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The Power of Paper-Craft: 5 Top Tips for Animating With Paper

Dan Richards Apr 23, 2019 Scroll to read in 2 minutes

Paper-craft animation is loved the world over thanks to its charm, striking aesthetic and accessibility. Cut out animation was one of the earliest forms of stop-motion and is still a firm favourite with audiences today – thanks in no small part to the early seasons of South Park. We love nothing more than using the versatility and adaptability of paper to push the boundaries of stop-motion, creating 3D sculptures, handmade crafted characters and immersive environments.

But what’s that we hear you cry? What are our top tips for animating with paper? Well, make yourself comfortable...

1. Clean Hands

I mean, animator or no animator everyone should always have clean hands. Personal hygiene is paramount people. That aside, when it comes to animating with paper it’s imperative that your hands are both clean and dry. Paper puppets are unforgiving to dirty paws, they will pick up every tiny crumb of filth. If your hands aren’t completely dry too then the paper will wilt and the puppet begins to appear worn very quickly. It’s a good life tip if nothing else, keep those mitts gleaming.

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2. Sharp Creases

Sharp, clean folds on a paper-craft object or character will help make it less likely that unwanted stressing or imperfections will appear. Each crease should have an aesthetic or technical purpose so not just to appear on camera as an unwanted dent or imperfection. This will also help make the puppet or object far easier to animate.

3. Delicate Handling

Paper can tire pretty quickly so delicate handling is essential. Light touches will avoid the ‘bobbling’ effect on the puppet or any colour fading in the most handled spots. As always, it’s a slow and steady approach that’s needed.

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4. Replacement Park

One of the benefits of using paper is the ability to design elements using 2D software. Similar to the way 3D printing has been used in traditional model making, designing assets using software allows you to create and cut out multiple versions or ‘replacements’.

5. Inventive

The nature of stop-motion often requires everyone involved in the production to think outside the box, no animation is the same, different puppets require different ways of constructing, rigging and animating. Paper-craft is no different, from animating on glass to inventing new ways to rig paper puppets, to having a stash of blu-tac on hand for all your production needs. Be prepared to be inventive.

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So there you have it, our tips on animating paper-craft.