Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Business of Animation Logo

Exploring the World of Paper Cut-Out Animation: Tips & Techniques

ben marvazi 2020

Make More Money as an Animator

Check out our FREE TRAINING on How Animators Can Make Over $10,000 Per Month

"Animation is a form of escapism that allows us to dream and explore limitless possibilities."

Walt Disney

Aspiring animators and studio owners, allow us to welcome you to an artistic universe that has continually fascinated audiences for decades – the realm of paper cut out animation

This art form provides a dynamic and tactile method of storytelling that can breathe life into your animation repertoire. Unfolding the intriguing nuances and unique aesthetics of paper cut out animation could indeed be the creative spark you've been seeking.

COver GIF by Xbox via GIPHY

Unfurling the Canvas of Paper Cut Out Animation

The Essence of Paper Cut Out Animation

a black butterfly with white dots made from paper cut out animation fluttering its wing on a piece of bark which is sitting on a piece of paper on a desk

GIF by Nayan and Vaishali via GIPHY

Peering into the heart of paper cut out animation, we find an animated technique where flat characters, props, and backgrounds, meticulously crafted from materials like paper, card, or even fabric, take center stage. 

These tangible elements are manipulated painstakingly, frame by frame, to create a captivating illusion of movement, an enchanting process that leaves audiences captivated by its simple, yet striking charm.

The Allure of Paper Cut Out Animation

a panda bear character with a small girl standing next to it looking annoyed whilst an owl like character tries to explain something whilst holding a piece of paper

GIF by Xbox via GIPHY

But why should one consider diving into paper cut out animation? The allure lies in its extraordinary scope for creativity and individual expression. As animators manipulate real, tangible materials, they get to experiment with an array of textures, vibrant colors, and innovative lighting techniques. 

These interactions weave a tactile magic that sets paper cut out animation apart from its 2D or 3D counterparts.

The Legacy of Paper Cut Out Animation

a paper cut out animation of a tree blossoming in pink flowers with bees that come to drink the nectar on a sunny day with other trees in the background

GIF by Mighty Oak via GIPHY

Paper cut out animation is by no means a recent invention. This enchanting art form has captivated audiences for decades. Celebrated examples include Terry Gilliam's Monty Python animated segments that brought a dash of surrealism to television screens. 

Not to forget, the acclaimed animated series South Park, which used this technique during its initial episodes, creating an unforgettable impact.

Mastering the Art: Techniques to Excel at Paper Cut Out Animation

Choosing Your Materials: The First Step towards Creating Paper Cut Out Animation

different color and textured paper cut out animation materials that forms a rainbow of star like patterns within itself

GIF by Scott Gelber via GIPHY

The first step to creating compelling paper cut out animation is selecting the right materials. While the name implies the use of paper, don't limit yourself. Exploring different materials like card stock, fabric, or even foam can bring added depth and texture to your animation. 

Thicker materials also tend to be more durable and easier to manipulate, crucial factors when it comes to stop-motion animation. You can also experiment with various colors and patterns to give your characters and settings a unique personality that aligns with your narrative.

The Groundwork: Designing and Crafting Your Characters

a burger character made from paper with eyes arms and legs and it is waving its one arm up

GIF by noelia lozano via GIPHY

The secret to creating compelling paper cut out animation lies in the effective design and accurate crafting of your characters. Your characters are your stars, and their appearance can make or break your animated piece. 

Give your characters a unique personality, and take the time to cut out your characters with precision. Each part, such as limbs and facial features, should be separate to facilitate realistic movement.

Visualizing Your Animation: The Power of Storyboarding

sketched storyboard of human characters changing from scene to scene

GIF by Alex Boya via GIPHY

Storyboarding is a critical step in the process of animation. Before you begin the painstaking process of moving and photographing your characters, you must have a clear plan for your animation sequence. 

This preparation includes understanding how your characters will move, interact with each other, and react to the environment. A well-planned storyboard can significantly streamline your animation process.

How To Start An Animation Studio - Businesss of Animation

Looking to Elevate Your Business Skills as an Animator?

Unlock your potential with our FREE Masterclass

Our free masterclass is the perfect opportunity to do just that. You'll learn what you need to take your animation business to the next level.


Breathing Life into Your Characters: The Animation Process

a white bird with a red yellow and green tail and a small yellow character with a party hat conversing with each other and the bird is jumping up and down

GIF by Olobob Top via GIPHY

With your storyboard ready and characters poised, you're now ready to bring your story to life. Using a stop-motion technique, you will move your characters bit by bit, capturing each minute adjustment with a camera. This process requires an artist's patience and a storyteller's vision, but the result is truly magical.

Lighting and Photography: Essential Aspects of Paper Cut Out Animation

When it comes to paper cut out animation, the importance of proper lighting and photography cannot be overstated. The way you light your scenes can dramatically alter the mood and overall visual appeal of your animation. Experiment with different lighting angles and intensities to create the desired atmosphere. 

As for photography, ensure you have a stable setup. Any inadvertent movement of the camera between shots can disrupt the fluidity of your animation. Consider investing in a sturdy tripod and a quality camera to get the best results. You might also want to learn about various camera angles and how to effectively use them in your animation for an enhanced visual storytelling experience.

Perfecting Your Animation: Post-Production

editing the color offset in post production editing software

GIF by Kinter Media via GIPHY

After you've captured all the frames, it's time for post-production, where your collected frames get strung together to create your final animation piece. Using software like Adobe After Effects or Dragonframe, you can edit your frames, adjust timings, add effects, and stitch your story together, bringing your characters and narrative to life.

Conclusion: Realizing Your Vision with Paper Cut Out Animation

a paper cut out animation of a telephone that lifts itself up and the word "hello!' comes out of it

GIF by Maze Visuals via GIPHY

Diving into and mastering paper cut out animation offers a fantastic opportunity to diversify your animation skills and add a unique tool to your storytelling repertoire. Remember, this intricate art form, like any other, demands practice, persistence, and above all, a deep-seated passion for bringing stories to life.

However, this creative journey need not be traveled alone. Our Animation Business Accelerator program is designed to accompany and guide you every step of the way. Our comprehensive on-demand video lessons help you understand the nuances of various animation forms, including paper cut out animation. 

Join our Animation Business Accelerator Program today and sign up for a free strategy session. Here, we go over why you're not achieving the level of success you desire and get advice on what steps you need to take to live your dream life. We also encourage you to check out our informative blog on "How to Start an Animation Studio" for a detailed guide on establishing your own animation business.

So, gather your artistic spirit and step into the captivating world of paper cut out animation. With every character you create and every story you tell, you'll be adding your unique touch to this timeless art form. Your creative journey awaits!

rocket for boa

Lacking Business Skills as an Animator?

Transform your animation skills into a profitable business with our expert-led free training.
Business of Animation Footer Logo
Helping Animators Succeed

Feeling Stuck in Your Animation Career? Learn How to Break the $10,000 Per Month Barrier!

crossmenuchevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram