How to Animate

By Flora Richards-Gustafson
Animations, images, a sequence
Japanese Animation Eyes image by Infs from

Animation is when images or models are displayed in a rapid sequence. The traditional form of animation is hand-drawn with each image in a sequence being slightly different from the one before it. Stop-motion animation describes the manipulation of objects that are photographed with one frame of film at a time. Computer animation is one of the most popular forms of creating a moving picture. To create any type of animation successfully, you must follow some basic steps.

Step 1

Create a story and characters. Design a character you want to use in your animation and create a story about what the character does. Angry Animator states that beginning animators often begin with a simple animation about a ball bouncing across the page.

Step 2

Make a live model sheet. A live model sheet is a collection of drawings of a character in different poses, facing different angles and displaying different expressions. Kill Frog states animators use a live model sheet as a reference during the animation process. For example, a live model sheet can display different views of a character’s feet and hands or different eye positions.

Step 3

Create a walk cycle. The walking cycle consists of four basic poses, according to Angry Animator: contact, recoil, passing and high point. The four-part cycle demonstrates the character taking a step, with the high point being the highest position the character’s knee ever reaches. Each pose differs in the placement of the character on the page along with the position of its legs, feet and arms. Use a different sheet of paper or a new frame for each pose.

Step 4

Add other movement cycles. Most other movement cycles are variations of the walk cycle. The International Animated Film Society shows that characters can strut, run, shuffle, sneak, jump, tiptoe and skip by altering the walk cycle.

Step 5

Add facial expressions and dialogue. Change a character’s facial expression by changing the angle of its eyes and eyebrows, the position of the character’s head and the shape of its mouth. Use a mirror to help you see how to draw a character’s mouth as it talks. By doing this, you can how the shape of the mouth differs between consonants and vowels.

Step 6

Incorporate your drawings into an animation program. If you did not draw your images using a computer program, scan your hand-drawn images on to a computer and use an animation program to see your animation in action. If you do not have an animation program, view the images as a slide show and adjust the settings so the program cycles through the images quickly.