Saturday, August 6, 2011

How 2D Cartoons Were Made: The Old School Way

I have always considered this film by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to be the most comprehensive documentary explaining the production of an animated cartoon. This was filmed in early 1978 and broadcast later that same year.


Here are some thumbnails I did on that production (when I was a very young pup). The important thing to remember is that the purpose for thumbnailing your poses is that you are working out your analysis of the scene -- not trying to create art for the ages. Some people can draw beautiful thumbnails, and that is wonderful! ...but not the point of the process. Don't pour so much effort into the thumbnails to the point that you have nothing left to put into your actual key drawings.

The thumbnails above were my working out portions of the final song.
The thumbnails above were done after working out the scene with my director,
as shown in part one of the documentary.


  1. I loved that documentary! Shame they didn't think to putting that on the old Warner Home Video release for Devil & Daniel Mouse back in the 80's or I would've loved seeing that after watching the special!

  2. Hi, Christopher. This documentary IS included in the "Rock & Rule" DVD available on

    The DVD set also includes "The Devil and Daniel Mouse", plus other goodies from Nelvana's past.

  3. Inspirational documentary - Thanks!

  4. That's a very informative documentary. It makes one appreciate all the time and effort it took to make animation happen.

    What kind of paint were used to paint cels? I've become aware of different studios using different paint. For example I've read that Hanna-Barbera used a type of wall paint to paint the cels in the studio's infancy

  5. Nelvana bought acrylic paints in bulk, with some Cel Vinyl (a brand of paint used in other studios). The paint department colorists essentially mixed their own colors.

  6. I used a portion of this on my blog to illustrate the vast amount of work and equipment required for traditional drawn animation before the digital age. Although more efficient and less cost prohibitive, the Zen like quality is sadly missing from using purely digital means. Thanks for bringing back a lot of memories.