Anime is a form of entertainment that seems to be ever-increasing in popularity. So it’s only natural that you might have thought about creating your own anime.
The thing is, creating anime is an art form of its own, a process that must be followed exactly to get a finished piece that you’re happy with.
Thankfully these steps don’t need to be a mystery to you any longer because we’ve put together this handy guide on how to make your own anime!
Table of Contents
The first thing you’re going to need in order to be successful as an anime creator is a Sakuga Tsuke, in other words, an animator table/animation desk. Almost every anime artist uses this during the initial sketching and groundwork for the anime.
With this solution, you’ll also need some pencils. Mitsubishi pencils are the preferred brand, usually 2B “strength,” so make sure you pick these up too.
While some professional Japanese anime artists still use paper and pencil, many have started using digital drawing tablets for sketching.
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Likewise, you will need to invest in animation software. To use animation software successfully, you’ll also need a computer to run the software. Focus on getting a lot of RAM memory for the computer as many (if not all) animation and art software use that to process the layers and make the software as fast as possible.
Key Stages Of Anime
This first part will take you through each key stage of anime production. This is really the part where you will get familiar with the stages that will teach you how to make your own anime, from initial conception right the way through to final coloring and edits.
I couldn’t possibly teach you the skills involved in every section here with lots of detail, but hopefully, understanding each stage will give you an idea about the scale of anime production that happens inside anime studios.
The E-konte or storyboard phase is the first step in any anime creator’s journey. After you have your initial idea planned out in your head, E-konte is where you get to finally put pencil to paper.
You sketch out the scenes, work on each cut, illustrate your characters, work on the outlines of your characters, and figure out the screen composition of your particular piece.
Essentially, you are trying to put in the bare bones or skeleton of the work. The muscles, tendons, and skin can come later; for now, you just need a strong foundation to attach it all to.
The key to being successful in the E-konte stage is to plan and plan well. You really do need to think about everything because this will make your next stages much easier.
Reiouto is the second stage. Here you focus on layout and your first key animation. The lead animator, or “Genga-man,” sketches out each scene or cut.
They will focus on the background and creating a rough base that is more detailed than what is sketched during E-konte. This involves drawing each keyframe for every cel.
A cel (celluloid sheet) is simply a transparent sheet on which you draw for the animation process to begin. In modern anime production, celluloid sheets are not used anymore. Instead, everything is done digitally, yet the term cel shading has stayed in the industry.
This stage focuses on the overall composition to make sure that the background and characters line up and are to scale etc.
Notes will also be added here concerning any camera or slide work that needs to be conducted for the cut.
If the animation is going to be 3D, then the roughs for 3D animation are also sketched out here too.
The X Sheet, or timesheet, is also filled out to determine the timings of each scene for the following stages to work successfully.
Reiouto is the final stage of sketching before animation work begins, so it’s important that every little detail is ironed out here.
Genga, or key animation, is where you really get into the nitty-gritty of the animation. You’re working on illustrating every key movement in the piece from the beginning to the critical junctures and, finally, the end.
This is the part where you really need to focus on the movement or flow of the scene. You need to produce a Genga every time there is a change in the vector of movement.
Or, put more simply, every time your character moves a part of their body from one place to another. If the movement is slightly or not particularly far apart, a Genga is not usually needed, as animation software is capable of filling in the in-between movements.
This stage requires a lot of hard work and detailed thought to make sure you aren’t producing too many or too few Genga, though.
You need enough to cover each key movement but not so many as to try to physically animate every minute movement.
This is essentially the revision stage. Dainigenga just refers to the clean-up of the animation director’s corrections.
The animation director will make clear what corrections need to be made, but as it is you that has the original drawings, it is you that will need to make the corrections so that the animation flows smoothly.
This may require retracing or some simple brush-up work, but it’s a necessary step. The animation director’s main concern here is consistency in the quality of each individual cut to make sure that they match one another perfectly.
Nothing can be out by even a millimeter, and style needs to be consistent across every piece in order for the animation to flow naturally when the cuts are created.
