2D Animation processThere are two major forms of animation: 2D (hand-drawn, or computer assisted) and 3D (CGI). This page focuses on 2D animation.
The overall process of creating a 2D animation is divided into three parts: pre-production, production, and post-production.
Pre-ProductionPre-production involves establishing the plot of the completed animation. Because each shot in animation is so labor-intensive, it's imperative to get shots right during pre-production. Re-animating a shot (because a character uses knowledge not gained until later in the story, for example) is very expensive, especially compared to live-action filming.
Most animations are storyboarded, in which the main action in each scene is drawn in a comic book-like form. Storyboards are usually pasted on large foam-core or posterboard sheets, which can be quickly read through by the staff. During pre-production, the staff reviews the storyboard for consistency, and parts of the storyboard may be redrawn multiple times.
|a storyboard image|
|an linked drawing|
Typically, each drawing begins with a sketch, in pencil, of the character's pose. This drawing is then cleaned up in ink, though this is not always done; Disney went through a period in which this step was skipped, as is most clearly visible in the original 101 Dalmations. Skipping the inking step was thought to make the animation look more vibrant and alive, but critics and audiences didn't like the look.
|a colored key cel|
The drawing is now considered a "cel." Before computers, the drawing would now be photocopied onto a sheet of clear celluoid or acetate, then hand-painted. This created a "cel," which was placed on top of a background painting and filmed with the click of a film camera. Cels are still highly prized by collectors, though few true cels remain. Many of those on the market are reproductions.
Today, the digital cels are colored on a computer. Meanwhile, a background is drawn (on the computer, or hand-drawn and scanned). The background is imported into an animation program, and each cel is layered onto the background in succession. This is then saved on the computer as a single video file.
|a colored tween|