Inbetweening or, “tweening” for short, is a common practice in traditional animation. This technique is necessary in the world of animation to make the movements of still images smoother. Recent technologies and animation softwares like Adobe Animate has allowed animators to automate the tweening process – making it a simpler process.

In this article, we will tell you more about what is tweening in animation, how it works in traditional animation and how it is in modern animation.

What is Tweening?

Tweening is a process of creating images between keyframes. Put simply, it’s like adding transitions between major poses in the animation, making it smooth and seamless.

To help us understand better what tweening is, let’s first define what keyframes are.

Keyframes – also described as major poses, are the images that define the start and end of a smooth transition. For example, an animated character could appear walking on a flat ground at the beginning of the scene and walking up the stairs at the end of the scene. 

It is the main artist who creates a clearly defined movement in each keyframe. In the case of walking or running as an example, keyframes are the “key drawings” animating the major poses, or changes in the positions of the body, arms, legs, shoulders, or even the head while the character is moving.

However, between the two frames, the character might look distorted or stretched to fit with the motion and direction. Without the use of tweening, it might look that the character has just suddenly shifted from one position to another. And this is where the inbetweener, another artist, would create the frame-by-frame animation between two keyframes.

Why Tweening?

Tweening helps to make the transitions move smoothly – adding more visual information that may be subtle when a video is being played, while making the animation look like it is of high production value.

Furthermore, tweening is also key to having engaging, believable, clear and good animation due to the nature of having to make more drawings to fill in the gaps.

Tweening is a laborious, yet essential task towards a clearer and smoother complete animation.

When Did Tweening Start?

The inbetweening process was developed by Dick Huemer in the 1920s and since then, the system is applied in the animation process due to its efficiency. Moreover, the first reported inbetweener was the American Warner Brothers’ animator Art Davis. 

How Tweening Works?

In the early days of animation, each frame is hand drawn. The final result of these drawings will then be played at 24 frames per second, also called animating “on ones.” But sometimes it will also be played at 12 frames per second, also called animating “on twos.”

It is also the animators who will decide whether the project would animate “on ones” or “on twos” depending on how detailed and fluid the motion needs to be.

Based on what was deemed necessary for the animations, whether using 12 frames or 24 frames per second, the drawings happen and are broken down into keyframes and inbetweens.

Who Creates the Tweening?

In most cases, the lead animator starts by creating keyframes to define the look of the characters, poses, and other styles and realistic considerations. Once the rough animation is tested and approved, an assistant would perform minor editing, clean up and add necessary inbetweening.

But the person doing tweens differs depending on the size of the animation production house. 

In larger animation production companies, the assistant artists do the clean-up and often adds breakdowns. After completing the clean-up and adding the necessary breakdown, it will be assigned to the inbetweener who will then complete the animation.

But for small-sized animation productions, the animators will typically be responsible in doing the entire inbetweening process.

How do you create Tweening for your Key Drawings?

In hand-drawn animation, there is a language that artists speak to each other. You will notice a little ruler or grid somewhere in the animators’ drawings, which are called timing charts. 

Image Credits: Stack Exchange

These timing charts are created by an animator to describe the timing and spacing of drawings. When an animator finishes up his keyframes and breakdowns, he will hand them down to an assistant or an inbetweener who will fill the gaps.

The timing charts will serve as instructions on how many drawings are needed to fill the “inbetween”, how far each drawing should be spaced from each other and whether the motion will slow in or slow out.

Ultimately, the chart is a guide for both animators and inbetweeners to plan the movements and the form before it is even played on the computer.

Also read: Animation Process: 7 Steps To Create Quality Content

Tweening Techniques Using Animation Software

Digital animation changes the way animated projects are made today, and that also includes tweening. Although many modern animated productions still use traditional tweening, some productions incorporate advanced software to automate tweening animation.

Animation software such as Adobe Animate, After Effects, or Premiere can now perform the proper inbetweens automatically. Furthermore, this allows animators to modify objects in an image and define how the object moves and changes to create smooth transitions.

Create Tweens using Adobe Animate

Modern technology helps animation production by animating characters and creating smooth transitions. In Adobe Animate, tweening can be made simpler and faster using two functions– Classic and Motion Tweens.

Classic Tweens are mostly used in traditional video-based animation while Motion Tweens are often used in interactive animations such as motion graphics or games.

Tweening – Wrapping up

Tweening is a useful animation technique that animation production companies still use today to create smoother movement and create a more realistic and compelling message to share with the audience. And as technology continues to advance, the animation industry introduces animation software to make the animation process much faster and less tedious.

Using the animation technique that suits your needs

Here at Superpixel, a Singapore animation studio, we take pride in using animation techniques that best fit the audience and the clients we work with. Our team of creatives also uses modern animation tools that would best fit the needs of each client. Do you have an idea and story you want to share with your audience? We can help you by producing an animation style such as 2D, 3D, or motion graphics that will suit your business needs.

Contact Superpixel today and let us share your story with the world through animated videos that will surely connect with your audience.