Lesson Plan 2 > Stop Motion Animation: From Stills to Motion

Age: 5th Grade


Time: 5 Classes


Focus: The lesson will focus on introducing the students to stop motion animation and using Photoshop as an animation tool.



a. Describe how photo-, video- and sound editing are used to create original products for expressive intent. (

b. Create original works of media art to express specific artistic ideas. (

c. The student will understand the process of creating stop motion animation.


Motivational Resources:

§  Video examples of stop motion animation

§  "Scrabble by PES" <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_HW5oGsLlw>

§  "Jack's Lament: The Nightmare Before Christmas" <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wv1HX80u5x4>

§  Informational posters about stop motion set-up

§  Handout of the process


Art Materials:

§  Sketch paper

§  Drawing tools

§  Digital camera(s)

§  File storage device(s)

§  Card readers

§  Tripod(s)

§  Colored tag board

§  Clothespins

§  Poster putty

§  Macintosh computers

§  Adobe Photoshop CS3

§  QuickTime Player

§  iMovie HD

§  Projector

§  Flash drive(s)

§  DVD-R(s)




Stop motion animation is a creative technique that involves technology to give a physical object the ability to move seemingly without aid. By photographing an object's "movements" frame by frame and replaying the images in sequence, life is given to an otherwise lifeless item ("The Stop Motion Animation Process"). Stop motion animation is a form of animation that, at its very core, is a simple process that most can accomplish with only a few tools. The steps to take to produce any stop motion animation involves 1) capturing frames, 2) editing the footage, 3) compressing the footage into a video and 4) outputting the creation (Brent). The frames can be shot using standard video film or photographs and exported into a video editing program where music, sound, transitions, credits, etc. can be added. The film must be compressed for the adequate outputting of the film which could be for DVD release or simply web streaming (Murphy). Stop motion animation is certainly a highly accessible form of animation and can be created even at an early age.


Due to the ease of access to such a successful form of animation may be why stop motion animation is used so extensively throughout the world and in a variety of fields. Stop motion animation can be found almost everywhere from television advertisements to feature films. The filmmaker/animator PES, for example has created very creative and surprising shorts as advertisements for major companies worldwide. His latest addition to his body of work has been a commercial for the 60th Anniversary edition of Scrabble ("Home of the Twisted..."). And while stop motion is a creative technique which can be used to promote a product, it has high entertainment value as well. For example, stop motion was used to create Tim Burton's famous cult-classic "The Nightmare Before Christmas." Based on Burton's poem of the same name, it was the first movie to be completely animated using this technique. Exquisitely done, this film took one hundred animators three years to complete due to the fact that it required twelve stop motion moves per second of film ("Trivia..."). This film is a perfect example of how an artist used stop motion animation to adequately portray their creative ideas and used imagery to illustrate a literary narrative.


Instructional Procedure:

Class 1: During the first 20 minutes of class, the students will be introduced to stop motion animation as an art form and how it's being used today. Examples will be shown and the techniques used will be explained. After introducing the project, which is to anthropomorphize a household object causing it to dance, the students will have the rest of the class period to begin sketching. Students should begin experimenting with how it can be manipulated and arranged in order to convey an emotion, attitude, etc. through movement.


Class 2: The second class day will be devoted to taking the still images used in the animation. Four or five stations should be set up with a backdrop (colored tag board), camera and tripod for students to share. Each student should aim for a minimum of 50-75 still images for their animation.


Class 3: The third day will be used to import the still images onto the Macintosh computers and create the layers used for the animation in Photoshop. After arranging the layers in the proper sequence, students can then use the Animation option in Photoshop to create a .mov file to exported into QuickTime. After the class period, all students' work should be saved onto the project flash drive.


Class 4: During the fourth day, students should be importing their QuickTime files into iMovie HD in order to add sound and/or music to their animations. After adding sound, the files should be saved as .mov files and burned to DVD-Rs for the students to take home. After the period has ended, all students' work should be backed up onto the project flash drive.


Class 5: The fifth class period will be used for presenting each students' stop motion animation to the class as well as to provide an opportunity for discussion and critique.


