The Making of Going Postal (page 3 of 5)

I divided my film into four sequences and about 40 scenes. This enabled me to focus on one manageable bit of the animation at a time. As I prepared to animate each scene, I drew layouts. Layouts are rough drawings of each background that show where characters will be positioned in a scene and what paths they will follow to get from point A to point B. It's similar to the practice of putting marks on the stage in theater productions to show actors where to walk and stand. In this way, I progressed through the whole animation process one scene at a time. As I completed a bit of animation, I would test it out by scanning it into my computer and compiling it into an animation program. This is called pencil testing. It allows the animator to see mistakes in their work so they can be corrected before painting and shooting the film.

The whole animation process took about four or five months to complete. At that point, I was in the middle of my second semester of the animation class and was hopeful that I could still complete the film by early summer.

A hop cycle

Ink & paint

This is the stage where things got bogged down. I underestimated the amount of work involved in the ink and paint process. Each animation drawing (about 2000 total), had to be hand inked onto a piece of clear acetate called a cel. Then, each cel had to be hand painted. The inking took just over a month and by late May I was ready to start painting. I assumed the painting might take a month or two at the most, but I was very wrong.

Cels are inked on the front and painted on the back. This prevents the paint from overlapping the ink lines. You can paint quickly and be a bit sloppy and as long as you don't cross completely over the ink line, everything will look great when you flip the cel over.

I set up an assembly-line system in my studio where I would paint one color onto a batch of cels at a time. As I finished each individual cel, I would place it on a set of shelves mounted over my drawing table. When the first color was painted onto all of the cels (usually about 30 at a time) the first cels I had painted would be dry and ready for the next color. It took me until mid-December to finish all 2000 cels!