Serif in Education

Layered Animation

With the imminent release of the new “Minions” movie coming to our screens during June 2015, following the great success of the hit movies “Despicable Me” and “Despicable Me 2”, there has begun a wave of hysteria in shops and online.  Advertisers rushing to create the next minion-led accessory, social media going mad with minion-led quotes of the day, and parents not being able to move without passing a minion toy that their child just “has” to have.

In the past ten years animated movies really have leapt ahead in technique and effects.  Toy Story, the first feature-length computer-animated film and the first theatrical film produced by Pixar, has earned over $361 million worldwide.  Toy Story was inducted into the National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” in 2005, its first year of eligibility, with reviews praising its technical innovation.

But more frequently it seems, it is not just children who really do enjoy this animated world. There is something magical about seeing animated characters come to life.  And, it seems, animation does not have a time limit.

Timeout magazine have created their “Top 100 best animated movies of all time” – see here:  With their number one animated movie being Pinocchio (made back as far as 1940) it is clear animations can be enjoyed whatever your background, age, nationality or gender.  Even if you don’t understand the written language, the animation can keep you amused or make you feel emotionally connected through the pictures alone.

So what is animation?

Animation is the technique of photographing successive drawings or positions of puppets or models to create an illusion of movement when a film is shown as a sequence.  With regards to computer animation, this translates as the manipulation of electronic images by means of a computer in order to create moving images.

Creating animations doesn’t have to be costly or extremely time consuming, and can be created by using a few redundant items lying around your school.

The type of animation technique you decide to make will largely depend on the software available to you. There are a number of different file formats for animation. Two of the most widely used of these are animated GIFs and Flash/ShockWave (SWF) movies.

These can both be made in the Serif Design Suite using DrawPlus or MoviePlus.

As part of the school Computing curriculum, students should be able to create digital images and be able to organise, store, manipulate this digital content to develop work for a particular audience.

With layered animation projects students learn skills such as:

- graphic animation techniques (drawing, editing shapes, use of colour, lines)

- positioning and utilising text including different fonts for purpose

- importing, editing and optimising components ( images, sound, buttons)

- cutting, copying and pasting

- incorporating sound and editing

- frame rates

- motion guides

- looping

- skills in exporting animations in suitable file format


To see one of our tutorials on creating animations click here:

Computing is a great subject of study which can open doors for students and lead onto other methods of study such as “Creative and Digital Media” courses, and potentially a career as an animator. There are many routes into a career in this sector, and to inspire students, more information on how they can work towards a career in the industry (and for animators’ case studies) have a look here: