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Making a story animation is a task which requires a story to be animated, experience with the paint editor, and general knowledge of the "Looks" and "Motion" blocks. Vector animation is performed differently and is covered in the "Animation with Vector" chapter.
Obtaining an Idea or Storyline
The first step in making a story animation is to have an idea in your head. It is important to have a storyline in chronological order. A storyline can be in the present or the past or completely fictional.
Drawing inspiration is often the toughest part of the project. Most animators spend a long time thinking about the "perfect" idea, which is required to make an animation. However, for the beginner, it is often more rewarding to get your hands dirty. Getting the "perfect" idea could take ages and it might be better to choose one simple theme and stick with it.
Brainstorming can be a difficult process. To let creativity flow, inspiration from other sources is usually helpful. Watching animations or reading comics is another possible way. Developing a character and then a storyline around the character is a good way to start. Characters are not always made "perfect". The character should make mistakes, or even be the villain. Queer people you know can be a way to start developing a personality.
Creating a storyline around a character is a lot easier. Think about how the character would react to various situations. Often in story animations, the storyline is less important than the little things. Make storylines open-ended. In contrast to novels, where storylines should have a clear beginning, middle, and end, cartoons have the freedom to end a plot suddenly with a twist. For example, an entire cartoon about a character trying to milk a cow, by giving an account of various attempts and how they failed—some people think that this makes excellent material to build slapstick comedy or gags upon. Repetition is another useful tool.
Being absurd (within reason) and completely unexpected is extremely important to making a funny story animation. Think about every detail, and consider whether it is possible to replace it with something which would be funnier. If talking about a spaceship, don't make a mundane flying saucer. Add some detail that will surprise the audience, like an unexpected bumper sticker (e.g. "How's my driving?").
Drawing is hard for most people, especially on a computer. Here are some drawing tips to follow:
- Start with a sketch (on paper)
- Outline the needed parts in your sketch (darken lines with pencil)
- Draw final in pen either traced or redrawn (trace over or draw the whole thing again on another piece of paper)
- Draw your final drawing on the computer in the paint editor, or use a drawing tablet.
- When drawing on the computer, try to simplify final drawing by removing unneeded features.
- Color it using shading and other styles of drawing.
Drawing an animation is a lot harder—it requires a certain degree of perseverance to perfect it.
An animation is based on moving frames (a series of several pictures put together, with small changes in-between them).
Some steps to follow:
- Draw the character or object.
- Redraw the character with a small change in movement.
- Repeat step 2 as many times as you like and test your animation. The character should look as if it's moving.
- The more frames there are in an animation, the slower it is.
- The less frames there are in an animation, the faster it is.
- All of this depends on how many seconds there are in between the frames. It is recommended that the wait is 0.05 seconds.
- The less frames there are, the more 'choppy' the movements seem. Choppy means that the animation will seem to be skipping movements. For example, if a stick figure is blinking it will be fine, but if the stick figure is moving its arm, then the arm will seem to be moving very fast then stopping.
- Try to have the objects move fluidly. This means that the animation needs to look smooth, not robotic and choppy like it was just thrown together.
Animation with Vector
Start by making your character. Then, duplicate that drawing.
If you are doing a stick figure make his/her arms and legs be lines then reshape the way you want for other frames. You can also make the hands and parts of the arms and legs different shapes and move them around in different frames.
Now, it's all about doing the long part of making any story animation. You have to draw the character and redraw the character with a small change in movement. Just remember that this part will take a while and anyone animating has to be patient.
It may be best to form a group and have various Scratchers animate parts of the story animation. Scratchers can work on the part of the story animation that they are best at. For example, if the story animation calls for a walking cycle, have a Scratcher animate the character walking if that Scratcher specializes in that area.
To upload it to Scratch, take the collaborators' animations and put them into yours, animate it the way you want it, give credit to the collaborators, and share it.
The most crucial part of story animation making is to have fun. The story animation reflects on the animator's or writer's mood. Most viewers want story animations that can entertain them or wow them. That is the animator's job to entertain them or wow them.
Add a Twist
If a joke in your animation is obvious or overused, you can try adding something unexpected to surprise the viewers. This may attract their attention to the animation even more.
At this point, the story animation may be done. Find someone close to you to look over the story animation and have them give feedback. Uploading the project on a test account is not very effective. It could be weeks or even months before a scratcher gets enough feedback online to go back to their story animation and make some changes.