Let’s Make a Cartoon!
Whenever I get an idea for a cartoon, I stop myself and think, “Hold on, buddy. You know any animation idea is going to take a lot of work – especially if you haven’t planned it out. So… PLAN IT OUT!”
This section deals with making a cartoon for characters and scenes you already thought out. You have them designed and you know how to use them. This is only about the process of getting your idea down and organising it so making the cartoon is as painless as possible.
You need a story.
It can be anything you like, of course – but make sure it has a point.
Every story has a:
- Beginning Chicken sees something he wants on the other side of the road
- Middle Chicken tries to cross road, but there are too many cars. Then a Flying saucer appears.
- End Chicken gets abducted by aliens and is returned to earth on the other side of the road. He gets what he wants, somehow.
Sketch it out
Now that you have your idea. It’s time to put it in pictures.
Get a few sheets of paper (A4) and a pencil.
Get your text (your story idea) and mark off where you see scene changes or action and draw these as thumbnail scenes.
You might find that drawing these thumbnails makes you realise that some scenes can be changed, rearranged, reused – or cut.
Make notes about camera movements, where animations can be in a scene, etc.
This is your storyboard.
In any story, it is important to set the scene and introduce characters – the main one at least.
So here, the first scene is where we meet the Chicken, the Road and the IceCream (which turned into an Adventure Time type of character, all of a sudden).
Chicken wants to cross road to get ice cream – that’s the story; short and sweet.
Chicken Tries to cross road – but there is danger: Traffic.
To get an idea of the Ice Cream’s character we see him swayed by the gust of wind caused by the passing car, see him waving friendlily to the chicken from Ice Cream’s point of view. He’s loosey goosey and a little clueless. Silly Ice Cream. He want eat you!
Changing the POV (Point Of View) gives us an impression of more of the setting they are in. We can see a horizon and some sky behind Chicken. Makes it more interesting, and adds a feeling of space.
At any rate. The storyboard thumb-nailing is part of the process that helps you figure out the story visually.
Mark it up with arrows (like I did in the bottom right with all those chicken heads) to show the sequence in its proper order. Add any kind of notes that will help you as you set them up in the animatic later.
Before you start getting into flash, think about what sort of pace you want your film to have – and how much time you want to spend working on it.
Watch other – similar – similar films to the one you want to make.
Is it slapstick, quick and fun? Make it short.
Maybe it’s melodramatic, slow and sad? Make it longer.
Generally, when starting out. I would aim at 30 – 60 seconds. That’s quite a lot already, and having the short time will make you learn how to prioritise which parts of your storytelling are really essential.