Animals in Action

Do you love animated films? If so, now is your chance to create your own mini-animation with some help from ZSL’s exhibit developer and animator – Tom Sears. Don’t worry if you’re not very good at drawing, you can make great animation using simple stick figures. So don’t be discouraged – let’s give it a go!

A red kangaroo at ZSL London Zoo.

Making, Doing

These little roos are very simple, and sit at the traditional end of animation. But there’s lots you can do to bring them to life.

  • Make a flick book

Print out the pictures from these pages. Stick them into a small notebook, remembering to glue them to only one side of a page – and rifle through the leaves to see the kangaroos leap!

  • Make a zoetrope

This traditional device brings images to life by spinning rather than flicking. You can make one at home with a round box or lid, some card or thick paper and an axle – there are plenty of instructions to be found online.

  • Make a film

After downloading these images, you can play the frames back to back on your computer to make a film. These 13 images should make a one-second animation that can be looped again and again to make your kangaroo hop for as long as you like.

Kangaroo Animation

Download here


Don’t Forget

  • Make these pictures your own by customising them with new details. Perhaps you could add a background such as the Australian outback – or try colouring in the kangaroo to make it a different colour?
  • These images form a ‘walk cycle’ – a complete movement that can be played over and over. If you’d like a longer animation, simply make multiple versions of each image and arrange the same sequence back to back – twice, 10 times, or even 100 times if you want!
  • If you do make a longer film, consider including other elements to add interest to the kangaroo’s movement. What about the sun rising high in the sky – or a bird flying past overhead?

Tom's Tips

  • Animation seems intimidating to start with, but you really don’t need much equipment. Just a pencil and a piece of paper is fine.
  • Do as much research and sketching as you can. At the zoo, watch animals moving and try to break down what they’re doing into very small stages.
  • It’s also good to be creative. Animation doesn’t need to imitate life exactly. Why not make your kangaroo jump 10 times higher than a real animal could?
  • Animation is laborious, so a trick of the trade is to pick a movement that repeats itself. This is known as a ‘walk cycle’.
  •  Don’t be too ambitious. Start off with simply drawings and slowly work your way up.
  • Whether drawing images or filming, make sure each frame is aligned to the one before. Professionals do this with a peg bar (£4 online) or you can attach your pages together with a hole-punch.
  • There are now many free smartphone apps and computer programs that can help create stop-motion animation.
  • Consistent lighting is important. For best results, animate inside and away from natural light.
  • Be patient! Animation is one of the most time-consuming forms of creativity, but keep at it and your efforts will be rewarded.