Simple Animations

Reading & Writing

This semester, I will be learning about different ways to tell stories using animation and moving media. The book I am reading is called “Animated Storytelling,” by Liz Blazer.

Although I have only read the introduction and first chapter, I can tell the book is going to help with planning out projects. In fact, the most important thing, according to Blazer, is to plan because “the animation muse is secretly an anxious planner.”

Without a plan, projects are bound to fail. Part of planning is coming up with a concept, or a creative brief that defines what the project is intended to be, who the target audience is, how long the project should be, what the objective of the piece is and when it is due. Once these questions are answered, the developer has a starting point and destination defined. The how to get there will follow.

When you have those questions answered, the picture begins to come into focus and coming up with a pitch for the company the project is being developed will come much easier.

Research To Inform

One of the more basic animations people can create for the web are gif images. GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format. Gifs can be found everywhere, these days. Just scroll through your social media feed and you’re sure to see a gif or two, or maybe many more. Gifs are also used on professional websites and are often times used as marketing tools.

Here are a few examples of gifs:

The first image is of Baby Yoda from the Disney + series, The Mandalorian. As soon as people were introduced to the hairless mogwai – a reference to the movie Gremlins – memes and gifs began to pop up all over the internet. In other words, Baby Yoda went viral.

Ah, yes. The Michael Jackson eating popcorn gif. This one comes from the music video for Jackson’s “Thriller.” The gif is very popular on social media, especially when there is a back and forth argument taking place on someone’s feed.

Keeping with the theme of this week’s lesson on animation, I chose a gif of Strong Bad. In the early 2000s, Strong Bad made his rounds on the internet. The developer created short cartoons of this wrestling mask-wearing character who often stared at his computer screen answering emails.

I just came across this gif of the Mona Lisa. It is funny and creative. Especially with the addition of the hand with a finger pointing up, a mouth that looks like she is saying, “No you didn’t,” and a head shake to go with the attitude. It is very effective and fun.

One final gif I wanted to share is this. While the image is cartoony, it can be used for business to show that a company specializes in social media all around the world. It is effective and sends a proper message.



The gif of two light bulbs illuminating and turning off was created using Adobe Photoshop. The image was found on, and pasted into a blank Photoshop canvas. Then I copied the illuminated light and created a second layer, and then a third layer by copying the dark lightbulb. I then moved the layered portions to their respective spots and created a timeline. When the timeline was setup, I shortened the movie length and moved the new layers so they were on top of each other. The entire timeline, the original image is in place. The only time the lights switch is when the timeline reaches the stacked portion of the timeline. I decided to use light bulbs because it seemed like something I could tackle, having not done this for years. I’ve never used Adobe Photoshop to create gif images, and it worked out nicely.

I’m not the greatest artist, and this triangle is proof. But the concept is there. I created a gif of a triangle that falls to the ground and splits into three different pieces before dissolving into the ground. This was done using Photoshop. First, I created a timeline and enabled onion skinning. Then I drew a triangle at the top of the canvas, clicked on the next frame, and drew the triangle again, only slightly below the first. I continued with this method until the triangle hit the ground. Then I created three shapes that the triangle split into, and had them shrivel and dissolve. I can see how artists can do quite a bit with this method. It is almost like a flip book comic; the same kind that I used to draw as a kid.

I’ve wanted to try this for a while, but did not know how. One of the things I like to do is draw a wave with a sun on the horizon and a surfer dropping in on the wave. This was  a way for me to bring my drawing to life. One thing I am lacking right now is a pen to draw on my Surface Book (I lost it during my move.) So, the fact that I drew this using a mouse was a feat in itself. Just like the falling triangle above, I used onion skinning to create this movie. Same process, just more elements to fool around with.