The animation process within a 2d animation studio

A Guide To The Animation Process

Catharine Pitt
Mark Davis

Everybody knows that here at Form Play HQ we are passionate about animation. Indeed, our films are ruthlessly conceived by our endless dedication to shredding those storyboards and cooking up characters. So we thought we'd give you a cheeky glance under the hood of our mega-methods. As our chief pencil pusher Mr. Davis would say about the process: "that's Amore!".

There are four main steps to cooking up a dream:

  1. Discovery (Pre-production)

  2. Ideation (Pre-production)

  3. Implementation (Production)

  4. Delivery (Post-Production)

Stage 1: Discovery

This is a crucial stage, where we gather information about the clients needs, goals, budgets and timescales. It often starts with a brief (read our 'How To Write An Animation Brief') and through conversations, we gain clarity on the project objectives and client aspirations. We explore:

  • Purpose, audience and desired outcome

  • Scope of work and deliverables

  • Voiceover and audio options

  • Budgets and payment terms

  • Timelines and milestones

  • Script and storyboard

  • Style and direction


This is the stage where the final outcomes are decided and where clients have most involvement. It typically involves:

  • Creative development

  • Technical planning

  • Storyboarding

  • Script writing

  • Styleframes

  • Animatic

  • Audio

Concept Development: We generate and explore ideas for creative solutions within agreed parameters. It includes stylistic treatments, storylines, characters, and setting. We then present our ideas through mood boards, sketches and feedback revisions. We sometimes revisit timelines and budgets, should the creative options affect them.

Storyboarding: We create a visual breakdown of the story with sketches of characters, environments, and staging, including notes on dialogue, action, and camera movements.

Character and Environment Design: We develop the appearance, personality, and mannerisms of each character and create settings and backgrounds such as landscapes, buildings, and props.

Animatic: This is the first presentation to the client showing the sequence of shots and establishing the overall pace and tone of the project. It uses storyboard images with rough dialogue and audio.

VO, Audio, SFX: We audition and cast for the VO or commission music, audio, and SFX.

Styleframes and illustrations: We create detailed illustrations of the characters and settings, establishing the visual style, tone and aesthetic of the project

Technical Planning: We plan how the animation will be produced, including the software and hardware needed and any technical challenges that may arise.

Stage 3: Implementation

This is when we start to animate!

Animation is a complex process, which is why we ask for sign-off on the previous stages before any production work can begin. It's also a difficult phase to share progress, as often the elements are created in isolated segments, ready for assembly in the final stages. The animation process typically involves:

  • Key Frames: Establishing the motion and timing through key poses and movements

  • In-betweening: Creating the movements between the keyframes to create a smoother motion

  • Cleanup: Removing stray lines, errors and ensure consistency

  • Colouring: Adding colour, texture, shading and highlights

  • Compositing elements into the master animation

Stage 4: Delivery

Before sharing a final proof, we add finishing touches to the animation, such as:

  • Add final audio and adjust timings

  • Check for inconsistencies, including colour correction

  • Version for required formats

And then voila! Your delicious animation is served.

Whether the goal for your animation is to educate, entertain or inspire, our process combines strategic thinking with creative expertise to bring your vision to life.

Get in touch to discuss your project.