Tooned In to Animation

 < PALEYEDUCATION : Online Classes

Grades 4–7

Class Description

In an effort to aid at-home learning, we are making selected media for this typically on-site class available here online, including pre-viewing focus questions and post-viewing discussion questions.

Experience the magic of animation and learn about the process behind one of television's most creative forms. Students will watch a series of clips and have the chance to create their own flip books.

All classes are interactive, with guided discussion designed to encourage active observation and critical thinking.

Animation means to bring something to life; to make something inanimate (a drawing, a figurine, etc.) move as it would in the real world (or oftentimes a fantasy world). While there are many different styles of animation, there are important commonalities in the process. Below, we’ll highlight three different stages of the animation process to help you understand how the art form is created step-by-step.



As a group, provide definitions for the following words and concepts, which will be referenced during the class.

ANIMATION: A filmmaking technique where the illusion of motion is created frame-by-frame. The word comes from the Latin word, "anima," meaning "life" or "soul."

ANIMATOR: The person who draws the moving character in an animated film.

BACKGROUND: A flat piece of artwork that is the setting for a moving character in an animated film.

CEL: Short for celluloid, a cel is a clear piece of plastic on which the animator's finished drawings are painted. The cel is clear so that when placed over the background, the animated characters appear to be in a setting.

FRAME: An individual still picture on a strip of film. Twenty-four frames equal one second of a motion picture.

FRAME-BY-FRAME: The filmmaking technique in animation where each frame is exposed one at a time and the object being photographed is slightly altered for each picture.

IN-BETWEENS: Drawings that are positioned between the drawings that are at the beginning and end poses.

INK AND PAINT: The step in cel animation in which the animator's drawings are placed on cels to be photographed. A drawing is outlined on the front of the cel with black ink, while the back of the cel is painted.

SCRIPT: The written story of a film that supplies dialogue, camera moves, background, staging, and action.

STORYBOARD: A storyboard is a visual representation of a story. Pictures can be sketched on pieces of paper and pinned to a large board, or they can be drawn on a large piece of paper, comic-book style, to represent scenes in a film. A story sketch should show character, attitude, feelings, entertainment, expressions, and type of action, as well as tell the story of what's happening.


Ed, Edd n Eddy Storyboard

A storyboard (see definition in the Vocabulary section below) is the first step in taking a written script to a visual story. Think of it as an outline! It helps the writers and artists communicate with each other and plan out the dialogue, movement, story structure, and sequencing before any animation takes place.

Pre-Viewing Focus Question:
Notice all of the details included in these storyboards.

Post-Viewing Discussion Questions:

●   What details did you notice in these storyboards?
●   What is the purpose of each box in the storyboards?
●   How do they signal the eventual movement that will take place?
●   How can you tell the sequence of the frames?
●   What isn’t included in the storyboards?
●   What do you think comes next?


Ed, Edd n Eddy Pencil Test

A pencil test is the next step in the animation process. Using basic materials like pencil and paper, artists are able to test out the movement and look of their animation before more detail is added. Pencil tests usually end up looking very similar to classic animation toys like flip books because they are more concerned with motion rather than color, background, or sound.
Pre-Viewing Focus Question:
Compare this pencil test to the previous storyboards. What is the same? What is different?

Post-Viewing Discussion Questions:

●   Summarize what happens in this clip.
●   How does the pencil test compare to the storyboard?
●   What details does it include?
●   What is still missing from the story?
●   What step do you think comes next?


Ed, Edd n Eddy Completed Title Sequence

Pre-Viewing Focus Question:
Compare this to the previous steps (storyboard and pencil test). What is the same? What is different?

Post-Viewing Discussion Questions:

●  Summarize what happens in this clip.
●  What stayed the same over the course of the three steps?
●  What changed over the course of the three steps?
●  What do these steps tell you about the process of animation?
●  What more do you want to know?


Pre-Visit and Post-Visit Information

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For even more details about the animation process, check out this video about the making of a different Cartoon Network show, We Bare Bears.