Metaxilasis News

Animation Series Development: From Concept to Screen (Part 1)

develop animated series


Our studio regularly receives commissions to develop animated series. Most often, these come from game companies wanting an animated series featuring their game characters, VOD platforms, or even other studios. We also work on developing our own ideas.

We have a dedicated department solely focused on project development, staffed by some of our studio's best talent. The quality of our work is reflected in the participation of our projects in major international events and pitch sessions:

  • Post Monsters — Official Selection, Cartoon 360, 2021
  • Delivery Duo — KidScreen Hot 50, 2021
  • TinkerBen and Motor — Official Selection, Cartoon Forum 2022; Official Selection, Animation Production Days, 2024
  • The Fabulous Piglini — Official Selection, Cartoon Forum, 2024

Below, we outline the process of developing an animated series.

1. Gathering Information

This is the most critical step in development. First, we need input from the project initiator — this could be our client or an internal producer. We must understand:

  • Target Audience: Who the series is aimed at.
  • Genre: The style and tone of the series.
  • Format: Number of episodes and their length.

Next, we listen to everything the client thinks about the project. We study all possible materials, ideas, and existing work related to the future series. We then gather and approve references. This helps us achieve a shared vision with the client. We need to think about the future show in the same way. After this, we move on to the next step.

2. Developing the Idea

Next, we focus on the main character. Often, the character already exists, and we need to refine them and create a compelling story. Sometimes, we have to invent or "give birth" to them, so to speak.

We brainstorm several ideas, which include the basics: logline and short description. If additional information is needed, such as character descriptions, series style, or comments, we include that too. The client reviews these ideas, and we discuss them in detail, test each one, come up with stories, imagine plots, and even start sketching if something seems promising. Through this process, one idea is selected and refined until it shines like a diamond, clear to everyone, and loved by the entire team. Love for the idea is a crucial factor for success.

3. Project Bible

At this stage, we expand the chosen idea into a project bible. It includes:

  • Project Title
  • Technical Data: Audience, format, genre, technique.
  • Logline
  • Project Description
  • Character Descriptions
  • Catchphrases
  • Project Values or Current Relevance
  • Episode Structure
  • Episode Pitches
  • Team Description
  • Any other necessary details specific to the project idea.

This period is usually brief. If the idea is clear and everyone likes it, the bible is written easily and enjoyably. The first draft is ready within a week, and we present it to the client. This is followed by 3-4 iterations with detailed editing.

4. Character Design and Visual Style

Creating unique and memorable characters is a cornerstone of developing animated series. Character design is usually based on the character's description. However, sometimes an outstanding sketch with a vivid personality can influence not just the character description but the entire project.

For instance, our character Cuack from "Captain Kraken and His Crew" was meant to be just a fun guy but turned out to be one of our studio's most beloved and legendary characters.

Initially, different artists in our studio draft sketches without consulting each other, freely imagining and offering their vision. Some look for types, while others seek stylistic solutions. These sketches are compiled into a presentation and shown to the client, who provides feedback on what they like and dislike. Based on these comments, we create a second iteration. Sometimes the process drags on, indicating a lack of a shared vision. In such cases, we revisit and rework the project concept — fortunately, this doesn't happen often.
Once the sketches are approved, we create colored designs with the appropriate contours (or without, if the style requires it). This might involve just one character or an entire lineup, depending on the idea we are working on. It is crucial never to present designs in T-poses. Characters should always be depicted in dynamic key poses that express their individuality, whether in sketches or final designs.

The duration of this period varies widely. The quickest took 2 weeks, while the longest lasted 1.5 years. We would send sketches and wait 2 months for feedback from various departments in different countries, then make adjustments in a few days and wait another 1.5 months for feedback.

This concludes the first part. Stay tuned for the continuation in Part 2, where we'll cover background concepts, animation tests, logo design, pitch bible, teaser, pilot script, and much more.