Evaluation/Assessment: A rubric will be used to document the students' understanding of the assignment, degree of participation, development of concept and application of technique(s) learned. Also, a critique will accompany final presentations of work.


DBAE Checklist:

Art Production: Students made a short stop motion animation film.

Aesthetics: Students produced work that incorporated movement and sound.

Art History: Students learned about stop motion being used in contemporary digital art.

Art Criticism: Students had the opportunity to discuss stop motion animation seen today as well as their own short films among their peers.



Brent, Mike. "Making a Digital Stopmotion Film: The Process in a Nutshell." StopMotionAnimation.com. 12 December 2009. <http://www.stopmotionanimation.com/handbook/2.htm>.


"Home of the Twisted Films of PES." 2002-2009. PES. 12 December 2009. <http://www.eatpes.com/scrabble.html>.


Murphy, Mary. Beginner's Guide to Animation: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 2008


"The Stop Motion Animation Process." 2005. Pharos Productions. 12 December 2009. <http://pharosproductions.com/aosma/aosma_intro.html>.


"Trivia for 'The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)'." 1990-2009. The Internet Movie Database. 12 December 2009. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107688/trivia>.

Lesson Plan 1 > Photoshop Collage: Creatures with a Story

Age: 8th Grade


Time: 6 Classes


Focus: The lesson will focus on learning the history of collage, collaging a mythical creature and developing a short story.



a. Describe the characteristics of styles and genres such as documentary, narrative or abstract. (

b. Demonstrate use of a variety of tools, materials and techniques in media arts based on the characteristics of the hardware and software. (

c. The student will create a work that becomes the starting point for a literary narrative.


Motivational Resources:

§  Examples of collage work

            Marcel Duchamp's "Fountain" <http://becksearlescott.files.wordpress.com/2009/             01/ fountain.jpg>

            Richard Hamilton's "Just What is it That Makes Today's Homes So Different, So             Appealing" <http://htca.us.es/blogs/perezdelama/files/2008/10/hamilton.jpg>

§  Posters of Dada art

§  Handout of the process

§  An example of a collage creature

            <http://blog.lib.umn.edu/mathi208/arted/Images/             Digital%20Collage%20Creature.jpg>


Art Materials:

§  Digital photos

§  Macintosh computers

§  Adobe Photoshop CS3

§  Projector

§  Flash drive(s)

§  Color printer

§  Copy paper

§  Lined paper

§  Pencils



During the beginnings of World War I, both sides of the conflict promised their people a quick and swift victory. No one expected the fighting to last as long or be as detrimental to those involved. In reaction against the horrific effects the war was having on its nations, an art movement was developed. Dada began in Europe and is characterized by nonsensical imagery that spoke of frustrations against the war. (Stokstad, 1088) Dadaists questioned what art is and produced images that conflicted with the traditional standards of art. This attitude is a reflection of the people of the time and how they were handling the warfare happening around them. Another characteristic of Dada art is collage. (Stokstad, 1091) The term comes from the French word coller which means "to glue." (Stokstad, 1080) and according to Dictionary.com, collage is "a technique of composing a work of art by pasting on a single surface various materials not normally associated with one another." ("Collage") "Experimental artists cut pictures from magazines and newspapers and pasted them together in composite images whose jumbled scale and perspective challenged conventional expectations." (Marien, 245) And while the imagery of the Dada movement and their use of collage may have started as political commentary, collage can be used in a variety of ways including illustration.


Throughout literary history, authors have been inspired by the images that they see. Whether those images are pieces of artwork produced by the masters, situations they witness in everyday life, or landmarks and places they've visited during their lifetime. Pictures and images have accompanied literary narratives for hundreds of years ("The History of Illustration") and have become very important to some stories. In fact, there is an entire business devoted to visually portraying the events taking place in a narrative. Book illustration is a large source of rich imagery that spans many genres of art and almost always accompanies an author's words. While some stories "paint" vivid pictures with words alone, illustration can provide a deeper look into a storyline for its readers.


