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The Art of Storytelling in Animation: Tips and Tricks

storytelling in animation

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In the past, humans used to draw on the walls of caves about their adventures. As time passes and humanity made progress, they started to write about their stories in the form of books, novels, plays, and poems. Nowadays, although people still write and read different kinds of books, they do not draw on the walls of caves. So, how do they tell their story? Nowadays, humans tend to use convey their stories in the form of Animations, as it is one of the most common methods being employed in modern times and is calling as Storytelling. Animation can help you show what you mean instead of either writing it or speaking it out loud. Although it is simple, it can help you achieve very complicated goals. In this article, we will talk about different tips and tricks you need to know when you try to tell a story using animation.

storytelling in past

The Beginning, the Middle, the Ending [Of Storytelling]

Every story, whether written or shown, can have all these three elements depending on the approach you take. These approaches are mainly chosen based on the needs and the goals you have in mind. There are two different approaches – or methods – you can take: The traditional approach and the modern approach.

A) Traditional Approach in Storytelling:

In the traditional approach in Storytelling, your beginning starts before the action or the plot of the story. Think of it as a time or opportunity to show your characters and introduce them to the audience. You can also show around so the audience can get a bit familiar with the place and its features such as the weather, the terrain, and the possible geographical location. Before you move to the middle of your story, you should start the main conflict which the story is about.

After the beginning, you are going to move to the middle part of your story. In this part, you should start heating the conflict you started in the previous part. This is also where we have the climax of the story. If you have provided riddles in the first beginning, you should provide different clues to them in this part. However, remember to leave them without an answer. We will be giving an answer to everything shown so far in the next part of the show.

In the last part, the ending, you are going to answer all the riddles and questions you have shown in the previous parts. This is also where the conflict which you had started in the first part will come to an end. If it is a detective story, the criminal should be arrested in this scene. This is also where the hero and the heroine get married! Remember not to leave anything left out, or your audience might feel their expectations have been betrayed!

B) Modern Approach in Storytelling:

The modern approach takes and applies a variety of features and rules from the traditional approach. Your story has a beginning, middle, and ending, but they don’t come in the same order as before and are not the same as them. For example, you can start the story by showing fragments of the story from the ending. Such as the protagonist falling off a tall building and thinking about how he came to be in this mess in the first place on his way down, and then you can go back to the beginning. Another variation is that you can skip the beginning and start the story from the middle. This method is useful, due to it skipping the beginning, which is usually spent on introducing characters, and that is quite boring. Also, you don’t need to state why or what is the goal of this story or the protagonist. You can simply show it as the story goes on.

Things to Pay Attention to In Storytelling


It is very important that your work is not boring. No matter how superior and amazing your animation is in terms of art and ambient effects, without an interesting story, it is just a pointless show. More often than not, very simple animations which were without almost any effect and very simple designs have managed to win the heart of their audience simply by having a well-coordinated set of elements. There are different elements you can use to make a story more interesting to your audience.

A) Mystery in Storytelling:

Almost every single one of us has watched a detective movie. When you look at these movies, they don’t really have anything interesting to show, and that’s exactly why people watch them. If you want your work to be interesting, you need to make it mysterious. That doesn’t mean you need to make it a detective animation though! To achieve this air of mystery, try to keep small but important details away from your audience. This can be something as simple as hiding the face with a mask or cloak, or something as complex as a multi-layered riddle or puzzle.

B) 4xWhy

It is very important that you know what you are doing, and there are four whys that will help you identify your goal and set a straight path to it. First, everything you show must have a reason, even something simple as just for fun. If you show a bus in your animation without anyone paying attention to it or anything related to it, you are wasting your time. Second, why something should happen at a certain time. This is especially important if you want to make a commercial animation, as the psychological effect is most important there. Third, why this certain event should happen. Instead of a soccer match, why can’t it be a volleyball match? And last, why did you choose a certain character as your protagonist? What does this character have which makes it interesting for the audience?

