I ♥ Animation

When I was a little kid I wanted to be a Disney animator. I loved fairy tales and Disney art. Plus I was fascinated by the process of animation. We had a set of Golden Book encyclopedias and I loved looking at the animation entry, especially the pictures, of course. This childhood dream of mine did not come true but I am still as fascinated by animation as ever!

I love how Disney often follows up its feature length animations DVD’s with a look behind the scenes at the animation process.

From Sleeping Beauty…

What is animation…  

Animation is the process of displaying still images one after another quickly so the illusion of motion is created. When the images are hand drawn, the animator uses translucent paper to create a drawing. Then he or she lays another sheet on top, creates the next drawing, and so on. Since the paper is slightly see-through the artist can follow the previous drawing and make sure to only change the drawing slightly so the viewer is able to interpret the change as movement. Animators often study movie stills particularly of people and animals so that the movements they create appear natural.  Stop motion animation is when objects are photographed then moved or altered slightly for the next shot.  The still images are then strung together. Another method for creating animations is to create 3D objects and environments and define motion parameters with a computer program.

Animation project ideas…

Make a flip book!  I like small notepads instead of copy paper because the paper is more translucent.  Start on the last page and draw something.  Start with something simple like a stick figure or a ball.  Use sufficient pressure with your pencil so it shows through when you make your next drawing.  Make each drawing only slightly different from the previous for best results.

iPhone Animation Apps

There are a bunch of free version Animation apps that look fun!  Here are a fe that caught my eye…

  • Animation Creator is a flip book style animator with drawing tools, customizable stroke, the ability to add audio, and a frame management view.  You can also create stop motion animation and upload your creations to YouTube, etc!
  • Flip It! Lite is the one I downloaded and have played around with.  It is the simplest looking animation app I found available.  No instructions needed to start!  Just name a new “book” and start drawing!  When you add a “page” your previous drawing will be ghosted for reference.  When you are finished hit play.  Proud of your creation?  Share it on YouTube!
  • iNim8 Lite looks very interesting!  With this one you do not have to free draw which is appealing because let’s face it, using your finger to draw on a small screen is very difficult to control.  Instead you create “templates” or stick figures with “pins” (like an articulating puppet).  Then you add these templates to your animation.  Upload to YouTube too!

Simple PowerPoint Animation Tutorial

Do you have Microsoft Office on your computer?  It is very easy to create simple animations in PowerPoint!  This is the animation method I use when a static illustration just won’t do for a blog post.

Here’s how…  

Say you want to create an animation of 2 guys playing catch.  Open PowerPoint, draw 2 guys with the free draw tool or simple shapes.  Draw a ball with the circle tool and place it in one guys hand.  Select the ball, click on the animations tab, select custom animation, add effects, motion paths, draw custom path, then select curve.  Next draw the curve you would like the ball to follow.  Then change to “start with previous” and change speed to fast.  You can also add a transition sound if you like.  I added the whoosh.  The last change to make is advance slide from “on mouse click” to “automatically start” after 1 second (find this at the top right of screen).  Create a second slide with the same two guys and have the second guy hold the ball.  Have him throw it back to the first guy and set all the animation perimeters as we did for the first slide.  Then select the two slides in slide view (along the left of your screen) and copy & paste them until you have them throwing the ball back and forth a few times.  Then save!  Now if you view in slideshow you will see your animation.  You can also download a free program called Leawo that turns  PowerPoint animations into movie clips.

Animated books…  

Animal Flipbooks (African: Elephant, Giraffe, Lion, Zebra) (Set of 4)

Learn about Elephants, Giraffes, Zebras, and Lions, and see them in action. A set of four flipbooks that contain scientific facts on every page, their species survival status, and just in the palm of your hand, you can see TWO movies per book of each animal in the wild!

Flipworkz is one of the world’s largest flipbook publishers, including the Zooflipz, Dinoflipz, and Aeroflipz series (Amazon description).

Star Wars: A Scanimation Book: Iconic Scenes from a Galaxy Far, Far Away… by Pete Docter

Imagine: the first Star Wars book that actually moves, bringing to life the most memorable scenes from the epic: Obi-Wan battles Darth Maul The Millennium Falcon zooms away from an exploding Death Star Luke rides a galloping Tauntaun, Yoda twirls his green lightsaber, Boba Fett blasts up, up and away! And of course the most memorable scene of all—red and blue lightsabers flashing, Luke and Darth Vader fight the ultimate battle between good and evil (Amazon description)

Other Scanimation books include Wizard of Oz, Waddle, Swing, and Gallop!

Walt Disney Animation Studios The Archive Series: Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men: The Flipbooks

This box set of nine flip books pays tribute to Walt Disney’s original animators–the Nine Old Men: Les Clark, Eric Larson, Frank Thomas, John Lounsbery, Ward Kimball, Ollie Johnston, Mark Davis, Wolfgang Reitherman, and Milt Kahl. Each flip book features an iconic scene from an animated Disney feature in its original line-drawn form, having been selected from among a wide range of films for great movement and classic characters. The films include Alice In Wonderland, Dumbo, Fantasia, Peter Pan, Bambi, Lady and the Tramp, 101 Dalmatians, and Pinocchio. Such iconic clips from the reel of Disney animation history include: Lady and the Tramp’s moonlit spaghetti dinner; Sorcerer Mickey’s ordeal with a horde of mops; and Thumper’s announcement that a prince has been born! In addition to the flip books, the box will contain a booklet providing additional information about the artists (Amazon description).

