Category: Drawing Techniques and Processes Class

Experimental Hand Drawn Animations


For this assignment you will be creating a character (or abstract shape), which exists in a certain environment, and you will be animating your character/shape via no less than 100 hand drawn frames. (P2.2) There are various stages which need to be presented in order to successfully finish this assignment. From simple sketching and storyboarding, and idea generation, to a finished drawing of the environment  in which you wish the character to inhabit. One finalized drawing of your character,  one finalized of the environment, and the final animation must be submitted. Students will be encouraged to utilize their strengths in drawing and apply it to the necessary media as well as production. (P4.1)


You are allowed to incorporate scanned textures, photos, draw on peoples bodies, etc in the creation of this work. You may use programs such as Toon Boom, or Flash however each frame must still be hand drawn, and all frames must be exported individually as well.  Students are NOT bound to creating this work simply as a 100 frame animation in the traditional sense, but my hopes are that students blend a multitude of media to create both the character, the movement, and the environment in which it/he/she resides. (D1) Judging by the speed at which students work, they will be encouraged to add sound or other effects to their animations in post-production.

Be aware that the storyboarding for this assignment does not have to be adhered to in the traditional sense. A storyboard can simply be a working document which helps plan your work and guides the process.


What will be submitted?

Storyboards ( scanned)

Sketches   (scanned)

Finalized Environment

Finalized Character

All of your frames

Finalized and compressed animation (must be less than 500 mb in size!)



Examples and Inspiration

Brain Lapse by Jake Fried 2014.
Hand-drawn animation with ink, white-out, coffee and collage.
More at

Animation experiment, photographing charcoal drawings and transferring them to my laptop, using Adobe Flash CS3 for animation and Adobe Premiere Elements 7.0 for editing.
Largely rotoscoped.

The Umbrella is a short animated film produced in Griffith Film School. The animation has been made with oil painting on glass.

A collection of works from the BFA1 class in Experimental Animation. Edited by Jamie Tan.

I made the video in ToonBoom Animate 3.


Drawing Plants with simple forms




Drawing Form

Lesson 8

Now that we have got a good grasp of line, and the importance of varying our lines in our drawing we are going to continue on to another huge element of drawing/painting. That important element is form. Correctly understanding form will give your paintings/drawings more depth. Traditionally schools have taught students to look for four key forms. These are The Cube, The Cylinder, The Sphere, and variations and combinations of these forms.




Using combinations of these three basic forms can enable to draw virtually anything on the planet. It is no mistake that all of the 3D animation software available on the market utilizes these three forms. So why is this important for drawing and painting? So far we’ve been examining what we can see with our own eyes and trying to duplicate it, however, we must remember that we are trying to render the 3 dimensional world onto a 2 dimensional surface. These common forms are like letters which create words. To put it simply our brains know how to read these forms when we see them.

I want you to start seeing everything as if it were transparent in an attempt to better understand the underlying form which holds it all together. For hundreds of years people in figure drawing classes will often stand up and look at both sides of the model which they are drawing. They do this because they want to see how the whole form works together. The angle from which you look at a subject is important, and as an artist you want to gather as much information as possible about the subject you are drawing. That means thinking about what you can’t see, as well as can see. Keep your edges soft and rounded. We don’t want anyone to get hurt if your creature runs into them.

Drawing #15 Industrial Drawing of an animal

For this drawing I want you to find a picture of an animal, and draw it only using these basic forms. Think of yourself as if you are making a schematic drawing. You want to make a detailed blueprint of this animal because you are going to put it into a rocketship and blast it off to a foreign planet. Where no one knows what a French Bulldog (or the animal of your choice) looks like. 😉

This lesson is especially great for those interested in pursuing a career in 3d animation. Most people don’t realize, but all those characters in all of those big budget animation films start off with a sketch. That’s right. Good old fashioned pen and paper.

You may take up to 2 hours to complete this drawing. Make it as detailed as possible.


Line Variation and Inking

Today we will be inking our characters that we created sketches from last week.



These can be created by simply choosing a brush which is pressure sensitive (if using a tablet) or has a tapered end.




