An In Depth Look at Drawn Animation

An In-Depth Look at Drawn Animation

Table of Contents

Drawn animation ruled the animated film industry before computer-generated imagery (CGI). You’ve probably seen it before because it’s a common element in a lot of Disney masterpieces and even anime films. However, not many people are aware of the arduous procedure involved in making these fantastic universes come to life. Wondering what exactly the hand-drawn animation is?

In this article, we have discussed drawn animation in detail with its tidbits of history and some famous examples. So, are you ready to begin?

What is Hand-Drawn Animation?

This type of animation, sometimes referred to as “hand-drawn animation” or “cel animation,” has long been the most popular kind in movies. But in terms of popularity, computer animation has surpassed it.

Even so, the labor-intensive and time-consuming practice of hand-drawn animation persists despite technological advancements.

The Creation Method

Making a series of storyboards that represent the film’s visual aesthetic is the first step. The animators are synchronized with the film’s pre-recorded soundtrack to ensure they know precisely when a character speaks or breaks into a song.

Since numerous animators are involved, character designers subsequently produce model sheets to ensure that the appearance and movement of the characters are uniform throughout.

After this is finished, the animation starts!

One frame at a time, transparent sheets of paper are utilized to generate animation sequences, making sure that every frame is precisely synchronized with the music. For instance, when a character isn’t speaking, their lips move.

Background painters utilize either oil paints or watercolors to paint the backdrop of each animation sequence.

Making a video out of the pictures is an essential next step once they have been cleaned and polished!

The thin, translucent plastic sheets that the drawings are copied onto are called celluloid or cel. A specialized animated camera is used to film a sequence after it has been arranged into cells. Once every scene has been filmed, the completed film is submitted to be developed and processed.

Though traditional animated films continue to be a prevalent type of entertainment, the rise of computer animation has resulted in a drop in their production.

Short History

As you know, prior to the development of computer-generated imagery (CGI), this was the most often used animation style. In reality, it was extensively utilized in American culture, primarily in Walt Disney productions. But there were other noteworthy productions in the visual arts field at the time besides those two. Now, allow us to take you on the memory lane to explain hand-drawing animation in detail further:

1937 – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Image Source: Museum of Modern Art

Even though at least seven films had been made before it, many people still believe that Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first animated feature film. That being said, this Disney movie was the first to use hand-drawn animation exclusively.

1940 – Pinocchio

Image Source: Slant Magzine

Disney’s second animated movie, Pinocchio, was based on Carlo Collodi’s Italian children’s book “The Adventures of Pinocchio.” It differs from its predecessor in that it takes an efficient approach. With their smooth and flowing movements, characters were virtually brought to life, creating a new benchmark for the industry. The film’s remarkable effects, like the lifelike whale, the gorgeous ocean water, and the fairy dust, astounded the viewers.

1988 – Akira

Image Source: Qwipster

Many animation studios in Japan have also employed drawn animation to produce classic works of art that have grown to become beloved hand-drawn anime cult films.

Unquestionably, one of the most well-known Japanese animated films of all time is Akira. Tokyo, which was constructed on the remains of the former Japanese capital devastated during World War III, is shown in this cyberpunk vision of the metropolis.

This well-known hand-drawn anime is praised for its animation since each frame demonstrates a great deal of depth and attention to detail. However, the way light is used in this film to convey ideas as well as to illuminate the scenery is what sets it apart. For instance, in one scene, the police’s authority is viewed as a bright, dazzling light.

Furthermore, to replicate lighting found in real settings, the artists produced a light with a variety of colors, forms, and textures. Lamp lights and neon street signs, or the way these lights reflect on a face, are not the same. Through their works, the artists attempted—and succeeded—to depict these contrasts. Furthermore, this focalized lighting was entirely hand-drawn! As if that weren’t enough!

Aladdin – 1992

Image Source: Anderson Vision

This is another traditional animation example; Walt Disney Pictures Animation created the illustrated animated musical fantasy film “Aladdin,” which is based on the Arabian folktale story found in the “One Thousand and One Nights collection.” When it was released in 1992, it brought in $504 million at the global box office.

The first adaptation of the primary character, Aladdin, was meant to look like actor Michael J. Fox, but the designers decided that this version of Aladdin was too mannish, so they altered the picture to make it more lookalike a cross between Tom Cruise and a Calvin Klein model. The Jafar character, which contrasts with all the other characters made for the movie and is made of vertical lines, is one of the most distinctive designs.

Since some Disney animators worked out of the California branch and some from the Florida branch, each figure was animated independently. It was undoubtedly difficult to plan and coordinate the process back when the only means of communication were fax machines and telephones, yet despite this, they were nevertheless able to produce a fantastic burst of visual creativity.

The experts used a real piece of cloth as a reference to make the carpet move more realistically and appear more natural. After creating the animation, they digitally applied the design of the actual cloth surface.

The team went a step further and utilized video footage of the monkeys in the San Francisco Zoo to learn about their behavior and then replicate identical actions. It’s difficult to believe that the short was made in 1992, given how excellent the animation and design turned out.