This is part of a series of Disney animation process books.  Also check out Animation, Story, and Layout & Background.

Animation activity books…

The Klutz Book of Animation: How to Make Your Own Stop Motion Movies

The Klutz Book of Animation is a complete how-to treatment of stop-motion magic, from practical instruction to ready-to-shoot scripts. The software you’ll need is available as a free download, ready to use on any computer (PC or Mac). All you need to provide is a video camera, a computer, and a way to connect the two. Attached to the book is a piece of low-tech, non-toxic clay, ready to be molded into a million different heroes starring in your very own fantastic animated films (Amazon description).

Animation!: Make Your Own Images by Lesley Dawes

* Make a Cat an Acrocat * See A Man Breakdance * Make A Frog Leap * And the Sun Come Out from Behind the Clouds * An Umbrella Open to Keep off the Rain * A Chicken and an Egg Vying to Come First…and much more! Today we are surrounded by moving images on film, TV and computer. However, before the beginnings of modern day cinema in 1895, optical toys were used to create moving images. They were very popular in Victorian times with both children and adults and remain a source of wonder today. This book provides colourful paper models that are easy to make, with designs for some of the major optical toys that were part of the development of film and tv: * three thaumatropes, * two phenakistascopes with 2 designs each, * one zoetrope with up to three designs, * one flick book with two designs and *a number of pen rollers. With notes on the history of moving images and tips and methods to make your own moving images using the same designs, hours of fun can be had for all (Amazon description)!

Books about animation…  

The World History of Animation by Stephen Cavalier

Lavishly illustrated and encyclopedic in scope, The World History of Animation tells the genre’s 100-year-old story around the globe, featuring key players in Europe, North America, and Asia. From its earliest days, animation has developed multiple iterations and created myriad dynamic styles, innovative techniques, iconic characters, and memorable stories. Stephen Cavalier’s comprehensive account is organized chronologically and covers pioneers, feature films, television programs, digital films, games, independent films, and the web. An exhaustive time line of films and innovations acts as the narrative backbone, and must-see films are listed along with synopses and in-depth biographies of individuals and studios. The book explains the evolution of animation techniques, from rotoscoping to refinements of cel techniques, direct film, claymation, and more. A true global survey, The World History of Animation is an exciting and inspirational journey through the large and still-expanding animation universe–a place as limitless as the human imagination (Amazon description).

The Alchemy of Animation: Making an Animated Film in the Modern Age by Don Hahn

The Alchemy of Animation: Making an Animated Film in the Modern Age is a step-by-step introduction to animated filmmaking from one of the foremost producers of animated features. By drawing (sorry!) upon more than seven decades of Disney’s classic and beloved animated films, this stunning book explores the role of the directors, story artists, songwriters, and animators who each play an integral role in the creation of an animated feature.

This book includes a special focus on the digital techniques of filmmaking and fresh, behind-the-scenes work from the most current Disney films, including Chicken Little, Meet the Robinsons, and Bolt, as well as showing other forms of animation such as the stop-motion of Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach (Amazon description).

Natural motion reference book… 

The Human Figure In Motion by Eadweard Muybridge

The 4,789 photographs in this definitive selection show the human figure — models almost all undraped — engaged in over 160 different types of action: running, climbing stairs, tumbling, dressing, undressing, hopping on one foot, dancing, etc. Children walking, crawling, and many dozens of other activities (Amazon description).

* * *

Animation can be a means to tell a story that might otherwise be difficult to convey.  It can also be an experimental art form.  Check this out…

Do you have a favorite animated movie or style?  Please share!

* * *

This post is linked up with Learning Laboratory at Mama Smiles.  Check out her post on kids photography!


I'm a practical mom inspired by nature & I enjoy sharing ideas that encourage kids' innate curiosity & creativity. Interested in subscribing? Check out the blue box at the top of my sidebar. I'm also a wannabe author/illustrator & product designer by day. Let's connect! doodlesandjots@hotmail.com. If you purchase through my Amazon links I get a small commission at no additional cost to you (thanks for supporting Doodles and Jots)! And remember to always credit your source here & elsewhere on the internet.


    • I don’t have the patience for anything complicated but it can be fun and magical to create something simple like a side view of a person blowing up a balloon and then it popping. I am definitely going to check out a flip-book app or two.

  1. Wow! So much great info Ann, I’m going to share this. I’m glad you mentioned the bonus info in Disney dvds. I have quite a few that my sister gave me that I haven’t watched yet.

    I don’t draw but my mom does and I know she’ll enjoy this too (she used to do a weekly one panel funny for the local paper in the 80s).

    Loved the flip books when I was growing up and you did need a little pad for it to work well.
    Tania recently posted..Take a Picture…From An Ant’s ViewMy Profile

  2. What a lovely post with tons of information. I’m going to come back again and again to this post as both my daughter and I LOVE animation. We’ll check out all the links and resources you mentioned.
    These days our fav is Ice Age. The whole series, I’ve watched with my daughter – over and over again, for she’s in love with it.
    I love disney movies, too. As a kid, I couldn’t stop marveling at the animations in the Tom and Jerry cartoon series.
    Will share this on my FB page….

    • Thanks! I many add more or do a follow up, such a rich topic!

      I loved Tom and Jerry as a kid, it was my after school ritual : )

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge