High School

Animation 1a

0.5 Credits
18 weeks
artist illustrator painting drawing on digital touch tablet with stylus illustration creation process

Have you ever watched a cartoon or played a video game where the animation of characters captivated you so much you wanted to create your own? If so, it’s time to immerse yourself in the world of animation. Meet the industry players such as directors, animators, and 3D modelers. Develop your story by exploring design, the 12 principles of animation, creating a storyboard, and leveraging the tools of the trade. Let’s bring your story to life with animation!

During this course, you will learn career-related skills and earn a badge for this accomplishment. A badge is a digital certification of your career-related learning that you can share on social media and higher education platforms, or with colleges, potential employers, peers, and colleagues. Select this link to learn more about badges.

Major Topics and Concepts

Unit 1: Basics of Animation

As a kid, you had your favorite cartoon to watch. You never missed a show, you probably binge-watched entire seasons in one day, and you were always left wanting more. But as you became more and more engrossed by the magic unfolding before your eyes, one question kept creeping into your mind: How did they do that? Not a question that can be easily answered; and soon the voice asking that question grew louder and louder in your brain until it was impossible to think of anything else, and your thirst for knowledge needed to be quenched. This has led you here, right now, to learn the secrets of this magical world; and make no mistake, this is magic. After all, magic is really just unexplained science. So let’s dive into that science.

Unit 2: Hand-Drawn Animation

Have you ever told a story to your friends? Maybe it was something exciting that just happened to you? In the moment of retelling that awesome experience, what do your hands tend to do? Humans move their hands when telling a story, especially when it makes them passionate. Now imagine people love your story so much that everyone wants to hear it, and sometimes more than once. Are you going to retell the same story over and over again? What if there were a way it could be retold without repeating yourself to every person who wants to hear it, but—and here’s the catch—you still get to use your hands? Dating back to the tales of the earliest cave dwellers, prehistoric humans figured out how to retell a story consistently. Welcome to hand-drawn animation.

Unit 3: Camera Animation and Camera Angles

Thor lies beaten under the boot of Thanos who is about to strike him with a final blow. Suddenly, Thanos is struck by Mjolnir, the hammer only Thor is able to wield. Thanos turns to see who performed the impossible feat, and he can’t believe his eyes. Standing before him, wielding the hammer and challenging him to a fight, is Captain America. Great moments like these are remarkably memorable, but they can’t be executed without making the right decision about where to position the camera. Get ready to master the role of the silent character that most audience members overlook: the camera.

Unit 4: The Computer Animation Industry

Ever wonder how magicians create magic in movies and video games? The magicians we’ll be talking about are directors, animators, and 3D modelers, and their magic wands are computers, capable of performing an infinite number of algorithmic formulas that are too difficult to solve with calculators. Come inside and see how something created so easily in the imagination comes “alive” in the virtual world of computer animation.

Unit 5: Digital 2D Animation

It’s time to create computer animation! Now that you have knowledge about how animation works, it’s time to put that knowledge into practice by creating an animation cycle—that is, an animation specifically made to be looped—commonly used in the industry. To do this, you’ll get to try out a new animation tool: the animation software known as Tupi.

Unit 6: Animated Emotion

People directly communicate to one another through emotions. If animation is to succeed at simulating the real world, it is only natural to expect that animators will understand how facial expressions and body movement works. The main purpose of creating a film or interactive story is to communicate a message to the audience—that is, what the animators want the audience to experience when watching it. In this unit, you will think about what kind of message you want to express to the audience and how to communicate that message through animation.

Unit 7: Visual Storytelling

Want to go to the movies? Well, why do people go? Because of the story! It draws them in and makes them care about the characters, and it lets them immerse themselves in another world. Storytelling dates back to the days of the cave dwellers, and it remains the best way to entertain modern humans. How do you make sure your story will captivate the audience? We have the secrets and the tricks right here—come along and we will tell you a story about telling a story!

Unit 8: The Tools We Use

The ever-growing number of tools used in both the video game and film industries seems to increase by the month. Each tool extends the boundaries of the cutting-edge technology used to confound the minds of amazed audience members—which includes skeptical professionals who you might well think had already seen it all. In this unit, you will be introduced to the core tools that form the foundation of video game and film production and learn how to apply them for the purposes of your own animation.

Course Materials

Required Materials

  • Pencil
  • Drawing paper
  • Device with photo capabilities
  • Notebook or Post-its, or some kind of book where pages are stacked and attached on one side so that you can flip the pages
  • Paper
  • Colored Pencils
  • Markers
  • Three lights (e.g., two lamps and a flood light) to set up a three-point lighting system.
  • Several sheets of paper that contain a storyboard template
  • Word-processing software
  • TupiTube Desk Version 0.2.16
  • Spreadsheet software
  • One or more actors
  • Software application that allows 2D drawing, such as Adobe Photoshop, 2D CAD, or Kami
  • Simple video editing software to combine your shots into one video clip (OpenShot, Blender, and Movie Maker 10 are examples of applications that are available for free. Windows 10 has a built-in video editing app.)
  • Presentation Software


Animated Emotion

Students will demonstrate an understanding of animated emotion by explaining the rules of motion in animation, describing styles of expression, and explaining communication through animated emotion.

Animation Fundamentals

Students will demonstrate an understanding of animation fundamentals by explaining the history of animation, comparing animation techniques, and describing the principles of animation.

Animation Tools

Students will demonstrate an understanding of animation tools by describing tools used in the animation industry, and explaining the application of tools in production.

Camera Animation

Students will demonstrate an understanding of camera animation by describing camera angles used in animation, comparing the effectiveness of camera angles, and explaining camera movements.

Computer Animation

Students will demonstrate an understanding of computer animation by explaining challenges in media animation, describing the creation of animated media, and summarizing the impact of technology on the computer animation industry.

Digital 2D Animation

Students will demonstrate an understanding of digital 2D animation by explaining tools in the Tupi interface, creating an animation cycle, and explaining timing in animation.

Hand-Drawn Animation

Students will demonstrate an understanding of hand-drawn animation by describing the history of hand-drawn animation, differentiating forms of hand-drawn animation, and explaining the effect of animation on society.

Visual Storytelling

Students will demonstrate an understanding of visual storytelling by differentiating types of story patterns, explaining the importance of story in animation, and creating a storyboard for animation.