by Alex Miller

Every piece of art comes from some source of inspiration. A song, a movie, another piece of artwork, the seed had been planted and it must grow.

"Even the slightest amount of parallax creates the feeling of depth as you will see in the final animation."

The first order of business is too gather reference material, I have an idea of what I want in my head but not enough knowledge to execute on the vision. Gathering enough reference will supplement any gaps in knowledge and bring a realism to the piece that would be lost when working from my head alone.


This step is pretty clear, figure out composition and focal point. But it also represents what animation I want to see in the final. At this point my only thought on animation are particles, the dust being whooshed into the scene. It's a simple effect that adds quite a bit of life to a scene.

The Painting process

The painting process consists of a few steps. The line work; usually done over the thumbnail this gives a more defined layout for the painting to follow. Flats; flats are the local color of the area without lighting or shadow, the overall color may change but this is where you would define different material in the environment by base color. Lighting and shadow; as the name suggests a light source is added bringing a lot of life to the environment by defining space. Depending on the style you are going for the final pass can by various things, in this case painting over the line work and adding realistic textures is the final step.

Background and combination

With the painting done I move into after effects for final lighting and animation.

Animated layouts can consist of many layers, this layout only has two, a foreground and a background. Although the camera isn’t panning or zooming I will want to add a bit of shaky cam. The difference in movement of the background and foreground layers is called parallax. Even the slightest amount of parallax creates the feeling of depth as you will see in the final animation.

Here I use After Effects 3D system to layer the camera, foreground and background to achieve the parallaxing effect.

Somewhere down the line I felt that a little more animation was needed, some chains were added to the bottom of the broken bridge. For this Cinema 4D was used, a 3D program where I created the chain with simulated wind and gravity.

Trapcode Particular was used for the dust/snow particles, simulating wind.


Now all that's left is to render the file and see what the final animation looks like!

The completed animation loop:

by Alex Miller, artist and animator