#AD4EVER Back to Basics III: Learn Inbetweening – Another Animation Skill in Your Bag

Building on the techniques we have covered in the two previous tutorials, this week we are going to introduce to you the inbetweening animation technique– an essential skill that can make a significant difference to your work.  This technique is used in many types of animation, including traditional hand-drawn animation and the modern digital animation. The application of this technique can greatly contribute to creating the sense of flow, which is at the heart of all good animation.


What is the inbetweening?

The inbetweening animation technique is the process of creating transitional frames between two key frames in order to show the appearance of movement and evolution of the contents in the key frames. It is a really effective, but yet easy technique to master, as it would help you create a smooth and fluid motion in your animation work. This technique can be used to signal the change in the positioning, shape and color of objects between the key frames.


Besides assisting you to create great animation results, it would also help you structure your creation process. By sketching out a few core frames at the beginning, they act as good guidelines for you to continue drawing the rest of the inbetween frames and complete your animation. In Animation Desk, there is an extremely useful feature- the onion skin tool, which enables you to see several frames at once, so you can draw the inbetween frames with ease.


How it is done

We are going to show you how to apply the inbetweening technique to create an animation about a spaceship flying through a tunnel in space.

Start with layer 2

We will start with drawing the middle ground on layer 2.


Draw 3 key frames

Sketch the tunnel, through which the spaceship will be flying, on layer 2. The first is a tunnel in the distance. In the second key frame, the tunnel is positioned closer to the audience and the third one the spaceship is flying through it.


Draw the inbetween frames using the onion skin

Tap on “settings”, and turn on “advanced onion skin“, which would automatically turn on the “basic onion skin” as well. Select the middle onion skin option to view the previous and next frame in the sequence at the same time.


Add a new frame in between two frames, use the other frames as a guide to help you sketch out tunnel.


Complete the rest of the frames

Apply the inbetweening technique to the rest of the animation.


Draw the spaceship

Go back to layer 1. Starting with the first frame, draw the spaceship. Using the onion skin again, draw the spaceship in each frame.


Add color and details

For larger areas, use the paint bucket. For more precision, use the brushes. By long tapping on a brush, the color palette will appear. You can also add more details to each frame, like we have done so by adding some meteor rocks and stars, to enhance the visuals.


Important Inbetweening Tips:

1. Motion arc

In the last tutorial, we taught you three principles of animation, one of which is the concept behind curved path of motion. It is important to keep principle of arc in mind, so that your inbetween frames do not just follow a straight path of motion.

2. Pay attention to the layers

Make sure you are using one layer for the background and one for the object. If not, it would become very confusing.

3. Think about the spacing between each frame

How you arrange the spacing between each frame greatly influences the look for the resulting movement. The more frames you add, the smoother and more detailed your animation would look, as there are greater details.

That’s all we have for the third tutorial, watch out for the next video coming out!