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Cel Animation Inspiration: Cool Hand-Drawn Motion Design

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Four examples of awesome hand-drawn cel animation.

If you ever created a flip-book as a child (or an adult) than you know how tedious the process of hand-drawn animation can be. For the patient and dedicated Motion Designer, this technique, called cel-animation, can yield incredible results that simply can’t be easily simulated in After Effects or Cinema 4D. It takes years, if not decades, to master the art of cel-animation, yet for the few who do dare to animate by hand the results are absolutely breathtaking. We love cel-animation a lot. So we thought it’d be fun to create a list of some of our favorite cel-animated pieces from around the industry. All of these projects have been “hand” selected from the team at School of Motion. Prepare to have your socks knocked off.

Cel Animation Inspiration


We’re going to kick off the list with one of the craziest pieces of art ever made. When it comes to cel animation (or Motion Design in general) Buck is pretty much the gold-standard for incredible work. However, when this piece dropped last year even we were surprised at how awesome it was. The piece is a mesmerizing composite of hand-drawn animation and 3D work. Also the color is so dang good, but we’re not talking about that today...


It takes a lot of hard work to create a cel-animated piece. So when we found out that this project was created by just one person our head literally exploded. The execution required to create a piece like this is inspiring. Great work from Masanobu Hiraoka.


One of our favorite cel-animators is Rachel Reid. Her work at Gunner is consistently fun and approachable. This project shows how fluid good cel-animation can be.


Today we leave you with perhaps the greatest hand-drawn animation ever made. Nevertheless, this project, created for the non-profit GoodBooks, is a wonderful example of the potential of hand-drawn animation. Without a doubt this project was created by dozens of the best Motion Designers in the world. But with some hard work and perseverance (and a little networking) you could make stuff this cool one day. Just go for it!

The Photoshop Animation Series

If you’re feeling inspired to create something after watching all of these awesome cel-animated projects check out our Photoshop Animation Series. The series, taught by Amy Sundin, jumps into the wide world of cel animation using Photoshop. Amy uses a Wacom Cintiq to create here animations but you could use a cheaper tablet to get similar results. We can’t wait to see your hand-drawn animations!

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