Pixar Animator Shows How to Make Animated Flipbook

Pixar revolutionized animation forever with 1995’s Toy Story, the smash-hit that turned the studio into a juggernaut. Traditional hand-drawn animation dominated the big screen before the film debuted. Since then, computer animation has become the most common style in Hollywood. It’s also evolved so far beyond the first Buzz and Woody story that just 25 years later the original movie looks dated. But just because Pixar is a master of that form doesn’t mean they don’t know how to execute the classics. And we do mean classic. Because in this tutorial, a Pixar animator shows how you can make a traditional cartoon flipbook.

In this virtual lesson from Pixar (which we first saw at DesignTAXI), animator Cody Lyon walks viewers through the process of drawing a flipbook animation. For this lesson, he uses 22 from the studio’s most recent release, Soul. The lovable but frustrating 22 was reluctant to start life. That changed after the pessimistic blue floating being went to Earth with Joe Gardner.

Here, Lyon shows how to easily make it seem as though 22 is jumping. That includes moving her massless “body” down before stretching herself thin on the way up. The result is a simple animation that is full of life and vitality. All in just a couple of drawings done in just 15 minutes. But it’s easy to imagine how many more pages of detail a skilled animator could pull off in a short time if they didn’t have to explain what they were doing along the way.

Three simple drawings of Soul's 22 to make it look like she's jumpingPixar

This video highlights what’s great about a flipbook, even in a modern world. First, you don’t really need all that much in terms of material. Just some paper, a pencil, and an eraser. And if you pick an easy enough subject to draw and animate, you don’t even need a ton of artistic skill. Unfortunately you do need a whole lot of patience. You have to be careful in your marks and remain consistent in your drawings.

Now, imagine doing that hundreds of thousands of times to animate an entire movie. No wonder people started using computers.

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