Athira is a 3D Animation student from LASALLE College of the Arts who currently works in digital advertising and marketing at MiQ has built an Animation 101 guide, read more about her and our Cartoons Underground team.

Animation 101: Athira’s Guide to Taking Animation One Step (or Keyframe) at a Time! Here are some tips and tricks to get you thinking about how to get started in the magical world of animation

  1. Start with your favourite animated films and tv shows. What style are they?
  2. Watch and read behind-the-scenes and making-of’s from your favourite animated films.
  3. Make a moodboard to gather and express your ideas on paper.
  4. Get familiar with the basic principles of animation.
  5. Write your story and choose the animation style that suits your story.
  6. It’s time for concept art and storyboards to lay out the scenes and visualise your story.
  7. Practice, Animate and Share!! Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Just make progress!


Animation is the art of breathing life to an imaginary world of your choice.

There are various styles and techniques to do this. The above is 2D animation and motion graphics. Here are a few different styles of animation that require a variety of skills and techniques. Can you recall a title for each of the below styles?

  • 2D / Hand Drawn
  • 2D / Vector
  • 3D
  • Motion Graphics
  • Stop Motion
  • And Many More!


Fear not, young Padawan, let’s start with something simple- like watching movies!

Take a look at some of your favourite animated films films – are they mostly hand drawn classics? Or do they have brilliant CGI? Find out what makes them different and what techniques are required.

You can do this by taking inspiration from your favourite filmmakers and watching the ‘making-of’ processes and Behind-the-Scenes to understand the workflow better.

To get your creative juices flowing, create mood boards that include the styles and ideas you like and that inspire so you organise your ideas visually. There are no rights or wrongs here – it’s all about you.

Sleeping Beauty – Hand-drawn frame by frame animation
Up – 3D Computer Generated Animation


The foundation of all your works will be based on the 12 Principles of Animation.

Do check out the book The Illusion of Life by renowned animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston – this will be your bible, trust me

These concepts are what gives your characters personality, weight and life. I know most of us aren’t fans of maths and physics, but some basic understanding comes in handy to make our movements feel somewhat like “real life.”


Now that we have our basic concepts down, we can get started on our story! Who are your main characters and what perils and adventures will they go through to reach their ultimate goal? Storytelling 101 – that’s a whole other blog post!

Next, get the visual direction and style established. Concept Art is all about exploring and having fun! Decide on which style and type of animation you want to use. Remember the list we shared in the first part of the blog? eg. Hand-drawn anime style vs. 3D characters.

Now comes the fun part: creating a Storyboard. This gives you a glimpse of what your film will look like and allows for easier feedback from others. This means thinking about the different scenes and angles in your story and putting it down on paper to start planning.

Bring life! Give your characters appealing colours, lighting and believable personalities.

Princess Mononoke


Now that you have your foot through the door of the world of Animation, take a leap of faith and let yourself make mistakes and grow.

Friendly Tip: Focus on the story, make it come full circle. Let the audience love your world as much as you do.

Strive for progress, not perfection!

“Until a character becomes a personality, it cannot be believed.”

– Frank Thomas

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