The book

Pre-Animate :                                             A Guidebook for Independent Animators

Karen McCann - Pre-animate (external site) link


Pre-animate! A Guidebook for Independent Animators.


This 200-page full-colour book will be published in June 2006. 


PreAnimate was inspired by the students in my animation course at the City University of Hong Kong's School of Creative Media. 


The illustrations and design of Pre-Animate were a team effort by Tony Wong, Julius Wong and XO Hung. Tony was primarily responsible for the design and also contributed illustrations; Julius worked on illustrations and photography and he also co-taught my classes at the School of Creative Media; Ah-Hung designed the original characters, drew the storyboards and contributed other illustrations for the book.


The book was partially funded by the School of Creative Media.


PreAnimate covers everything an animator needs to know about pre-production:

  • Coming up with animate-able ideas
  • Writing a story with a coherent beginning, middle and end
  • Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of different animation techniques
  • Designing characters from scratch
  • Creating storyboards
  • Adding sound effects and music
  • And organising yourself and others 

With colour-coded sections so readers can jump in wherever they want, original characters and storyboards to illustrate key concepts, and helpful tips to encourage at every stage, ‘Pre-animate!’ has all the information needed to turn a germ of an idea into a gem of animation.



Click here for a larger view of the cover.

Contents page


Click here for a larger view of the contents pages.            





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1          ESSENTIALS

Read this book!

What’s covered?

Animation techniques

Clay or object animation

Cut-out animation

Granule animation

Drawn animation

Rotoscoped animation


Sound-driven animation

What works in animation?

Animator self-knowledge


2          STORY PLOTS

Original story ideas

Thirty-second stories

Three-minute stories

Thirty-minute stories

Three acts

Twenty plot structures



Abstract animation

Design principles

Folktales and allegory

Myth structures

Anime characters

Personality theory

Cartoon comedy

Comic setups


4          DESIGN ART

               Visualising ideas

               Generating ideas

               Shaping ideas

               Character design

               Imagining worlds


5             STORYBOARDS


The shots and their uses

Composition and staging

   Continuity logic


               Be the cinematographer

               Be the director

               Be the editor

                     Be the sound designer



6          SOUND

Why sound is important

A bit of history

Click tracks



Music and emotion

Effects and imagining the world

Sound quality



               The big picture

               Budgeting time and talents

               Organising files

               What’s ahead?


8          BIBLIOGRAPHY &



Contact details

         Email Karen