval?
Qinni Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
I honestly can't remember ^^;.....a week or two, i think? 
scaryk26 Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2014  Hobbyist
Okey dokey then. Thanks for the help! :)
MysteryFanBoy718 Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I saw this on Tumblr and thought this was the most impressive piece of animation I've ever seen. I love it, instantly!
hellangel1126 Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2014
Thanks for explaining the process ^^
mehipnotizas Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2014
This is beautiful, you inspire me! Where did you study, i am curious? And did it help a lot? i have been thinking of going to school for animation after i am finished my current program but i just cant seem to find a school that i am satisfied with...
spoopycat Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
this is amazing <3
t-cezar Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
awesome animation, how many time did you spent in each step? thanks
CelmationPrince Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Great Animation Studies, and I Read You Have Used "DigiCel Flipbook" to do this Great Work? Very Wonderful!!!:D (Big Grin) :happybounce:  Professional Animators Like Don Bluth, Eric Goldberg, and Andreas Deja have Used this Powerful Program. You Should Use It More Often.;) (Wink) 
z0rgy Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
both the animation & tutorial were amazing!
Ginsei-Chan Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanx that help a lot but what program is good for going animation?
IchitakeNeongenesis Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Um what programs can i use for animation other than photoshop?
Qinni Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
flash, tv paint, Digicel Flipbook, and i've heard that you can animate minimally in GIMP too, but I'm not sure on that. 
PeaceLuvArt Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
Oh wow, this is so beautiful!
mirmzy Featured By Owner Oct 29, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
THANK YOU!! <3 this is amazing!
Irio Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks a million for your help!
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Submitted on
July 16, 2012
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