Four Lessons Learned While Creating an Animated Web Series

Now that I've completed 5 of the 18 episodes for my web series "A Universe of Trouble," a few lessons have been learned:

1.  Reuse/Re-purpose Art

For the first 2 episodes, I did a lot of drawing and watercolor painting of the art. It wasn't until I got to episodes 03 and 04 that I realized that I should stop thinking of every scene as a new painting and should instead think of how I could reuse an old painting. Instead of physically painting new art, I simply cut and pasted the textured paint from old art into the new art. And we're done! Also, with every new episode, I try to reuse art and/or animation from another scene whenever possible to save the time of creating something new. If, however, the only solution to telling the best story is to create new art, then I design the easiest solution.

This works best if each element (for example, eyes, eyebrows, eyelashes, etc.) are kept on separate layers. Then the individual layer can be altered without affecting other parts.

This was drawn and painted for Episode 01, Scene 03.

This is the same art as the previous for Episode 03, Scene 14. Instead of drawing and painting it again in a new position, all adjustments were made in Photoshop

2.  Important to Stay On-Model

Despite having made a model sheet, after the 3rd episode it became obvious that the Old Man character was looking different in almost every scene and in every episode! It was such a glaring mistake that I took one week of my staycation to fix it. I was annoyed that I had not kept the character on-model in the first place but I was pleased with the results of making him more consistent. Now those episodes look a little less amateurish. Now I know that I need to carefully stay on-model or simply reuse the old art in order to maintain the character's consistent look.

Yes, all of these are supposed to be the same guy! This is how the Old Man looked in different scenes in Episodes 01 and 02. Although I like all of these variations and his look improved with time, since the majority of the art looked like the top, far left version, I made that the standard to which all the others would be matched.

3.  Let Go of Perfection

This was one of the easier lessons to learn. Once I saw how long each episode was taking, knowing I had 18 of these to complete, I stopped being precious with details and instead focused on "good enough" remembering that my goal is simply to get the work out into the world to the best of my ability.

4.  Create a Plan of Attack

Before starting Episode 05, I went through the entire storyboard and planned how each scene would be approached. I determined which scenes needed drawing, painting, digital retouching, 3D art, stock illustration and stock videos. Then once I got to each scene, I had already started thinking about it and the solutions and output came faster. Pre-production is just as important as production.

Those are all of the lessons for now. I'm sure there'll be more as this continues.

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