Art Studio 361

ARTS 361: Stop Motion

Credit Hours: (3) One hour lecture; three hours studio/laboratory

The essence of animation is to give life to images and objects. Stop-motion animation, the classical technique, will be taught with new computer programs and still digital cameras. This course approaches animation as a fine art form enabling students to create original artworks from an understanding of its historical relevance as well as its contemporary social and artistic contexts. A variety of art materials including paper cell, clay, paint on glass, and cut outs will be explored. Additional skills involve computer film/video editing and rotoscoping.

Note(s): This course is repeatable for credit.

Goals and Objectives:

Students will learn the following goals and objectives

1. Appreciation of animation, its historical relevance as well as its contemporary social and artistic contexts.
2. Be able to discuss and write about works of art in animation
3. Understand the theories and design elements that make motion an expressive symbol system and artistic medium.
4. Have basic understanding of the science of film and its structure
5. Students can use a variety of materials and processes in animation to create original artworks that reflect their understanding of animation as a fine art.
6. Students will understand basic film editing and use of sound.


Students must particularly attend all lectures, instructions, and film viewings. Projects must be turned in on time for optimal grade.  

Assessment Measures

Class attendance     after three unexcused absences your grade will be effected.
Class participation     class discussion and attendance of all presentations  

Student projects will be assessed on the following:

1. Uniqueness and or creativity
2. Willingness to experiment or make improvements
3. Materials and methods used.
4. Craft.
5. Final editing and sound
6. Risk

Conduct of the course

Introduction: Historical relevance and contemporary, social and artistic context of animation:

Animated artworks of historical and artistic value will be screened and discussed. Students will search You Tube for works of exceptionally artistic merit and present them and discuss them in class. Topics of discussion include the following examples: Unusual materials or textures, unusual visual experiences and perspectives, use of narrative, unusual endings or surprises and unique expression of the medium.

Other topics of discussion include the theories and design elements that make motion an expressive symbol system and artistic medium.

Cameraless Experiments

One of the earliest forms of animated toys, the zoetrope will be used to introduce the history of animation and Edward Muybridge’s horse cycle.  It offers a simple understanding of the concept of Persistence of Vision, how frames work and the importance of creating cycles. Students will create an animated gif from the Zoetrope exercise. Using live action video or single frames from a still camera, students will create an animated walk cycle of twelve frames using Photoshop’s rotoscoping capabilities.

Another hands-on learning exercise is to draw with permanent markers on clear film and project the results with a film projector. These “low tech” experiential learning tools help students understand concepts that are hidden in electronic and digital environments but are still actively necessary for mastery of the medium.

Project 1: Rotoscoping. Students will rotoscope a walk in 12 frames taken from live action footage using Photoshop’s animation capabilities.

Introduction to Stop-Motion Animation

Group Project 2: Object Animation. Students will work in groups and make their first stop-motion animation using found objects. They will learn the technical process and bring these objects to life by experimenting with the amount of frames for each move and creating rhythms, patterns and interactions.

Project 3: Paper cell animation. The history of cell animation will be discussed.
This exercise will involve the use of abstract shapes drawn on paper cells to create cycles, rhythms, and metamorphosis. The paper cell will be created outside of class and shot as stop motion in the classroom.

Project 4: Cut out animation is a form of puppet animation. It is easy to make and can be animated flat or upright.

Students can choose between these two projects for their final project.

Project 5: Paint on glass animation is backlit creating a soft glowing work and will emphasize metamorphosis and creative movement.  

Project 6: Claymation involves moving sculptural forms in oil-based clay and can be done as a group project.  Clay metamorphosis is also a fun method.


Students will edit all their mini-animations together and add sound and titles to finalize their work. Can be copied onto a DVD or put onto You Tube.


1- 11x14 Bristol board tablet for cut out animation also
1- scotch tape/ thread
1- package of water color pens
1- pencil and eraser
1- (or more) Cheap Note Pad or unlined writing tablet - 5X7
1- package of  modeling clay (oil base)
2- DVD read/write  


Review and Approval

March 27, 2012