Cartoon Dog

Cartoon Dog

A cartoon dog and a frog is what this story is about.   I started on the dog first as it seems to be the main character.
Below is the beginning of my dog. I think it will be a beagle type dog. Beagles are one of the most loved dog breeds as they seem to make very good pets. So many pet owners will be able to relate to our little beagle. cartoon beagle dog (6) cartoon beagle

I started with a basic shape on the head of what I think a beagle looks like.   Drawing with anime studio is easy once you get the hang of it.   I only had to draw one ear and then copy it to the other side. cartoon beagle dog (5) cartoon beagle

Here I added the pupils of the eyes. I wanted the eyes to be big and round to give the lovable puppy dog look :) cartoon beagle dog (4) cartoon beagle

Now the whites of the eyes.  I figured out if you make one eye first, then you can copy and scale the other eye to the right size . cartoon beagle dog (3) cartoon dog

Now the eyebrows, hopefully they will help me to give the dog more expressions. cartoon beagle cartoon beagle

Now a cute little nose. Our beagle will have a short snout. cartoon dog cartoon dog

Here is my completed head. I think it turned out pretty good. I don’t really like the sour look on the face, but I can correct that later with the mouth shapes I will using for lip sync.   Anime studio allows you to set shading for each element which helps to give it that 3d look.  I like both the flat look [without shading] and this look, but I think I will leave the shading in for now. I can always take it out later.   Anime studio allows you to define a style, so you can make changes to colors easier.   You can also define shading, so changing that will not be too difficult later if I decide to.
The complete professional animation solution

First Animation

 My First Animation

First animation is below.  It is not Disney or anything like that.  However, I think it turned out pretty good for my first animation.   The background was a stock background included with Anime Studio Pro 6
  I used Papagayo for the lip sync.   I really like the drawing tools in Anime Studio.  You can just grab points and pull them around as you draw.  Which makes the drawing much easier than free hand stuff.  You then create a shape and fill it with a color.


I used scaling to make the flea appear like it is getting closer.   The sound effect was from a wav CD I had.  It took me several days to make all the faces for the different sounds and probably a day to do the animation.  I am still learning the program , so hopefully it will speed up a little.  However, I expected it would take a long time to do the animation.   So that was not unexpected.   Making the different faces took longer than expected. 

2d vs 3d

Having to make different views in 2d is not something I had really thought of.  In 3d, you model the character.  If you want to see the back side of the character , you just turn it around.   With 2d there is no side view as it is flat.  You can reverse it and get the opposite view.    But if you want to turn it around like in a head turn, each of the views have to be made.   So in some ways 3d would be easier.    I am not regretting choosing 2d as the medium, the different views is just something I had not thought of.

The complete professional animation solution

Animation Video Editing Software

Video Editing is really not much different with animation than it is with live action.   The tools are pretty much the same.  Rendering can be a little different.   However, there is not really an animation only editing program that I am aware of.   Anime Studio does have the capability to edit to some extent.  However, it seems to work better to render short segments or “takes” then put them together in a video editing program.  Otherwise rendering can take a very long time.  One sample render I did took a day and half.  Yikes.   It is very important to always save before rendering.  This can prevent you losing all your work if your computer happens to crash while you are rendering.

The Programs

I have worked with a few different video software programs before, like

Movie Edit Pro 17 and  Adobe Photoshop & Premiere Elements 9 (Win/Mac)

However I settled on the combo Adobe Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements 10

I had problems with Magix crashing.  Adobe elements 9 had some weird pixelation issues on the display panel.  Where ever I moved the cursor, it pixelated.  It only did it in the timeline view.   I suspect it was because elements 9 was a 32 bit program.   Once I received the Adobe Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements 10  it worked very well.  I think because it is a 64 bit program, it was able to use all the memory I have installed.   Which solved a lot of the memory problems I was having.

I went ahead and purchased the combo pack of Photoshop and Premiere Elements.  My thinking was adding Photoshop was only 40.00 more than buying the separate video editing program.  It may be nice to have Photoshop so I can do some touch up work on the animation if needed.

This should work well for editing the animation.

My First Character in Anime Studio

I am using Anime Studio Pro 6 for this exercise.  I am following Dale Hemenway’s Excellent Flea tutorial which can be found at the Smith Micro site the makers of Anime Studio

You can download it here

Below is the character I will attempt to make








Here my first try at the head.

Flea anime studio pro

Flea Head

I think it turned out pretty well.  Not bad for a person who had a hard time with stick men : )    This is very exciting.  This has given me loads of confidence to continue this project.

I wish all software makers would include a simple tutorial on their software.  I can not tell you how many times I have downloaded a software trial and I was just so overwhelmed by all the buttons and so very confused with how everything works that I just give up and uninstall the program.  You would think they would realize that it is so important for a new software user to get a success under their belt, even if it is a small success.  This gives you the confidence to continue with the program.


Commercial Animation Software

I have narrowed my search to two animation programs.  One is Toon Boom and the other is Anime Studio.

Toon Boom- has different packages for different levels.  From kid’s software up to professional.  I counted 14 different product levels on their website, which can be pretty overwhelming.   It seems that Toon Boom is more like traditional frame by frame animation.  Which is good if you know how to draw, but it may prove difficult for someone like me where drawing is not one of my strengths.  Toon boom is used in many TV cartoons, but I am not sure which product level was used.

Anime Studio- has two different product levels.  One is the Debut and one is the pro version.   The drawing tools are vector based, which I think may be more suited to my lack of drawing talent.  Amazon has Anime Studio Pro 6  for less than 30.00.   Version 6 is an older version of this software, as they have version 8 available now.  However I can get the full pro version 6 for less than the scaled back  Anime Studio Debut 8.   So for less than 30.00 I can give the software a whirl.  Now the Anime Studio Pro 8 does have a lot of newer features like simulated physics, patch layers, automatic image tracing and a character wizard, all features that Anime Studio Pro 6 does not have.  However, it will let me get a feel for the program without the greater expense.  I can always purchase the newer version later if needed.

Celtx Pre-Production Open Source Software

I wanted to use open source [free] software when ever possible.  I am really excited to find Celtx.   Celtx is an all around software to handle the pre-production of media projects.   They have project templates for Film, Audio-Visual, Theatre, Audio Play, Storyboard, Comic Book and Novel.

I will be using the Storyboard template as well as maybe the Film template to put this all together.  I will be able to write the script and storyboard the scenes, develop characters.

I really like the storboard template.  You can work out the camera directions and also play the storyboard back like a movie when you are done.

Below is a screenshot

They also have a sketch feature so you can work out your camera moves or stage direction.

This is going to be very helpful, and best of all it is free.   I really love open source programs, especially ones like this that have been developed to this extent.

You can find Celtx at


Animation Book

I recently purchased a book on Amazon From Disney animator, Preston Blair.
Cartoon Animation (The Collector’s Series)
Very useful information.  Seems to be sort of a bible of animation.  It has walk and run cycles for 2 leg and 4 leg creatures.  Shows how to animate all kinds of movements.  Even has a dancing hippo cycle and and an alligator ballet for fun.  It discusses character creation and animation basics.   Shows how to develop characters with simple starting shapes like a circle.   Seems to be a very good book for the starting animator like me, I highly recommend it.   It is 224 pages long and the book was much bigger than I expected, so I am pleasantly surprised.