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Painting Fish - Step by step/tutorial

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 “scratch tracks”. 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 character’s feet is touching the ground, you’ll have to make sure the perspective is right as it’s 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 it’ll be easier to crop out scenes i don’t need and time out each scene easier; after all, it’s 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 scene’s frames into Photoshop.
I clean up in photoshop and drop it back into my leika reel again (that’s the story-board reel you did…with 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 i’m 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 don’t 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. it’s too difficult to go into it right now. google if you’re not sure what i’m talking about).

Anyways, i put together scenes as i finish colouring them, and when i’m done compositing the scene, i drop it back into the leika reel. I keep doing that until i’m done and do some final adjustments. I sometimes go back to do more special effects stuff when i had time, but that’s 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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© 2012 - 2021 Qinni
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Ging1991's avatar
Soniiiety's avatar
how long did this take to make? the animation
NightFuryTerritory's avatar
What's the difference between the 3rd one and the last one? 
RiskyDash11's avatar

I think the last one has shadeing, and the 3rd one dosen't. I think. Rest in peace, Qinni.

NightFuryTerritory's avatar

I have no idea how I didn't see that

RiskyDash11's avatar

I didn't see it a first either.

TheWillowFox's avatar
was the scene draw on physical pieces of paper
MoonStorm6's avatar
Thanks for ur help!
xXAlexandriteXx's avatar
I think that animation is very Unique and Creative! Love it <3 Keep up the good job!
SuperSarcosmic's avatar
This has been a source of wonder and inspiration for me for years. 
AngelofSmiles's avatar
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's avatar
Great Work!  I'll use this as reference!
DubiousTemp's avatar
This makes a really good reference!
sorastar4's avatar
Ooooh jojojo OwO beatiful magnific /w\
VeronicaRaddSherwood's avatar
Very helpful. Thank you :)
Sinchanpelman's avatar
Thank you very much!
I-Do-Care's avatar
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!)
SinnTea's avatar
beautiful! what did you use to make this? flash? :O
FrozenMaple's avatar
i love this animation!!! I watch it on tumblr every time its on my dash :3
HebaWOA's avatar
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's avatar
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 !!!!!!!  *-* !!!!!!!!!
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