Make your own cartoon

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As a kid, I always wanted to make my own cartoons. Flip books were the only option for a kid with my resources and while the effect was neat, the process was painful. Create a series of still sketches and flip through them to play back the video.
The devices and apps that we have today are powerful enough to assemble photos into video essentially recreating a digital flip book.

These days we can easily make stop motion video using an app. Taking a sequence of snapshots is simple and easy. Instead of worrying about the mechanics of putting together a cartoon, we get to concentrate on the fun, creative process of storytelling. You can make your cartoon using almost any media: paper cutouts, play doh characters, figurines (legos, action figures), posable dolls or even people.

The Process.

Story Board Install App Setup Shoot Audio

 Story Board

Before filming you’ll need a plan, and in the world of film this is the storyboard. Your storyboard is simply a map of the film. Sketching the film out first gives your project definition and keeps you on track and is great tool for kids to work out the mechanics of their creative aspirations. Keep it simple, ask your kids to come up with a hero, an antagonist, a challenge and a resolution. This doesn’t need to be lengthy, keeping it short allows kids to stay motivated on the project.
In our project we created an Angry Birds short using a printed backdrop and homemade Play Doh Angry Bird characters. The plot was particularly easy since the birds always need to work towards defeating the pigs. We drew up a few scenes where the birds each try to knock down the pig, but only succeed when they work together.
See the rough storyboard:


The template used is a printable download found at printable Printable Storyboard Template.


Get the App

For this project we will use the iOS app Stop Motion Studio. There are plenty of other options an for Android as well. Stop Motion Studio is well designed, easy to use and available for free (with payed upgrade options). Download the app here.



Whether your shooting a diorama, paper cutouts, claymation, or figurines the most important thing to prepare for is a stationary scene and a stationary camera. This will insure your video is looks fluid and will make filming much easier. Fix your scenery to the floor or a table and find a place to fix the camera. I used a Joby gorillapod tripod wrapped around a small chair.

Using a small flexible tripod to secure the shots.

Using a small flexible tripod to secure the shots.


Start up the app and start snapping photos. In Stop Motion Pro you’ll need to start a new project be tapping the plus icon. You can start adding snapshots right away to film your cartoon. Make small changes from shot to shot to give a fluid video, less so if you have impatient artists ;). Snapshots appear as thumbnails in a timeline on the bottom of the screen. They can be rearranged, deleted or inserted out of sequence in case you need to make corrections. Repeating frames or a series of frames in an easy way to add to the video’s length without snapping every frame. Your video can be previewed at any time and can also be ‘scrubbed’ by dragging you finger forward or backward over the timeline.

screenshot of Stop Motion app taking a photo.

screenshot of Stop Motion app taking a photo.


Once the scene filming is complete you can add music or record dialog for you cartoon. Any music you have in your library can be added, you can add several tracks which is typical if you want background music and dialog. All tracks appear in the timeline and can be edit separately.


When you’re all done you can export your video to youtube or save it on your phone. Share your masterpiece here in the forum for this project or just stop by to talk about your cartoon project.

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