Activity: On the Move

We've seen works of art that pretend to move, but how can you make a picture that REALLY zooms by? Here are a few ways to go about it.

flip book
Have you ever seen a flip book? It’s a small storybook made only of drawings. There is one drawing on every page, each one “telling” a different part of the story. When the pages are flipped quickly, the pictures actually seem to move. It’s like watching a movie with a beginning, middle, and end. Flip books are fun to make and use. Here’s how to make one with drawings you've created by hand.

You will need:
• a pencil
• thin markers or colored pencils
• an unlined pad of stiff paper (about 4 x 6 inches)


Think of a simple story or event that you want to show in your flip book. Remember, it should have a beginning, middle, and end. Some ideas to consider are:
• a balloon blowing up and popping
• a horse jumping over a fence
• a car zooming down the street
• a flower blooming--the example is shown below

You will need to think of every single step in your story because a flip book needs at least 25 pages to work well. Every drawing must be slightly different, showing a progression from the previous one.

Start with the first sheet of paper in the pad. Draw your first picture near the edge of the pad so it can easily be seen when the pages are flipped. (You may want to sketch in pencil first, and then use the markers or colored pencils to fill in the shapes.)

Turn to the next page and begin your second drawing. Look at your first drawing as a guide. There should only be a small difference between the two pictures.

Continue your drawings until your story is completed.

Make a cover for your flip book with a title and a picture.

Now flip the pages from front to back and watch your story in action.

computer art
If you have a printer and know how to use a paint or drawing program, you can create pictures with your computer. Use any graphics program to create a picture you like, then save it as Picture 1. Reopen Picture 1, make slight changes to the shape, color, or design, and save the file as Picture 2. Keep repeating this process until you have at least 25 slightly different pictures. They should all be about the same size. When you have enough pictures to tell your story, print your files. Trim the blank space surrounding the image and glue each picture onto a separate page of an art pad. (Be sure to keep them in order and paste them close to the edge, so you can see them while flipping through the book.) Decorate the cover and give it a title.

Another way to do this is to use the same image over and over again, suggesting movement by adjusting its placement on the page. For example, you could print out 25 pictures of a car, then paste the first one at the far left edge of the book. On each page that follows, gradually move the car toward the right side. As the pages are flipped, the car will seem to drive across the scene. (You can also paint or cut out and paste different backgrounds on different pages, so that the car seems to travel through a landscape or a city.)

To save time and paper, you can create more than one picture on a page and then print and cut out the art. Here’s how. Select the image you've just drawn and use the copy command to duplicate it. Then paste that image into the same document. Now you should have two pictures side by side that are exactly alike. Change the shape or color in your picture to make it a bit different from the first one. Copy the second picture, paste it back into the document, and change it. That will be picture 3. Repeat the copy-and-paste process, making a slight change to your picture each time. After you have assembled at least 25 different images, print the document, and then use a pair of scissors to cut out the pictures and paste them onto the pages of your flip book.

If you have an animation program on your computer (many free or shareware programs are available online), you can make a mini-movie. Here's how. Each picture should be the same height and width. You'll need to number the image files (for example: 01.gif, 02.gif, 03.gif, and so forth) and save them as gif images. Each picture will be a separate frame in your animation. (If you know how to use layers, you can save time by placing all your pictures in one file, with each image stacked on top of the next one in overlapping layers. Once you have all of them in the order you like, export the layers as a gif animation.) You can also set the length of time each frame will be displayed.

On the computer, you don’t need many frames to make your image “move.” Sometimes just two or three different drawings are enough to suggest motion.

Here’s an example of the same flower we used in the flip book. Each of the four frames is visible for half a second. You can create an animation that plays once and stops, or you can set the animation to loop (which means it starts over when it gets to the end of the sequence). The last frame is blank to let people know the movie is starting over.

Now look at the cat drawing on the right. Can you count how many frames were used to create this animation? They go by quickly and there are a lot more frames than you might think! Would you like to see how this was made? Are you ready to create your own gif animation now? Why not give it a try.

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