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How To: Create Fun Stop Motion Animations from Collage Illustrations

How to make fun and easy stop-motion animations from collage illustrations

An illustration of a small weir with collage leaves in bright colours. There in text with the blog post title, Making Fun Animations from Collage Illustrations. Nicola Ellen Illustration

Over the past month I have been playing about with video and creating some fun stop-motion animations from my collage illustrations. I have turned them into YouTube Shorts and you can see some of the animations I've created here. They aren't perfect, as I've just been enjoying the process of doing something new with my work, but they are a lot of fun to make and watch spring into life!

So in this weeks blog post, I thought I'd show you how I create these little videos and how you can do it too!

What you will need:

  • A4 piece of sturdy paper/card

  • Extra paper to cut out moving parts

  • Paint/pencils/coloured pencils/inks/coloured paper - anything to add colour to your illustration and moving parts

  • Blu-tack

  • A flat board/large book to lay your illustration on when filming

  • A camera of any sort

  • A tripod or something to keep your camera in the same position

  • A computer

  • A basic movie maker/video editor - I use Windows Movie Maker (alongside VDSC video editor for extra editing that I can't do on MM) for a simple animation, it does the job.

Step #1 - Decide what to animate

Start by having a think about what you want to make into a moving picture and then create it! Nature works really well with falling leaves, petals, snow or flowers and leaves blowing in the wind. Insects are fun to animate too - especially ones with wings!

I have been using collages that I've already created and some of them haven't taken long to create. My usual go-to is a background of an ink or acrylic paint wash and some painted or drawn details. In the picture above I drew the stones in pencil. In another illustration, I painted the stems of foxgloves in acrylic paint.

A collage illustration foxgloves and bees on a brown background. This is part of a blog post about creating a fun stop motion animation

Create you background on either plain or coloured paper and add any colourwashes and details that will stay static in the your video.

Then on a separate piece of paper/card to your background, you want to draw and colour in the moving parts.

Step #2 - Time to get set up

"Stop motion is an animated filmmaking technique in which objects are physically manipulated in small increments between individually photographed frames so that they will appear to exhibit independent motion or change when the series of frames is played back." – thanks Wiki!

So to create your stop motion animation here, you are going to create the movement by moving your loose illustration parts ever so slightly and between each movement, you take a photo. So you want to think of where the moving parts are going to start and where you want them to be at the end of your video. If you're animating a flying insect, think about how many times their wings will move to keep them in the air.

Space: When you take your photos for this, you want to make sure you have a space where there is good natural light, a flat surface (I use a clean page of an a3 sketch pad as my basis, often laid on the floor or my bed!). Blu-tack your background down onto your surface to keep it in place.

Tip: I sometimes use a teeny tiny bit of Blu-tack under my moving parts to keep them in place, and a little easier to control when moving about between photos. This works well on wings or flowers or leaves that are blowing about, though not necessarily on items you want to show falling or moving across the page.

Camera/Tripod: To ensure a smooth animation, you want to keep the camera VERY still and in the same place and covering the exact same space throughout the process of taking photos. So you'll need a tripod to mount your camera on or something you can stick you camera/phone to - like a stool or a box (I've stuck my phone to a stool on a number of occasions!)

A camera on a tripod ready to photograph an animation of collage illustration. This is part of a How To guide on creating a fun stop motion animation
Fixing my tripod to my bed to get a good steady shot! I often use my phone for this and it makes the tripod a bit top heavy!

Step #3 - Taking the photos

With everything lined up and in place, you are now be ready to take your photos.

So, start by taking a photo and then move your moving parts ever so slightly once and then take another photo. Then keep going.

This part does take some patience, especially when you can't necessarily see how it will all fit together at this point. The more movements and photos you take, the more flow your animation will have. For my last animation, I took 69 photos, compared to the previous one where there were just 23 photos. It flowed much better as I was able to show more movement.

Tip: By keeping some of the parts still, and just moving one or two of them for a run of a few photos, you can create a change in the movement. For example, you can show a leaf swimming down a stream, while other leaves are stuck behind rocks for a shot or two.

Step #4 - Making your picture come to life

This is where it starts to come together!

Now you have all your photos, transfer them all onto you computer and create a file, just for those photos. You can then order them by date and then they should move over to Movie Maker in order (you may have to move a few frames around).

Open Movie Maker, or your editor of choice, drag all your photos together into a new file and check they're in the right order.

From here, select all your photos together and on the video tab, you will have the option to change the speed that each image is shown for. You want to look at under 1 second per frame, but play around with what speed suits your animation best. I often use 0.5 or 0.25 seconds depending on what I am animating.

A view in Windows Movie Maker showing how to change the speed of a set of photos to create a fun stop motion animation. This is part of a How To guide on creating stop motion animations.

Step #5 - Play back!

Once you've got the speed as you want it to be, play it back and see what you think. Now you can save the file to your computer and you have yourself a cracking animation!

I love the sense of achievement that comes with completing an animation, especially as they can take a lot of time to create, but I really enjoy the process too!

Congratulations! You now have your very own animation! I hope you had fun! Let me know in the comments below what you made :)

Well done for creating a fun stop motion animation!

What's next?

I will be hosting a Stop-Motion Animation Workshop where you can learn the technique I use to create my collage animations in much more detail. You can fins out more, save your space here and sign up here - Stop-Motion Animation Workshop Sign Up . I hope to see you there!

That's all for this week. In the meantime you can join my newsletter for studio notes. I am now posting to YouTube fairly regularly with my collage animations and I also post to Facebook, so head over to either of those to see what I’m up to between blog posts and newsletters! It’ll be good to see you there :)


My monthly newsletter, Studio Notes, is where I share with you news and behind the scenes from the studio, along with tips, discounts and freebies.

This is the only place I announce discounts for my shop and you also receive an illustrated desktop calendar with every other email too. Sound good?‌

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