How to Create a Successful Animated Short Film

Animated short films have gained significant popularity over the years, with numerous creative works catching the attention of the audience. However, creating an animated short film is no walk in the park. It requires a considerable amount of time, effort, and skill to bring your vision to life. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide on how to create a successful animated short film. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of the various steps involved in the creation process.

Step 1: Figure Out What Story You Want to Tell

Before diving into the animation process, it is crucial to figure out what story you want to tell. A well-written script is the foundation of every successful animated short film. Take your time to create a compelling story that your target audience can connect with. Remember, a good story is the key to a successful film.

Step 2: Create the Characters 

Once you have the story, the next step is to create the characters. The characters are an essential aspect of the story, and it is vital to give them unique personalities and characteristics that align with the story. Spend time creating character designs and making sure they match the style and tone of the film.

Step 3: Create Your Storyboard 

A storyboard is a visual representation of your script that illustrates how the story will unfold. It is an essential step in the animation process as it helps you see how the story will progress visually. Spend time creating a detailed storyboard that includes all the necessary shots and angles to ensure that the story is clear and concise.

Step 4: Create the Animatics 

Animatics are the rough sketches of the storyboard with temporary sound effects, dialogue, and music. This stage allows you to identify any problems with the story before proceeding to the final animation process. It is an opportunity to make changes and refine the story.

Step 5: Creating the Background Layout 

The next step is to create the background layout. The background layout is the visual foundation of your animation that sets the scene and creates the atmosphere. You can create your background layout by sketching it on paper, using digital painting software, or hiring a professional background artist. Your background layout should have a clear perspective, lighting, and textures that fit the story.

Step 6: Create Dope Sheets 

Dope sheets are the detailed breakdown of the storyboard and animatic, highlighting the timing and movement of each character and object. This stage is essential to ensure that the animation is smooth and cohesive.

Dope sheets are a tool used in traditional animation to help plan out the movement and timing of each frame. To create dope sheets, break down each scene of your animatic into individual frames, and plan out the timing and movement for each frame.

As you create your dope sheets, pay attention to the flow and pacing of your animation. This will help you to ensure that your animation flows smoothly and engages your audience.

Step 7: Create the Rough Animation 

The rough animation is the first draft of the final animation. It involves creating the movement of the characters and objects based on the dope sheets. Spend time creating the rough animation, making sure that the movements match the character designs and personalities.

Step 8: Clean-up 

Clean-up is a crucial step in creating high-quality animation. After creating the rough animation, it’s time to clean it up. This involves refining the character movements and ensuring they’re consistent throughout the film.

Clean-up involves refining the rough animation and removing any unnecessary lines or elements. The goal is to create a smooth, polished animation that aligns with the character designs and story.

Step 9: Inbetweening 

Inbetweening is the process of creating additional frames between the keyframes to create smooth movements. It is an essential stage in the animation process to ensure that the animation is seamless and realistic.

Step 10: Digital Inking and Painting of the Backgrounds

Now that you have the inking and painting done for your characters, it’s time to focus on the backgrounds. It’s time to create the digital ink and painting of the backgrounds for your animation. This process is similar to the one for the characters, but it’s important to pay special attention to the details of the background. The background is an essential part of your animation, and it sets the scene for your characters to interact.

First, you need to create the digital version of the backgrounds. You can do this in a variety of software programs like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator or Autodesk Sketchbook. Once you have your digital backgrounds created, you can import them into your animation software.

After you have your digital backgrounds imported, you can start the process of digital inking and painting. You should use the same techniques and tools that you used for your character’s digital inking and painting. The goal is to make your backgrounds look like they were painted by hand. You can add texture and depth to your backgrounds by using brushes with different opacities, layering colors, and adding shading.

Step 11: Digital Inking and Painting of the Characters

After the backgrounds are done, it’s time to focus on your characters. The digital inking and painting process is very similar to the process used for the backgrounds. The difference is that you need to pay attention to the details of each character.

First, you should import your character models into your animation software. Once you have your character models imported, you can begin the process of digital inking and painting. It’s important to use the same techniques and tools that you used for the digital inking and painting of the backgrounds. You should strive to make your characters look like they were painted by hand.

When you are digital inking and painting your characters, you should pay attention to the details of each character, including facial features, clothing, and any accessories. You can add depth and texture to your characters by using brushes with different opacities, layering colors, and adding shading.

Step 12: Compositing

After you have completed the digital inking and painting of your characters and backgrounds, it’s time to put everything together. This process is called compositing. It’s where you combine all of the elements of your animation into one cohesive piece.

Compositing involves layering your characters and backgrounds together, adjusting their position and size, and adding any special effects or post-processing. You can add effects like motion blur, depth of field, and color correction to make your animation look more professional and polished.

Making My Animation Short into a Digital Book

Once you have completed your animation short film, you can also consider turning it into a digital book. This will allow you to reach a wider audience and give people the opportunity to experience your story in a different format.

To turn your animation short film into a digital book, you will need to create a storyboard for your book. This will be similar to the storyboard you created for your animation, but it should be adapted for a book format. You can use a variety of software programs like Adobe InDesign or Microsoft Publisher to create your digital book.

After you have created your digital book, you can publish it online or distribute it through online marketplaces like Amazon Kindle. This will give you the opportunity to monetize your animation short film and reach a wider audience.


Creating a successful animated short film is a complex process that requires a lot of time and effort. However, by following the steps outlined in this article, you can create an animation that tells a compelling story and captivates your audience.

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