How to Create Animated Videos that Charm Viewers

30 July, 2021  

Who doesn’t enjoy animated videos?

Not only are they charming and entertaining, but the medium also allows you to bring fantastic, visually compelling stories to life as well! That versatility is what gives the medium of animation its flexibility and potential as an educative and marketing tool.

Considering all these wonderful benefits, you may be eager to make your own animation, and that’s great! But doing animated videos right requires a lot of time, know-how, and resources, and that’s just a fact.

Now, while we can’t give you those things, we still want to help anyone interested in the medium to explore how to create animated videos!

So, we’ve put together this piece to share with you the basics of how it’s done, as well as share a few, budget-friendly tools to create free animation videos.

Let’s get to it!

how to create animated videos

1. Define the Concept

You wouldn’t build a house without adding foundations first, would you? On the same note, you can’t create animated videos without a solid concept as a base.

You see, every decision you’ll take during the production process will be either defined or informed by the piece’s concept. That is, the core message you want viewers to take from your video – the reason why you want to make your own animation in the first place.

All the elements on your video – and, therefore, every step on your production process – should revolve around that idea. That is the only way to unify your video’s message and come up with a cohesive piece, so it’s vital to choose only one. Otherwise, it’ll often lead to a confusing video.

Plus, it would be difficult to pull off a video production focused on more than one concept!

Some of you might already have a concept in mind, but others may be struggling to come up with one. If that’s your case, you can find inspiration in this creative brief we send our clients before deciding on a concept. Their answers let us get a grasp of what they are trying to achieve with their video. See if our brief can help you too!
ebook: How to write a script?

2. Write the Script

In the script, you’ll break down and develop the story you have in mind. Here, you can specify the scenarios where the story will take place, the characters’ aspect, and more. You can also leverage an established style formula, like the one we use for our explainer videos. Most of all, you should write the dialogues or narration that compose the video.

Now, you can make a bad video from a quality script, but there’s no way you can develop a great video from a poor script. So, don’t neglect this fundamental step and take your time to create animated video scripts that you can feel proud of.

How to make animation scripts? Well, a Word document can do the trick. But if you are looking for a more professional look, you can try an online scriptwriting tool, such as Celtx.

This sort of platform makes formatting your script easier and allows you and your colleagues to collaborate on the same project.

3. Create a Storyboard

If the concept were like the foundations of your video, then the storyboard is the equivalent of the layout plan that defines how the piece will unfold.

A storyboard is a visual interpretation of the script, where you illustrate every frame of the future video.

As simple as it may sound, this is a powerful visual tool that will help you plan your video’s aesthetic and visual storytelling. It will also help you realize if that amazing frame you are envisioning is actually somewhat disappointing.

Do you want to see an example of this remarkable tool? Here’s one of our own storyboards, followed by the video that came from it.

how to create animated videos

To make your own animation storyboard without too much hassle, you can use a tool like Boords.

This online platform provides users with a drawing tool, but if you are not in the mood for drawing, you can also use one of its millions of stock images and icons or upload your own pictures.

The bad news is that it doesn’t allow you to create free animation video storyboards, but its freelance membership is relatively inexpensive ($9 a month, billed yearly).

4. Make the Illustrations

Your video is finally taking shape! Now you can start laying the bricks by illustrating the characters, scenarios, and objects that will appear on the screen.

You will make these illustrations digitally, using specialized software. The key here is to work on every element separately by leveraging layers.

One layer should correspond to the background, another one to a character, another one to the ball your protagonist will throw in the scene, and so on. When you place all the layers together, you will see the frame as a whole.

Why is it essential to work in layers? Because in the following steps, when you are using video animation software, you would only be able to animate each element separately if they are placed in different layers. Otherwise, you will try to make your protagonists shake hands… and you’ll end up with the whole background shaking too!

how to create animated videos

How to create animated video illustrations?

If you are subscribed to Adobe’s Creative Cloud and have experience working with its programs, you can try Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop.

