Animation Guide – Step by Step

Eoin Dowdall
Creative Director

animation guide

When it comes to video production there are two principal categories – live action and animation. Both options can be effective and impactful and the choice depends upon your specific project. Think of your target audience and key message, and which option would be most effective. Oftentimes live action is chosen not because it is the best choice, but because the animation process is unknown, overwhelming and seemingly complicated. Here at Kartoffel Films we have made hundreds of animations, and know that animation can offer immense value to your film project.So we’ve created this animation guide to help simplify the process for you!

How to Make An Animation

Knowing how to make an animation comes from experience. It is not as complicated a process as you might think, especially if you partner with a video production company. When you work with a video production company, they will do most of the hard work for you! They will help you through all the steps below, and ensure that your final animation film meets all objectives. This animation guide is a general outline for the animation process, and if you have any other questions get in touch!

Strategic Planning

To start, you need to think strategically about your animation. This ensures the return on your investment in the animation film. Strategic planning is key.

Begin by determining the main purpose behind your animation film. What do you want to achieve? Who is your target audience? What do you want to communicate to them? What do you want to motivate your audience to do? Once you have answered these questions, than you’ll be able to ensure that your animation meets all objectives.


A script is key to delivering your message. Most animation films will need a script to either appear as text on screen or be delivered in a voiceover. Make sure that you refer back to your strategic planning throughout the scripting process.

Pay particular attention to who your target audience is and how they like to be communicated with. This will determine what words to use, the tone and the pace of your script.  For example if your audience is medical professionals it would be acceptable to use complex medical terminology. While if your audience was hospital patients than you would use not use the same terminology, you would simplify the concepts to ensure understanding.

Keep your script short. Audiences’ attention spans are only getting shorter. Our experience has taught us that the optimal film length is two minutes. So if possible keep your script to two minutes or less.

The first thirty seconds are vital. They capture the audience’s attention and keep them watching. Keep this in mind whilst scripting to ensure that your message reaches the widest possible audience.

Style Board

A style board is created in consultation with your animator. This is not the storyboard, but rather the step before. In this stage, the animator will work with you to define the look and feel of the animation from the colour palette to overall design. Through this stage the animator will come to understand how to best visually represent the main message, and how to evoke the feeling of the film project. The styleboard is also your opportunity to ensure that the animation film will fit within with your brand guidelines.

It is vital to keep your audience in mind whilst creating the style board. Different animation styles will appeal to different audiences. Each detail should be geared towards your audience so that you can best connect with them to communicate your message.


Storyboards are all about expectations. In this stage you connect your script to the visuals. This gives you a visual representation of what your animation will look like, and it ensures that you and your animator are on the same page. o matter what you do, each person will interpret a script differently. This is why storyboards are vital to create a common understanding.

The storyboard is your chance to see what your animation would look like before it’s animated. Once animated it is difficult and expensive to make changes. So it is important that you be absolutely happy with the storyboard before moving forward.


The actual animating of the film will be done by the animator. Depending on the specific project you may get the chance to give feedback during this process. However almost all of the details should have been decided upon in the previous stages.

Voiceover and Sound design

This is left until last as the voiceover and sounds need to be synced with the action which can change while the animation is being revised. Leaving it until after the animation saves on costs and on the animator’s time. Often times a guide voiceover will be used during editing to help create the film project. This will then be replaced by a final recording of the voiceover.

Costs of Animation

The costs of animation vary greatly depending on the style of the animation, what is depicted, and how long your film is. Certain styles of animation would take longer to create than others, and the more details you include the more work it is for the animator. If you are concerned with costs be clear with your animator or video production company about your budget. They will be able to help you find animation solutions that match your budget.