Layout poses and rough animation

Hi there! Filmmaker here!

In the standard professional animation workflow, do layout poses serve as keyframes (extremes) during the rough animation stage or are the layout poses and rough key drawings done separately?

I would like know about this because I’m debating on whether I should draw the character poses on a separate layer from the background in GIMP or import the background into Pencil2D and draw the character poses on a separate layer like I would in GIMP.

Please let me know as soon as possible. Thank you.

@JacobZeier1992 This really depends on the studio and the workflow, but in general, yes, the layout can be used as rough key drawings. There are places where the studio has a layout artist that does character and background layout based off the storyboard, and in other places the key animator does the layout and this is used as rough keys.

If you’re doing this on your own, then just use the latter workflow.

Do you mean I should just use the layout poses as key drawings? I most certainly will because I think it would make more sense because it would be totally pointless and redundant to trace over the layout drawings with rough key drawings, since the layout drawings are already rough in the sense that they are sketched, just like the storyboards except smaller.

To me, the layout stage is essentially the glorified storyboard/animatic stage. I draw my storyboards in GIMP. I draw the shots and poses within them. The shot refers to change of camera placement, whereas the pose refers to the change in characters’ expressions and actions and/or camera movement, like panning and zooming. When I label my storyboards, I would write either, for example, “Shot 1-1” or " Shot 1, Pose 1". After that, I would export them as .jpg files due to the already crude but watchable quality. After that, I import them into Kdenlive to make an animatic. I would time the storyboards for each shot and pose, if any, in the length of frames or even seconds. I use the animatic and its storyboards as a guide and the layout stage, which is basically the glorified animatic/storyboards, as a map, even though a map is a visual guide. Unlike the storyboards/animatic stage, however, I would draw more poses in the layout stage to better define and control the acting, which is indeed directing. I make storyboards 1/4 the size of the layout drawings.

I go for full HD; 1920x1080, in the layout and of course the remainder of the animation process until the finished product. That would mean that 1920x1080 / 4 = 480x270 for the storyboards. I shoot for 480x272 because I want to make sure that the video aspect ratio is divisible by 4.

I export the storyboards, layout drawings, including the backgrounds, and rough animation drawings as .jpg files because they are, well, already poor but watchable images. For the clean-up animation drawings, painted cels, and painted backgrounds, I export them as .png because they are, well, much better quality images, which are excellent for the finished product.

Thanks for the reply again.

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@JacobZeier1992 I’ll be concise: Yes, you can use them as key drawings.

If you ever have to work as part of a production as an animator, you’ll probably have to trace or change the original layout made by someone else if it makes sense to do so though.

But I totally understand that thinking if you should or shouldn’t do that can feel irrelevant if you’re working on your own. Do what you feel works for your workflow particularly if it is the most efficient way to deliver your final product :smiley:

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That’s really kind of you. I’m just explaining how I would go about the animation process. Just my opinion. I like making stuff by myself.

Also, I’m planning on one day doing a written and maybe audio/visual tutorial on how I would make animated movies; shorts, features, tv show episodes, whatever. If people agree with this process, awesome. If they don’t, they’ll just have to do it their own way, but that’s OK. Nothing wrong with having a choice/preference in filmmaking. I want to thank you very much for your friendliness. I hope you think my animation workflow sounds good. It would be good to teach people how to make your own animations.

Also, I apologize for writing such a long reply, I just want you to know my technique in the animation workflow.

@JacobZeier1992 I apologize as well as it seems I didn’t grasp the intent of your reply. You’re more than welcome to share your points of view and workflows here. Thanks for sharing.

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which reply of this post?

@JacobZeier1992 All of them that are related to your workflow description. Sorry, I honestly thought you were sharing your workflow as a point of reference for comparison, but asking what was “better” for your particular case at the same time.

I think it’s great that you have your own workflow and as long as it works for you, that’s all that matters, and I’m sure others that read your comments will be able to benefit in different ways.

Thanks again for sharing :+1:

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That’s nice. In no way or place am I saying my workflow is superior to others, of course not, that would chauvinistic. I’m only explaining to people what I believe would be an easier and more economic way to make you flicks. That’s all; no more, no less.

By more economic, I of course meant cheaper and also referring to using free open-source software which is invaluable and quite common these days.

I use Pencil2D for the process you describe above. Right now I’m working on a series of educational shorts.

Every episode lasts 3 minutes. 5 seconds title, 160 seconds animation and 15 seconds credits. First I do the narration in Audacity, and edit it so it is 160 secs. Save it as *.wav.

I load the *.wav into Pencil2D on frame 126 (5 seconds with 25 fps), and save it as ‘epi_01.pclx’. (epi = episode)

Then I start making my storyboard drawings. Keyframe 1 will be the title. On keyframe 126 I make my first storyboard drawing, which will be the opening layout, and then I continue to make storyboard drawings, so the cuts between the scenes/shots, fits with the narration. When I’m finished, I’ll typically have 40-50 keyframes, and I then export it as mp4, with the lenght 4500 frames. I now have an animatic.

Then I make a folder called keyframes, and from within Pencil2D, I export all keyframes (with opacity) to this folder. The files are given the prefix ‘epi_01_key_’, so when they are exported, I have keys named epi_01_key_0001.png, epi_01_key_0126.png, epi_01_key_0176.png, epi_01_key_0241.png, and so on. From this I can see how long my scenes are. The first is 126-1 = 125 frames, the second is 176-126= 50 frames, and so on.

For scene 1, I’ll import epi_01_key_0001.png as layout drawing, for scene 2 I’ll use epi_01_key_0126.png, and so on…

For me, it’s a foolproof and very efficient system, but please feel free to find and use what suits you best.

Thank you, how nice of you.

I like doing things my way and I encourage you to do things your way. :slightly_smiling_face:

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