With inking we want to emphasise the weight of the object by the thickness of the line



Things that control the thickness of a line can include




softness of the medium (softer pencils display a variation in line easily)

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 15.14.44


For your project you must ink your sketches and vary the line based upon these principles.

Typically the outside lines are generally thicker than the inside “detail lines”



Assignment 2: Armatures for Animation

Download the assignment here


For this assignment you will be creating three rigs of a character which could be further developed and used in popular animation programs such as Toon Boom, Anime Studio, or Flash. These will be drawn with conventional materials such as pencil and paper and further cleaned up and prepared for the animation process in a digital format. The digital version of these rigs can vary depending on how you desire your finished animation to look. You can either retain the texture and feel of traditional materials, or redraw the characters in Photoshop or Illustrator. You will be creating a frontal view (arms out) and two side views (one facing left and one facing right).

Week 1. Introduction to Loomis’ forms and method of how to construct a character using simple shapes.

Homework: Collect reference material for the use of creating your character.
Week 2. Sketching and problem solving, working in colored pencil or erasable media (pencil).

Week 3. Finalization and inking. Can be done traditionally with pen and ink, or your drawings may be scanned and completed in Photoshop or Illustrator.

Required Work and Format

You must submit a disc containing all of your drawings. At least one page of the Loomis shapes. 1 page of your preliminary sketches. And the finalized character in frontal view, and two side views. These can be submitted as Jpegs or all together as 1 PDF.


basic armatures


One major consideration in the creation of these armatures is to determine how the weight will be carried and expressed in your rig.


Considerations of how weight effects movement should also be considered. A good rig will look as if it is moving effortlessly, not that it is being forced to move. This is a difficult thing to explain with words, but we’ve all seen the robotic looking animations that come off as being too stiff. This is generally due to not showing how weight, and balance effect the rig. The balance of a character can often be shown in the preliminary stages of the drawing with the creation of simple shaped based versions of your characters.










Self Directed Project Examples

Semion’s research involving light painting and digital manipulation.

Lukas investigates simple hand made textures to be used for 3d. PDF

hand_drawn_3d_texture hand_drawn_textured_3d_cube

Andri uses light and video to make drawings.

And some of Semion’s final pieces.





Vanda Used Illustrator to draw various shapes which she infused into video compositions. Therefore drawing both with the video as well as the masks which was creating.

Shapes from Vanda Knapkova on Vimeo.

Roman used a series of digital manipulated portraits of himself to give the effect of aging and death of himself.



Tamara used photographs of people as her drawing media and created an entire alphabet based upon the manipulations of these forms.



Liaman used a projector flashing different colored lights to animate patterns she drew.

Radovan used a motor, some wood, and LEDs to make a spinning light drawing sculpture. See full process here.

Screen-shot-2014-02-10-at-4.07.47-PM Screen-shot-2014-02-10-at-4.09.28-PM Screen-shot-2014-02-10-at-4.10.10-PM

Ayna makes a series of paintings you can view the PDF HERE.


Drawing Class Lesson 1

Today after a quick introduction to the course, we’ll get straight into the first assignment which is to create 3 views of a character which you will later animate in your Animation Techniques program. The first hurdle to overcome is to give our characters some 3 dimensional qualities.  Many times in the past these characters have come out looking quite flat and we want to avoid this. Therefore we will be trying a 3/4 view along with the frontal and side view.






Shapes often look flat when we use symbols, such as a symbol for a sun, or other early shapes which elementary school children use in the creation of their drawings. The first thing we need to understand is that drawings can have form, and more often than not, form is more important than anything else in the creation of a realistic looking 3d Object. Take a look at the eyes below, in the first drawing they appear very flat, whereas if we think of the eye balls as two large spheres we can begin to carve our forms out of the space.



So today we will be working with some very simple sketches of our characters, and attempting to add an element of 3 dimensional space to them. This is a required part of the assignment, so keep your drawings for later submission. In general it is very important to get a sketchbook or something where you can keep all of your drawings, because in the first half of the semester you will be creating many drawings which you will later have to compile into PDF files for submission.

This tutorial on how to draw Loomis Shapes can be helpful for review.


And here is a nice step by step about how Loomis suggest you make a head for a cartoon.