Instructional Procedure:

Class 1: During the first class meeting the students will be introduced to collage and its history found in Dada. Examples of collage will be shown and discussed as well as how collage can be created in a digital format. The students will be introduced to the assignment and shown a digital collage creature as an example in order to begin brainstorming. Students will also be encouraged to begin thinking about a story that they would like to tell revolving around their creation. Mysticism and nonsensical ideas should be encouraged since the creatures are completely imaginary and would work well with a completely unrealistic narrative.


Class 2: During the second class day, an image bank will be made available to the students which will be divided into categories such as landscape, animal, texture, interior, exterior, face, etc. From these images, the students should select portions from multiple images using the tools found in Photoshop and begin creating a mythical creature. The students should be reminded about the importance of setting and how each element that they choose to include should have a purpose and meaning within their story. At the end of the period, all work should be backed up on the project flash drive.


Class 3: Day three is marginally a workday to continue developing the students' creatures. At the end of the day, all students' work should be backed up on the project flash drive.


Class 4: On the fourth day, students should be cleaning up their imagery and putting any final touches on their creature. As students begin to finish, they should use their time to begin writing a rough draft of their narrative. As they finish their creatures, their imagery should be printed in order for their work to be taken home and all work should be saved onto a flash drive devoted to the project.


Class 5: Day five is devoted to writing a short story starring their imaginary creatures.


Class 6: On the sixth day of class, every student will have the opportunity to present their imaginary creature to the class via the projector. While their image is displayed they should read their narrative that they composed and a discussion and critique should take place.


Evaluation/Assessment: A rubric will be used to document the students' understanding of the assignment, degree of participation, development of concept and application of technique(s) learned. Also, a critique will accompany final presentations of work.


DBAE Checklist:

Art Production: Students created a fictitious creature collaged from an image bank source.

Aesthetics: Students developed an image inspired by the history of collage.

Art History: Students learned about the history of collage and its influence on Dada.

Art Criticism: Students had the opportunity to discuss their personal artwork, as well as the work of their peers, in a critique session.



"Collage." 2009. Dictionary.com. 12 December 2009. <http://dictionary.reference.com/             browse/Collage>.


"The History of Illustration." 1997-2008. Society of Ilustrators. 13 December 2009.             <http://societyillustrators.org/about/history/283.cms>


Marien, Mary Warner. Photography: A Cultural History. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006.


Stokstad, Marilyn. Art History. 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Person Prentice Hall, 2008.

Final Project: Clothespin Break-Dancing Stop Motion

For my final project I wanted to further explore stop motion animation since I only had a small taste of it while creating "The Ugly Pumpkin" with the digital workshop students. I wanted things to stay simple in order to use the project as a lesson plan idea in a classroom with limited access to computers. I used a piece of colored tag board as the backdrop and anthropomorphized a household clothespin that begins break-dancing his way through a song. What I like most about stop motion animation is that it doesn't require very many tools and the tools it does require are readily available. Also the fact that you can give an inanimate object a personality or a character trait is kind of fascinating. I used my point and shoot digital camera to shoot the images for the animation, brought them into Photoshop using individual layers and used the animation window to create and export a Quicktime file. After that, I used iMovie hd to add sound, video effects and transitions to make the final version. I wanted it to have an urban feel and to me it seems like the sketchy flow and changes in lighting add to the overall intention. Hopefully someday I can use this quick, simple animation as an example to spark an interest in stop motion animation in my classroom!

Here is the animation to date. There may be some alterations to it in the near future. Enjoy!

Final Stop-Mo for Web.mov

The Ugly Pumpkin

Here is our final version of the short film "The Ugly Pumpkin"!
The Ugly Pumpkin.mov

Reflection on the Digital Art Workshop: Day 5

Day Five was a relief to have since we weren't completely finished with our project yet, but after taking the temperature of the room, we were slightly ahead of the curve having already spent a lot of time in iMovie before the rest of the workshop. Our students were able to take their time evaluating what they had done in the previous workday and made very few changes. They both liked hearing about what they could do with GarageBand, but didn't incorporate it at all into The Ugly Pumpkin. I think that by having an abstract approach to the storytelling, the students were less "threatened" to produce something super recognizable and therefore were able to make something completely unique. I feel like they did a majority of the work on the project and that there is very little influence of the mentors on their final production of the narrative.

