Curriculum Animation
Optical toys: making drawings move using techniques based on optical toys
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Tracing and copying

When you start making sequences of drawings that are similar, it saves a lot of time if you can copy the part of the drawing that is not changing. The part that changes is called the Action part, so the rest of the drawing can be copied and only the action part changed.

For example, here is a box lid opening. Only the lid is moving so having photocopies of the box without the lid would save a lot of drawing.

Boxes opening

Link: Box opening

There are several ways to trace and copy drawings:


The simplest way is to use tracing paper. If you don't have tracing paper use thin copying paper.

Link: Tracing drawings


You can use normal copying paper if you use black marker pens that will show through. Ballpoint pens or soft lead pencils also work.


You can use proper animation paper cel(cellulose acetate clear sheet). This is ideal, but requires either a soft wax pencil or special pens such as overhead projection pens that will draw on acetate. This paper is quite expensive, but very useful if you want to trace over a picture from a book. The cel can then be photocopied to produce an original page for use with other methods.

Links: Cel animation - Animation glossary

Animation cel

You can use an animation lightbox (fig 1), a photographers light box (fig 2) an overhead projector (fig 3) or any glass or plastic sheet drawing board that you can shine a light through. Any raised transparent surface like a sheet of glass or plastic will work as a light box if faced towards a light source such as the windows.


You can make photocopies of drawing but leaving parts out. For example a dozen photocopies of a face without the features. Photocopies are usually dark enough to show through copying paper. It helps younger children to have part drawings ready-made. Photocopy the outlines of faces, houses, cars, boats, etc. and let the children fill in the details. At a later stage, part drawings will be used as an introduction to animation.



Link: Colouring pages


Carbon paper is good for copying a drawing. You can do several copies at the same time. Just trace over the parts that are to remain the same. For example, a head can be traced over but leave the eyes and mouth if these 'action' parts are to move.


If you want to use pictures from a book as a starting point, then photocopy the picture from the book, either trace around the part you want to copy, or mask out the part you don't want to copy, and then do a new photocopy of this picture. This can be used.

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