A sleepless cat on everyday routines

Everyone has been there at least once in their lives: Tossing and turning in bed, unable to find sleep. This animation shows you one way to deal with just that: insomnia.

This bachelor thesis uses animation to illustrate information. The character of the animation uses an evening routine to facilitate more restful sleep. The video illustrates how animation techniques and stylistic devices can effectively communicate complex information.
Key design principles in this thesis include storytelling, character design and scene composition.

Design process

Building a character

The goal was to build a character that could be further developed, as well as being relatable for a bigger audience. While scribbling characters, the idea of using an animal as the main character for the animation emerged. Creating relatable human characters is challenging due to societal diversity. A cat character solved this and added fun.

For the storyline, focusing on a routine, it was essential to select a routine that suited the character. As cats do sleep quite a lot I decided on an animation showing a nightly routine for better sleep.

Further development of the character

Short limbs and a big head are a great tool to convey cuteness, but are counterproductive for a stretching routine.
So I went back to the character design and came to this:

Developed character with character sheet for 3D modeling



An important step for animation is to create storyboards.
Here is how I approached this:
The goal is to create a short and simple story that can be divided in three sections. A problem, an explanation and the solution.

In this case it was the small focus of „You can’t sleep? Here is the solution!“. The problem serves as a preparation to the solution, thus the plot of the story.


I divided my story into three main parts:

  1. The character can’t sleep (trigger)
  2. Stretching routine (action)
  3. Conclusion: the character being able to sleep peacefully (reward)

Next up was the creation of a more detailed storyboard which looks like this:

I adapted this to a first rough version in the 3D software blender. Trying to use the same methods as in 2D.

Using light to tell a story

If you want to tell a story the composition, as well as the look of your animation plays a significant role. I reviewed the three parts of the story separately and thought about what I want to tell in each part.

Part one: Can’t sleep

This is the first thing the viewer encounters. It immediately conveys an uncomfortable scenario, for which is crucial to depict the time of day as well as the uncomfortable feeling of the character.

The focus here is on the time, highlighting that it’s quite late at night.

The close-up does not completely reveal the character, which adds to the discomfort.

The direction of the red light in this scene emphasizes the character and the effect of the late hour on them. The character is directly facing the camera, showing discomfort through facial expression.

The next scene centers on both the character and the passing of time. The color scheme, featuring blues and pinks, reinforce the nighttime setting. A larger light source creates softer shadows, typical of a night scene. The red glow from the alarm clock adds a splash of color, further accentuating the discomfort caused by the late hour and the character’s sleeplessness.

I used soft, natural colors and rim lighting for separation and movement emphasis. The scene’s contrasting and complementary colors enhance visual appeal. The focal points, character and yoga mat, are centrally placed, with a balanced, symmetrical background emphasizing calm and comfort.

Part three: Finally sleeping

The final part of the animation focusses on coziness, relief and sleep.

The last scene depicts the comfort of the room and showcases objects that symbolize cozyness. This section is designed to evoke a sense of peace and relaxation, visually representing the successful conclusion of the character’s bedtime routine.


This thesis demonstrates the power of animation as a medium to bring complex, everyday concepts to life. Through the narrative of a cat-like character and its nightly stretching routine, the project highlights how animation can be used to effectively communicate the importance of sleep hygiene and routines. This approach can make health-related topics more accessible and engaging to a broader audience. Moreover, the research has underscored the significance of character design and storytelling in animation. The development of the cat-like character was not just about visual appeal but also about creating a relatable and empathetic figure that audiences could connect with. 


The character of this animation is a great base to further develop and build stories around.