Starting a new animation project can be very exciting especially when the ideas start flowing and the ambition takes over. At this point conserving your motivation and channeling it towards good work flow should be your priority. With out plans you are planning to fail.
Step one should be knowing your story.
Animation is just a visual way to show narrative or story. This is the foundation to a great animation. Regardless of how beautiful your renders are if you have an disengaging story nobody’s going to be interested in sticking around to the end.
Write several scripts and gain input from friends family and peers.
Know your characters. One the script has been completed it is time to move onto visual interpretation of characters/environments. This is exciting! putting all the ideas in your head on paper. Experiment find reference and refine your ideas until you find something that satisfies your vision. If drawing isn’t your strength dont panic. Keep things simple, you can always polish your character once its in the computer.
Plan your scenes.
Story and characters/environments are complete. this is great! you’re heading in the right direction. We know need visual representation of the story. Effectively putting both steps one and two together. This may take time to set your scenes. Try and use interesting camera angles and strong character poses. Frame the scene correctly and make sure you show what you need but only when you need to show it!
Map you timing. This step is crucial when translating your 2d paper plan to your 3d software. To map timing means sketching down key poses. Getting video reference may help with this. If you cant find a video reference then make one of your own, record yourself reenacting the scene. This will out line your timing perfectly.
Create a workflow is the final stage of planning. This is setting you up for production. You now have everything you need to continue. With the help of a work flow you should stay on track as long as you have a strict schedule and motivation to keep going when the going gets tough.