C) Character Design Effects on Storytelling

When talking about a Character, there are two sides to this character. The first side is the visual one. It is very important that your character’s appearance matches that of his description. If your character is supposing to be an athlete, then it probably won’t make sense for him to be unlike the normal expectation your target society has from an athlete. Second, every character has a personality. Some of them have a complex personality and some of them have a simple one. In either case, since we are talking about animations and not books, you would want your character to have some of the features related to his personality shown in his appearance. If your character is supposed to be kind, you can show this by giving them a welcoming and smiling face.

When taking both of these sides into account, new options and variations open up to you. One example is how you can combine these two to show certain features of certain groups of people without even talking about them. This is particularly effective for commercial animations and advertisements. In another situation, you can combine them in a way so what they show and what you mean are in contrast. This can create a sense of humor and a large number of your audience may find it interesting.

D) Don’t Talk, Show Your Story

We are talking about animation, so it only makes sense to show instead of talking. Visuals tend to have a far stronger grip over the audience than words. This power of impact on audiences by Animation made it good for Video Marketing goals. Try to limit the dialogues and comments and show them instead! Remember, you can always have the protagonist is doing the Storytelling and show it at the same time for extra effect.

Storytelling Special Effects

When talking about anything visual, special effects play a key role. Special effects are those effects that play a role you normally don’t see in the real world. Normally, you don’t see the air glowing and then a person appearing out of nowhere, or you don’t see people move around and leave after-images of themselves. The question is: how to effectively employ these effects?

A) Animations for the Beginning and the End

Everything comes to these two points in time. You can use any animation you think is suitable to start and end things. This could be at the start of your animation, or when you want to introduce a character to the audience. The same can be applied to when a character is about to leave a scene. Of course, there are other options if you are about to end a scene and transition into another one.

B) Transitions

There is a good chance that, during the course of your animation, you need to change from one scene and place to another scene or place. Instead of casually showing this, you can use a cool transition. These transitions play a very important part in your animations: they help the audience understand what just happened and prevent them from confusing one thing with another. Also, they look cool as well. Just remember, your transitions should be smooth. Don’t do something flashy or don’t make it last too long if the situation doesn’t demand it.

C) Don’t “Over-Effect”

Putting it into simple words: do not use too many special effects. Again, this can be divided into two different groups. Sometimes, you tend to “over-effect” the scene as a whole. That means putting an effect on everything shown on a particular frame. It is an “over-effect” if you put an effect on everything you see, such as the door, the protagonist, the atmosphere, the cars, etc. It is the same problem if you put too many effects on the protagonist alone and leave everything else bare and without effect. The other situation happens when you make your effects too complicated, long, or unnecessarily flashy. Almost always, a simple effect is all that you need to achieve a certain effect. Anything beyond that is just an annoyance.

D) Color, Light, and Intensity

If you have paid attention to the animation produced by professionals, you have noticed they almost always use certain color combinations. There are scientific reasons why they use these combinations. The same can be said about the light. It is quite important which frame has a darker or lighter color, comparatively speaking. The intensity of either of these two also plays a major role here. Sometimes, it’s best to use the light version of color rather than the dark or normal version. Do some research, read some books or papers, and ask for help from a professional before embargoing on the path to choose either of these three options. Please be cautious though, that, especially when using flashes or sudden bursts of light, some people such as those with epileptic seizures may have problems with your work. Even people without any such condition find such bursts of light quite annoying.

Conclusion for Storytelling:

In summary, unlike in the past, there are far better and more effective ways of conveying a story nowadays, and one such method is through animation. When using animations for this purpose, you have two pay attention to three aspects. The first aspect is concerned with whether you have taken a traditional approach or a modern approach with regard to your beginning, the middle, and the end of the story.

storytelling in a paragraph

Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. The second aspect is a set of things you should watch out for. It includes the air of mystery your work needs, the four whys that you should pay attention to, character design, and showing instead of talking.

The third and last aspect is concerned with special effects. You should pay attention to things like starting and ending things with proper animation, using proper transitions, not overdoing it, and paying attention to coloring and its intensity. At any time during your journey, you should consult a professional group if you think the help of one is needed. Luckily, Pixalent.com is exactly whom you need. A team of young, talented, and experienced professionals who have worked with and aided many different groups including big Animation Companies, TV channels, and commercial groups. Good luck

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