I taught an animation workshop today at the Taste of Tech 2017 conference. Below are the lessons we tried to cover and links to the resources. Click on the Thinglink image to go directly there. Thumb through the slideshow for quick tips. Page 1. Page 2.
I was able to attend Kim Darche's session about questioning techniques. To help me remember the great ideas she was sharing, I made this sketchnote.
One trick I've noticed ever since I was a young cartoon viewer happens most noticeably in running scenes. Instead of the character entering and exiting the frame of view, the character remains in the center of the frame while the background moves. This is very effective but sometimes completely silly since the background is looping over and over giving the impression that the space is a never ending and always repeating. I set out today to try to make a character run like Scooby or any Hanna-Babera character would.
STEP ONE: Running character
STEP TWO: background drawing
STEP THREE: fixing the background
At drew this background thinking I could make it loop somehow in the app. I wasn't able to figure out how to do that. So I took this image, duplicated it, line them up on edge and cropped awu the door. I wanted to make an image that started and ended the same way from left to right so I could loop it. Does that sound confusing? It was. But, now that I know the solution, maybe it won't be hard to replicate it.
STEP FOUR: Creating the animation
The biggest challenge was getting the background image to loop behind the running animation. Now that I fixed the image to match from left to right all I had to do was line it up to start and end with the same looking background.
Second try-new idea for background:
I had trouble making my background loop on my first try. I think the problem was that I learned while going through the process that the image needed to repeat perfectly. So, this time I made it easier on myself. I did the whole drawing and duplications in Brushes Redux app. I drew one piece of a background (house) and copied the layer, resized it, and placed it next to the first until I had 4 houses in a row. I put this tiny tutorial together so you can see that the biggest trick next is to get the running figure to start and end over the same exact background image. Then, it loops nicely.
Karaoke of Scooby-Doo Theme Song:
Sing along or change the words to what you learned while making a running animation.
Fly like Mighty Mouse Might
This idea works for fling if you make the object remain in the frame as the sky (clouds) whiz by. Here is what it looked like when I gave it a try.
View this Animation as a Hologram:
Check out my post about how to set up your animated hologram here.
Try using the running poses in Scratch
Scratch is a visual drag and drop coding site by MIT. I had some students who were really excited about coding come and talk to me today. We put together the running animation in SCRATCH using the individual drawings set to code. View the project here. or below.
A long time ago I responded to Ian Sands on twitter asking for digital images of children's art that he could offer to his high school students to play with as they learn to animate. Some of his students selected my students "He Came with the Chair" paintings. The animations turned out SO adorable and inspiring-see example below or check them all out here. It has been one of my goals to figure out an elementary level lesson with a straightforward app that would give my students the experience of animating their own artwork in the same style. I think I might have figured it out. This technique isn't perfect, but, it will work.
If we had Procreate app: like photoshop
The Brushes Redux app (free) allows you to work with layers like photoshop; select and match colors, use different textured brushes, and save each layer individually-all things needed to make these animations. However, the app does not allow you to select parts of the image. That's how the feet were moved in the animation below. The artist selected the feet, rotated them a bit, and redrew the surrounding space to match. This is the element my students would need to work around unless we purchase Procreate app for the classroom which has all the tools we would need. Sounds like I should write a grant.
Alternative plan: Brushes Redux (free)
This alternative solution for making animated GIF using Brushes Redux is to redraw each change in the piece of art. You need to choose a piece of art that has colors, textures, and elements that can easily be REDRAWN since you can't select and move. So, let's look at these portraits of George Washington by second graders. They each have clear and solid black marker lines and a clean opaque paint. It would be easy to redraw the eyes, mouth, nose, or even the wig or shoulders. Here is my first run through:
After importing your original image into a layer of Brushes Redux, you need to size it and never change it again. Consistency is really key for making the art look like it is moving. I deleted the extra transparent layer and chose the DUPLICATE button (double square +) from the top bar in the layers. I could only see the top layer so the bottom one didn't distract me, but to make sure I didn't draw on the wrong layer, I LOCK the bottom layer when I'm done with it (touch the lock symbol next to the image layer). I can use the eyeball feature to reveal and hide layers to check on how my changes are looking from one layer to the other. I would try to keep this animation simple by not exceeding 5 layers/drawings. It's hard to see all the layers in the app at one time when you get beyond 4. That can confuse your little artists. When you're ready to save your work: 1. close the eyeball on each layer expect your original (bottom layer), choose save to photos. 2. Open the eyeball on second layer and save to photos. 3. Repeat this until finished. This makes the images in the camera roll stay in order.
Now students can go to ezgif.com on their iPads and upload their images into the GIF maker. You'll see above that my five images are made into a sequence of 8 so that it will loop nicely. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 are the drawings. I copied 4 and placed it after 5 so I could start reversing the sequence, followed by a copy of 3 and 2.
Let's spell this out clearly for little artists:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2 (sequence for 5 images in animation)
1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2 (sequence for 4 images in animation)
1, 2, 3, 2 (sequence for 3 images in animation)
Here is how it looks: (I used the crop tool to trim off white edges)
Quick Video Overview:
Use this video to introduce the project and help students see what the process requires.
Thinking this through: (my notes)
Another approach I might go with is to add structure the process since everything about it would be new to young learners. We could all work from the same gallery of images so we can tackle similar problems together. If we worked on, for example, these Wild Things from 1st grade, I could demonstrate how I would animate the eyes, mouth, and the horns. They might make other creative choices, but the problem-solving I demonstrate would transfer easily to their creative solutions.
The fifth graders' 3/4 pose portrait paintings are perfect for this animation lesson by making subtle changes in the expression. It forces the artist to think about what faces do to express emotion and map out a sequence of drawings to create this expression. This is a different form of expressionism (HA! Art teacher humor).
The fifth grade Light Up Robot painting is fun to animate with moving and blinking.
These first grade Lima Bean Monsters are perfect for this idea with their big features.
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Tricia Fuglestad, NBCT 07
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