Indeed, the drawn animations have enhanced, businesses have developed, and with the advent of computer-generated imagery (CGI), artists are now able to produce large-scale, visually stunning projects, such as the Pixar animated blockbusters.

Spirited Away, 2001

Image Source: Jodilmilner

Another animated hand-drawing film from Japan is Spirited Away, which was made by Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli and went on to become the highest-grossing movie in Japanese history. As the only foreign film to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, it even made history in this category.

Spirited Away demonstrates the skill necessary to produce scenes of this caliber using traditional hand-drawn animation techniques. The meticulous attention to colour, movement, and detail still draws in the audiences of today.

A year after the film’s Japanese premiere, Disney and Studio Ghibli collaborated to re-release the picture in English, thereby introducing it to a broader audience in the West, acknowledging the brilliance of its creator, Hayao Miyazaki.

The Lion King – 1994

Image Source: The Movie DB

The Lion King is another one of the best traditional animation examples. This 1994 Walt Disney Pictures release won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture.

The animators worked with wildlife experts and made a special trip to Kenya’s Hell’s Gate National Park to design the characters and provide realistic movement for them. This made the film’s setting more realistic and the animal characters’ motions and behaviors more akin to their natural states. Just the 2.5-minute wildebeest stampede scene took three years to create for the animators!

It was the first time, incidentally, that computers were utilized for drawn animation in film to give animals a more lifelike appearance and movement.

How Is Today’s Drawn Animation Made?

Since Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, this method has undergone significant change. Animators now have the option to utilize a similar but more modern technique called “digital ink and paint” to create a video in this style. The primary distinction is that instead of transferring finished drawings and backdrops to cells, it enables users to scan them into digital media. Additionally, they can work directly on a tablet or computer monitor by adding and processing colors using specialized software.

After that, the digital drawings are composited onto matching backgrounds—which may also be painted digitally. The film is finally produced by the computer and exported as a digital video file.

However, in recent decades, new forms of drawn animation have evolved, completely changing the video production industry. Here are a few of them:

2D Animation

Although 2D hand-drawn animation is created with computer programs, this style exhibits some hand-drawn approaches, such as the use of flat figures, objects, and scenes (flat being the keyword here). 

Because of its aesthetic appeal, capacity to convey information simply through storytelling, and affordability in comparison to other animation forms, this style is the most widely used in video marketing and entertainment productions.

CGI/3D Animation

3D characters are fully modeled in a software application, in contrast to drawn animation characters. They are then given a volumetric framework that gives animators the ability to modify and posture them.

They are placed at predetermined keyframes during the animation process, and the computer adds and executes the interaction between these frames to produce realistic motion. Because of this, compared to drawn components, 3D films are more accurate and feature seamless transitions and details. Additionally, pros may add depth, perspective, and shadows to their creations that are not possible with other genres due to 3D animation.

These days, as it provides the audience with an engaging visual experience, this is the best format for product videos. When compared to 2D drawing animation videos, the production cost of 3D animation can frequently be very high.

Animation In Business Industry

This traditional animation technique is still used occasionally in cartoons and movies these days, although not often in commercials. The most common animation styles in this field for producing various kinds of marketing videos are 2D and 3D. A few areas where drawing for animation is used are:

Educational Videos

These movies make complex subjects more approachable and exciting by providing a visual and participatory learning experience. To do this, they cover everything from academic knowledge to practical skills using animation, audio narration, and written content. With the help of instructional videos, businesses may impart industry knowledge and position themselves as the market’s expert.

Explainer Videos

These two-dimensional animated movies are interesting, precise, and succinct business idea introductions. The ability of explainer videos to use dynamic images to convey complicated ideas understandably sets them apart from other types of videos. Because they are so easily shared on various platforms, such as social media and blog articles, and because they are incredibly entertaining, they are helpful in reaching a wide range of people.

The “whiteboard animation video” explainer video style is visually comparable to the animation drawing method. Videos in this format give the impression that the story and characters are hand-drawn on a whiteboard.

Commercial Videos

This is the ideal method to highlight a good or service if you wish to! Commercial videos can assist in effectively and captivatingly showcasing what you have to offer the world. In addition, they enable you to quickly communicate the essence of your company, which facilitates audience engagement and, eventually, sales.

Final Words

As you can see, from the turn of the 20th century until the present, film animation has advanced significantly. CGI animation replaces hand-drawn animation. However, no matter how much the animation method has changed, the plot remains crucial. Plus, mastering both drawn animation and computer-generated imagery CGI should be high on your list of things to learn if you want to advance your career in animated cinema.

By using that key, you can now use explainer videos or animated educational videos to establish an emotional connection with your audience. You can produce robust marketing materials like explainer films, animated advertisements, demos, and much more if you can grasp that.

Moreover, Anideos is the leading animation firm in the industry; if you want top-notch animations of different types, get in touch!

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Adam is a copywriter and content strategist with years of experience covering the latest trends in technology and digital industry. Adam brings a fresh and creative approach to his writing. With his passion for writing as well as amazing research skills, he shares valuable knowledge on multiple trends.