How to Make Animation Movie

The tutorial of how to make animated cartoons.

Animation has been gaining popularity since the very first animated movie "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" released by Walt Disney in 1937, some 97 years back. Be it video greetings for your friends or an animated marketing highlight of your brand, animation is taking over virtual communication nowadays.

Even though animation can be a sophisticated task, with practice and patience comes success. This article will show you how to make animation movie easier to help you master it faster.

Part 1. How to Make an Animated Short Film

From scripting to compositing, here we'll teach you just how animation movies are made through some baby steps. Let's get to work already!


01 Pen Down a Script for Your Story

First and foremost, you need to figure out the story you want to tell and structure your ideas. Creating a script is the perfect way to do just that, but easier said than done. To create a smooth and straightforward script, focus on these main points.

A Theme: Give your film an inspiration or a message that affects the viewer in some way.

Characters: Decide a hero character for your film that will hold the attention. If you want a more detailed movie, side characters can be a good approach. Your script does not need the dialogues, though.

Visuals: Visual is the background or atmosphere where your shots take place.

A beginning, middle, and end: Although not mandatory, but a three-act story is always a blessing.

write a script

02 Design Your Characters

Before animation, design the outlook of your characters. Sketch their different poses, variety of costumes, and expressions to fit various scenes.

Drawing the characters in ¾ rotation so that they do not face the viewer can be a good trick to avoid detailing; still, if you want, draw them from several viewpoints to add fun.

design characters

03 Draw Up a Storyboard

A storyboard looks like a comic strip that presents a rough look at how your video will unfold. It does not have to be very realistic with background details or color; however, sketching all the key poses can be quite helpful.

Each panel of the storyboard has two parts:

Image: Sketch the primary shot in this part with notes and arrows to show movement.

Dialogue: Under the image box, pen down the conversations of the respective shot. You can also mention any effects for the scene.

Good thing, there are various free storyboard templates online that you can download.


04 Import Your Storyboard into an Editing Software

Once all the panels are planned out, scan your storyboard to enter it into your computer; label all the panels for better organization. Then, import them into the editing software you want to use and arrange the shots into the correct sequence.

Most commonly used industry-leading software are Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro X. But we suggest you use the software you're comfortable with.

editing software

05 Create the Animatics

You'll love this fun part. Almost all animated movies are first made into animatics to get an idea of how the story flows.

Animatics are simple slideshows of your scenes put together- they set each element's pace to get the timings of your final animation right. All you need to do is put the panels of your storyboard on the timeline of your movie maker in sequential order, shorten or lengthen, trim, or delete a scene as you see fit for a smooth flow of your film.

create animatics

06 Draw Out Your Background Layout

Now that your animatics are ready, this is where the actual video production starts. Begin with creating a background layout over which your characters will be superimposed but do not interact with. When drawing your background, be precise about the part that will be in the shot. Extra background visuals can be messy.

Make sure your background layout is a big drawing with high resolution so that it works best with both close-ups and mid-shots.

background layout

07 Design Dope Sheets/Exposure Sheets

Animation is all about timing. And there's nothing better than Dope sheets to keep the rhythm of each animated scene.

exposure sheets

08 Create a Rough Animation

Before creating a rough animation, you need to model all the key poses of your characters: the more the poses, the more detailed your character's movement. For instance, you can add a keyframe of the character looking happy, dancing, goofing, then spinning around to end up like this.

Try and save each key pose on a separate layer.

rough animation

09 Add the “Inbetween” Frames

Inbetweening or tweening will get you started from a key and end at the other while giving a smoother action to your subtle animation. The more in-between frames you draw, the smoother the movement. However, a few keys and two to three in-betweens will also work for you.


10 Compositing

In simpler words, it's time to loop your movie together. Compositing is as straightforward as combining all the elements into one scene using an animation movie maker such as Toon Boom, PowToon, or any other. Or, if you're a 3D animator by chance, composite your film by rendering 3D models with accurate lightning.

11 Give Your Film Finishing Touches

We're almost there. For the final touches to your nearly finished movie, add voice-overs or dialogues to give life to your characters.

To make things even better, you can insert various sound effects in the movie. Just make sure the sound effects don't subdue or conflict with your vocals.

film finishing touches

Part 2. Recommend an Online Movie Maker for You

In case you're not yet convinced with animation video and want a stunning visual story that pops your social media, we recommend a powerful online movie maker, VidAir.

Wondershare VidAir with robust editing features that help you create professional-looking movie clips within no time. You will find it approachable for personal as well as professional use owing to the multiple customizable tools. To make your videos more creative, it offers a comprehensive template variety categorized for different occasions, such as Birthday, Halloween, travel, and more. It is also the best bet for newbies with its user-friendly interface, which makes movie-making fun. On the bright side, it lets you edit your videos while staying in the comfort of your browser without the hassle of any downloads.

How to create a movie with VidAir

Step 1 Sign-up and choose a template for an online movie maker

Get VidAir set up on your browser. After signing up, select a themed template that attracts and fits your video theme from the variety of templates in different categories. Choose your ratio format and hit Use This Template to dive into the editing pane.

sign-up in vidair

Step 2 Easy edit

After you enter the editing pane, get started with customizing your video clip. To add artistic texts, music, stickers, and free stock images and videos, explore the left toolbar tools. Alter the timeline aspects to rearrange and add additional scenes to your movie using the Add Scene option. Another toolbar on the right side lets you personalize the added text's style, color, and position.

edit your video

Step 3 Save and Export

Once your video is completed with all the essentials, hit the Export button on the top right corner. Set your desired resolution and finally press Export.

save and export


Animation is a new form of family entertainment. With the advancement of technology, animation has stepped up the video marketing game. Today anyone with a computer can make exciting animation movies. All you must do is find the right animation tool, play with your creativity, and you're good to go.

So, are you ready? Have an interesting story in your head? Now that you know how to make a cartoon movie turn your imagination into a fascinating reality. Create an animated motion picture and flaunt it in front of the world.

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