Welcome to Drawing Techniques and Processes.

During this year you will embark on 4 different assignments designed to make you better at drawing, as well as develop a better understanding of color and how it’s used.

So how does drawing relate to Interactive Media, and why is it important? Well, for starters, Drawing is involved in some way in every major program which you will be studying with perhaps the exception of sound. A better understanding of drawing will help you in virtually every area of study which you choose to pursue in Interactive Media.

If you have a tablet, and prefer to work digitally, then that’s fine. I have no problem with it. In fact, as you’ll notice throughout the year, all of your assignments can be completed in a variety of mediums and this class is much more open to experimentation than you may think.

While the technology and tools have changed over the years. The basic principles stay the same. That’s why I’m interested in what you want to create, and why you chose to study in the Fine Art;Experimental Media Program.

The important thing to note here is that while methods and processes of drawing have changed greatly over the years. That new programs, and brushes are simply just tools. If you are thinking that this class, or this program will merely teach you how to use certain programs (such as Flash, Aftereffects, 3dsMax, etc.) then you are sadly mistaken. Don’t get me wrong, you will learn all of these programs during your time here, but these are just tools. Tools which millions of other people know how to use, and which you can teach yourself how to use just by watching YouTube Tutorials. What I’m interested in in this class is how you plan on making your mark, and how that mark will be different from others. If you’re not sure about what you want to focus on then that’s fine too! This is a place for experimentation and discovery.

Drawing Class Lesson 1: Storyboarding

In conjunction with the projects in your animation techniques course you will be required to prepare the storyboards for those assignments as part of the drawing course.

The Three Act Structure

Throughout the years stories have been divided into 3 distinct acts. In short one can think of this as a beginning, a middle and an end. These acts also have distinct characteristics. Most notably articulated in the video below of what Joeseph Campbell calls the “Hero’s Journey”. While your projects and stories will be much shorter, it is important to maintain a clear direction for your character so that an audience will sympathize with him/her and won’t get bored.

What’s the film about? Think of your screenplay like a movie poster. Have a tagline. “It’s about a guy who…”


Make characters. Make sure your hero is likable and don’t be boring.


Explain everything quick. Who what when where why.




Bring the drama.


Flip genres.  Make a Comedy a Horror, etc.


Opposites fall in love



Act I:


Start with a hook to get audience’s attention.


Introduce characters


Set the scene ( establish the environment )


Something bad happens to protagonist. His life is changed.


  1. Setup:Time and space are being introduced. When/Where are we?
  2. Inciting incident


Act II:


Protagonist is tested, but does not possess the skills to achieve his goal.


Something’s gotta change if he wants to get what he wants!


He gets his ass kicked.


  1. Response to incident
  2. Response from protagonist
  3. Fight back and lose. Trapped.


Act III:


Protagonist has a new outlook on life. Works hard. Kicks ass.


Surprise side character nobody expected to be on his side helps out.


Storyboards are an important part of many different disciplines. Today’s lesson will involve an introduction to storyboarding, as well as give you time to work on your sequential animation assignment for Animation Techniques.

Storyboarding Your Idea
The first thing I want you to do before you begin drawing is to take time to evaluate your story and start to imagine which different shots you will be utilizing. Get a clear picture of what you want each shot is in your head before you start storyboarding it. Once you’ve got a mental shot list, you can start to draw each frame. Make sure that the frames of your storyboard match the size of the frame for the aspect ratio which you will be using in the production of your short sequential animation.

What’s an aspect ratio?
An aspect ratio simply refers to the size of the frame which a film or video is created in. Think widescreen vs television.

What’s a shot list?

A shot list is just a list of shots for a project. It would be a good idea to write down your shot list before storyboarding.

As you plan your shot list, here are some questions to consider.

What’s the setting?
How many people are in the shot?
Are there certain items which the characters need in the shot?
Consider if you want it to be a close-up, wide-shot, establishing shot, or whatever type of shot you need.
What’s the angle of the camera? Looking up? Wide? Low?
Is stuff moving, if so, in what direction?
What’s your lighting going to be like, and in which directions do you want your shadows to fall?

