I Want to Make a Short Animated Cartoon

"I want to make a short animated cartoon." Many people say these words, but few of them know how to get the job done. You have a few different ways to make your cartoon spring to life with computer animation. Options include using a Web service, creating an animated GIF or investing in computer software.

Animation Web Services
Probably the easiest way to create graphic animation is to use a Web service. Sites like Fuzzwich allow the user to create a short animation with music, motion and text bubbles. These sites have the user select characters and backgrounds from a template list. They are easy to use, and you can have a cartoon finished and ready to upload to a video-sharing site in literally just a few minutes. However, sites like this don't allow for total creative control. If you want to design and create your own characters, you'll need a different method.

Animated GIFs
Another route you can take is creating an animated GIF using Photoshop. A GIF is an image file format that supports animation. You'll have to create a series of images using computer drawing software, such as Microsoft Paint. Each image will have to be the same size. Then, using Photoshop, you can upload each image into a single file and stack them in layers. Finally, you can choose the frame rate between the images and export the file in GIF format. One drawback to this method is there is no way to add sound to the animation.

Basic Computer Animation Software
For more complex animation, you'll have to use more complicated methods. Much of the animation on the Web is created using Flash animation. However, you don't need to learn Flash to create your own animated work. Instead, you can try free software called MonkeyJam that, if you're willing to get a little unconventional, can animate your pencil and paper drawings using stop-and-go photography. You will need a digital camera to take snapshots of each frame. Then you can upload each frame and use MonkeyJam to set them in motion.

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