The Animatress Pipeline

Filmmaking Adventures

Character and BG Layout: How NOT to aggravate your director.

Character and BG layout are among the most important aspects to the mechanics of animation filmmaking. It is largely used in TV animation to prepare for packaging to ship overseas, however versions of the technique can be found in feature animation under workbook and again in 3D animation in pre-vis.

My tutorial illustrates how to set up scenes for the CAMERA. However, if you want to know about overall drawings and maintaining the spirit of gesture in your drawings for layout, please visit John K’s blog at the following link.

Storyboard to Layout: Maintaining Guts by Spumco

Here’s the animatic that contains the sequence for the layout below. It’s the midpoint scene of the film. I may whittle it down for class convenience after a good night’s sleep.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=5632249&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=00ADEF&fullscreen=1

Detour thru your Mind from Ashanti Miller on Vimeo.

This is part one in how to avoid being strangled by your director in character and BG layout.

NOTE: Don’t shirk perspective. Part of your job is to work out ALL the perspective in your sequence.


By the way, the edge of the Illustrator paste board or the red rectangle is the edge of the field size or aperture of the camera.

ANOTHER NOTE: The average workload for a layout artist is 15 scenes in 8 days. Practice speed while you’re in school so you won’t run production over-budget on the job by being late. YES, layout is very stressful–but the discipline is necessary!



As you can see, layout is another way to find problems with a film before animation begins. It’s a good way to avoid mistakes later on in production. There’s nothing more frustrating (and expensive) than having to throw out a full color sequence that does not hook up with other scenes in a film.

This has been part one of the layout. I’ll include Futurama layouts in about two weeks, in addition to the Dr. Aaron Butterfly exposition sequence with more complicated camera moves for part 2. Here’s hoping I don’t steer you wrong!

Next week, we’ll take a break and study color…

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2 responses to “Character and BG Layout: How NOT to aggravate your director.

  1. Jaxxy December 16, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    Awesome stuff! Loved the animatic! 😀

  2. SoleilSmile December 16, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    I'm in the middle of another tutorial Jaxxy. I'll post it at the end of the week.Stay tuned!

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