The process of creating a cartoon can be long and complicated, but if you really want to see your own stories in animated version, the end result will be worth it. In this article you will find everything you need to do if you want to create your own cartoon.
Part 1 of 5: Brainstorm
Step 1. Consider your resources
Your imagination may have no limits, but your budget and talent probably do. When brainstorming a new idea for a cartoon, remember how much you can afford to invest in the process and what your artistic ability is capable of producing.
- If you are a beginner, it is best if you do not do anything related to stories and topics that require complicated animated scenes, such as large battles or complex machinery. You may need to improve your artistic ability and practice more before you are ready for a project of this magnitude.
- Also remember that you will need more equipment and it will depend on how complex you want your cartoon to be. A lamination with 2 dozen characters and 4 scenarios will need more supplies than a cell animation that only needs 1 scenario. Keep your cartoon short and simple if you think budget is a problem.
Step 2. Think about the duration
The length of your cartoon depends on the market in which you want it to be distributed. If you know from the beginning how long it will last, it will be easier to brainstorm ideas so that the story adapts to the time.
- If you want to create a full-length cartoon, it will need to be 11-20-25 minutes long.
- Animated movies are 60-120 minutes long.
- If all you want to create is a single cartoon to upload to the Internet, you can create a short one (between 1 and 5 minutes). If you create something longer lasting, people might get bored.
Step 3. You must know your audience
Although the target audience for cartoons is usually children, there are many drawings aimed at teenagers and adults. Age groups and other demographic audiences should be shaped by the ideas you produce.
For example, a cartoon with a tragic story, such as the death of a loved one, could be directed to a slightly older audience. If your target audience is young people, you could choose a topic that is concrete and easy to understand
Step 4. Work on your experiences
Another way of saying this is "write what you know." Many writers create stories based on events, feelings, or relationships they have experienced. Make a list of possible events you've been through that help you find the theme for your cartoon.
- If you want to create a more serious cartoon, think about the experiences that formed you: an unrequited love, the loss of a friend, the struggle to reach a goal that seemed impossible, etc.
- If you want to create something humorous, take an everyday situation, like being in traffic or waiting for an email, and exaggerate how difficult the situation is in a funny way.
- Alternatively, you can use something funny to create a humorous cartoon.
Step 5. Use your imagination
Of course there are many plots that have nothing to do with some life experience. You can use your interests and imagination to design a complete plot, as long as you include all the necessary details to help people connect with the characters in the story.
The necessary details include important topics that are attractive to anyone. For example, regardless of whether the story is set in the real contemporary world, a futuristic space setting, or a sword and witchcraft fantasy, most people can relate to an adult story
Step 6. Create an attractive protagonist
Make a list of the traits that you would like your protagonist to have. Write good and bad characteristics to prevent the character from being perfect.
Regardless of whether your cartoon is simple or complex, this is an important step. While in a serious and long-lasting cartoon a character will need to develop quite a bit, in a short and humorous drawing you will need a character with a clear goal and features that will allow him to react to any conflict in which he finds himself
Part 2 of 5: Writing the script and storyboard
Step 1. If there is any dialogue in your cartoon, write a script
If any of your characters have a few lines to say, you will need a voice actor to read the dialogue. You should also provide them with a written script so they know what to say.
You must know the script before doing the animation. The mouth moves in different ways depending on the phonemes, and you will need to animate these mouth movements in a plausible way to match any dubbing you add later
Step 2. Write down a basic narrative sequence of events
If the cartoon doesn't have dialogue, you could omit a formal script. You should still write a basic narrative sequence of events so that you can keep track of the story and its parts.
Write different drafts of scripts before starting the production stage. Write your first draft, put it down, and review it again in a day or two to see what you can improve and how you can make it more fluid
Step 3. Divide your story into main parts
A short cartoon may consist of a single scene, but a longer cartoon may need to be divided into multiple scenes or acts for better handling.
Step 4. Outline each major change in your story
When sketching a formal storyboard, each major change should be shown in boxes. You should describe the minor changes, but you won't have to draw them.
- Use basic shapes, stick figures, and simple backgrounds. A storyboard should be pretty straightforward.
- Consider drawing storyboard boxes on index cards so that you can arrange them and, if you think you need to, reposition some parts of the story.
- You can also include notes on what happens in each box so that it will be easier for you to remember later.
Part 3 of 5: Perform the animation
Step 1. Get familiar with the different types of animation
Animation is usually divided into cell animation, frame-by-frame animation, and 2D and 3D digital animation.
