In traditional (or hand drawn) animation, each frame is created by hand. This was the standard technique at Disney and other big animation studios up until the mid-90s.

While some long-feature films still use this form of animation (i.e: Ghibli studio productions), the computer almost always comes into play (i.e: for scanning and sequencing the drawing or to color each frame).

Today, Adobe Flash can be used to draw the frames directly within the digital environment.

Don Hertzfeld’s “Billy’s balloon” is a classic of independent hand drawn animation. Its minimalist style and dark humor exemplifies the importance of timing in animation. Hertzfeld drew each frame of this short by hand and shot it on 16mm.

“Billy’s Balloon” by Don Hertzfeld, 1998 [Click to watch]

Legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki and the animators at Studio Ghibli (which he co-founded) still use pencil and paper to animate.

Excerpt form “Kingdom of Dreams and Madness” [Click to watch]

The poetic imagery of William Kentridge’s films is created with charcoal and paper. His process is a perfect example of the repetitive and painstaking nature of animation.

William Kentridge on his process - SFMOMA video [Click to Watch]
William Kentridge on his process – SFMOMA video [Click to Watch]

The character animation in “Ernest & Celestine” (2012) was drawn directly in Flash but retains a handdrawn-like quality.

“Animating Ernest & Celestine” [ Click to watch]

– Anna Pinkas