In traditional animation, animators draw images on a transparent piece of paper fitted on a peg using a colored pencil, one frame at the time. Animators usually test animations with very rough drawings to see how many frames they would need for the action to work. The animation process of traditional animation can be lengthy and costly. Once the clean-up and the in-between drawings are complete, the production would move on to photographing each individual frame. Today, though, traditional animation can be done on a computer using a tablet, and does not requite actual photography of individual frames.

The Jungle Book
Walt Disney Studios


5000 BC

The history of animation can be stretched as far back as 5000 BC, if you are lenient on the techniques of the art form, found on a pottery bowl in Iran depicting a goat leaping.


The techniques of animation that we are more familiar with, however, first appeared in 1650 as The Magic Lantern, by the Venetian inventor Giovanni Fontana A simple lantern with a strip of animation sliding past a crude lens, illuminated by a single candle, was humankind’s first introduction to projection.


French science teacher Charles-Émile Reynaud invented the Théâtre Optique in 1888, which he used to stage the first public screening of animation at the Musée Grévin in Paris in 1892. There he screened the animated short Pauvre Pierrot, which is notable for being the first time film perforations was used, and also for having the animation drawn directly on the frames instead of being photographed.


Stepping to France in 1908, we saw the world’s first fully animated film, made by the French artist Émile Cohl. The film was called Fantasmagorie, which contained stick figures encountering various inanimate objects, such as a wine bottle that transforms into a flower.


Disney's first notable breakthrough was 1928's Steamboat Willie, the third of the Mickey Mouse series. The short film showed an anthropomorphic mouse named Mickey neglecting his work on a steamboat to instead make music using the animals aboard the boat.


In 1933, Warner Brothers Cartoons was founded. While Disney's studio was known for its releases being strictly controlled by Walt Disney himself, Warner brothers allowed its animators more freedom, which allowed for their animators to develop more recognizable personal styles.


Many consider Walt Disney's 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs the first animated feature film, though at least seven films were released earlier. However, Disney's film was the first one completely made with hand-drawn animation.


Color television was introduced to the US Market in 1951. In 1958, Hanna-Barbera released The Huckleberry Hound Show, the first half-hour television program to feature only animation.