Animating Paper Cats

For this project we had to create an animation where two characters had a conversation. We were given sound clips from Scrubs so we didn’t have to worry about the audio part of this project. The most important thing was designing the characters and actually creating the animation.

This was the most time consuming project we had over the course of the year. I think I spent 5 weeks working on this, and I should point out that wasn’t just time during class. I spent a large part of my free time working on it too.

A big part of this project was spent actually designing the characters. It’s actually interesting to see how much changed between my initial sketches and the final designs. As part of my research I actually looked at character designs from the Pixar movies and it was really interesting to see how many different designs Woody and Buzz went through before they ended up on the final characters. Another little thing I learned from this project is the characters from Inside Out are based on shapes that represent their emotions.


As part of the design process I actually spent a day making a cat just to see how everything would go together and what parts would animate in the final movie. Turns out this was really important because I had to work out how much movement I would have in the eyes and ears and how I would make the mouth movements look believable. I actually spent a good amount of time watching The Aristocats that day while trying to work out mouth shapes.

The problem with these sorts of projects is I find it hard to take them seriously. We had to create a background for each character, this wasn’t something you would see in the final animation but it would help you design the character, how they move and the overall setting. For some reason I decided one of my cats was a David Bowie fan (because why not).

This went on to me creating a little Bowie-esk lightning bolt for my test cat. And then finally I created Ziggy Starcat (the photo on the left) not because I wanted to put it in my sketchbook, I just thought it was funny. This also resulted in a friend buying me a card he found in GOMA that features a cat with a David Bowie lightning bolt.

The grey cat (technically her name is Victoria) actually has the lightning bolt in the final design. It’s not in those iconic colours and it’s mostly hidden behind the eye but it’s still there.

The actual animation was done using Animate It, this is a piece of really cheap terrible software make by the people who did Wallace & Gromit. The only good thing about it is it’s ridiculously easy to use. We were animating a 30 second clip at 12 frames a second so it worked out you needed to capture something like 400 frames. We had story boards to work from but it was still tricky working out what things needed to be moved between each frame.

There was also the problem that it was really time consuming. We were only able to do the animations in class (because the PCs had the software) but that meant leaving for the day and hoping no-one touched your setup before the next time you were in. In all it meant this animation was a real headache to make.

And we’re not going to talk about how much money I spent on paper.

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20 thoughts on “Animating Paper Cats

  1. That turned out pretty well. I’m sure you’re tired of it and see everything you wish was different but I thought it was pretty cool. Nicely done.

  2. I liked your animation. I bet you now have a real appreciation of how much work goes into a full length animation. And it gave you an excuse to watch The Aristocats all day. 🙂

  3. I love your posts about your projects. I forwarded those on creating a logo to the board members of the San Diego Writers/Editors Guild because we are tossing around the idea of updating our logo (it’s black and white and mostly words right now). Your experience, as reported in the posts, has been very helpful for others to understand why it may take some time–and some professional expertise–to come up with a new one.

  4. That is awesome! I especially love the final result! And how much time you spent on working on it, I applaud you for all your hard work! It must have been a huge difficulty at first, but it all worked out better in the end! Great job!
    P.S. I like how the cats imitated screaming and crying at the end, and how they said: “see? That’s why we make a great couple!” Haha! Priceless! 🙂

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