How to do paper cut out animation.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to making your very own cut out animation.
1. Get your materials together.
Materials such as card, paper, wool, felt and fabric
Adhesives such as Blu-Tack and glue
Ask yourself important questions such as what material will work best for what you have in mind. Are you aiming for simple card silhouettes similar to The Adventures of Prince Achmed? Or do you want to be more elaborate and use different types of materials? Card is stronger than paper, would that be best? Do you want to use wire to connect the ‘limbs’ and give them lots of freedom of movement or will Blu-Tack do?
2. Think about the story.
You have all your materials ready, but have you decided exactly what story you want to tell? The characters you’ll use? How long it will be? You may want to make notes - creating a plan will help you progress with your creation.
3. Consider your characters.
As well as determining the look of your creations in cut out animation, you’ll also need to factor in how the various parts will fit together. Think about overlapping parts, such as ears and mouths and where you want them to overlap with the rest of their faces. Make several sketches before settling on a final look.
Assemble your characters.
Once the designs are finalised, draw them and cut them out into pieces that will be able to move. Arrange the pieces how you want them to look, on the backdrop you want, which could be elaborate or simply white space.
Stick the pieces together.
If you’re new to cut out animation, you may want to keep it as simple as possible. For example, stick pieces together using an adhesive. This will hold them together while allowing enough give to manoeuvre them, e.g. make arms swing. If you want certain pieces to remain still, use glue.
Download an app for your smartphone.
The easiest way to create paper cut out animation is with a smartphone camera and the use of a suitable app. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom lets you make basic edits on your phone, to then go into more detail using Photoshop on a computer.
Set up space for shooting.
Use a flat, still surface, preferably in a dark room and lit with lamps, so the light doesn’t change while you’re filming - you could be a fair amount of time shooting, remember. You’ll also need to keep your camera securely fixed to one position so it doesn’t move while you’re filming, having a tripod will help to keep your camera in position.
Shoot your animation.
You’re now ready to make your animation. Although 24 frames per second (fps) is standard in animation, 12 fps will work for beginners.
Cut out animation examples.
You’ll find many great examples of cut out animation online. Here are some highlights.
The adorable one.
Coco is a cute paper cut out animation created by Katherine Manaog, who missed her dogs after she moved abroad to attend art school. Working with Annie Wong and Louie Zhang, she has given pieces of paper the ‘awwww’ factor.
The whimsical one.
Kelly Pousette illustrated the children’s book Don’t Rake Your Garden in a Party Dress, by Aimee Bissonette with quirky collages. To promote the book she created a cut out animation using art from the book.
The old-school one.
Leander Huizinga’s The Tree goes back to basics. It’s mostly black silhouettes on a white background, just like those initial forays into paper cut out animation.
The advanced one.
Once Upon a Dream is a stop motion wedding film combining real-life actors among cut out animated art by Shirie Gordon-Feliks. A great example of what can be achieved when different styles of film are combined.
The dark one.
With Elsewhere, The Survivors, Ali Aschman created an unusual, desolate world, with two characters wandering around, haunted by doubt and anxiety.
The musical one.
The animated video to Giangrande’s Paper Plane was a collaborative cut out animation, featuring illustrations by Felicita Sala, directed and animated by Gianluca Maruotti.
The epic one.
This is also a music video, but the most noteworthy element of Prominent Figures’ video for Josh Ritter’s Love is Making its Way Back Home is the effort required. More than 12,000 pieces of construction paper were used to make it, with no effects added in post-production.
The imaginative one.
Voyage by Ali Azami, Bri Levy and John McGraw is a charming piece that shows that possibilities are limitless in the character involved and indeed the animators themselves.
The natural one.
Production studio MoSoMoS created this Stop Motion Paper Animation for Sesame Workshop, charting the growth of a tree.
The romantic one.
Whistle and Love by Wang Jingjie is a witty look at the world of love.