Keys and In-Betweens: The Traditional Animation Process

Technology has undoubtedly transformed the procedure used to bring cartoons to life in the realm of animation. Compared to the days of tracing paper and tilted tables, animation is now much quicker and simpler because of drawing tablets, art-specific software, and the entire process of 3D modeling. 

Animated movies and television shows used to have individual frames drawn by hand, but that era seems to have passed with the advent of contemporary animated movies.

This article includes what traditional animation techniques are, their processes, and their types.

Keyframe Animation

Keyframe animation: what is it? Keyframes are frequently referred to in conventional animation as the crucial frames that make up the animated movement. These frames serve as a blueprint for animators to construct their work. Keyframes, for instance, can be used to identify crucial times such as the wind-up and release of a character tossing a baseball during animation.

Even though computer animation and keyframe animation have mostly supplanted conventional methods, being familiar with the idea of keyframes can still help you produce engaging animations, regardless of the media you’re using. By learning keyframes, you can create projects with captivating and realistic movements.

In-Between Animation

Tweening, also known as “in-betweening,”. The practice of in-between involves putting transitional frames between two distinct things to give the impression that they are moving and changing over time. It is a typical technique found in many different kinds of animation. 

It involves creating a frame as a transition between two distinct objects. It seeks to demonstrate how the first drawing transitioned into the second drawing and appeared to be moving. We are referring to the middle frame that forms during the in-betweens as the in-betweens. The purpose of the transitions is to maintain the appearance of fluid motion.


What is the Process of Traditional Animation?

  1. Traditional stop-motion and frame-by-frame methods
  2. Modern animation methods, such as motion graphics and 3D computer animation,
  3. Traditional animation examples typically have 24–29 frames per second and place each frame one after the other.
  4. Utilizing the rigging technique, modern animation only requires the creation of the initial and end frames of each sequence; the rest is done with computer software.

Process of Traditional Animation

What is the traditional animation process? Let’s discuss

  • Making several storyboards that depict how the movie will look is the first step in the process.
  • To ensure that the animators are aware of exactly when a character is speaking or breaking into song, these are then synchronized with the movie’s previously recorded soundtrack.
  • Then, a variety of animators participate in the character designers’ creation of model sheets to guarantee uniformity in terms of appearance and motion.
  • After finishing all of this, the animation starts!
  • Each frame must precisely match the music to eliminate discrepancies (such as a character’s mouth moving when they are not speaking).
  • Animators create animation sequences on transparent sheets of paper, one frame at a time.
  • Background painters are busy creating the backdrops for each animation segment, frequently using oil or watercolor paints.
  • Making a film from the photos is the next crucial step after they have been cleaned and polished.
  • Each drawing is transferred from paper to a cel (short for celluloid), a thin, transparent piece of plastic.
  • After a sequence has been loaded onto a cel, photography utilizing specialized animated cameras starts.
  • The completed film is transmitted for processing and development after each sequence has been captured on camera.

Traditionally animated films are less common now that computer animation is increasingly prevalent, but they are still very popular since they are labor-intensive labors of love and perhaps more romantic than their more contemporary equivalents.

What was the First Traditional Animation?

For those who adore pencils, the conventional method is really exciting. The hand-drawn illustrations for each frame of the animation differ slightly from one another. The entire collection of drawings is placed into plastic cells, which are then painted with the necessary colors and photographed one by one to create an animated sequence on a background image.

In 1908, French caricaturist Émile Cohl created the first animated motion picture in history, Fantasmagorie, utilizing traditional animation.

It was, however, superseded by less expensive and more effective animation techniques, like cel animation and computer-generated imagery (CGI), in the 1950s, and this caused it to lose popularity. Short films and television commercials are the main uses of conventional animation nowadays. A revived interest in hand-drawn artwork has helped it resurface in recent years.


What Type of Animation is Most Traditional?

This guide’s goal is to walk you through the nuances of the various animation techniques and styles and explain the benefits of digital animation over traditional animation.

Traditional Animation

What is traditional animation? It’s also possible to call conventional animation “cell animation.” It takes a lot of manual work to create each frame for this type of animation. Usually, artists will do this on a light table with a transparent top layer of paper. Companies employing this style of animation are respected companies like Disney. Modern computers and specialized tablets are still used to create traditional animation techniques.

2D Animation

2D animations are those that use vector-based animations and are comparable to those found in Flash. Because technology is so widely available, this type of animation has become more and more popular.

Vector-based animation gives the artist the flexibility to design rigs for the characters and move specific body parts at a time rather than constantly redrawing the characters, even if they can still edit frames by frames. Because they don’t have to rely as largely on sketching abilities, it provides beginners in animation with more versatility.

3D Animation

3D animation, also referred to as computer animation, is the most widely used type of animation. Drawing is more comparable to 3D animation than puppet theater. Computer-generated imagery, or CGI, or just CG, is used to create 3D animation. Those pictures are the frames for an animated scene.

A character is moved in a program rather than being drawn, which is less the case with 3D animation. The National Science Foundation claims that 3D animators mostly use physics to produce realistic animations. The computer fills in the gaps after the animator sets keyframes or particular movements.

Motion Graphics

The skill of moving visual components, shapes, and text is the main focus of this artistic discipline. These days, explainer videos, animated logos, and television commercials all use this technique.

Motion graphics don’t require mimicking body movement or facial emotions, so the skill set required for the other types of animation doesn’t apply. Animated motion graphics are extensively used in advertisements, which can provide several professional prospects.


Stop Motion

Similar to traditional animation, stop-motion uses a series of significantly adjusted still images to provide the impression of movement. The main distinction is that photography is used in stop-motion to capture genuine objects.

When creating stop motion, the artists first photograph a scene or object, then make a small movement to the subject matter. Each image serves as a frame in the animation, and the artist repeats this technique until the scene is finished. It resembles a photo flipbook in certain ways.

Final Words

The art of traditional animation has been refined over the course of almost a century, and while technical advancements have allowed it to progress past its original state of perfection, we must nevertheless value the old-fashioned aesthetic and labor-intensive nature of traditional animation and would like to see more of it in today’s media.

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