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The 10-step-process of 2D animation production

Are you looking for a 2D animation studio but don't know how it works? Curious about the production of an animated film and how much does it take to produce? This article will have the answers for you and your business. 2D animation production requires a lot of creativity, a specific set of skills, and professional tools.

Even if you are starting, the article will provide complete knowledge to help you understand the 2D animation production process. Let's get started!

What are the parts of the 2D animation production pipeline?

Preparation for 2D Animation Production

Requirements & Purpose of the video

Since 2D animation productions can be utilized for a variety of purposes such as entertainment, commercials, etc., you need to pinpoint what you're using it for and what the requirements are. With each category, a 2D animation project will need to fulfill different needs. Like if the video is telling an entertaining story or trying to promote a brand to its potential customers

Once the purpose is determined, the film’s style, tone, and mood (emotion) can be determined; thus, a suitable production plan and budget can be made.

Often with commercial projects, the client will need to provide briefing materials or pitch packages detailing what they want the animated video to be. However, if the client is also unsure of the goal, help them clarify it. Besides, you will also need to plan the timeline of the production and where the animation will be used.

Here are some technical elements that you should figure out before you go into production, and it would be helpful to illustrate them with reference material:

· Content/storytelling

· Style/Art Direction

· Duration

· Style of movement

Define your audience

Who is the target audience of your animated product?

This is the question you need to ask yourself and your clients before you begin a 2D animation production. Don't go for vague answers like "everyone.” Usually, going into detail and clearly narrowing the audience is essential in deciding whether the animated product will have the effects you want or not. This factor will help you make decisions for content, drawing style, even the language you use.

Defining the audience is even more important in commercial and entertainment projects, so do not rush and ignore this factor!

Target audience will significantly determine the content, drawing style, as well as language of animated film (Source: Internet)

Time, money, and effort

In this step, you also need to find out what resources you have for your 2D animation production. More specifically, it is the time, money, and effort you will spend on the project. For any animation production, the studio also needs to have skills in estimating and setting up a production budget to balance time, human resources, and workload.

How many people are on your production team? Or do you do it alone? Making an animated product is not an easy process. This process requires the smooth coordination of many groups of people. To carry out such a project yourself is not impossible, but it will be extremely "difficult"!


Making a specific and detailed plan with a reasonable timeline allocation, human resources, and workload will help you manage the 2D animation production process scientifically and logically.

Find reference materials

Reference research in 2D animation production is looking for other art, products, images, and even films that might be a good inspiration for your animated film. The purpose of this is to learn, analyze and design an appropriate direction for your animated product.

It's helpful to break down the pros and cons of examples that have similarities in content, style, movement, to what you're trying to produce.

Also, finding references helps the clients imagine and estimate how the final animated product might look and come to an agreement before going into production. Therefore, to help the customer (and the manufacturer themselves) visualize the end product, leverage existing references that have been made by your predecessors.

2D Animation Pre-production


Perhaps the most crucial stage of any filmmaking is writing the screenplay. It lays down the scenario, the actions, and the dialogues.

Character Design

The characters in a 2D animation production should be designed to help tell the story and show some personalities, characteristics according to the director's intentions. Character designs should also be very diverse depending on the storytelling needs of the film.

Each modeling sheet consists of an illustration of how the final character looks like in the film in the full-body image, a turnaround with different angles of the character, several drawings of his/her different expressions that describe his/her personality, and drawings estimating how the character might act or move in different situations. These pages serve as benchmarks throughout the production to maintain a consistent appearance in every single scene.

Model sheets are created for each aspect of the 2D animation production (Source: DeeDee Animation Studio)

Concept Art

Concept arts are basically all the sketches, thumbnails, drawings, paintings, rough and explorative designs that the artists create to illustrate different elements in the story like environments, characters, colors, and mood. Based on these initial artworks, the directors will be able to imagine how the film could look like with different versions to choose from before committing to a final polished set of designs.


For both the studio and the client to visualize the movie, the storyboards are an indispensable element. It provides a clear set of rough illustrations for the director to flesh out the story in graphic form, and make directing and editing decisions. Also, the storyboard helps the production team calculate the workload and assign different tasks to different departments and artists based on the requirements from the story which helps reduce the potential risks of revisions later in the production and saves time and budget.

Storyboard are essentially a comic strip (Source: DeeDee Animation Studio)


The storyboard is complete, which also means you've got yourself a draft of the movie - animatic.

In this step, the storyboards will be stitched together into a video, with timing (time and pacing), camera movements (camera movements), and scratch tracks, a.k.a. voice recordings or a draft version of it.

The process of going from the storyboards to the final footage can be seen in DeeDee Animation Studio's "Glorious Mission" project, as an example of the role animatic plays in the 2D animation production process.

2D Animation Production

Layout & Background

A layout is basically a rough to clean drawing, or a black and white version of the final background, with indications of the bleed edges of the frame which show the camera positions, and rough indications of the characters' positions within the scene to show their rough movements. This will act as a sort of map for the animators to work on. A Background painting is that same layout but now painted with colors and/or separated into different depth levels/layers ready to be sent to the compositing department for the final film.


Animation usually begins a little later than layout design. Whenever some of the layout designs are provided, the animators can use that as a "rough background" for their characters to act on. Using drawing skills, acting skills, skills of using animation programs, and most importantly the 12 principles of animation, an animator will be able to make their characters "perform" within their assigned scenes, no different to how an actor does it in a live-action film. Currently, the two most popular 2D animation types are cut-out and hand-drawn.

Example of animation phase in 2D animation production (Source: Internet)


Compositing is taking the final character animation and special effects and adding them to the final colored background paintings to produce the final shots for the film. Sometimes this is the stage where a composer might add some enhancing visual effects to elevate the scenes and make them even more appealing than they already are.

2D Animation Post-production


For an animated film, it's ideal that the editing is done during the animatic stage. This should be where the final timing of every dialogue, every scene be calculated as accurately to the director's vision as possible. This helps reduce the production timeline. But it's not out of the question that most animated films still need to be re-edited after all the compositing is done since there are a lot of unpredictable variables during the productions, and/or the director or the client wants to change their mind about something, or just tiny adjustments.

Voice, Sound & Music

Modern films need dialogues, sound effects, and music to enhance the audience's experience watching them. Animated films are not exceptions. These are also considered storytelling elements that help deliver the director's vision of the story to the target audience better and more effectively.


In short, the article is a summary of 2D animation production. To handle such a complex production like that, animation studios must have effective production pipelines, an experienced team, and a strict management process. If you are still wondering and looking for an animation studio to work with, DeeDee Studio is the choice that will not disappoint you. We are confident to be the right partner who understands what you want and need for high-quality productions.

References:, What is 2D animation? Step-by-step guide for the 2D production process, How long does it take to produce an animation?, 2D animation


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