Pre-production & Modeling


Animation is an art form in which a world of dynamic image and sound may be synthesized completely out of nothing but a thought.


“Animation can explain what the mind can conceive” – Walt Disney


There is a lot that goes into making a successful animation sequence.

pipeline process 2


(Sofia Sánchez Mompeán, n.d)


This is the first set of activities that take place before the actual production begins. It is the problem solving phase & is also one of the most important.

Some major components:

The Story & The Script:

Once the story idea is in place a writer helps translate this idea into a tangible document format called the script. This is the first source for details such as setting, character actions, dialogues & camera framing can be found.


Story Boarding:

A series of sketches that help visualize & communicate ideas such as scene changes, camera moves clearly. It details the scene and changes in the animation, often accompanied by text notes describing things occurring within the scene itself, such as camera movements. They are a visual reminder of the original plan; something that can be referred back to throughout the production.

Story Board example


(Disney Storyboard, n.d)


After storyboarding, the layout department works closely with the director to design the locations, costumes, stage scenes, showing the various characters’ positions throughout the course of each shot etc.

Layout example 4


(Salon layout,n.d)


Layout example 3(Darik Smith, n.d)

Model Sheets:

Model sheets are precisely drawn groups of pictures that show all of the possible expressions that a character can make, and all of the many different poses that they could adopt.


(Winnie the Pooh, 1966)


The individual panels of a storyboard are edited together along with dialogue, music and sound effects to see how it flows as a movie known as an animatic. It acts as a blueprint for the final edit

(Iron Man 3 Animatic, 2013)

The Previsualization / Previs:

A cost‐efficient technique used widely involving the use of digital stand-ins to help figure out camera positions, timing and movement in 3D space.


(Despicable Me 2 Layout & Previs Reel, 2014)


This is where a signature style is developed for the characters, environments, clothing, props etc. Character bibles are created to enable artists to draw or digitally sculpt elements within the design parameters.

Character design 2


(Doguras, 2012)


3D Modelling:

Modeling is the process of taking a shape and molding it into a completed 3D mesh. It is the process of developing a mathematical representation of any 3D surface using a collection of points in 3D space, connected by various geometric entities such as triangles, lines, curved surfaces, etc via specialized softwares.

There are 5 modelling methods:

  1. Primitive Modeling: the simplest way of modeling 3D objects using geometric basics such as cylinders, cones, cubes and spheres.

pen with cap primitive modelling

(Pen with cap, 2016)

  1. Polygonal Modeling: involves connecting line segments through points (vertices) in a 3D space. Polygonal models are very flexible and can be rendered by a computer very quickly. One cannot, however, create an exact curved surface using polygonal 3D modeling technique, which limits its usefulness in certain applications.

polygonal modelling


(Autodesk polygonal modelling, 2015)

  1. NURBS Modelling: Non-uniform rational B-spline (NURBS) modeling, is one of the best ways for developers to create truly curved smooth surfaces as it actually does “bend” the space. This style of modeling is widely used across most platforms.

NURBS Modelling

(NURBS surface, 2012)

  1. Splines & Patches Modelling: A more advanced form of NURBS modeling. It allows developers to use curved lines to identify and project the visible surface. The results tend to be some of the most vivid and life-like.

Spline Modelling

(Spline Modelling, 2015)

  1. Box Modeling: Possibly the most popular technique, and bears a lot of resemblance to traditional sculpting as one starts with a primitive (usually a cube) and begins adding detail by “slicing” the cube into pieces and extending faces of the cube to gradually create the form you’re after.


Box_modelling_sample_with_a_bunny(Box Bunny, 2011)


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