Category: Pre Production

Color Models


Color Models

Once model sheets are established, color models of the characters need to be created, defining not only the model sheet information but also the colors and possible textures required for the characterization. With 3D character design, this is much more obvious, but in 2D animation, the color models will not only define the actual colors that make up that character but can also define outline techniques, line quality (in terms of the thickness or thinness), any hand-rendered textures that may be laid over the basic fat coloring, or anything else that defines that character from a design and coloring point of view. At the Richard Williams Studio in the 70s and 80s there was no limit to the styles used for animated character design, whether that is traditional cartoon, “Roger Rabbit” molding, old book engraving styles, pencil-shaded rendering, woodcut hatching, or even old Master oil painting brush strokes. Each of these styles had to be defined in a color model form first, so each animator would know the required animation drawing style.


color modelsThe use of color is an important aspect of character design.It must be in keeping with the general design concept and fit comfortably with the rest of the design elements of the production. A multitude of psychedelic colors outlined by a heavy black line may not be what is required if the backgrounds are to be painted in delicate Chinese watercolor techniques. Color must also be used with care when targeting a specific audience. Designs using bright primary colors may be appropriate for a pre-school TV series but unsuitable for a darker piece aimed at an adult audience.


The practical use of color and the constraints upon production and distribution must also play a part in the design. Because the coloring of 2D classical animation can be a very major part of the production budget, the level of detailing and the number of colors used for a particular character must also be considered. The more colors you have and the more detailed a character is, the more costly the enterprise.


Color model sheets are generally used by the department dealing with paint and trace to ensure that all the individuals that color and shade the characters do so in line with the director’s instructions. Again, this can involve creating many different versions of color models to accommodate different costumes and different environments. A character dressed in the same clothing would look very different when seen in a brightly lit room than they would in an exterior moonlit scene or in the glow of a camp-fire. Digital paint and trace systems such as Animo, developed in 1992 by Cambridge Animation Systems, have replaced much of the work that was traditionally done on cels. Computer programs such as Animo are used not only to paint the artwork, but allow all manner of special effects to be achieved for a fraction of the cost and within a much tighter schedule than the traditional methods. They have done away with the need for messy paints and cels that were prone to scratching if mishandled, and required vast amounts of space to paint and leave to dry. This type of software also incorporates a system where by all the camera work hitherto undertaken on a rostrum camera is built in to the programme, enabling a full range of camera moves and effects to be achieved. The work is then rendered and output directly to a range of formats, including formats for the Internet, doing away with the need to shoot the footage as a separate activity. While the high-end professional software may remain outside the reach of many of us, there is now a range of affordable animation-specific software available for amateur animators.


Model Sheets

When designing a character for any particular animated medium (2D or 3D), the designer must consider what their design will look like from all angles and from all points of view. Although traditionally drawn animation essentially views everything with a two-dimensional view, one look at the very best of 2D character animation reveals that it is necessary to understand the character from numerous viewpoints, even for something as simple as an animated take or head turn. To ensure that the designer, the director, and the team of animators understand the full structure and nature of a particular character from all possible angles and perspectives, a character model sheet is created.


A model sheet is the blueprint of a character, defining its size, construction, and pro-portions. The model sheet traditionally must show the character from the three fundamental viewpoints—front, profile, and rear view—with sometimes a front three-quarter and a rear three-quarter view thrown in for good measure. A good model sheet will also define the head-height formula for that character and may even include close-up details of the character’s features, such as hands, mouth, and feet. There can often be more than one model sheet per character, depending on the amount of construction de-tail required by the production team. Additional model sheets might also show specific attitude poses of the character, its relative size to other featured characters, and even mouth positions for vowels and consonants if lip-sync dialogue is anticipated. With Hollywood-level movie productions, if might also be advisable to create 3D clay models of the main characters, so animators can pick them up and view their shape and form from every conceivable angle. Anything that familiarizes the animator with the character is valuable when designing an animation character.



The basic model sheet shows a character from all sides. This gives the animator a clear idea of the character’s form and any details of costume. These designs give a clear indication of the overall structure and proportions of an animated character seen in 360 degrees. They are designed specifically for use by animators in order for them to gain a clear understanding of the individual character’s ‘three-dimensional’ form.


