Follow us on: Twitter, Facebook RSS

Skip to main content

Primary animation

Moving images

Film animators act out movements before they start drawing to get the timing correct for animation shots. They need to know how many seconds each move takes, and then they can work out how many drawings are needed.  On film there are 24 frames per second. So if it takes 4 seconds to lift a cup of tea and take a sip from it then it will require 96 drawings (4 x 24 = 96). However, each image is shot twice so that cuts it down to 48 drawings. Then the start and end of the movement might be a hold (no movement at all) so that will cut out a few more drawings too.


Pretend you are an animator. Work out the following scenes to get the overall timings of them.  Then work out how many drawings would be needed. Use a stopwatch for timing.

  • A gymnast doing a star jump
  • A footballer scoring a goal
  • A weightlifter lifting a very heavy weight
  • A horse rider jumping a gate
  • Frankenstein's monster rising after the switched is pulled
  • Draw the faces he or she will make and the positions of his or her hands while playing as the fly stays on her nose.


Now act out the following movements while others in your class or group try to draw the positions you are in.

  • Hammering a nail (three positions)
  • Walking (four positions) Putting on a hat (four positions)
  • A cowboy with a lasso trying to catch cattle (four positions)
  • A dog scratching his ear (four positions)
  • Diving off a diving board (four positions)
  • Someone jumping with fear (four positions)

Making paper toys

Here is a way that you can make your drawings move:

  1. Draw a face on a piece of paper and cut out holes where the eyes are. Cut two slits either end of the piece of paper, as in the example above.
  2. On another strip of paper draw the eyeballs again.
  3. Thread the strip of paper with the eyes drawn through the cuts in the paper so that the strip can be moved from one side to the other to make the eyes move.
  4. Now cut out the mouth on the face. Cut two slits either end of the piece of paper as you did before with the eyes.
  5. On another strip of paper, draw a tongue. Cut it out and this time, attach the tongue to another strip of paper.
  6. Thread this strip through the cuts you have made beside the mouth.
  7. Position the tongue through the hole where the mouth should be and move the strip from side to side. Both strips can be moved together moving the eyes and the tongue at the same time.

In the same way, make up some other drawings with arms and legs that move.