Step 2. Try to do an animation by cells
This is a traditional method of making cartoons. You will have to draw each cell or animation sheet, and photograph the cells with a special camera.
- Cell animation uses a principle similar to that of a flipbook. A series of drawings is produced and each image varies slightly from the one that comes next. The differences create the illusion of movement when rapid succession is displayed.
- Each image is drawn and colored on a transparent sheet called a "cell."
- Use your camera to photograph these drawings and edit them together with an animation editing program.
Step 3. Use frame-by-frame animation techniques
This is a traditional type of animation, but it is less used than cell animation. "Lamination" is the most widely used form of frame-by-frame animation, but there are also other materials that you can use to create this type of cartoon.
- You can also use shadow casts, sand art, paper puppets, or something else that can be moved in a range of positions.
- Movements should be short. Photograph each movement after you do it.
- Edit photos together so they are displayed in quick succession. The eye will perceive movement when viewed that way.
Step 4. Try to make a 2D digital animation
You will need a special computer program to achieve this type of animation, and the product will probably look like a better version of a cartoon created with cell animation.
- Not all computerized programs to make 2D animation work the same, so to learn how to handle the one you have, you will have to look for tutorials.
- Any cartoon created with Adobe Flash is a common example of 2D animation.
Step 5. Use 3D animation with a computer
As in the case of 2D animation, you will also need a special program to create a cartoon with 3D animation.
- 3D digital animation is somewhat similar to frame-by-frame animation, but graphics can vary and look from very square and pixelated to very lifelike.
- Just like in 2D digital animation, each animation program works a little differently from the others. Some examples are Maya and 3D Studio Max.
Part 4 of 5: Making the sound effects
Step 1. Get the right equipment
You will need a good microphone and a way to avoid echo or background noise by filtering out the sound you want to keep.
- For a beginner-level cartoon, a high-quality computer microphone will work effectively enough, but if you want to distribute your drawing to a more serious market, you'll have to invest more in professional equipment in the long run.
- If you're working with a small microphone, tuck it into a padded speaker box to cut out echo and excess background noise.
Step 2. Record your own sound effects
Get creative and find simple, everyday ways to make sounds that are similar to the ones you need for your cartoon.
- Make a list of the sound effects you will need. Be creative and thorough; It includes everything you need: from the most obvious (explosions, alarms), to the less obvious (footprints, background noise).
- Record different versions of each sound so you have more options to choose from.
- Some examples of sounds you can create are:
- Fire: handle some stiff cellophane
- Slap: clap once
- Thunder: shake up some Plexiglas or heavy cardstock
- Boiling water: blow air with a straw into a glass of water
- Baseball or hitting a ball: break a match
Step 3. Look for free prerecorded sound effects
If you do not have access to equipment or otherwise find it impossible to create the one you want, there are CD-ROMs and websites that offer free and legitimate prerecorded sounds that you can use whenever you want and that may be a more viable option.
Always check the usage permissions for any prerecorded sound effects you use. Even if they can be downloaded for free, they may not be free to use and especially if they will be used for commercial purposes. It is very important that before using a sound for your cartoon you know what you are allowed to do
Step 4. If necessary, record real voices
If there are dialogues in your cartoon, you or other people you know will have to lend their voices to the characters. As you record your lines, read the script with the proper intonation and expression, and make sure your lips match those of the cartoon.
Consider manipulating the voices with a digital program. If you have few voice actors and characters, you can change a character's voice with just a few adjustments to the qualities of the voice sample you collected. To do that you will have to invest in a special audio editing program; but depending on the program you use, you can change the pitch and add nuances to the recorded voice, such as metallic sounds
Part 5 of 5: Distribute the cartoon
Step 1. With your own resources distribute your cartoon
If you have a single short-lived cartoon or are trying to make a name for yourself, you can put your new creation in a digital folder and upload a copy to your personal blog, media account, or video website.
Step 2. Approach a distribution company, an animation company or a television station
If you have created a pilot episode of a cartoon, you can broadcast it through any of those means. If they accept it, you will have to organize the schedule for your new production for future cartoons so they can work again.
- A distribution company will review your pilot episode and determine how marketable it can become. If they decide to represent your cartoon, they will give you a layout plan and a projection of the income. At that point, ask for a formal letter of interest and present the letter to potential investors to let them know that a distributor is willing to represent your cartoon.
- If you go to an animation company or a television station with your pilot episode, they might be willing to accept and distribute it directly, especially if they have free spaces to fill.