How to create the Cel animation look in aftereffects.

Traditional animation (or classical animation, cel animation or hand-drawn animation) is an animation technique in which each frame is drawn by hand on a physical medium. The technique was the dominant form of animation in cinema until the advent of computer animation.

One of my favourite forms of motion design is Traditional Animation (Cel Animation). This is when a few pictures that are played right after each other can create an animation. This is the form of animation I started in. You can read all about it in my previous story called The journey to the ultimate gif.

Hand drawn bouncing ball

Cel Animation is a very time consuming form of animation. But fear not, I have the solution for you! If you have some experience with Aftereffects ( If you want a beginner tutorial on how to animate in Aftereffects Comment Below )then you will love me for ever and ever.

Let’s do this!

I created this simple animation of a bouncing ball. You can also follow the youtube tutorial below I created for this animation. It also includes the cel animation effect. If you have an animation ready you can scroll to the next section.

But Rachouan, this isn’t frame by frame?

Be patient please, I’m going to teach you this dark mystical magic that makes it look like a frame by frame animation ( For us lazy people ).

Step 1.

Create a New Adjustment Layer, Right Click on your timeline and select 
New > Adjustment Layer.

Step 2

In Effects & Presets Search for Turbulent Displace. And while your Adjustment layer is selected Double Click on Turbulent Displace.

Step 3

You can play around with these settings to create the look you desire. The main settings I would adjust are amount and size.

Step 4.

Set a keyframe at the 0 second Mark and on the 1 Second mark. Adjust the Evolution to 20 rotations. And apply a loopOut() expression on that value by Pressing (Option + Click )Mac or (Alt + Click )Windows on the Stopwatch.

This is the result.

Now you could be happy with this, but if you want to take it to the next level, you could add in this final step.

Step 5.

Lower your frame-rate from 30Fps to 12 or 15FPS it depends on your preference. Cel animation is hand drawn so most of the time if it’s not a high budget movie they will opt in for a lower frame-rate to get a faster result.

And this is the final Result

That’s all folks !

I hope you liked this short tutorial that explains how I achieve that cel animation look in Aftereffects and how you can now use it in any of your projects. If you want more of these kinds of tutorials be sure to let me know in the comments below.

If you want a look into my files for this tutorial click here.