Lūdō's style is very simple - good for a first animated film

Lessons Learned: tips for a first animated film

August 16, 2016 7:00 am Published by

Never made a short animated film before? Neither had I until I made Lūdō this year! Here are some tips for making your first animated film.

Keep it short and sweet

Animation is hard. And it takes time – a lot of it. For your first animated film, consider sticking to stories that can run for 1-3 minutes, depending on your tolerance. Such stories will be simpler and easy to keep track of so you can focus on animating the film and learning as you go. Lūdō had a simple story about a character who kicks their ball away and has to get it back. I didn’t have to think about the story itself, and instead could focus on how to convey that story.

Simplify your style

Again, animation is hard. And though the style you typically draw in might be beautifully complex, that same style will only make animation harder. Stick to the simplest designs that get your story across, at least until you’re comfortable with whatever tools you’re using. Simple doesn’t mean ugly! The character in Lūdō is very simple, but still pretty cute and can tell the story fine. The backgrounds also don’t have much detail, and they still convey the setting fine.

Most importantly: your first film won’t be your magnum opus

You dream up beautiful stories and imagine lush visuals the likes of which humankind has never seen. In your mind, the characters look appealing and natural, the effects are mind-blowing, and the scenery is both realistic and unbelievably beautiful. This story will make the greatest mainstream animated films look like hot garbage.

And your first film will not reflect any of this. And that’s okay!

The pros make it look so easy. They’ve been doing this for years. Most of the animation you’ve seen was made by professionals, or at least people with some education and practice in animation. If you’ve never animated before, your stuff will simply not look like theirs.

Don’t get discouraged – that’s why you’ve gotta start somewhere! There’s no better place to start than going in and making a film. That’s why you should come up with a short and easy story and draw in a style that’s fast to work with: so you can jump right into this practice phase without getting hung up. Your first film won’t be your best, unless it’s the last film you ever do. You can always get better, and with enough practice you’ll have the skill to make the most of your great ideas!

Your first film won’t be your best, unless it’s the last film you ever do. You can always get better. Click To Tweet

Starting a project like this can be daunting. Hopefully the above tips can make it less scary to jump in and start working! Also, you can get started on pretty much no budget using free and open source tools.


Oh, and if you do make your first animated film: email me at l-james@azdion.com and I might feature what you made! I’m always excited to see people’s projects.

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