The Art of Character Animation: Bringing Life to Digital Creations

18 min read

character 02

Over the years, character animation has evolved from basic movements to ultra realistic digital creations, bringing virtual beings to life.

Here at Content Creatures, we’re truly passionate about character animation and we’ve had the pleasure of crafting countless unique digital creatures for our amazing clients.

In this blog, we will explore the significance of character animation in digital media, examining how it can determine the success of a project and its impact on visual storytelling.

Additionally, we are excited to offer an exclusive sneak peek into our Christmas 2023 project.

Character animation and Techniques

Character animation serves as the backbone of digital creations, enabling them to connect with audiences on a deeper level. It goes beyond simply moving characters on a screen; it involves infusing emotions, personality, and believability into these virtual bodies. Through meticulous attention to detail and careful execution, character animation adds depth to stories, creating an immersive experience for viewers.

To excel in character animation, animators must hone their technical skills while keeping an artistic eye. Studying human and animal movements, observing real-life interactions, and experimenting with different animation software are essential steps towards mastery.

Also, staying up to date with industry trends and continuously pushing creative boundaries will set animators apart in this competitive field.

The process of character animation

When designing characters, it is crucial to consider their individual traits, treating them as if they were real people. They develop personalities, just like us, which influence their behaviour, appearance, clothing, and movement. Crafting each character’s makeup, down to details like eye size or shirt colour, can be a time-consuming process. However, these fine-tuned elements bring depth and authenticity to the characters’ portrayal.

Initial Sketches

We begin by creating initial sketches and poses to capture the essence of a character. From there, we delve into the finer details such as their attire and range of expressions. These expressions can vary from extreme to natural, depending on the desired level of realism or cartoonishness in the character’s animation. A stoic character may exhibit a deadpan expression, while a lively and exuberant character, like Jim Carrey, would require a dynamic and expansive range of expressions.

Additionally, and crucially, we must also decide on the animation technique for the characters. A hand-drawn character animated frame by frame would typically have a simpler design compared to a 3D character, especially when working within specific time constraints.

For this year’s Christmas animation, our character design process began with drawing inspiration from past projects, animations, and even real-life individuals. With a clear vision for the story in mind, we used it as the cornerstone for shaping the unique personalities of our characters.

In our initial sketches, we depicted each of our characters as red and blue stick figures. This choice provided contrast and ensured easy recognition even when the characters were small in the scene, so we decided to keep this theme running through the design. We created numerous iterations of both characters and selected our favourites, refining their features until we achieved a complementary pair.

A crucial aspect we dedicated time to was meticulously selecting each character’s attire, ensuring that it perfectly reflected their distinctive traits and identities.

cc xmas pr character sketches
cc xmas pr character art

Techniques for creating compelling and believable character performances

Once the character design is finalised, and if it is intended to be created as a digital puppet, the next step is to give it a skeletal structure for movement. This process is known as rigging. The character design is translated into a 2D or 3D program, where the artwork is assigned to a skeleton. The skeleton controls the character’s motion, similar to how the bones in a human body facilitate movement. It is crucial for the skeleton to maintain structure and form in every pose it is manipulated into.

Once satisfied with the fully developed character, it’s time to animate! It’s crucial to refer back to the initial sketches throughout the process so that we accurately capture the character’s personality.

Animation is akin to acting, as it is the character’s personality that determines how they move. Just like people, characters have mannerisms and exhibit body language to make them believable. For instance, if a character is energetic and lively, they may have a spring in their step to convey this.

The context in which a character finds themselves also plays a role in their animation. A character walking quickly because they are about to miss a train will have a very different animation compared to one who is leisurely early. It is important to consider the motivations behind the character’s movements, as it influences their behaviour and contributes to a convincing performance.

Creating a compelling character performance primarily involves understanding the character’s psyche and behaviour, and then capturing it through strong key poses.

Typically, we begin by creating an animatic to outline the character’s performance. This allows us to refine the timing and assess if the story is cohesive as a whole. It is vital to complete this stage before diving into animation, as animation is a time-consuming process and having a clear vision in mind from the start helps avoid redoing shots repeatedly.

Pushing the Boundaries: Advanced Character Animation Techniques

For our Christmas animation, we decided to experiment with Moho, a 2D animation software specifically designed for character animation. Moho has been widely used in various animations, from broadcast to film. Our aim was to achieve a frame-by-frame aesthetic for the characters, and we found that Moho offered the best tools to accomplish this desired look. Traditional frame-by-frame drawn animation can be time-consuming, but Moho’s digital puppetry features allowed us to shorten the production timeframe without compromising the character design.

cc xmas pr character skeleton in moho
cc xmas pr character skeleton in moho pose 01

However, we recognised that using other software was necessary. Rarely can one programme be great at everything! For creating a realistic backdrop that complements the illustrative style of our characters and their world, we turned to Cinema 4D.

Eventually, all elements will need to be composited together. For this task, we revert to Adobe After Effects as it provides us with the flexibility to add extra lighting and perform colour correction, ensuring that everything seamlessly belongs together in the same space.


Character animation has become a crucial part of digital media, playing a big role in the success of projects across different mediums. It has this amazing ability to bring virtual characters to life and take visual storytelling to another level. By mastering the art of character animation and using its techniques effectively, we can create stronger connections with audiences and take digital creations to new heights. It’s pretty cool, right?

But don’t just take our word for it. Why not set up a meeting to find out how we can make your next project come to life with custom character animation?