When considering the structure and the anatomy of the animated character, simplification is the order of the day. It is necessary to break down a design into a form where it becomes possible to handle the character efficiently as animation. That’s where model sheets come in. Generally, the use of model sheets for animators is restricted to 2D classical animation, as they create every frame of the animation from scratch each time. While the need for model sheets in 3D stop-frame animation or computer animation may not be seen as such a great issue for the animators, as they are working with prefabricated models, they will certainly benefit from those model sheets and action sheets that illustrate the range and type of actions that a character is capable of. This can only enhance the performance that an animator gives.


Model sheets should contain all the relevant visual information the animators need. There should be no ambiguity at all within the drawing or the poses. Model sheets should illustrate the character in a simple pose giving, within separate drawings, details of front, rear and side views. This is just as important and useful as showing the character in a series of dynamic poses. The model sheet should enable the animator to gain a good understanding of what the character looks like through 360 degrees. Model sheets should always be clear, with any additional information added as notation.They should also provide all the detailing of costume and in some circumstances it may be necessary to create more than one such model sheet for a character if, for instance, the character changes costume within the film.


How to make my own cartoon character follow as below:


The KISS Principle

Keep it Simple, Stupid. As you’re not only going to have to build, but animate your character it pays not to go overboard on design. Try to keep your designs simple, elegant and above all workable.


Make your character Likable

No character should be fully “good” or fully “evil” – add some traits that contradict the main focus of the character.


Use familiar Visual Themes

A visual theme is a design thread that has familiar attributes running through everything in the animation. If your characters aren’t connected to the visual theme of your animation, it’s a lot harder for your audience to believe in them.


Give your Character Visual Appeal

Make your character interesting to look at. Doesn’t have to be pretty or beautiful, but no one will notice or remember a character that’s boring. In Shrek, even the supporting characters had visual appeal. The ogre-hunters and Robin Hood are two good examples.



No character should be perfect. Just as people are never perfect, neither should your characters be … perfect characters tend to come out as annoying and unrealistic … even superheroes have their problems and mental issues remember.



What happened to your character BEFORE he, she or it came to live in your head? What circumstances made them the way they are? What was their life like? This is also called “establishing” a character and is in evidence in Shrek by the use of the whole opening sequence (in a long case) and by the personality of Donkey’s owner (the short case)



Use the force – the knowledge and thinking you have developed and used should be part of every character in your animation. An excellent main character will sometimes save a poor animation, but a good supporting cast will always help to create a good one. Remember to act out your character as often as possible, become as one with your creations.


Script writing

Screenwriting, also called script-writing is the art and craft of writing scripts for mass media such as feature films, television productions or video games.

123Screenwriters are responsible for researching the story, developing the narrative, writing the screenplay, and delivering it, in the required format, to Development Executives. Screenwriters therefore have great influence over the creative direction and emotional impact of the screenplay and, arguably, of the finished film. They either pitch original ideas to Producers in the hope that they will be optioned or sold, or screenwriters are commissioned by a producer to create a screenplay from a concept, true story, existing screen work or literary work, such as a novel, poem, play, comic book or short story.

The act of screenwriting takes many forms across the entertainment industry. Often, multiple writers work on the same script at different stages of development with different tasks.


Visual Design

The director works closely with the art director to develop concept art for all elements in the production. Working under the art director’s supervision, concept artists in the Visual Design department create multiple versions of these elements, which usually include characters, props, environments, and any asset that will need to be created during the production stage.

Visual designs are usually in the form of traditional sketches and paintings, as well as clay sculptures, often referred to as maquettes. These designs begin loosely and are refined over time, and turned into model sheets for the modeling and texture departments.


Developing a  Character

1. The KISS Principlekeep_it_simple

Keep it Simple, Stupid. As you’re not only going to have to build, but animate your character it pays not to go overboard on design. Try to keep your designs simple, elegant and above all workable.