With the Douga or clean-up of the key animation stage, your focus should be on retracing all of the keys to ensure they are exact and drawing the in-betweens according to the X Sheet (timing) and spacing charts.
The people that work at this stage are called “Douga-man,” and their focus is on polishing the animation with in-betweens to make sure the scenes flow.
This is the final stage before color is added, so this is where any problems with the animation are addressed and corrected until it is perfect.
Generally, in large anime production operations, this work is outsourced to less experienced animators.
The in-betweens are all monitored for consistent quality. Any rejections mean more revisions until there is consistency across every in-between movement with the original work by the key animators who created the Genga.
Shiage is simply the coloring stage. Each character and object will be created as cels, and it is now your job to color them accordingly.
Essentially, thanks to a key development in animation software, you can cheat, and you don’t have to color in each individual cel repeatedly.
Before this software was produced, you’d have had to have painted each individual cel by hand, all while making sure the colors were an exact match.
Anime Production Terminology
If you hope to work in anime in some form or another – at a specific stage of the process or even throughout every stage – you’ll need to know some of the terminologies that come with it.
This final section will take you through all of the absolute essential terminologies for anime production so you are familiar with them.
These terms simply mean background painting. The focus here is on coloring each background based on the layout given to the individual.
Consistency and quality will be monitored here by the animation director to ensure the work is of high quality across all cuts.
This refers to the composite of the overall piece. Here is where you would place digital cels of every object or character on top of the created background to add after-effects.
This data is then digitalized and sent off as movie data, so here is where you get your first real impression of the overall composition and flow of the anime.
Enshutsu is simply the Japanese word for Episode Director. So the Enshutsu Check is the Episode Director Check. They will focus on making sure the correct fixes are made to the backgrounds and composition of the overall piece.
They’ll also check character expressions and timing to ensure they are correct. Any changes that need to be made regarding the characters in the piece will be passed on to the animation director, who will then delegate it to a key animator for corrections.
Sakkan means animation director. It is the animation director that performs the Sakkan Check. Their focus will be on consistency between each keyframe in terms of style and quality.
They may redraw certain aspects themselves in order to maintain coherence between each cut. There are two stages to the Sakkan check. The first is layout Sakkan, where they will focus on making sure the bigger details surrounding the layout and flow of the piece are addressed.
The next stage is the Genga Sakkan, where they will focus on correcting the keyframer’s retrace. This is essentially the last line of defense for the first part of the animation process.
Once each individual cut has been signed off, the cuts will be sent to in-between artists to finalize the in-between movements that were not covered by the Genga.
This is the color check. Here is where you check for consistency between the colors of each individual cut. Each object and character must be painstakingly checked to make sure that there are no inconsistencies.
A color model is produced that details the exact colors that are required within every cut so that whoever conducts the Cel Kensa has a reference to check against to ensure that all colors match.
Only when they are agreed upon by the coloring team will the cuts be sent off to be physically colored in. A final inspection will then take place to make sure that the colors all match and no mistakes were made.
The Taimushiito is the X Sheet or timing sheet. This sheet is key to the whole flow of the animation as it sets out which cuts should be shown and for how many frames.
Notes will also be added for any camera work that is necessary, any post-processing effects, and details of any pans or slides that might be necessary for transitioning from scene to scene.
Essentially, the Taimushiito is the very heart of the animation, and it helps to keep a constant beat to the piece, so the whole thing is timed to perfection.
This means that any voice-acting work can be dubbed successfully. It is critical to any anime production.
As you can see from the above stages of anime production, it is not an easy task. Dedicating yourself to producing anime is a huge step, but it is worth taking if you are truly passionate about it.
Hopefully, this article made you more familiar with each of the steps involved in anime production, so you now have a starting idea about how to make your own anime.
Remember, though, that big anime productions have teams of hundreds of people working on just a single anime episode, so learning and mastering each skill will be a big task.
But being familiar with every stage of anime production will only serve you well in the future!