Lesson Plan Industry Sector
Arts, Media & Entertainment

Lesson Plan Originally Created By: Jeff Larson

Ink and Paint

Part of Unit: Animation Process

Lesson Plan Overview / Details

Lecturing Activity: Students will learn to convert a scanned image of a clean pencil or inked line drawing into a inked and painted digital image to be used in an animation production or sequence. Inking and painting frames and backgrounds is a big portion of traditional hand drawn animation production.  The process involves using some type of image editing software or an animation software with paint capabilities. The goal of this lesson is to understand the process of how to import, digitize a line drawing, and create a saved palette for painting a character, background, or asset to be used in a composited scene or sequence. 

Lesson Time

Anticipatory Activity
10 Minutes
Scanning Demo
10 Minutes
Painting Demo
15 Minutes
Animatic/Animation Production
2 - 12 Weeks

Objectives and Goals

  • Students will learn how to scan images to save as frames in a sequence
  • Students will learn how to name and number frames in a sequence
  • Students will learn how to ink and paint their drawings, backgrounds and frames.
  • Students will learn how to set up and save swatches and a custom pallete
  • Students will apply these techniques in production of individual or group animatic or animation productions.

Activities in this Lesson

  • Start the class by watching this documentary about the making of a character based cel animation as done in the traditional methods. Shows a good look at a studio based production process. Note the number of animators employed and especially focus on the hand inked and painted cels.

    When done viewing ask students to write down 3-5 things they observed in the film about the  inking/painting process.

    Randomly select students to share an observation or comment and list on board or overhead/projector.

    Set up Pros/Cons columns for traditional cel animation and computer based cel animation and ask students as a group to identify 5 to 7 pros or cons for each approach. What would be some of the benefits or drawbacks of each method in terms of production, time, management, and aesthetics? 

    Resources and Materials

  • Scanning Procedure Demo / Modeling

    Scanning Procedure

    1. Drawn Frames should be prepared and ready for scanning (See Clean Up and Trace Back Lesson) with solid defined line work either in graphite or ink.

    2. Prepare for Scanning by attaching peg bar to scanner with tape so that the portion of the frame that you want captured is aligned to the scanner bed. This will save time, so that you won't have to align images on the stage later.

    3. Decide what resolution you will be scanning the drawings in. Low resoulution (72ppi) will make for smaller project file size, but will be distorted and pixelate if there is any scaling of graphics later on the stage.  Medium (150ppi) or High Resolution (300dpi) is recommended for better final viewing resolution or scaling of images, but will result in larger project file sizes.  The level and quality of resolution will affect the overall quality of your line work.

    4. Scan images in Black and White or Greyscale for best results. 

    5. As you scan and save images you will need to establish a consistent naming and numbering convention and save images to a scene folder. I recommend using the following naming and numbering convention (note: Image is a place holder name. It might be dog, cat , person walking, etc.):





    and so on.

    Each batch or sequence of drawings should have a different name and begin the numbering sequence at 0001

    The file extension will be whatever type of image file you are using. For example it could be a jpeg, gif,  psd, cel, etc.  In this case I saved as a .tif file as it is a relatively smaller type of image file good for larger projects or sequences and it retains transparency for later compositing in a frame based animation program like Flash or Toon Boom.



    Inking and Painting Procedure

    Open image editing or ink/paint software. 

    Import or open image in the software

    If necessary make an image adjustment using Brightness/Contrast levels to change your scanned drawing into  a black and white image. Your lines should get darker and open areas should be brighter and whiter. When you get the right levels you should make sure to save the changes you made.

    Now the fun of adding color to your images can begin.

    Most image editing/paint/animation programs have a color palette you can choose colors from, add to, and save.  As you begin selecting and creating new colors for different parts of your image you should name them by part or object you are painting and save them to your palette. You should also save your palette to your project folder in case you or another production team member should need to use it for another sequence or correction.

    Begin painting your frame. As you paint you should be able to move fairly quickly using a bucket tool to dump and fill areas of your drawing. If you should encounter any paint spilling into unwanted areas you should undo and look for any gaps or breaks in your lines and use a brush tool of appropriate size to repair the line and then refill with the desired color.

    As you finish painting the frames you should save them and then repeat the procedure for the next frame in your sequence. 

    If you wish to use frames or images in composting you should use your paint programs magic wand to select areas that you wish to remove, by clicking in those areas and deleting those portions.  When you save these images as .tif or .png files make sure the layers box is checked to ensure that the alpha channel layer is preserved (maintains transparencies). In most paint programs transparency is indicated and visible by the appearance of a checkerboard background below the layer

    The frames or images you have painted are now ready for use in animation or composting

    Resources and Materials


Assessment Types:

Students will apply these skills in their first animatic production, when they paint and include frames on movie timeline with audio. Additionally, these skills will be used in production when animating the sequences in their first and subsequent films.