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Building an Animation-Ready Character from the Ground Up

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Final Result
Building an Animation-Ready Character from the Ground Up
Retraced, this is the finished result: clean artwork with simple lines and easily identifiable key points that can be used to estimate from one frame to the next. It’s not fine art, but it’s a valued one nonetheless; simplicity in design doesn’t always have to be childish or bland, and some of the best cartoons use extremely simple lines in a very effective style to create unique characters with more implied detail than actual visibly drawn detail. Varied line width has a great deal to do with that, and it’s something that I try to use often once I get to the final line stages of a piece. If you’d like to learn more about actual art techniques such as line weight, Guide Helen South has a plethora of articles and lessons on drawing and sketching.

Creating a character this way also makes adding color very easy, whether you’re painting cels or coloring digitally. I filled in plain, solid color without highlights – you’ll find that your average Saturday morning cartoon still doesn’t use many highlights and shadows save for in exceptional situations – for this in Photoshop in less than ten minutes using nothing but bucket fills, if you’d like to take a look.

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