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Primary animation

Tasks for pupils

All you need to try your hand at animation is some paper, a pencil and lots of imagination!

Mirror images

Choose a letter from the alphabet and write it down on a piece of paper making it quite large. With a small mirror in one hand hold the piece of paper in the other so that you can see the original letter and its mirror image. The reflection of the letter in the mirror will often make a picture. By moving the mirror, some letters look as though they have wings. Moving the mirror faster you can make the wings flutter. Try drawing faces in this way.

Flip books

Draw the outline of a face (no eyes, nose, or mouth, but DO draw ears and hair) on a sheet of paper then make several copies of it on a photocopying machine. You need to make copies so that each drawing is of the same size and matches up. Alternatively, trace the face outline onto several sheets of paper using a thick pencil so that your drawing will show through.

When you have several copies of your face outline, start to draw some eyes moving from one side to the other. Make the nose get longer in each drawing with the mouth opening wider and the tongue sticking out. Break the movement down stage-by-stage making sure each picture is only slightly different from the previous one. Place your first drawing at the bottom and all your other drawings on top of this with the latest one on top. Now bind the left-hand side of the pages and flip the book from back to front.

Finger shapes

Using a large sheet of paper, draw around your hand and fingers several times to make shapes. The fingers can be used for an alligator's jaws opening and closing or a rabbit's ears waggling. Your hand can be drawn around with the fingers opened and closed to look like a dog's head, an octopus, a snake, and even an elephant. Try thinking of other animals or characters that you can create using your hands.

In pairs, try making hand shadows on the wall. First you will need to stick a piece of paper on the wall and shine a light towards it. One pupil should then put their hand in front of the paper so that it creates a shadow, moving it closer or further away until the shape is clear. The second pupil will then trace around the shadow.

Making cut-outs

There are several ways to make cut-out figures. On a piece of thin cardboard draw just the outline of a head – an oval shape – and cut it out. Then draw the following items on the cardboard and cut them out:

Four sets of eyes from wide open to nearly closed

Six mouths showing the sounds A E I O U and open wide

  • Four sets of odd shaped ears
  • Four sets of eyebrows
  • Four sets of hair styles
  • Four different hats

Make up different faces with these cut-outs. Use a mirror and pull faces in the mirror to get some ideas. A simple way to make cut-outs is to stick magazine photos onto cardboard and cut around them. You can make pictures larger by using a photocopier. You can reverse them by tracing over the original then tracing over the back of the tracing paper.

Drawing tasks

  • Draw the lid of a box opening in six movements. Then re-draw it with something coming out of the box
  • Draw a caterpillar crawling along in five movements
  • Draw smoke coming out of a chimney and disappearing in four movements
  • Draw a juggler with three juggling clubs. Show the positions of the three clubs as they move through the air.

Sound

A film's soundtrack consists of dialogue, music and sound effects. In animation, sounds are often shown as drawings as in comics. Draw the following sounds using a suitable picture:

  1. Plop!
  2. Vrooooooooooooooom!
  3. Clang!
  4. Splash!
  5. Crash!
  6. Wheeeeeeeee!

Try drawing a picture of a haunted house; ghostly noises, chains clanking, footsteps, groans, doors creaking, crazy laughter, whispers, wind, rain, thunder and lightning. Using an audio cassette player or computer recording software make up some sound effects for the scene. Use your voice, musical instruments and/or any objects available in the classroom to make the sound effects.

Storyboards

Filmmakers use storyboards to plan their films. Storyboards are a sequence of pictures with a description of the dialogue and action. They look similar to comic strips. Start by storyboarding a simple action like a boy going down a slide. Then try to storyboard your favourite moment from a book or film. Remember, though, the emphasis is on telling the story, so don't spend too long on the drawings. They can even be stick people if you want!