During the pandemic I began animating every night after my kids went to bed for up to an hour. In my animation instagram you can see my progress as I created various short animations to push my skills forward. My short film "Aunt Phibian" was created in 2021 and took about 75 hours to make, spread over five months.
I started by painting all of the backgrounds with ink wash on watercolor paper. I then scanned these assets into the computer, cleaned them up a bit in Photoshop and then imported them into Toon Boom Harmony, where I used motion keyframes to slide the trees through the windows of the train at different rates, creating a "multiplane" parallax effect.
For the character animation, I started by drawing my key frames on paper. I like to start on paper because it feels more natural to me, and is easier to think creatively when I am not in front of a screen. (I also like the sound of flipping paper :)
Once the basic movements were working, I scanned the drawings into the computer and imported them into Toon Boom Harmony. This program is amazing for hand-drawn animation! The onion skinning capabilities are very robust and allow me to work very efficiently. I use a Wacom One pen display which allows me to draw directly on the screen.
For the frog animation I followed a similar process, but animated those in another file. I then used Harmony's TPL library feature to embed these animations into the larger "train" file, adding motion key frames, to help them slide by in the background at the correct speed.
There are 720 frames in this animation! To help speed up the process of "ink and paint" I created this guide for myself to add the proper value of gray to each region of the character's design. The idea was to have the character's smooth digital grays on top of the textured analog grays of the background. I hope to use this technique again for an animated short that I would like to create in the future.
I submitted this short film to the 2022 Vermont Animation Festival and was very surprised and pleased when it won the Best Overall Animation award!