Cut Out Animation

Cut Out Animation

Cut Out Animation is an animation technique which uses materials such as paper, card, or photographs to create flat characters and scenes.

This step by step guide will take you through all the stages of making your own cut out animated film. We highlight the different stages of production and adapt them to suit a classroom activity. There are video clips to give guidance and advice on making your own cut out characters for animation, and how to animate using a camera, tablet or phone. The lesson plan guides pupils through a process of research and story development in order to create a film in response to local heritage themes.

Key Stage:

KS 2 Art, KS 2 History


This lesson plan can be used:
⁃ to explore a curriculum topic of your choice using animation
⁃ to develop an understanding of the animation process
⁃ to develop literacy and creative writing skills
⁃ to find out about local heritage
⁃ to improve team working and problem solving
⁃ to work creatively with ICT

<b> Research </b>


You need a theme for your film. Pupils could look at using animation to explore local history, the environment or their community. Begin your project by finding out as much information as you can about your theme. You could use the internet or books, or you could go out on a field trip or interview people.
Gather information using sketchbooks, notebooks, drawings, audio recordings, video footage, and photographs. Create a scrapbook of your work.

Planning and storyboarding

When you’ve completed your research, pupils should begin to develop ideas for their film. They should identify areas of their research that they would like to focus on. They could split into smaller groups to plan and then storyboard their idea. A storyboard is a visual guide to their film. This will help them to work out what artwork they need to make.

Download storyboard-template.pdf
<b>Script writing </b>

Script writing

At the same time as storyboarding, pupils can work on ideas for a script or voice over. They should think about whether they want their film to have a narrator or whether they want their characters to speak. If pupils don’t want to speak in their film, they could use text to share information.

Making cut out characters

Characters for cut out animation, like puppets, are broken down into sections - head, body, arms and legs - and then held together with blu tack or split pins.

Check out this short film which will guide you through the process.
<b>Artwork, backgrounds, sets & props</b>

Artwork, backgrounds, sets & props

Pupils will need to create their backgrounds, sets and props. They need to make sure that their backgrounds are big enough to fit their cut out on. The storyboard will help pupils to work out the backgrounds, sets and props that they need to make. Pupils will need to draw their backgrounds in landscape orientation.


To animate your characters you need something like a camera and computer, tablet or mobile phone to record and edit your work. The process of animation involves capturing a series of still images which, when viewed in quick succession, appear to move by themselves. Using the cut out characters and your choice of animation set up, pupils need to
record their characters. Check out this short film which will give you some tips and advice.


Once all of your work is filmed you need to export your clips for editing. Most apps and software are straight forward in how to save your work for editing, but use Help guides if you’re stuck. Most editing software has a similar layout which includes a viewer, which shows your work as you play it, a timeline, where you can add your clips, and a list of your content. When editing, add your clips to the timeline in the order you want them to play in. You can cut clips up and move them around. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle. You can add music, sound effects and voices.


If you are sharing your film beyond school is important to have permission to use any material owned or created by someone else whether it’s a soundtrack, sound effects, video clips or still images. There are ways to comply with copyright. If you have a piece of music that you would like to use, you could approach the record company or licence holder to request permission. Copyright free images are available on Wikimedia Commons.
<b>Evaluation and sharing</b>

Evaluation and sharing

Share your films in class and then have an ‘Ask the Animator’ session. Find out how each group thought the animation process went, ask if they had any problems and how they solved them, discover what they would change or do differently next time, and find out what they
thought worked best. You could share your animation, talk about the process, and display some of your artwork for an assembly project. Or you could invite parents, family and friends to a special showing of your work. You might want to share your film on the school website.

Development Activity:

A great way to introduce animation, and to start learning about the process, is to have a go at making a flip book. In this link you will be guided through the steps to make a two picture flip book: How to flipbook

Once you’ve had a go at making a flip book with two pictures, try making a longer sequence using as many drawings as possible. Try using a booklet of post-it notes. Start at the back of the booklet so that you are able to see where your previous drawing is when you’re tracing the next one. Don’t separate the pages. With a two picture flip book you are limited to a looped movement. With a longer flip book you can create a longer sequence of action like someone running or a vehicle moving across the page.

For a basic introduction to the different types of animation and a brief history of its development there is another lesson plan on CultureStreet which may help. Animation lesson plan Pupils can research other animation techniques such as traditional drawn, model or stop motion, or computer. They could find out about animators and film studios who produce animated films. You might want to have a film festival.

With the knowledge gathered so far, pupils can develop their own animated film ideas and try working with different materials. Pupils should begin by identifying an animation technique and materials that they would like to work with. They should consider which technique will suit their idea or story. They can work in groups of four or five and identify suitable production roles.

There are a number of films on CultureStreet made by children and young people about the local history of the area where they live which you might find useful to get inspiration for your project.
Apples and Pears is about the heritage of Worcester and Titanic is about the history of shipbuilding in Belfast.

Learning Objectives:

Through using this lesson plan students should have a better awareness of their local history and heritage.
They should also develop a better understanding of the different animation techniques.
Through making an animated film, students can develop their knowledge of the animation process.
They will also improve problem-solving and team-working skills.

Research, Notes and Links:

Download this lesson plan

For copyright free music you could visit websites such as or who offer free and copyright free music and sound effects. You could also try or for licence free and Creative Commons licensed music. No matter what you use, always credit the artist, creator or owner. To avoid a copyright headache altogether, you could create your own music and sound effects.