What is Drawn Animation? A Beginner’s Guide to the Art Form

Drawn animation is a traditional art of animation in which every frame of any film is hand drawn on a transparent sheet. It is also known as cel animation. Drawn animation is a technique that is used for the last 100 years.

Drawn animation is one of the oldest forms of animation, with roots dating back to the late 1800s. It was popularized in the early 20th century with the advent of sound film and has remained a staple of the animation industry ever since.

To make films or television shows animator should draw every frame in a series then these frames are displayed at the normal speed, on playing them at that normal speed these drawings appear to move and create the illusion of action and motion.

In the initial days the cels are only used for the background and To finish a scene, the characters were drawn on sheets of rice paper and fixed beneath the background. but in 1914, Earl Hard make a big change in the process instead of drawing background on cel the characters are drawn in the cels and the background remains static. this makes the work easier.

how to do drawn animation as a beginner?

Source:- Yansmedia

To make your first drawn animation you should follow these basic steps. Although hand-drawn animation takes a long time so you should have some patience and work on it.

1. Decide What You Want To Make

First of all for any kind of your need a clear vision of what you want to make and what your end product should look like. it helps to work more without distraction.

Because most of the time people get distracted and get bored by the process and left them in the middle. so if you really want to make a drawn animation then you should have a clear vision around it.

To decide what you want to make you should take notes of what you are planning to do. then make a brief plan of your next steps so that you know what is the next step you have to make.

2. Storyboarding Your Animation

After planning what you want to do make a storyboard of your first drawn animation. a storyboard is a scene-by-scene rough animation of your animation.

A storyboard helps you to place your character object, lights, and many more thing within the frame. so when you make the animation you know where your object and character should be placed.

For storyboarding you can use paper or any basic software that is available online that you can use to make your storyboard.

How To Do Storyboarding?

Make rectangular boxes the same ratio then start drawing your frames in boxes in serial-wise and number them.

Try to make a quick drawing on the boxes, don’t put more details in the drawing. drawing just to clarify what you have to draw for your animation. here are some examples of drawn animation.

Here are a few more storyboarding tips:

  • use a rectangle of the same aspect ratio for every scene.
  • number out every square to get the right reference while animating.
  • Think in 3D. Make subjects/objects in the background smaller, so they appear further away.
  • Cut up and recombine your storyboards to play with sequencing and narrative.
  • Use the finished storyboard to create a master shot list. This way nothing will get overlooked during production.

3. Then Start Drawing Every Frame

After finalizing your shots by storyboarding you should start drawing your frames. while working make a storyboard as your reference for the character and object so that you can make your end product more look like your planned one.

You can use different software to make your animation work. the very popular software that you start with is Adobe Animate, Moho, Animaker, Krita, and many more. all these software are easy to use and have very interactive interfaces.

Some Tips to Make your Animation Better:

  • Try to look for real-life references it will help you choose better colors for your animation.
  • Use basic shapes to make your drawings more powerful, You can start your drawing with circles.
  • Think in 3D. Make subjects and objects in the background smaller so they appear further away.
  • visually highlight the important element. like, adding more colors on the face which are exposed to the sun.
  • try to add depth and shadows in your drawn animation.

A Brief History of Drawn Animation: From Early Experiments to Classic Films

The first drawn animated film in the world was “Fantasmagorie” which was created by Émile Cohl in 1908. It was a hand-drawn animated film that used the technique of stop-motion to create the illusion of movement. it consists of 700 hand-drawn frames.

The film was only about two minutes long and consisted of a series of simple line drawings that were hand-drawn and then photographed one frame at a time. The film was shown in theaters and was a major influence on the development of the animation industry.

Drawn animation is used in a variety of media, including television shows and movies, video games, advertising, educational content, social media, web design, and product design. It allows animators to bring characters and stories to life in a way that is engaging and entertaining for audiences of all ages.

Here is the list of the top 5 examples of drawn animation films of all time that continuously evolves the drawn animation style and make them more appealing to the audience.

1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first feature-length animated film and it established many of the conventions of drawing animation that is still used today.

The film was directed by Walt Disney and produced by Walt Disney Productions. It was based on the German fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm and told the story of Snow White, a princess who is pursued by her evil stepmother, the Queen.

To escape the Queen’s wrath, Snow White takes refuge with a group of seven friendly dwarfs. The film was a groundbreaking achievement in animation and it received widespread critical acclaim upon its release.

2. Pinocchio (1940)

Pinocchio was a groundbreaking film in the history of drawing animation. It was directed by Ben Sharpsteen and produced by Walt Disney Productions.

The film was based on the Italian children’s novel The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi and told the story of a wooden puppet who is brought to life by a fairy.

The film was notable for its use of the multiplane camera, which allowed for more realistic and dynamic movement in the animation.

Pinocchio was a major commercial and critical success and it is widely considered to be a classic of animation.

3. Fantasia (1940)

Fantasia was a groundbreaking experiment in animation, combining classical music with abstract and imaginative animation. The film was directed by James Algar and produced by Walt Disney Productions. It consisted of eight animated segments set to classical music and featured a range of animation styles, from traditional hand-drawn animation to more experimental techniques. Fantasia was a critical and commercial success and it is considered to be a masterpiece of animation.

4. Bambi (1942)

Bambi was a major achievement in the history of drawing animation. It was directed by David Hand and produced by Walt Disney Productions.

The film was based on the novel Bambi, A Life in the Woods by Felix Salten, and told the story of a young deer named Bambi who is orphaned after his mother is killed by hunters.

The film was known for its realistic and expressive character animation, which helped to set a new standard for the medium. Bambi was a critical and commercial success and it is widely considered to be a classic of animation.

5. Cinderella (1950)

Cinderella was a major achievement in the history of drawing animation. It was directed by Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, and Hamilton Luske and produced by Walt Disney Productions.

The film was based on the fairy tale Cinderella by Charles Perrault and told the story of a young girl who is mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters but finds happiness and love with the help of her fairy godmother.

The film was widely praised for its beautiful and detailed animation, which helped to solidify Disney’s position as the leader in the animation industry.

Cinderella was a critical and commercial success and it is widely considered to be a classic of animation.

Wrapping Up

Despite the rise of computer-generated animation, drawing animation is far from dead. In fact, there has been a resurgence of interest in hand-drawn animation in recent years, with many animators and studios opting for the more organic and expressive nature of hand-drawn animation over the perfection and precision of computer-generated animation.

Overall, drawing animation is a versatile and enduring technique that continues to captivate and inspire audiences around the world. So, it will never be dead.

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I'm Aman Kumar, a 3D artist from India. Nixologic is our project where we aim to educate people about 3D and game development.