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Animated Character

Level: Grades 6-12

Unit Objective: Students learn about watercolour painting, acrylic painting, pen and ink, and clay scuplting techniques, as well as movement, all through the subject of animation.

Notes: Ideally, projects should be staggered to allow for the different speeds at which students will complete the individual projects. A selection of works from these lessons is available for browsing.

  1. Flip Books
  2. Animated Characters
  3. Comic Strips (Optional)
  4. Clay Figures
  5. Animation Cells
  6. Conclusion

Lesson 1: Flip Books

Objective

Students learn pen and ink techniques, as well as the rudiments of animation, through the creation of a flip book.

Estimated Duration

2-3 periods of 40 minutes each

Materials Needed

Procedure

  1. The instructor introduces the lesson by discussing how films are made: Video cameras take multiple pictures (or "frames"), with each frame catching a split second of the action being filmed. When these frames are placed side by side and run through a projector, the illusion of movement is created (students will recreate this process through the making of flip books). Note that flip books of various Walt Disney animated movies are available at most book stores and make goododexamples.
  2. In sketchbooks, each student designs a simple character.
  3. Students draw character action in minimum of 10 frames; for example, a fish might be depicted swimming from the bottom of the page to the top (each page shows the fish moving a little further towards the top — when the pages are flipped quickly the illusion of movement is created). At this point, the instructor might wish to discuss different types of movement (e.g., the movement in an explosion is different from that of a fish swimming).
  4. Using a pencil, students trace their characters onto flip book pages, with each frame on a separate page.
  5. Using a fine tipped pen, students retrace their pencil drawings, and details are added (pencil marks should be erased once the ink is dry).
  6. Students add a cover and staple together the flip book.

Lesson 2: Animated Characters

Objective

Students create an animated character in 3 views, and learn water colour and advanced pen and ink techniques.

Estimated Duration

6-8 periods of 40 minutes each

Materials Needed

Procedure

  1. The instructor introduces the lesson by showing 3 or 4 different cartoon characters (colour photocopies are an efficient and effective way of showing images to the class). Discussion should focus on the simplification and exageration of features to create emphasis, on proportion and the mutation of proportion in many animated characters, and on the practice of giving non-human characters human personalities and characteristics.
  2. In sketchbooks, each student designs an original character. The character should be drawn with frontal, profile and rear views, and should not be an already existing character. Students should be encouraged to try various characteristics and features before settling on a final version.
  3. The instructor demonstrates watercolour techniques and characteristics: flat washes, graded washes, layers, translucency, bleeding, dry brush, etc. (these techniques should be explained only when students are ready to begin the painting segment of the lesson, otherwise they may be forgotten). Watercolour technique books should be available for ESL students, visual learners, and / or those who want to further investigate possible techniques. On 3 separate pieces of watercolour paper, students redraw their characters lightly in pencil, then fill them using watercolours.
  4. The instructor demonstrates (on a pre-completed, painted character) advanced pen and ink techniques: hatching, crosshatching, shadows, etc. Students add details with pen.

Art Appreciation Connection

Examine Lichtenstein and his use of comic book-like media. Discuss the techniques of pointalism as used in newspapers to create shadow and highlights.

Rubric

Participation
  • class time used wisely to complete the assignment
  • care and effort put into the making of the flipbook
/40
Movement
  • character moves smoothly through each motion
  • frames are in logical sequence
/30
Presentation
  • book neatly put together
  • pages flip smoothly
  • character lines up from frame to frame
  • character is drawn neatly finished with colour and pen and ink details
/15
Creativity
  • character especially complex
  • drawing techniques, wash, and pen and ink beyond expectation
  • character movement exceptionally smooth
/15
Comments   /100

Lesson 3: Comic Strips (optional)

Objective

Students develop a story in order to develop a character's personality and to further explore pen and ink and wash techniques.

