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we are moving graphic design: We are a matey creative Design Agency based in Munich (germany). Our passion is Motion Design and Animation in every possible way. // Wir sind eine aufstrebende Designagentur aus München. Wir lieben alles, was mit Animation und Motion Design möglich ist.

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2d character animation - tutorial



Some time ago we celebrated our fifth anniversary with some experimental animations, among other things. For us, every project is a challenge for which we are always trying out new techniques and questioning working methods.

For example: How far can you push line animations with shape layers in After Effects? How can you link this technique to classic cartooning? How long does the process take? Whew, that's already a bit too complex? Then we have also prepared articles on animation and motion graphic design for you. For all those who know where the difference is, you can keep quiet :)

Today we will give you an insight into the creation of a 2D character animation. If you have any questions, we will be happy to answer your technical questions. You will find contact details later in the text.


What to expect:

1. sketching & animating prototypes
2. creating vector illustrations
3. Import illustrations into After Effects
4. Animating 2D graphics
5. Polishing in AE
6. What we learned




The tutorial video:

Before we go through each step in detail, here's our small but mighty tutorial movie. This one shows you the steps in fast motion to create such a polished 2D animation in After Effects.






1. sketching & animating prototypes:

There are always many many sketches at the beginning. Here we experimented with figure and their extreme poses. With the help of the tool Clip Studio Paint we were able to quickly create sketches of the most important keyframes . This gave us a very early animation prototype that we could work with on timing.


BLOG makingof Beitragsbild boxer 01 skizzeBLOG makingof Beitragsbild boxer 02 animierter prototype




2. Create vector illustrations:

We implemented the keyframe illustrations entirely in Adobe Illustrator (outline only, no areas). Therefore, they would theoretically also be available for later exploitation as vector graphics (but in this case rather not relevant).


BLOG makingof Beitragsbild boxer 03 linienzeichnung




3. Importing illustrations into After Effects:

The Illustrator illustrations have been imported into After Effects and converted into shape layers. So it is possible to manipulate ( and just animate ) all lines in AE.




4. Animate 2D graphics:

The shape layers were then animated by hand using individual keyframes. This ended up being a full-blown keyframe battle, but it gives you control over every little detail! This technique was implemented in the slow motion animations. Of course, there were also keyframes that could only be seen for such a short time that this step was not necessary.


BLOG makingof Beitragsbild boxer 05 Keyframes




5. Polishing in After Effects:

In the end, we added color areas (which move offset from the animation) and a background. The colors were also adjusted again for the final version.


BLOG makingof Beitragsbild boxer 04 farbe1BLOG makingof Beitragsbild boxer 04 farbe2




6. Here's what we learned:

Just for slow motion animation, shape layers are very good. You have control over all the details, but it quickly becomes very confusing for more complex illustrations. A tip for the keyframe handling: we use the plugin Mirror & Offset from This allows faster copying, mirroring, or timing offsetting of keyframes.


All in all, we are satisfied with the process, even if one or two things could still be improved afterwards, such as more time for fine-tuning the animated prototype or trying out different color variants. But even with internal projects you need deadlines and in this case we set ourselves the timeframe of one working week. Fun was the trip in any case!


You want to learn even more about character animation? The complete process from concept to implementation with lots of tips from the field? Then we recommend you the blog post "From character design to animation - tips from the field".




Things we'd like to know from you:

Do you like the style?
Do you have any suggestions for improvement?
What aspect should we go into more detail about?
What GIFs would you like to see from us?
Which one do you like better: left (original) or right (new)?
BLOG makingof Beitragsbild boxer 04 farbe2BLOG makingof Beitragsbild boxer 04 farbe3 neu




We are here for you!

We welcome your feedback, your opinion or request! Just use our convenient contact form.




Our previous 'Days of ...' animations:

» February 27th - Swallow Sword Day

» March 20 - Day of the Burning Snowman

» April 23rd - Beer Day

» May 22nd - Biodiversity Day

» June 21st - day of sleep

» July 27th - Go for a walk with your pants day

» August 03rd - Watermelon Day

» September 07th - Beard Day

» September 18th - Cheesburger Day

» September = Oktoberfest!

» November 28th - Oktoberfest!


» Here you can find more animated GIFs about other topics.



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