Reflection on the Digital Art Workshop: Day 4

Day Four was a very productive day working on The Ugly Pumpkin with our two students. Both students are sort of quiet individuals, but make up for it in the amount of work they can accomplish. We referred to our storyboard often and had few wrinkles to work out. In fact, the students worked so well that about half way through the time we had they were already learning how to work with their animation in iMovie. They both really enjoyed "making a movie" and liked manipulating what they'd already created in another format in this new one. Unfortunately, the filters and sounds effects are rather enticing and it was difficult at times to regroup the focus. However, after allowing some time to familiarize with the program, they both quickly returned to the task at hand and made some very good choices with the material.

Reflection on the Digital Art Workshop: Day 3

Day Three involved setting up a light table in the Tweed Museum of Art which was used by three separate groups to incorporate into their animation narratives. Our first group used sand to animate a weather scene in the story Sleepy Hollow. I noticed that the students sometimes weren't as free with their movements, which is at the very core of sand animation, and wanted to be more meticulous with their imagery than necessary. It was suggested that they manipulate the sand for a set amount of time (7 seconds) and then a still image would be taken regardless of whether or not they were finished with their idea.  Two other groups used acrylic paint for their transformations in their narrative which worked well with the visual styles that they had chosen earlier on in the process. I noticed that since the interaction of light and dark while using the light table is so pivotal, larger, more noticeable marks need to be made in order to be read. Also, paint animation requires the use of a slow drying paint and cleaning up the acrylic was quite time consuming. The students were enthusiastic about trying something they have never seen before which both helped and hindered them. Some were anxious to begin, while others were a little more conservative and tentative in their approach. Overall, it was a great experience being in a public location like the Tweed Museum of Art and able to talk to other museum goers about what we were doing.

Reflection on the Digital Art Workshop: Day 2

Day Two was rather interesting. My first task of the day was to meet the students as they arrived, made sure that they were all accounted for and to follow up on any that were not present. It was very helpful having another person "conduct traffic" as the students were trickling in and to engage them as they arrived. After leading the students to the classroom, I helped a team working on a narrative story called The Ugly Pumpkin. The students were pitched a story to work on along with a color palette and visual style to work with. After selections were made, two students began working on the characters and settings that go along with The Ugly Pumpkin. Both of the students are rather quiet so it was somewhat difficult to have them share their ideas and to have input into what direction the project should go, but after a bit more refreshing with the Photoshop program, they were able to successfully begin making imagery that we will later use to make an animation.

Reflection on the Digital Art Workshop: Day 1

Day One went rather well I felt. I helped two students learn a little bit about the tools found in Photoshop as well as some fun things you can do with Photo Booth. They began by taking a picture of themselves using the built-in web camera on the Macs and then brought their image of their face into Photoshop. They were instructed to manipulate themselves and the surroundings using tools like brushes, paint bucket, hue & saturation, etc. to show a transformation of some kind.  One student chose a direction rather quickly and was diligent in finishing his idea while my other student kept wanting to back all the way up in the process and start over quite a few times. After a bit of discussion, my second student was able to continue on and eventually finish his work. Both students were very excited about using the computer to animate their transformations and met instruction with enthusiasm. I felt a bit strained having to divert my attention to two students at once especially with the obvious difference in their skills using the programs. However, I enjoyed the experience and definitely have a positive outlook on the upcoming opportunities to work with this group of kids.

Reflection on Project #2: Sand/Paint Animation Demo

The Sand/Paint demo was a fun and engaging activity to have during class time. Since this is a such an interesting topic to look into, the research was hardly work and the hardest part was figuring out how to best present the process to a room full of people. While Sand and Paint animation is a visual art form, it is really best understood while experiencing it yourself. This sort of art making definitely strikes home with me due to the fact that one of my opinions on art is that the experience of the creating process can be just as important as the end result. Since our group did a "live" video of the paint animation I would be interested in using the stop-motion approach if I were to try it again. As mentioned earlier, it was sort of difficult to conceive of an idea to animate using these techniques, but with more opportunities I think that using sand and paint animation with students could be successful.