Thanks to art and animation (and, of course, the internet), humanity has invented a new way of communication, simplifying the conveying of ideas among people worldwide. And each piece of visual content has always had its representative — a vivid character.

Creating a remarkable character is vital if you want to draw the attention of as many people as possible, especially if they are your potential customers. However, this process is not a piece of cake, mainly the animation character part (unless you use custom animation services).

Being an experienced animation studio, we want to share our knowledge and guide you through the basic character animation process to make this path more pleasant for you. So let’s begin with mastering different character animation styles.

Character Animation Styles

2D animation

2D animation started the development of this industry many years ago. In the past, artists achieved a decent quality of animating two-dimensional objects by drawing multiple frames of flat characters and surroundings on paper. Today they refer to special software.
To bring a character to life, 2D artists draw several frames that, when fast-forwarding, imitate movement. This technique is also called frame-by-frame animation or flipbook animation if it’s done on paper.

3D animation

Primarily, 3D animation requires creating a character with the help of software using various modeling/sculpting and texturing techniques. Further, you can use several methods to animate a 3D character.
For example, you can control a model like a puppet, changing the positions of different body parts and fixing them in the frame. This method is called 3D frame-by-frame animation.
In addition, professional 3D animation artists use the technique of rigging and skinning, adjusting the movement of characters through their skeleton, and setting the movement of each muscle. These techniques are pretty complex, but the result of such animation is as natural as possible.

Stop motion

The stop motion animation method is used to create cartoons, most commonly using puppets and dolls.
During the process, artists physically change characters’ positions and take photographs of each position. After that, by editing these frames, artists create the imitation of character movement.
Using this animation technique with claymation dolls is called claymation. In addition, there is another kind of stop motion animation that uses characters cut out of paper, so this method is called cutout animation.

Rotoscope

Rotoscoping is an animation technique in which artists draw character movements from life. In other words, characters are transferred to paper frame-by-frame during the physical filming.
This method was very time-consuming, but it made it possible to portray character movements as naturally as possible. Fortunately, this method has significantly improved as modern artists use software to speed things up. They take filmed frames as a fundamental layer and transform them into animated videos with the effect of hand-painting.

Motion capture

In describing motion capture, we can say that this animation method has become a derivative of rotoscoping. Its essence lies in the use of real actors who physically reproduce facial expressions and movements.
Further, these movements are transmitted to respective software since actors put on special costumes and devices that translate these movements into computers.
Thus, character models can be anything in CGI, but they take on natural movements filmed with the help of professional actors.
For example, Benedict Cumberbatch played the dragon in The Hobbit. He was wearing a special suit that contained a lot of wires, a microphone, and even a mini camera. So the artists modeled the dragon on the computer and animated it using the recorded movements of the actor.


Character animation services

How to Make an Animated Character

Working on a movie, game, commercial, or another digital project, you need to know certain character animation features in order to succeed. So here we will share the main principles of how to make animated people for any kind of project.

2D character design for animation

Regardless of whether you are going to do 2D or 3D animation, first things first — an artist must develop the concept of a future character. Thus, the final result will be more thought out, while the creation process will be more efficient.

Character concept art is a deep and exciting topic, but we will talk about how to design a character for animation.

It’s enough to work on a 2D character sketch — highlight the primary, unique features of their appearance as well as think over the style of additional materials, such as a costume, accessories, or weapons. Afterward, you can proceed to the creation and animation of your character.

How to make a 2D animated person

When the animation had just begun to develop, artists used frame-by-frame animation of hand-drawn characters. Fortunately, the era of exclusively manual work has ended. Modern animation artists create 2D characters using such software as Adobe Character Animator, Unity, or Blender.

Once you’ve designed a 2D character, you can animate it frame by frame, with motion capture, or animate every part of its body. For example, artists can load their characters into Unity, mark their body parts as skeletal bones, and animate them with specific tools. Thus, you can set the desired set of movements without drawing every scene frame.

Furthermore, animators should create an appropriate background for their character and animate some parts of each scene if needed. Working on animating the entire set, artists can also create natural effects like wind animation, light, shadow, and visual effects applications. Here’s where the true software magic comes into play!

How to make 3D character animation

After creating the character concept art, professional animators follow five primary steps to get the animation perfectly done. So it’s pretty easy to animate a 3D character when you have specific skills, knowledge, and this step-by-step guide:

3D character modeling. Starting with blocking out (character model base creation), artists give their model a proper shape and work on the topology, color, as well as special features of the character’s appearance.

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Design texturing. Once a model is ready, it’s time to provide it with natural textures. Artists work on the proper material for skin, hair, clothes, and accessories, creating several layers of materials and turning them into high-quality textures.

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Rigging & skinning. Any good 3D character needs to have a unique skeleton for better animation. Rigging and skinning are professional techniques that allow the animation of every character’s muscle and the integration of all body parts as an entire mechanism.

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Animation. The animation process implies the imitation of movements by setting up each scene frame according to a video product script. It’s one of the most time-consuming steps because the final movement must seem as natural as possible.

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Additional details. The final step of the high-quality animation is finishing by setting up a camera angle and working on details like light and shadows. In addition, your 3D model should be implemented into the background to create a complete scene.

Regardless of the animation type, this process takes specific knowledge, skills, hardware, and software to apply. That’s why marketing teams, movie makers, and even game developers prefer to outsource an animation task to pros with enough resources. So in case you are one of the opportunistic entrepreneurs, you can learn more about how to outsource product animation to reliable specialists.

Character Animation Examples

The world is full of animated digital content, and we are sure that everyone has heard about vivid characters that represent some visual products. Let’s have a look at the most popular animated human and animal-like characters or creatures presented in different industries.

Commercial character animation

Commercial character animation

The famous bunny from the Nesquik commercial is familiar to most kids and adults. This character has become a fun and engaging face of many products like cereal, milkshakes, and cocoa. 2D animation of different techniques has been used in Nesquik commercials since the 1950s.

Movie character animation

Movie character animation

Avatar characters from the movie of the same name are stunning and remarkable. This example represents the result of the stop motion animation technique when real actors film in a cinema in specific suites, while the animation artists finalize these characters with computer software.

Cartoon character animation

Cartoon character animation

Rick and Morty is a popular science fiction sitcom for an adult audience. All the characters and the entire cartoon are created in 2D, so the artists of this project have used a combination of different 2D animation techniques, including frame-by-frame and cutout animation.

Game character animation

Game character animation

Elden Ring is one of the most anticipated games of 2022 that represents the great work of animation and VFX artists. Animators have used 3D animation, rigging, and skinning of the highest level, so gamers can play with custom characters, fighting unique creatures that move smoothly as well as naturally.

Make Your Character Animation Flawless With 3D-Ace Services

As you can see, the animation can range from a simple cutout to a complex and impressive 3D animation. However, creating any type of animation requires an integrated approach, as well as deep expertise, skills, and experience.

That is why outsourcing character animation to specialists is more efficient. Regardless of the level of complexity and project goal, the 3D-Ace team is ready to handle the crucial 2D/3D animation task.

Since we have 30 years of experience in animation, 2D art creation, and 3D modeling, our specialists deliver outstanding results in any time frame. Additionally, we offer flexible business models that are suitable for all projects.

Don’t hesitate to contact us so that we can discuss the details of your project and agree on the appropriate conditions for you.