Estimated Duration

4-6 periods of 40 minutes each

Materials Needed

Procedure

  1. The instructor presents 2 or 3 examples of comic strips (colour photocopies are an efficient and effective way of showing images to the class). The instructor may wish to review Lichtenstein's work if it was presented in a previous class.
  2. In sketchbooks, each student designs a 5-frame comic strip detailing an event in the life of his or her character.
  3. Students transfer their designs to watercolour paper with very light pencil markings.
  4. Using their previously learned wash techniques, students fill their strips with colour.
  5. Once the strips are dry, students use previously learned pen and ink techniques to add details.

Notes

Remind students to add speech bubbles after writing the words, in order to ensure that the speech bubbles are large enough. Encourage students to consider the title frame as part of the art work.

Rubric

Participation
  • class time used for completing the assignment
  • English spoken at all times
  • workspace properly cleaned leaving nothing in the sink, etc.
  • assignment completed
/45
Media and Technique
  • wash techniques neat and even — no white spaces visible, within lines, etc.
  • pen and ink techniques mastered and effectively used, e.g., cross hatching, outlines, details
  • effectively illustrated
/30
Character
  • original
  • detailed
  • represented clearly
  • thought and care in production and development of character
/15
Creativity
  • exceptionally well done
  • colours extremely well chosen
  • techniques exceptionally well mastered
/10
Comments   /100

Lesson 4: Clay Figures

Objective

Students create, fire, and paint a 3 dimensional clay sculpture of an animated character, learning sculpting techniques specific to clay.

Estimated Duration

8-10 periods of 40 minutes each

Materials Needed

Procedure

  1. The instructor discusses the issue of media restriction, e.g., a sculpted character can not be modelled to stand on 1 toe unsupported. Clay modelling techniques and preparation of a figure for firing are also discussed.
  2. Each student creates a clay model of his or her animated character.
  3. After figures have been allowed to air dry for a minimum 3 days, they are fired in a kiln.
  4. The instructor demonstrates and discusses the techniques and properties of acrylic paint.
  5. Students paint their characters.

Notes

"Lesson 5: Animation Cells" should be introduced and begun as students complete their sculptures. Once they have completed their Animation Cells they can paint their fired sculptures. This allows time for sculptures to dry and be fired without an intererruption in the momentum of the unit.

Art Appreciation Connection

Honoré Daumier's clay political caricatures.

Lesson 5: Animation Cells

Charging

Objective

Students create a background setting and 2 levels of movement on animation cells, learning advanced acrylic techniques and coming to understand the role of animation cells in animated movie creation.

Estimated Duration

8-10 periods of 40 minutes each

Materials Needed

Procedure

Taking a Sail
  1. The instructor shows and discusses a clip from a animated movie featuring a background that stays the same while the foreground or characters change.
  2. The instuctor demonstrates advanced acrylic techniques: mixing, opaque properties, etc.
  3. In sketchbooks, each student designs a background for an event in his or her character's life.
  4. Students sketch their designs on matt board and paint them.
  5. Once their backgrounds are dry, students attach tissue paper to them and draw their characters in 2 different positions / places on the tissue paper, referring to the background, visible through the tissue paper, for character placement.
  6. Students place their 1st animation cells over the tissue paper and paint their characters. The instructor discusses the need for layers of paint in order to create opaqueness, and the fact that details must be added last. The procedure is repeated for the 2nd cell.
  7. Student line up their cells and punch holes in each top left corner. The cells are then placed on the matt board, the hole position is traced, a hole is punched in the matt board, and the cells are secured to the background using paper fasteners.

Rubric

Participation
  • class time used wisely to complete the assignment
  • English was spoken at all times
  • self-management was employed
/35
Background
  • technique
  • paint quality
  • image
/25
Animation Cells
  • neatness of presentation
  • completion of character: opaque paint, details
  • 2 cells showing character in 2 different places
/20
Creativity
  • background and characters exceptionally well done
  • extra detail
  • extra animation cells
/20
Comments   /100

Unit Conclusion

Hold an interactive art exhibit. Set up each student's work as an individual display, including each component, so that other students may view the pieces, try out the flip books, and move the cells.

p>Hold an interactive art exhibit. Set up each student's work as an individual display, including each component, so that other students may view the pieces, try out the flip books, and move the cells.