Bringing a childhood vision to life with My Cartoon Friend

My Cartoon Friend.

With the full force of the Adobe Creative Cloud at his fingertips and an idea sparked by his passion for cartoons, creator, director, animator and actor Lwazi Msipha was able to bring his vision to life in the cartoon series My Cartoon Friend. Lwazi’s YouTube creations caught Cartoon Network’s eye, and they reached out to work with him to create My Cartoon Friend — an original, exclusive creation. Lwazi shares his inspirations, vision, and tips below.

How did you first get into animation? What drew you to it?

When I was young, all I ever watched were cartoons. I used to enjoy age old classics like Johnny Bravo, Dexter’s Lab, and Courage the Cowardly Dog. The happiness I felt when watching these cartoons inspired me to want to create my own.

What was the inspiration behind this project? What were you trying to achieve?

This project was inspired by my curiosity. I’ve always wondered how it would be like to live with cartoons in the real world. So I had to do it to fulfill my childhood fantasy.

How did you begin a project/set up your workflow?

This was a guerilla project in the sense that I had to do most of the work all from my bedroom. Like every project, it started with the concept, then I wrote all 13 episode scripts, created the characters with Adobe Photoshop, shot the scenes with a film crew, animated the characters with Adobe Character Animator, edited the scenes with Adobe Premiere Pro, added VFX with Adobe After Effects, and edited the sound with Adobe Audition.

Describe your favorite scene or part from the project. How did it come together and how did you achieve it?

My favorite part is the episode where I rap about how my cartoon friend came to be. I loved it because I was able to infuse my two passions which are music and animation.

What were some specific challenges you faced in making this? How did you go about solving them?

The challenges I faced were with trying to create a show of this kind with a limited budget and making it look good. Fortunately, I worked with some talented, professional people who understood the vision.

What Adobe tools did you use on this project and why did you choose them? Why were they the best choice for this project?

I used almost every Adobe tool. I used Photoshop, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Audition, Character Animator, and Media Encoder. I love Adobe because of how seamlessly all the tools work together. For example, if I have to change something like a character’s shirt color, it automatically updates across all the programs.

Share your hidden gem/favorite workflow hack in any of the Adobe Creative Cloud tools?

The hack I found useful was, instead of rendering and exporting, I would use Adobe Dynamic Link. That method saves a ton of space and it makes for quick and seamless updating.

Who is your creative inspiration and why?

Tim Luecke and Stephen Colbert are the creators of Showtime’s Our Cartoon President. I was inspired by them because they were one of the first to use Adobe Character Animator to create a show for major broadcasts. It gave me hope that I could do it too.

What’s the toughest thing you’ve had to face in your career and how did you overcome it? What advice do you have for people aspiring to get into animations?

The toughest thing I have had to face was the creative block, the moments where I couldn’t even gather up any inspiration to create. I overcame it by uploading my videos to TikTok, the love I received in the comments motivated me to create more.

Share a photo of where you work. What’s your favorite thing about your workspace and why?

I work in my bedroom. My favorite thing about my workspace is that I can sleep whenever I get tired. It is very important for us creatives to know when to rest and not overwork ourselves.

Image of Lwazi Msipha in his bedroom office.

Image courtesy of Lwazi Msipha.