I want to make an animation of cartoon characters. I do not want to draw them from scratch each time. I would like to use adobe illustrator because I believe that it will be the best for making separate arms legs etc that can be moved between frames. And that each frame is saved as an image to then be combined.

Can someone outline the structure for such drawings and considerations that must be made?


The short answer is: use Symbols and Layers. The slightly longer answer:

Each frame of your animation will be on one layer in Illustrator.

Each part that will animate should be a symbol. Make them movieclips if you plan on taking the animation to Flash, After Effects or Photoshop.

This page has links to video tutorials that will help.

  • Gilberston, thanks for your answer. But Im not sure how symbols help. Is it that you have a symbol for a hand, nose, etc? and then place them as you wish?? – Vass Jun 7 '11 at 22:35
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    Exactly. Symbols reduce your file size enormously, and make the whole file easier to work with. You're going to have the same items on a very large number of layers, so without symbols your file can grow huge. If you're exporting to Flash they have other uses, but the file size advantage is the first reason to use them. – Alan Gilbertson Jun 8 '11 at 0:46
  • thanks again! If we do export to Flash, what other uses do they have? Do they get highlighted as objects to reference?? So in AI if the parts were not symbols they'd be seen as new objects and make the file size huge? And symbols can be manipulated, like rotations, skews etc?? – Vass Jun 8 '11 at 10:14
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    There isn't room here to train you on Flash basics. Sufficient to say that you need symbols in Flash if you want to do anything beyond the simplest animations. Mordy Golding has a good introduction to using Symbols in Illustrator here: tv.adobe.com/watch/learn-illustrator-cs5/… – Alan Gilbertson Jun 8 '11 at 17:29

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