Behind the Scenes – Making Vihra run (animation test)

So how does animation actually work? How does it happen?

The animation process is roughly the third major stage of production. The first two are the writing the script and creating the storyboard.

After the storyboard is done, a layout is created. The layout is a guide drawing, used to coordinate and establish the scale of the characters, the size of the background and any camera movements or other major changes in the camera angle. This layout is then sent to the animators and background artists so they can get to work.

In Vihra’s animation test, the layout for the animator was an almost finished background drawing and pose. Layouts are usually a lot more sketchy. :-)


The idea was to test out how Vihra’s design works in motion, by creating a run cycle. Usually, the first animation test is a walk cycle, but here at “The Golden Apple” we like to say that we prefer to learn how to run first and then walk. :-)

So, our animator, Emilie Timmermans got to work on the animation, and Dimitar Petrov got to work on the background. The animator created a rough animation. Then our lead designer Svetla Radivoeva went trough every pose of the animation, looking at the character. She then made notes on the design and sent them back to the animator, so that the character is “on model”.


The animator applied these notes, sent a “cleaner” version back to the designer and they kept exchanging versions and notes until the keyframes were finalised. That is the final rough animation:


After approval, the character was cleaned up and coloured, and the animation was complete. Here is what it looked like:

Every second on film needs 24 frames (or 25 / 30 – depends on the standard). So, in order to create 1 second of fluid animation, the animator needs to create 24 drawings of the character. In the old days of animation, each of these drawings was finalised and coloured by hand by assistant animators. However, thanks to computers, nowadays some of these processes are greatly simplified, making it faster and more convenient to create animation films. Still, a lot of hard work and dedication go into every drawing.

While the animator and the designer were working on Vihra’s first run cycle, our background artist was working on the backgrounds. Since this was a run cycle, and the camera would move and follow the character, the backgrounds looked like this:

Forest background (animation test)

A total of 3 background paintings were used for Vihra’s animation test. After the animation and the backgrounds were done, they were combined in post-production. And voíla! We had the finished animation test. :-)

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