From still images to full-blown cartoons

Our Graphic Designer, Laura, shares an insight into her creative journey.

I have always held a pen and would draw as far back as I can remember. Sketching people, faces, landscapes, animals, creatures… still to this day.

It’s a beautiful thing to be able to put on paper characters or places that you have invented. But what’s even better? Bringing them to life by using the superpower of animation.

Since I started working at bellette, I have been able to slowly and gradually explore the tricks of animation, whether on an abstract motion graphic or a realistic scene. This is something I have always been passionate to learn so I could bring my illustrations to life.

I was given the opportunity to learn and practice on a few projects and slowly fell in love with the process and the end result. I have self-taught myself at work and in my spare time, the tricks and specs to bring a character to life, either by re-watching old Disney movies, reading articles from animators working at Pixar, watching tutorials or following day courses.

With modern tools and technologies getting better and better, there are now a lot of different ways to bring your illustrations to life, and the beauty of it is you don’t have to be so ‘tech-savvy’ or have a degree in animation. You can use programs that can be adapted for people without years of experience in the design world, like Procreate, which is really intuitive for people who paint, draw or illustrate. I have been a loyal fan and 100% addicted to it since my boss got an iPad for the office and installed Procreate on it. That was it, the spell was cast and I had to treat myself to buying my own iPad just to get Procreate.

Procreate is a mini art studio with a lot of possibilities, amongst them is the animation tool. Procreate works in the old ways in that you have to animate using the frame by frame technique. So you have to draw each movement on a separate layer to create the motion.

For the ones that have been able to get a background in graphic design, or other formations that require the Adobe Suite, you are probably familiar with After Effects or the old Adobe Flash. Adobe released a new program a couple of years ago –Adobe Animate– which is basically Flash, but improved to today’s standards. Adobe Animate allows you to work frame by frame which is great, and because it is Adobe it has a lot of professional and intricate features making the process easier, like lip-syncing etc.

It is intricate and time-consuming work but it gets an amazing result when done properly!

The other one that I really love is Adobe Character Animator, which I discovered years ago when it came out but never really experienced it properly until I had a client project that could allow me to use it. Character Animator is not only amazing and a game-changer for animation, but it is also really fun. You can set up your character as per the puppet’s standards (so draw an open mouth, closed mouth, vowels, raising eyebrows, angry eyes, etc and then rig it so your puppet can be animated) then you can bring it to life with your camera and microphone! As you speak, blink or move, your character will reproduce your behaviour, and then you can press record to get a clip of it. It is both brilliant and a time-saver. No more frame by frame animation with this artificial intelligence. You move, you animate! You are the puppet master.

The combination of all these genius programs is an unstoppable set of tools to create to your heart’s content and as far as your imagination goes. You can combine all of them which is how I like to work: make your drawings on Procreate (or Photoshop if you have the right tablet) then bring your characters to life with Character Animator or Adobe Animate and then animate any objects or landscapes using After Effect! Put on your Director’s Hat and let the magic happen!

I have been so passionate about these and loving the process so much, that I have launched myself into a tedious goal and personal challenge to create my very own mini-movie. Using a piece of music from an artist that I like as the background for it, I am making a completely made-up story with original creatures in a mystic and imaginary environment which is done from scratch using Procreate and After Effects, mostly.

Stay tuned…..