Animation step-by-step guides
Welcome to our animation section. Would you like to make your stories come to life? Perhaps you have made some lego models and you want them to feature in your very own mini film? In this section we will teach you how to make a short stop-frame animation or simple flip book inspired by RAMM’s wonderful collections. Just follow our step-by-step guides below.
How to make your own stop-frame animation
So, what is a stop-frame animation? Stop-frame is when you take a series of photographs and then link them together to form a sequence. The process is quite quite easy. You simply take a photograph of an object or character. Move it very slightly and then take another photograph. Then when you link these images together in a series, the objects or characters will appear to move all on their own!
What you will need to make your animation:
- A tablet or smartphone with animation software installed. There are a lot of different animation software programs to choose from including Stop Motion Studio and iStopMotion.
- You will also need some art materials to include: thin A4 card, wallpaper or wrapping paper for a backdrop, coloured paper, scissors, tape, coloured pencils, felt tips, paint, plasticine and white tack.
To start your project you might like to have a look at our Collections Explorer website. Here there are many thousands of objects to inspire your animated story. For our example, we have chosen some butterflies from the ‘Fly on the Wall’ gallery.
Next plan your animation using a storyboard. A storyboard is a series of boxes where you can draw what is going to happen in your film. Please see the example pictured below. You can either download a blank pdf version of the storyboard or simply draw your own.
Then you will need to set up your animation station. With 2D (flat) animation the camera needs to be looking down on your backdrop. The animation will happen on a flat surface below this.
Here we have used the edge of a table instead of a tripod. You could also tape a smart phone to an angle-poise lamp. We also taped the backdrop to the floor so that it didn’t move. You can use the volume button on your headphones to take the pictures without touching the phone. Make sure you check how much space you have first so that you can plan the size of your characters.
Next spend some time making your characters and other props for your story. We printed out some butterflies and then added some paint on top. Then we cut out the wings and made a body out of plasticine. We also drew some flowers, cut them out and added stems.
To shoot your short film you will need to use the stop motion software to take a series of photos. Make sure the photos are framing your animation in the way you want. You can test this by taking some practise shots before you begin shooting the actual film.
When you are ready to start animating open a file in the program and check the frame rate for the film clip. We used 25 fps (this means frames per second). So for each movement we took 3 pictures. For 12 fps we would suggest taking 2 pictures per move.
Also, make sure you set up the onion skinning tool. Onion skinning allows you to see all the photos that you have taken next to each other in a series. To see if your animation is working you can test it by take a few pictures, moving your character and then taking a few more. When you play it back if it looks blurry you are moving character too much. You only need to make very small movements for each shot.
Onion skinning is useful as you can see the image you have just taken and the move you have just made at the same time. If you accidentally take a picture of a hand you can always delete a frame. Remember to retake the picture after you have done this. If you view your film take care to resume at the end of the timeline. A test animation will help you make your movements nice and smooth. If you have an assistant or two make sure you all have a go at moving the characters and taking the pictures.
If you add any text credits or speech bubbles make sure they stay there for long enough to allow the viewers to read the words. If you have film editing software you can add music or sound effects to your film when it’s finished.
You can also make an animated film using lego or 3D objects using the same technique. If you are stuck for ideas, please have a look at our animated film examples below. The first is the 2D butterfly film we described above and the second one is a 3D lego animation. See if you can recognise some of RAMM’s famous characters in the lego one!
Butterfly animation film inspired by our wonderful natural history collection.
Lego animation film inspired by some of RAMM’s larger more famous objects!
How to make your own flip book
What you will need:
- A blank notebook
- A black felt tip and/or coloured pens and pencils
What to do:
- First you will need to draw your character on a separate sheet of paper, one that is not in your notebook.
- Then think about how you want your character to move. Perhaps like the video below you might want to make Gerald dance.
- When you have got your character drawing ready you will need to trace the character you have drawn onto the back page of your notebook.
- If it is difficult to see the lines of your drawing through the notebook paper you could hold it up to a bright window.
- Next you will need to trace the character onto the second to last page of your notebook but just make a slight change to the position of the arm or leg you want to move. For example, if you have a hand waving the second drawing would move the position of the hand very slightly to the left or right.
- Then continue to trace a new character onto each page of the notebook, working forwards from the back of the book. Each drawing should changing the position of the moving body part but remember this only needs to be very slightly each time.
- Once you have done a couple of drawings flick the book to check how the movement is progressing.
Flip book inspired by our very own Gerald the giraffe!
Good luck and we hope you enjoy your animating!