Use the shot list as a guide. You don’t have to stick to it 100%, so as you storyboard don’t be afraid to tweak certain elements if you feel a change is justified.

Choose a style of storyboard you wish to use. Here are some free examples which you can print out.
Storyboard 1 Storyboard 2 There’s a lot more to choose from. Just go to google and search for “storyboard templates” in images.

Once you’ve got all of these preparations made you can then begin drawing. There’s no right way to draw a storyboard, in the end it should serve you, or others working on a project to understand how to shoot something.

They can be very detailed, such as this one which made by Shane Acker for Tim Burton’s film “9”.

Or they could be very simple.

All in all the most important thing to remember is that storyboards are a tool which will be used by yourself in this project, however in the future you may have to be working with a group of people who need to take directions while you’re not around. This is where a good storyboard artist comes in handy, because he is essentially choosing many elements which could be very important to the overall feel of the film.

Here’s a brief video tutorial from Sherm Cohen who is a storyboard artist at Disney if you’re still looking for inspiration and guidance.

Drawing Class Lesson 3: Animating with Photoshop

Once you’ve finished your sequences I will begin to start showing you how to animate them in Photoshop. Now, you may be thinking, “Animating stuff in photoshop sucks!” and you’re kind of right. It can be a pain in the ass. There’s a lot of different ways to animate your hand drawn sequences and I don’t care if you use Adobe Premiere, Flash, or Imovie. But, and this is a big but, you’ve also have to be able to do some “Onion Skinning” which is a process where you can manipulate the opacity of each layer so certain elements stay in alignment.

So what’s onion skinning? According to Wikipedia “Onion skinning is a 2D computer graphics term for a technique used in creating animated cartoons and editing movies to see several frames at once. This way, the animator or editor can make decisions on how to create or change an image based on the previous image in the sequence.”

Back in the day this was done by drawing on semi transparent paper, or on a light box.

Now it’s done by taking down the opacity on layers which can be manipulated individually in Photoshop.

Take a look at this tutorial to see how to start using the animation window in Photoshop.

Now that you’ve got all of your frames imported into Photoshop I want you to manipulate each frame and start lining them up one by one. If you skip this step your animation will look bouncy and you won’t achieve a proper flow.

If you are still having trouble figuring out how to onion skin and animate in photoshop check out this great tutorial here.

The drawings can be scanned at school, however be aware that with 12 students, each of which will be scanning multiple drawings that this will take quite some time. If you’ve got access to a scanner then scan them at home.

Drawing Class Lesson 4: Personification


For this lesson you will be assigned an object as well as an emotion which you will have to combine to make an illustration of the object exhibiting the trait which you have been assigned. For instance you could make a thoughtful tree, as the one above, or a happy car, as the one below.  Once your initial drawings/sketches are finished we will then work through them again putting emphasis on line variation and some examples of weighted lines will also be introduced.

PDF Of all Exercises and Drawings covered in today’s class.

Introduction of the First Assignment which can be downloaded HERE.


Personification is the process by which you give an inanimate object (such as a desk lamp) human like characteristics. This can be achieved in a number of ways. One could make an object seem human by changing the posture and the movement of the object, such as in Pixar’s intro. Notice that the light bulb naturally seems like an eye even though there isn’t any eyeball. Sometimes less is more, and if you can personify an object just by using gesture and movement then you’re on your way to being a great animator.

Or Personification can be when we give inanimate object human features. Such as in Beauty and The Beast.

For this assignment you will all be given different object which you must personify. A few good source materials to use would be this are different expressions and how they are drawn.

Here’s a brief video tutorial on how to draw some different expressions.

And just in case you’re still in need of some inspiration. Here’s some of Towelie’s best moments from South Park.

Drawing Class Lesson 5; Squash and Stretch


Today we will be working on a quick series of keyframed drawing which will illustrate the principle of squash and stretch.

What’s a keyframe? A key frame in animation and filmmaking is a drawing that defines the starting and ending points of any smooth transition. The drawings are called “frames” because their position in time is measured in frames on a strip of film. A sequence of keyframes defines which movement the viewer will see, whereas the position of the keyframes on the film, video or animation defines the timing of the movement. Because only two or three keyframes over the span of a second do not create the illusion of movement, the remaining frames are filled with inbetweens.

