Channel 4 Learning

Making It: Programmes 16–26
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Aims | Outline | Curriculum Relevance | Background | Activities | Links | Image and Link to Print Version

Making It: Programmes 16–26
Programme 16: Luca Animates His Day


After watching the programme and participating in the activities, pupils should be able to:

  • communicate design ideas in different ways
  • measure, mark out, cut and shape materials
  • assemble, join and combine components and materials accurately
  • apply appropriate finishing techniques
  • carry out tests to improve a product
  • know how the characteristics of materials affect the way they are used
  • investigate and evaluate a product to appreciate how it works and how it is used
  • use a range of equipment including ICT

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Luca sits down with a fibre-tip pen and a clipboard of paper. He draws a cartoon face, an expression, a hairstyle, a boy – he draws himself. Lucas adds more and more cartoons, showing a day in his life, both the real things and the dreams…

He remembers playing football in the park with his friends. He imagines what it would be like to fly and draws that too. His flight leads him to the beach. Luca remembers swimming in the sea and flying a kite. He sketches himself drinking milk from a coconut. He imagines throwing the coconut high into the air where it changes into a table-tennis ball. Now he sketches a game of table tennis at school. This reminds him of a ball of paper being thrown around his class, and the teacher catching them out.

Luca weaves events from his daily life into a dreamy sequence. It's as if the cartoons have come alive on the paper, animating his day.

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Curriculum Relevance

Science – light; materials
Art – design and make artefacts, collect visual and other information, develop patterns and designs
ICT – explore a variety of ICT tools; organise and reorganise images

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Cartoons are jokey, lively drawings. The lines are simple, with a few details exaggerated. Animated cartoons are drawings that seem to move. Try staring at wallpaper. Can you see faces in the pattern? Optical illusions like this are the simplest kind of moving picture.

Ancient Greek soldiers painted figures around the edges of their shields. When the shields were spun, the figures seemed to move. In the 1820s, Dr John Paris invented the thaumatrope, a disc with a picture on either side. When it was spun, both pictures appeared at the same time. In 1826, the Belgian scientist Joseph Plateau put 16 drawings around the edge of a spinning disc. Each drawing was slightly different. You looked at the disc through a narrow slit and saw a moving picture. Modern film projectors use the same idea, showing thousands of pictures very quickly one after another.

In 1919, Otto Messmer drew the first great animated cartoon character, Felix the Cat. His adventures were shown on cinema screens, but the films were only a few minutes long. In 1938, Walt Disney caused a sensation with a much longer cartoon, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Thousands of hand-drawn pictures were needed and it took 3 years to draw them all. Today, computers make it easier to create a sequence of cartoon pictures.

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Cartoon Face

You will need: sheets of white paper, paper clips, 2B pencil, tracing paper, fine fibre-tip black marker, newspaper.

  1. Trace a face from a newspaper photo.
  2. Shade the back of the tracing paper with a pencil.
  3. Turn the tracing paper back the right way and clip it to a sheet of white paper. Go over the tracing with a pencil to transfer the picture to the white paper.
  4. Only draw in the main lines, keeping your design simple. Exaggerate the eyebrows or enlarge the eyes, lips or nose.
  5. Make a set of pictures of the face using your tracing. In each new picture, slightly alter one feature¬
  6. You could gradually make a sad mouth turn up into a smile. Or show the face winking one eye.
  7. When you are happy with your sequence, go over the pencil lines with black marker.

Make a Flick Book

You will need: sheets of white paper, paper clips, 2B pencil, tracing paper, fine fibre-tip black marker, scissors, ruler, stapler.

  1. Cut 24 oblongs of paper 6cm by 3cm.
  2. Staple them at one end to make a book.
  3. At the edge of the first strip, draw a simple face, about 2cm by 2cm.
  4. Trace this face into exactly the same position on the next strip of paper.
  5. Keep tracing the face into the same position on each new strip, but gradually alter the drawing, so that the tongue is poking out.
  6. Quickly flick through the book from front to back. The picture will seem to move.

Make a Thaumatrope

You will need: two discs of stiff white card about 6cm in diameter, glue, needle, two elastic bands, pencil, felt-tipped pens.

  1. In the middle of one disc, draw and colour a goldfish.
  2. In exactly the same place on the second disc, draw the outline of a goldfish bowl. Make sure the bowl is big enough for the fish to fit inside.
  3. Glue the two discs together, back to back.
  4. With a needle, make two holes in opposite edges of the disc.
  5. Thread an elastic band through each hole, knotting them to keep them in place.
  6. Pull the elastic bands to make the disc spin.
  7. Watch carefully and you should see the goldfish inside the bowl.

Make a Cel Picture

You will need: sheet of white paper, sheet of clear cellophane, permanent felt-tipped markers.

  1. To save drawing loads of pictures, cartoon animators build up a picture in layers, using clear cellophane or 'cels'.
  2. On white paper, draw a clown, holding his arms out on either side.
  3. Place a sheet of cellophane over the clown. Draw three balls, so that it looks as if the clown has one ball in either hand, and a third ball above his head.
  4. By gradually turning the cellophane, you can make a series of pictures showing the clown juggling.
  5. If you colour the balls, use the felt tips on the back of the cellophane to give a more even finish.
  6. You could add more cels to the picture with other details.

Computer Animation

You will need: computer and scanner, sheets of white paper, paper clips, 2B pencil, tracing paper, fine fibretip black marker, clear cellophane, permanent felt-tipped markers.

  1. With a computer and a scanner, you can make your own short animated cartoon.
  2. Draw a simple sequence of 8-12 pictures, such as a dog wagging its tail, using tracings or cels, as you did in the earlier activities.
  3. Scan each picture into your computer. Make sure you place each new picture in exactly the same place on the scanner.
  4. Save each drawing with a number to show its place in the sequence, eg dog1, dog2, etc.
  5. Choose the slideshow option to view the pictures.
  6. If you click very fast on the >> (forward button), one picture will quickly follow another, making an animated sequence.

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This web page contains links to other websites that are neither controlled nor maintained by Channel 4 Television. Channel 4 Television is not responsible for the content of these sites and does not necessarily endorse the material on them.

Download some free animations:

Read an interview with a cartoon animator:

Play around with animation:

Find out more about the history of animation:

Find out how to draw cartoon faces:

Practise drawing different cartoon animals and people:

Try some optical illusions:

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