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Working with an Animator and the 4 key steps of developing an Animation Project

Us animators are a strange species – we look at things in a different light, like, literally. We are constantly looking at movement and color like a child at a theme park.

The way someone walks down the street, the way you picked up your coffee mug or how the sun shines through that plant on the window. Yes – we are paid to be stalkers. In a good way!

Searching for the right animator can be a bit overwhelming; when doing so, it’s important that you have a good (or rough) idea of the style you are looking for. Now – there are thousands and thousands of options but by now you’ve stormed Pinterest and got some samples under your arm.

Understanding how an animation workflow works not only will make your life easier – but it will make your journey and your animators a pleasant road towards success.

It all comes down to one thing – communication.

It’s important to state that whether you’re on a tight schedule or not, the process is the same, rushing a project or skipping steps will damage the final outcome and might also damage the relationship between you and your business partner – in this case, the animator or studio.

1) Brainstorming

Allow some time to have a chat with the animator about your idea – see what’s possible and what’s not. Maybe you’re on a tight deadline and it needs to deliver on time no matter what, discuss this with your artist and get them to help you come up with a plan. Be prepared to compromise as well as suggest and take suggestions.

Share your reference images and videos; your brand guidelines, colour palettes, etc.

Anything that could help visualize your story.

2) Concept Development

This is the fun part. It’s like receiving a show bag full of goodies. Once you’ve established what needs to be done and handed over all the necessary documents, you start working on the main body of your project which includes character design, background designs and finished concept frames. And if time and budget allow it – maybe get an animation proof of concept (POC); which means a small sample of how it would all look like in the final stages.

3) Storyboard

Now that you have your style and all the imagery that was developed during the Concept stage, you are ready to jump into turning your words into images.

Communication during the development of the storyboard is key – these are your final thoughts before heading into animation.

Are you happy with the character? Are the setting and context doing justice to the story? Is there any dialogue or on-screen text that needs amending?

All these things need to be addressed during the storyboarding stage.

4) Animation

Your Storyboard is ready and it has been signed off – time to move those images. The animator will go off and do their magic.

You will be receiving a draft or two to make sure that everything is in place. If every step was followed and any issues were addressed during the brainstorming/storyboarding stage it should be smooth sailing from here.

Honourable Mention: Talent Hire.

Any talent that needed to be hired will most likely be done in parallel with the Storyboard. By talent, I mean Voice Overs, Actors and/or Musicians. Voice over is usually signed off right before heading into animation. Reason for this is because it’s timed to the visuals and in some cases, any changes could be costly and may require reanimating sequences. This might impact your schedule and your budget. Any music and sound effects will be placed during pre-production, once you have signed off the animation.


When talking to your artist or studio, make sure you have a schedule of when to expect deliveries and establish a deadline. Having clear goals, make the project flow by stages, keeping everyone on time and on budget.

If you don’t have a script but you have a general idea of what you want – not to worry. Jump on a call with us or email us at and we will happily help you in the initial brainstorming stage.



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