sign uplog in

Principles of Animation

Get started animating using affordable software and accessible materials. This course will cover the basics of imitating motion and expose students to a wide variety of animation techniques.

CurriculumAll CohortsFacilitators

Course Goals

This low-tech animation class is for anyone that is curious about animating but isn't sure where to begin. Learning goals for the course are: knowledge of and practice in basic animation techniques, exposure to a wide variety of animation styles and knowledge of basic equipment and supplies needed to create animations at home.

We will consume animations and related work to give course participants an idea of the many techniques and styles possible within the animation medium. We will review the "principles of animation" and put concepts to practice by troubleshooting how to animate using available materials and supplies and creating short stop-motion animated videos.


This is a 6 week course consisting of weekly 2 hour group meetings and 1.5 hour optional co-working sessions. Homework will be assigned after group meetings that is expected to require between 0.5 and 2 hours of your time each week.


We will use Stop Motion Studio for animation assignments. You'll need to install it on either a PCs ($10) or a mobile device (Free or $5).

Free versions of the mobile app:

Apple Store Google Play

Devices using the software should either have a built-in camera or participants should have a camera to attach.

All other materials we will figure out together. The idea is to get started animating using what you already have.

Syllabus / Schedule

Week 1: Animation = Timing

  • Introductions
  • Intro to pre-film analog animation methods
  • Timing
    • Exposure sheets
    • Frames per second
  • Loops

  • In-class assignment: make a looping animated video of an inanimate object.

  • Homework: Animate the same motion but with a different object of significantly different size and/or shape

Week 2: Principles pt. 1 - Basic Physics

  • Intro to animation principles:
    • Squash and Stretch
    • Arc of motion
    • Weight and Volume
    • Ease in/out
  • In Class project: bouncing ball
  • Homework: Asterisk/wheel turning animation

Week 3: Principles pt. 2 - Action Posing

  • Intro to animation principles:
    • Anticipation
    • Follow through & overlapping action
    • Secondary Action
    • Straight ahead action vs. pose to pose
  • Walk Cycles

  • In-class assignment: Choose a sequence from a Muybridge sequence of photographs. Either copy it by drawing or take pictures of the sequences images to make two animation sequences: one with fast movement and one with slow movement.

  • Homework:

    • Option 1: recreate the same Muybridge sequence animation but at a different speed than your original

    • Option 2: make your own character or object walk cycle

Week 4: Pre & Post Production

  • Review production pipeline - thumbnails, storyboard, animatic, animation, post
  • DIY animation setups
  • Creative engineering solutions for stop-motion
  • 2D: Layers - cell animation or compositing
  • Adding sound to projects

  • In Class Assignment: Create an image, whether a photograph, collage, still life, etc. and think about how to add motion to it. What does motion add to it? What would you have to change to animate it relatively easily?

  • Homework: Create an animation to a sound effect. Choose your own sound effect or use one assigned

Week 5: Animation = Acting

  • Character animation
  • Lip syncing
  • Mouths - Replacement animation

  • In-class assignment: animate a given line of dialog with a given set of mouth shapes.

  • Homework: animate the same line of dialog using a different emotion or intonation.

Week 6: Special Effects

  • Overview of animation history
  • Animated transitions
  • Effects animation
  • Blur animation demo

  • In-class assignment: animate a quick motion using blur effect


By the end of the course you will have created a series of short animated videos each focusing on the practice of a specific technique. We'll put these videos together to form an animation demo reel for each student.

Who Should Sign Up

This course is for anyone wants to animate, but doesn't know where to start. My aim is to demystify the process of animating, and encourage the idea that it can be done without expensive software or equipment.

  • We would not do computer generated animation, not the course for someone who is interested in learning industry standard software or only interested in one particular animation technique (although it may be a good starter for stop-motion)
  • While this course could potentially lead to someone entering the animation industry, this isn't for anyone looking for advice on that or to make industry connections.
  • This won't be a narrative cinema or film editing course. While those subjects may come up, they will not be a focus.
6 weeksUp to 12 learners

Participants will need to install Stop Motion Studio on either a PC ($10) or mobile device (Free or $5). Devices will need either a built-in camera or one that can be connected.

No prior animation knowledge or drawing skills are necessary.

Want emails on new cohorts?