The urge to create often overwhelms me. This happened yesterday. I’ve been on vacation for the past week. We stayed home and spent lots of time working in the yard and enjoying our pool (why spend money to go somewhere when you’ve got a nice back yard, right?)

Then it hit me. I woke up on Saturday feeling the urge to create an animation. If you know anything about animation, it is not just a quick-sketch process. Why would I have this desire? I’m not sure. I just knew I needed to do it. I spent the morning at the gym and finishing up some yard work…and noodling an idea. At 1:00 I sat down and started creating. I didn’t know where I was going, I just anticipated that journey.

Here’s what happened…

First, I decided I wanted to do a simple movement of a fairy on the forest floor. idea born.

Second, I went to Unsplash and searched for some forest floor and fairy-inspired photos for reference.

Third, I painted the background in Corel Painter 2016, using the Captured Bristle Acrylic brush. There are five layers that will be used to create the illusion of depth in the film. Here’s a screen shot with the photo references and the Corel Painter interface.

Fourth, I exported the Painter file to a Photoshop file, knowing that the animation software would require this format to import.

Fifth, the Photoshop file was imported into Toon Boom Harmony and made into five separate layers. Harmony allows you to create space between the layers so that when the camera moves you can see the difference in depth of motion.

Sixth, I roughed out the animation of the fairy with simple gestural drawings.

Seventh, once all the timing was working out for the animation, I went back over each frame and created a simple, solid silhouette of the figure. I knew there wasn’t enough time to do detailed drawings, so this method made the most sense.

Eighth, I added the hair and wings to create motion on every frame, even when the main body was still for several frames.

Ninth, I added a glow effect to the character to make it more interesting, and to cover up the simplicity of the drawings.

Tenth, the light beam was a last-minute addition. I thought it would add another layer of drama. It is a simple shape animated over a few frames. Add a glow effect and it is magical.

Finally, I exported the movie as a .mov file, brought it into iMovie and added the “heroes” jingle from the iMovie library.

Yes, that took five hours for a ten-second clip. Imagine how long it takes to make a feature length animated movie.


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