2. Development

A strong main character is essential to an animated production. For your main character to be strong, you have to know them inside and out. This is where acting plays a huge part in animation. Think about things like:

  • How will your character react in any given situation?
  • How does your character move around?
  • How does your character interact with other characters and the environment around it?
  • What sort of character is it?
  • What are its goals and motivations?
  • What are the physical considerations you need to make? (Gravity, weight, mass, health, speed, height, weight etc)


Step 1:

Draw your way to fulfillment – the next step is rough character sketches, you should have some idea of your story from the brainstorming, and things to note here are that reference is always invaluable, the more reference you can get the better for you and your characters it will be. Get used to drawing your character and its parts over and over again, become familiar with the look and feel of your character, try different poses and actions. Make sure the character has a strong silhouette, a distinct solid black shape. This will make sure it can be seen over a background.


Step 2:

Start breathing some life – The aim in any animation should be the “Illusion of Life” you’re not just trying to make normally inanimate objects move, you’re attempting to bring them to life. You will need to make your character believable to your audience. As well as good, accurate motion, there are several other things you can give your character to help present the Illusion of Life

Stage 1: Pre-production

The pre-production stage is the process of preparing all the elements involved in a production and is the foundation of the project—the blueprint of the entire animation. The story and visual look of a project is developed at this stage, as well as the overall planning of the production. Any shortcuts taken at this stage of the game can directly affect whether a project will be a success or not.



After the initial concept has been approved or decided upon, writers develop the story in the form of a script or screenplay. Story is critical. It’s my opinion that the success of Pixar films is directly influenced by the fact that it is a story-driven animation studio. The highest production values cannot save a project with an inadequate story. Without a solid story, there are only elements thrown randomly at the screen, leaving the viewer confused, bored, and in most cases, unsatisfied.

The story lives in the director’s head. A good director should have the entire movie already playing in the theatre of the mind, and the director’s job is, quite simply, to transpose what he sees in his mind onto the screen.


Idea Creation

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Ideas can arrive in an untold number of ways. They can come from a phrase uttered by someone in a conversation, from a line read in a book, newspaper, or magazine, from a picture or illustration you happen to glance at one day, or from an event or moment you experience in your daily life. Perhaps the latest novel you read or the magazine article you recently finished inspires you. You may have sketched a curious character who suggests a storyline to you, or maybe you just have a thought buzzing through your head that won’t go away no matter how hard you try.

You can even be inspired by another artist’s work, or a technique you saw in the last movie you watched, or a dream you had one night. Or the idea just popped into your head when you were using the restroom! Ideas can come from everywhere and anywhere. Life speaks to us constantly. We just have to have our eyes and ears open to it when it does so.


Evolving a Story line

Ok, so let’s say you’ve navigated the potentially treacherous and turbulent waters of intellectual copyright and its inherent dangers of plagiarism and you’re ready to move on. The next stage is story line  Whether you are making a film, a TV program, a computer game, or even a Web site movie, you will now need to progress your basic idea into a story line that an audience or player can identify with. The very best story lines tend to contain three essential elements: set-up, and resolution.

In the set-up stage, you introduce your audience to the setting, characters, and circum-stances of your story. Unless the opening of your story line is deliberately conceived to shock, deceive, or confuse, the audience needs to be introduced to the world you are about to take them into. All the parameters of your story line are set at this stage.

The conflict stage in your story line is often the point where things start to go wrong for the characters. Characters might behave out of keeping with what we believed them to be, or our hero character may suddenly be threatened by unexpected, or out of control, events around him or her. Perhaps a new character or another form of disruptive element is introduced to the plot, which turns the entire status quo of the story upside down. Whatever the cause, a definite conflict materializes something significant enough to turn our cosy, established world, or its way of being, entirely upside down.

As implied by its name, the resolution stage is the point of the movie (invariably the end of the movie but not always so) when the conflict we have introduced comes to a climax and is resolved in one way or another. This can give us a happy ending, a sad ending, or an ending that leaves audiences wondering. But it does need to resolve the story line we have established in the first two stages so the audience feels some kind of satisfaction that the outcome is as it should be. The only exception to this would be in a series, where you deliberately leave the audience hanging, wanting more.