How to make hand-drawn style animations

If you’ve watched Untamed Science videos lately, you’ll have noticed that we’ve been doing a lot of hand-drawn, sketch-style animations. These animations can be done in a few different ways, but I’m going to show you what I think is by far, the easiest.

untamed animated gif

Hand-drawn Animations – Background

Animations in the past were created with anywhere from 8 to 12 drawn animations per second. That means that if you’re rending out a 24 frame per second movie, then each drawing is on screen for 2 or 3 frames. In today’s digital world we can simulate that effect in three different ways.

  1. Create 3 different images in photoshop and cycle them so that they are on screen for roughly .2 of a second. At 24fps, I find that each image should stay on for 5 frames.
  2. Create one image and use Effects>Turbulent Displace in AE to simulate the hand drawn effect
  3. Screen capture your hand drawing and add a type sketch filter in your editing program (such as in FCPX)

I’ll show you all three as we go through this tutorial

Video Tutorial – Hand Drawn / sketchy style animations

How to Get Started in Hand Drawn Animations

If you have never done hand drawn animations, it really is super easy. I did the whole process in this short tutorial.

The main things you’ll need here are:

  • A screen capture software such as Camtasia.
  • A drawing application such as Photoshop.
  • A tablet to draw with such as the Wacom tablets.
  • An editing program to put it all together in, such as FCPX.

Written by Rob Nelson

Rob is an ecologist from the University of Hawaii. He is the co-creator and director of Untamed Science. His goal is to create videos and content that are entertaining, accurate, and educational. When he's not making science content, he races whitewater kayaks and works on Stone Age Man.

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