That said, for those of you looking for beginner-level software, we recommend using Figma. It’s an online whiteboard tool that lets you design simple elements and collaborate with more people in the same project. Plus, it offers a free membership!

5. Record the Voiceover

Here’s one of the most fun parts of creating animated videos! It’s time to bring your script to life by recording the dialogues and narrations.

In the ideal scenario, you would hire a professional voiceover actor and get them to record in a studio (or in their own home voiceover studio) to guarantee excellent audio quality.

This blog post isn’t about ideal scenarios, though – it’s about how to create free animation videos. So, you will save some bucks by doing the voiceover acting yourself or getting a friend with a charming voice to do it for you.

Neither you nor your helpful friend probably has a voiceover home studio. The closest alternative is grabbing your computer microphone – especially if it’s directional – to record without too much external noise.

To make your own cartoon voiceover, we recommend you using the celebrated software program, Audacity.

With this user-friendly program, you’ll be able to record, mix, and edit your recording. Not to mention, it’s free! So, you can be sure you would be on the right track – get it?

6. Develop an Animatic

Have you ever heard of an animatic? That’s the element you’ll use to measure how long a frame will be shown on screen depending on the voiceover’s script. Let me break it down for you:

The animatic pairs each frame of the storyboard with the accordant voiceover lines. Every frame is displayed in the same order it’ll be shown in the final video.

Here’s a good animatic example for you to understand this concept better:

7. Add Movement by Using Video Animation Software

You are nearly there! Everything else is already in place, so it’s time to bring the illustrations to life with the help of an animated cartoon maker.

A little caveat about this exciting stage: it’s the most challenging part of creating animated videos. So, take it easy and don’t expect to get the best results right from the start.

Now, how to create animations from your drawings? Import your illustration’s layers to the video animation software and add movement to each element by working with different timeframes and tools – which will vary depending on the software you use.

In this stage, you need a comprehensive animated cartoon maker. Sadly, these types of software are hardly ever user-friendly, so you’ll have to spend some time watching tutorials until you learn the essentials.

You can check out tools like Harmony 20, which allow you to import and edit illustrations, work with many different layers, play with camera angles and movements, and more.

It’s not a free tool, but it does offer a 21-day free trial and a basic membership that costs $18 per month or $145 a year.

8. Add Music & Sound Effects

Now our construction is almost over, it’s time to put the final coats of paints and accessorize it with the right music and sound effects. And, just like the home décor can change a room completely, these sound elements can make or break your video.

Please, resist the urge to add your favorite song without any further criterion! To choose the right music track for your video, you should think once again in your concept: What type of music goes best with your message? Which one transmits the vibe you are aiming at?

With all that in mind, choose a music clip that complements your story perfectly.

In most cases, you can add the tracks to your video in the animated cartoon maker you’ve used – that’s the case with Harmony 20.

If you want to create animated videos for the web or social media, you need to use royalty-free music. Otherwise, you’ll have copyright issues.

Our favorite royalty-free music library is Epidemic Sound. With it, you’ll be spoilt for choice: it boasts over 35000 music tracks and 90000 sound effects.

Unfortunately, this option isn’t entirely free, but it does offer a 30-day free trial.

9. Time to Export and Publish!

Now you’ve made your own animation, all that’s left to do is export it in the audiovisual format you like most (.MOV, .MP4, etc.) and show it to the world!

You can post it on social media, on your website, or share it with your friends. Let the world see what you’ve created!!

The Takeaway

There you have it! You’ve learned how to create free animation videos.

As you may have noticed, it’s a process that takes time and effort. We know that can be a little discouraging, but if you go through with it, you’ll learn a new set of skills and have an awesome video portfolio filled with content to call your own.

It might not be the best animated video around, but don’t let that get to you! See it as the starting point of your learning experience. Once you get familiar with how to create animated videos, your following works will be better, and the whole creation process will run smoother.

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