More important than with any form of animation, we would first devise a script and a storyboard. As we have to manually draw out each and every frame, it's important to do as much pre-production planning as possible so we don't spend ages creating unused material.
We would then use the storyboard to make an animatic. This is like a moving series of pictures, so we will know how long each shot should be and whether they all work together. At this stage we would take a series of handdrawn sketches following the storyboard and put them on the computer to watch them like a very basic animation.
Whilst we create the animatic, our designers will be having some fun perfecting how characters should look and planning out the beautiful backgrounds. We would obviously want as much input from you at this stage, as you may have a very clear idea in your head what you want your main character to look like.
Once we have agreed the story, the script and the design, the only thing left to do is to start drawing the frames one by one. The number of FPS, or frames per second, that you want your animation to be will affect the time it takes to draw out. We then hold the sheets of paper together on a tool called a peg bar, and use the light to judge how they should draw the next movement.
Now it's time for the 'line test' of the pencil animations - we do this by shooting pictures of each drawing using a camera on a rostrum stand. This is a stand which holds the camera facing towards the table. If the animation looks good, it's on to the next stage, or if it's not quite right - back to the drawing board!
When the animation is perfect, we will colour in the shots in with whichever media we are working with. The animation is shot a final time on the rostrum stand.
Nowadays, we use programmes like photoshop and after effects to cut out the character animation and composite them together with the background for the final edit. This saves a whole load of time and you don't lose that hand made feel, although some people like to stick to the traditional methods which we love as well.