Although this is most commonly known as “tweening” in Flash. Keyframing has been used in animation for over 40 years. This video, produced in 1971 looks at some of the early attempts at key framing for animation.

So. Since you are not going to be creating a full animation (although if you want to do a short animation you should). I want you to just draw 3 different key frames. This must involve changes in a character. So I don’t want to see 3 different positions of a ball. The keyframes should also demonstrate the animation principle of Squash and Stretch. One drawing will be of the ball (object) resting, when will be squashed, and one will be stretched.

Squash and Stretch was described in The Illusion of Life as being “by far the most important” discovery that the Disney animators made in their pursuit of excellence in animation. Only lifeless stiff objects remain inert while in motion. Any living object will tend to change shape, though retaining overall volume. One example is a flexed bicep, another is a human face – while talking or chewing it will tend to extend and compress. The principle is often used in conjunction with another principle of animation which is “slow in, slow out”

During the 1930s the Disney animators competed amongst themselves to exaggerate the squash and stretch in their drawings, making their poses ever more extreme. The important thing was to maintain the overall volume of an object so that it did not appear to change size as well as shape. To this end they devised the half-filled flour sack, showing that even if dropped on the floor or stretched out by its corners, its overall volume would never change.

The animators consulted the sports pages in the newspapers and found in the photography endless examples of the elasticity of the human body in motion. Using these poses as reference the animators were able to start “observing in a new way”.


The classic preparation for the training of Disney animators began with a bouncing ball. The ball would change shape, compressing (squash) as it hit the ground, then extending (stretch) as it bounced up again.

Here’s a video tutorial of how to squash and stretch a ball, and the dramatic difference it has on an animation.

And in these drawings we can see how squash and stretch is applied to a character.

Drawing Class Lesson 6; Perspective

Perspective is an illusion which makes a 2 dimensional surface (ie. a piece of paper, or a screen) look as if it is 3 dimensional. This can be achieved in a variety of ways.

Including 1 point perspective. Which you can watch a video tutorial here about.

2 point perspective

and 3 point perspective

Another type of perspective which can be used in shallow spaces is isometric perspective. Where you simply draw all the lines which are receding into the distance in parallel.

First we will attempt to make 4 different drawings utilizing all 4 of these types of perspective. After we are finished with that we will start on created a background for your “Character in an environment” assignment. For this assignment you will be creating a character, and a background, separately. As with all of my assignments you can use almost any media you wish, both digital and traditional.




Oh, and here’s the entire film which you can watch here.


Drawing Class Lesson 7; Planar surfaces








Planes are flat surface areas which depict contours of the face in a flat manner. The technique of breaking down objects into simpler forms is at least 500 years old, and is still used all the time by 3d animators today.

In the popular digital sculpting program ZBrush you can create virtual sculptures, and in this video tutorial you can see how the artist looked at each plane of the face as a starting point to model an entire face.

In the following illustration we can see how Loomis simplified the face into flat planes.

And here we can see how Paolo Uccello did so with a vase drawing he made nearly 500 years ago.

Planes of the face can have simple variations in value which can distinguish where a plane ends, and another begins.

And planes can help simplify cartoon characters making it easy to draw from multiple angles. Such as in this step by step guide by Loomis on how to draw cartoons.

But why is this an important skill as it concerns 3d modeling? Well, for starters it isn’t that difficult to model an extremely complicated looking character in a program like ZBrush. However the more vertices present, the slower a character will perform in 3d. That’s why all 3d characters are simplified down to more efficient characters.

In the tutorial below we can see how simple objects are even simplified down to easier planar shapes in Blender. We are going to be doing the same, except with drawing.

For todays exercise we will be working from photos of animals and humans, and your task will be to redraw these images in a much simpler way. As always you are welcome to use a tablet to draw (not trace!) the images.

If you are looking for more inspiration, and are interested in using Blender I recommend starting with this set of tutorials. Blender is free to download and there are hundreds and hundreds of tutorials online which go from very basic to (as seen in the video below) quite advanced.