The first cartoon. Gypsy and Death

How to quickly make a short cartoon, why Death is a poor drinking buddy, what did the group “Zdob si Zdub” come up with?

Honestly, when we conceived the cartoon, we had no idea how long it would take to make it. We thought it would be ready in a few months, a year at the most. But when we got down to it, it turned out that we had greatly overestimated our forces. As the weeks went by, we got better and more skilled (and swore more often), the characters started coming to life.

Somewhere on the horizon, New Year’s Eve sparkled brightly with Bengali lights. With that in mind, we decided to share something fun with the audience on the holiday’s eve, so people wouldn’t get bored waiting for the main film. We decided to test our characters in a short film. That’s how the idea was born to make a New Year’s cartoon in which Gojo and Death not only meet for the first time, but also celebrate the main winter holiday together.

 The script

 The script is roughly as follows. The action takes place at the edge of the village, almost at the edge of the forest. Gojo returns from somewhere with a barrel of alcohol. Death appears and lets him know it’s time to leave this world. Gojo, of course, doesn’t want to and, remembering about the alcohol in the barrel, offers Death a drink, and he accepts. And because Death is a weak drinker, after a couple of drinks he can’t stand up. And the cunning Gojo continues on his way.

Once the idea and script were ready, work was done in several directions at once:

 1. Storyboarding and animatic

2. Making color sketches to guide rendering and processing

3. Animation of characters and fabrics

4. Visualization and special effects

5. Sound

6. Premiere!

The scheme that was developed at the beginning of the Gypsy project was tested in practice.

 Storyboarding and animatic

We started storyboarding by establishing a clear number of shots in the video: there were seven. Then we had to determine the composition and duration of the shots. As a result, we got a schematic drawing on paper, which then turned into a video:

As you can see, it’s very easy to make cartoons! 🙂

 Just kidding! In fact, to give you an idea of the journey we went through to make this 75-second video, we will now go through all the steps.

 Backgrounds and sketches

Alongside the storyboard, location sketches and backgrounds were drawn. Basically, there are three locations involved: the first – gypsy enters the village, the second – death emerges from the forest and the third – gypsy and death appear together in the shot.

Curiously, work on the close-up sketch took the longest time. It underwent quite a few changes until it met our requirements. With the rest it was much easier: things came out right at once.


Needless to say, working on the animation was as difficult as it was exciting. The first difficulty was related to the interaction of the characters with each other.

Animation keys had to coincide in time, otherwise we didn’t get a clear interaction and the characters moved independently of each other. To get the most accurate result, we shot a video of this scene (the people in the frame are absolutely sober!).

This really was the hardest plan in the video.

After Gojo and Death drank, things got more fun! Our job was challenging first because in the process we tried out new methods of working with tissues and were able to get the desired result faster. Also, the facial expression control system was refined and improved

Let there be light and appropriate clothes!

The next most important task was working with the light. Although we are making an animated film, we all have to follow the laws of physics! At least the basic ones 🙂 So if the character is lit on the left, the shadow will fall on the right. Also, light can separate the main and secondary objects in the scene, accentuate or hide the character’s outlines.

 Once the lighting has been set correctly, the experts come out of the shadows and work on the character’s clothes. It is very important that the viewer can easily guess what material they are made of. For example, the leather shoes are supposed to shine, and the texture should be like that of real shoes. Fabrics, on the other hand, should not shine. There’s a lot that only professionals know, and a lot of work was done.

By the way, the clothes. When we started animating the characters, at the moments when their clothes interact with each other, we found that they just fall apart. It was a bit confusing for us at first, but then we decided not to process the clothes all at once, but to separate them. For example, Gojo has separate shirt and vest. It was the same with Death, which was made of one big piece of fabric, and we cut it all into pieces and made our job easier.

Done! The scene is transferred to our visualizer!

 Visualization and processing

 It would appear that everything is ready. All that’s left to do is press the magic “Render” button and that’s all. At least it seemed so at first. The most basic and perhaps most difficult task was to achieve maximum similarity of the 3D image with the 2D one the painter drew. Not an easy task. We had to play with lighting, 3D shading and color correction.

Then we added snow, fireworks, 2D inset and color correction. Phew, that’s it, just need to add some sound.


Without sound, you can’t have a cartoon. The music, of course, was great, thanks to the band “Zdob și Zdub” and our sound producer Ivan Slivca. This is the final result, here are the details. One evening, three delegates from our company stocked up on pies and wine and went to the studio where “Zdob și Zdub” were recording. It’s not known exactly how, but by midnight the first results were in.

Roman Iagupov, lead singer of “Zdob și Zdub”, was in top form, making incredible sounds, dancing, improvising fantastic themes on the spot. Roman knows the Gypsy language and culture, so it was easy for him to capture the cartoon mood.

 “Zdob si Zdub” are unpredictable and super professional musicians. So, the guitarist played the violin, the bassist – the double bass, and the soloist – the drums and mouth harp.

 The music made it an awesome cartoon!


And so, our first animated film about Gojo the Gypsy and Death was born. Make yourself comfortable and press play!

Mentioned projects:
Gojo & Dji Simpals Studio
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