Animating Happy Daisy

 Over the Christmas break, I created my first animation.

Actually, I created a couple of animations a while ago, but I can’t remember how, I think I used Keynote in some way… In any case, this feels like my first animation, and it’s definitely my first frame by frame 2D animation. 

I learned quite a bit by doing this. 

I didn’t read any books on how to do it, or watch any tutorials. 

I have a very basic knowledge of how animation works, as I used to have those flip books, whereby flipping through the corners of the page, you could see a character move. I knew that you have to create different layers and draw the moves layer by layer, step-by-step, millimetre by millimetre. Needless to say, I wasn’t going to worry about background etc, I just wanted Daisy to move on the page.

Step 1

Before investing lots of time colouring in the cartoon, I wanted to make sure the animation was working and I could trick the eye into thinking Happy Daisy was doing a cartwheel. So I started with a black and white version. 

Step 2

Once I saw Daisy could do a cartwheel, I started colouring in. I was right. Colouring takes age -and I’m not even bothering with shadows, lighting or any other advanced illustration techniques. My drawings are basic 2-D illustrations, void of texture.

If it ever becomes necessary, I’ll learn to add a detail, although at the rate tech is developing, all I’m going to have to do is learn how to integrate an AI plug-in or find the right menu in an app to add lots of nice effects to the drawings.

Colour-wise, I went for a solid background, nice Christmas read. Why complicate an already complicated process?

Step 3

I’ve been reading a lot about writing a novel lately. (Bear with me, it’s not a tangent.)

I’ve been learning about what is “a story“ and what readers engage with. Regardless of the plot, the bells and whistles, the suspense, the twists, and revelations, readers engage with the emotional journey of the character. A satisfying story is one where the character goes to some kind of change: sometimes big, sometimes small, and sometimes purely emotional.

So, for the animation to work, Daisy had to change. 

And all this required was to give her a huge smile in the last frame.

That did it for me.

Every time I play it, I feel so pleased. Not because it is technically perfect, but because Happy Daisy looks so absolutely proud of having done a cartwheel, I can’t help feeling happy myself.

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