Design Exercise: Flip Book Animation

2 hands turning a flip book

Last week I talked about early animation techniques. So here is your chance to try one of these forms of animation while also exploring some of the design concepts covered in Design: A Beginner’s Handbook.

A flip book may seem like a child’s toy but it’s technical simplicity allows you  to easily investigate more complex subjects. There are flip books that come as free prizes with a child’s snack but there are also sophisticated examples made by artists and animators.

All you need to proceed is a stack of paper. You can use index cards, printing paper cut into 3” x 5” sheets, a small bound sketchbook or a stack of post-it-notes. Paper that is too thick will be hard to flip, while super thin paper such as tracing paper should be avoided. Try to keep your sheets of paper small since larger pages are hard to flip at an even pace.

You’ll start on the last page of your book, progressing page by page to the front. Working from the back makes the book easier to flip and it also allows the prior page to show through as you work, giving you a drawing guide. You need to have a slight change from one image to the next. For example, if you want objects to move then their position needs to change in small increments.

So, how many pages will you need? Traditionally, film uses 24 frames a second, and video uses 30. You do not need this level of detail for your book. Anywhere from 8 to 15 frames, i.e. pages, per second will work. Saturday morning cartoons are drawn at the low rate of only 6 to 8 frames a second.

Flip your book periodically as you work. If it’s too jumpy then add another page as an intermediate step between two drawings. When you’re done you can bind the pages together with a rubber band or a heavy binder clip.

Here’s a video that shows how to make a flip book.

So, what will be the subject of your book?

Select one or more of the design elements and principles covered in our book Design: A Beginner’s Handbook and use it in your flip book. Of course, you’ll be using the design principle of motion in your book but what other elements and principles can you include? Your book could be as simple as a circle that changes color from page to page (the element of color) or a line that changes direction and quality – from vertical to horizontal; from straight to wavy and smooth to hairy. Could you design a book where the focal point changes in the composition? What about playing with scale and proportion?

Here are two more examples to inspire you. One is motorized, the other uses multiple flip books as part of a music video.

Ornithology P. from Juan Fontanive on Vimeo.

Follow these links to see more examples of flip books…

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3 Responses to Design Exercise: Flip Book Animation

  1. Flip Book says:

    Good guide for making flipping books as a format. I love the page flip book animation it makes. Thanks again. Visit Our Story:

  2. Flip Book says:

    Awesome post! I’ve never considered a flipbook before, but they look really effective. A great and different way to grab people’s attention. I’ll have to definitely look into this further. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Flip Book says:

    I’m looking to get a flip book done tonight, thanks for this suggestion as I’ll put it to good use. Cheers!

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