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Introduction to Animation

The eye retains an image for a split second after it has actually been shown. Animation works by presenting slightly different images in quick succession, with the persistence of vision filling in the gap between each image and allowing for the illusion of motion.


Where Animation Started

In the 19th century, this phenomenon was made use of in many children’s toys that some students may still be familiar with.


Before you start any animation, you will need to come up with a story that you want to bring to life. This could be as simple as a character or two coming into the frame and doing something visual, like jumping in the air, or simply two characters having a conversation.


Keep it simple

More characters means more time it takes to create your animation and the more complicated the story becomes. Remember, you also have to make sets and backgrounds for each scene in the film, so it is good to limit the scenes in your story if you only have a short amount of time.


Start off with 1 character in 1 scene for your story.


Split it into scenes

Once you have your basic narrative in place you will need to break it up into different scenes. This helps
visualise the film and gives the opportunity to start listing the set, props and background models to be made for each scene. 


Keep it familiar

Animations can take a long time to make, so avoid overcomplicating things. Base the animation on something simple, such as a lyrics from a song, a topic, a prop to include or a suggested title to focus the story, while think creatively about their film and visual storytelling.


Pitch it

A great way to share ideas and ask for feedback, so things can be tweaked before the animation work starts. 

Characters, sets and props

The star of your animation could be anything from models made out of clay and paper cut-outs to toys, food and cutlery or real people. All you need to do is adjust their position between frames to create the illusion that they are moving.


Modelling clay

Also called Claymation, clay animation or plasticine animation, is one form of Stop Motion Animation. Each animated piece/character or background is made of a malleable substance, usually plasticine. 

Example Chicken Run by Ardman. 



A form of animation is normally accomplished by using backlighting to achieve the characters to be visible as black silhouettes. Can use shadow play using 3D form or cut out 2D form.  

Example: Shadow Box


Paper cut-outs

Known as Cut out animation, is a form of stop-motion animation made out of two-dimensional material, such as paper and card. 

Example CoCo 


Mixed media

Get creative and experiment with different mediums, colours and textures. Newspaper, corrugated cardboard, reflective paper, sandpaper and tissue paper can be used to create different textures and patterns. Crumpled, coloured tissue paper can be used for water and fire effects in particular. They could also experiment with different textures by adding sand to paint before painting the backgrounds.

Example In Your Arms - Kina Grannis

And the making of the Music Video

Activity 1


Flick book


Plan out the storyline for your flick book, making sure to keep most of the action in the bottom right hand corner. Keep your story simple and make sure you tell the story entirely though your drawing. Something quick and easy always works well, like a bouncing ball. Once you have drawn your story, cut around each box and stick the boxes together (you may want to number each box to make sure you keep them in the right order).

Top tips:

You can also make an easy flick book by using a pack of sticky notes or drawing in the corner of a notepad


Activity 2




  1. Cut out the two identical circles below, then create two hole punches on opposite sides (Left and Right). 

  2. Draw two different pictures on both circles, which will make up one image.

  3. Stick the two circles together, making sure to keep one image upside down and match the holes on both pieces so that they line up with each other.

  4. Attach one piece of string to each of the two holes that you have made.

  5. Finally, spin the string quickly in your fingers to see the optical illusion.

Top tips:

  1. Use two pieces of paper in case the image that you draw bleeds through to both sides of the paper.

  2. Keep your drawings in roughly the same space on both pieces of paper.

  3. It is not necessary to use a circle of card or paper, any shape will work as long as both pieces are exactly the same.

  4. Make sure that you stick the paper together so that one of your drawings looks like it is upside down.

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