From Thomas the Tank Engine, Pingu and other family favourites on our resorts to stars of the big screen such as Wallace & Gromit, everyone – no matter their age – has a soft spot for at least one animated character.

But what box of tricks and flashes of brilliance transform sketches on paper into living, breathing, blinking, talking characters with quirky traits to boot? We asked the animation company, Psyop, to share the secrets of how our new animated advert was created.

Make a star

The first job is to write the basic story, and then create the characters, and any of their props. This is when everything from hair styles to clothes they wear is decided.

Map it out

The characters are then put into a storyboard, which looks a bit like a comic strip. This helps to plan the whole film.

Against the clock

The next stage is to put the storyboards into sequence with what’s called a boardamatic. It shows how one frame will flow into the next, and also helps work out timings.

Make a move

The images begin to move in the first stage of animation called ‘Previs’. It’s a chance to look at camera angles and the edit – that’s what should stay in the film and what can be left out.

Time to tweak

Then the characters are fine tuned, to make them as believable as possible. It’s all in the detail – the wink of an eye, the shrug of shoulders, the wave of a hand.

Add some magic

Special effects are the box of tricks a studio has up its sleeve that adds some sparkle and magic.

Technical wizardry

The next stages are called Look development and Compositing, which sound pretty bamboozling, but it’s just when colours are tweaked and lighting is added to make the film appear to be 3D.

A lick of paint

2D Cell Animation and 2D Paint: a bit of a mouthful, but this is a painstaking process when specialist animators paint effects frame by frame. We reckon you’d have to be very patient to do this part! Then a final gloss of paint is applied to give it a polished feel.

It’s a wrap

Phew! It’s a fiddly process, but worth it in the end.