Wednesday, April 16, 2008

2D Animation in Flash – Part 1: Idea and Storyboards

This is the first part in a multi-part series about the process involved in making, “Link’s Prize,” a short 2D animation done in Flash. This is by no means the best flash animation ever, but I wanted to write about the process in making it because I found it a was a highly educational experience. I hope in writing about it, you can learn something too! Ok, here we go!

Materials used:

Pencil, paper, ~~brain~~


-The Idea

The Idea

So, I know I wanted to do some short animation featuring Young Link, from The Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of Time. I draw him all the time (he's so cute!) and so I've been longing to do an animation of his character for ages. However, the last time I tried to animate something with Link, it was disaster namely because 1. I had designed it to be a HUGE project and 2. my time management skills at the time were somewhat ... weak (in the sense that one week I would work my ass off, and the next do nothing but play Grand Theft Auto and drink diet coke.)

I must admit that this short, humble project was a huge first for me. It was the first time I ever have taken a personal animation project from start to finish, all without overeating, losing sleep, ingesting illegal quantities of caffeine, or generally going insane. Yay! But more on that later.

So the idea goes like this: Link wakes up, starts to get ready to start the day when he is suddenly and rudely is reminded that he has a cow in his bedroom. The whole idea fits in one sentence. Now, it's not Oscar material, but it is short and I was excited to get started.


I took the idea and started drawing very rough sketches of how I would layout the shots. Here's all the storyboard-related pages I drew (5 total):

Storyboards for Zelda Animation

(You can also see on the last page, my ideas for what I was going to do next, including writing about this whole thing here later ... ^_^)

So, about storyboarding: In the past, I used to labor over each shot of a sequence until it was "perfect" before moving on to the next one. This was a huge creative buzzkill and I would get frustrated and quit quickly.

So, this time, I first drew those main ideas, whether they were quick thumbnails of a shot, or a few keyframes of animation, those main-POW!-ideas that were the inspiration for doing the sequence in the first place.

With those down, I went back and started to fill in the rest of the sequence. For each shot, I started by drawing the very first idea that popped into my head. In the "each-shot-must-be-perfect" method, I wouldn't dare even draw my first idea, I'd just ignore it, pass it off as cliche. By drawing even that first weak idea, then I could build on it, change it to make it a better, stronger shot. For each shot, I drew several versions before moving on to the next one.

After reaching the last shot, I went back and tried to strengthen any shots that I still thought were weak. When I felt satisfied with the shots as a whole, I put numbers next to them to put them in order. If this had been a longer animation, I would have redrawn the shots so they could be easily read in sequence. However, the whole thing was only 8 shots long, so I felt I could imagine the events without redrawing it.

This way of doing things felt very organic, and less stressful than the way I used to do it. Time and time again, a theme that I've been learning is this: That you can't start off and suddenly make something perfect. But, if you make something crappy, then at least that's one step closer to making something more perfect than crappy.

That's the end of Part 1. I'll be writing the rest of the series very soon, and I hope you come back for a look!

Next: Making the Animatic

Part 1: Idea and Storyboards
Part 2: Making an Animatic
Part 3: Drawing the Backgrounds
Part 4: Animation Preplanning and Animating
Part 5: Painting the Backgrounds
Part 6: Coloring the Animations


  1. ummmm....before I go any further..why is there a cow in his room?

  2. [...] Skip to content KanookRecommended ReadingAbout Me « Drawings from 300 - Hot Abs! 2D Animation in Flash - Part 1: Idea and Storyboards » [...]

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