in Design

The Art of Computer Animation

Almost everyone has seen animation at one point or another due to all of the cartoons or animated films and television shows we have watched throughout our lives, especially our childhood years.

Animation has been defined as the act, process, or result of imparting life, motion, activity, and spirit. However, television animation is not the only animation out there in the world; as we all know, there is also computer animation.

Computer animation has been defined a bit differently. It has been defined as the process in which animation is generated via the use of computer graphics. The processes used for traditional animation, such as drawing, storytelling, and timing are also used in the production of computer animation.

You will also need to have a basic understanding of motion, perspective, size, and ratios for creating computer animation, just as you would need for the process of creating traditional film and television animation. The following are the steps involved in the computer animation process.

The Plan:

The first step in the process of computer animation is creating a plan for what type of animation you wish to produce. Should you wish to make a film or animated show via the use of computer animation, you will need to plan out the major plot points of the film and then you will need to create what is called a “storyboard”.

The Storyboard:

During the making of computer animations, 3-D computer graphics are often used; however, 2-D computer graphics are still used for low bandwidth and real-time performance and translation needs. When creating a storyboard, 2-D computer graphics are used to create a comic-book style performance of each scene of the film.

Motion & Movement:

In order to make the computer animations have real, life-like movement, computer-generated imagery, also known as CGI, is used. This type of imagery is when you display an image on the computer screen and then quickly replace it with an image similar to the first, but the position has been shifted. Therefore, this gives the result of life-like movement and motion.

For 3-D animations, such as objects or people, a model is built on the computer monitor and rigged with a skeleton, so to speak. This skeleton is used to help create the movement of the object’s features, such as eyes, arms, legs, and fingers.

Morphing Scenes:

Once all of the scenes are completed, or you are ready to see some of them in action together, you complete the morphing stage. This stage of the computer animation process is very important because without it, you would have a bunch of little scenes that didn’t seem to match up the way they should.

The computer automatically calculates the differences in appearance between key frames and morphs them together so that they match up to look as if they are one continuous scene.


The next step, which is very critical if you are using computer animation to create a movie, is the audio. For each character, there is a script of lines that they will need to say. Voice actors that have been selected to play a specific character or part record their lines inside of a sound booth.   These voice recordings are matched up with the animation and tweaked or re-recorded, if necessary, until it is as close to perfect as possible.


The final step in computer animation is the rendering, also known as the performance or translation, of each scene and animation. When using 3-D animation, the rendering must be completed after all the models have been created in order to play out the performance properly.

If 2-D animation is being used, rendering is the key frame creation process, so it is used throughout the entire duration of the animation making process. You can also choose to render frames in real-time as the audience is seeing them; this is usually completed via internet.

There are several crucial steps involved in the making of computer animations. These steps may vary based on the type of animation you are producing, so always remember to keep all of this information, either in mind or on hand, when beginning your computer animation project.


Bogdan is the founder of Top Design Magazine. You can find him in Bucharest-Romania so next time you want to drink a beer there and talk about web and stuff, give him a message.