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animation station. creating 3d stories through the art of claymation. BHHS Ceramics. At this point you have learned 3 different techniques for building by hand- (slab, pinch, and coil)- and should feel comfortable using all of these methods.

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creating 3d stories through the art of claymation.

BHHS Ceramics


At this point you have learned 3 different techniques for building by hand- (slab, pinch, and coil)- and should feel comfortable using all of these methods.

Our final project of the semester will combine all of these techniques while allowing you to choose how much you use of each of these depending on comfort level.

Before you begin though, there is some information you need.



Claymation is a type of animation which makes use of stop motion photography. Animated items and characters are made of a pliable (clay) substance and reformed/ edited for each frame.

Some famous claymations include the film Wallace and Grommit , the cartoon show Gumby, and even a ‘mac vs pc’ commercial for apple.


Claymation uses a special type of clay called plasticine which is a non air drying modeling clay. Because of its continued malleability, plasticine is ideal for use in claymation as the character’s movements and expressions need to change in order to create a storyline.


In children’s stories especially the illustrations or frames must clearly demonstrate the story so that young readers who do not understand all the words, will still understand the story visually. It is the same for claymation. Figures, expressions, and even backdrops must clearly tell a story in order for it to be a claymation.

how to begin
How to Begin:

Claymation is simply another way of illustrating stories using 3d methods. As such, in order to begin our own version it helps to look at how one might begin to storyboard. Illustrators make it their job to depict the words through pictures. With illustration there is often a story to be depicted and not just an idea. Thus the need for organization of the images.

Storyboarding is a visual organization of the shots (frames) used in a movie, animation, or story. An artist who wants to tell a story uses this method as a sort of brainstorming method in order to begin.


Storyboards don’t just determine how the story is organized but also where to best place characters and how the background is to be laid out. Angles, viewpoints, and the frame’s emphasis will be found in these. Storyboarding often looks like an animation, but with notations added.


Animation, the foundation of claymation, is a fairly new form of art as it saw its invention in the 20th century. It is characterized by the repetition of a drawing with slight manipulations to create the illusion of movement. In claymation this is done with manipulations in the modeling. Animation has consisted mostly of “cartoon” characters but with new CGI graphics, is continuously moving towards more realistic representations.

With the birth of Disney, animation & claymation have continued to grow as a popular form of art since the 1920s. Today, many animated films are made each year, and Oscars go to the best of the best.



Animation Sequence



Your Assignment:

Because of our lack of plasticine, we will be creating claymations that will essentially be of one scene from a full story. HOWEVER, in order to create the best scene, you will still need to start this by creating your own storyboard.

1) Choose your story to illustrate. In order to make this easier, you may either write your own story OR choose an already established childhood story/ fairy tale. HOWEVER: If you choose a tale that has already been illustrated in some way, you MUST illustrate yours differently. AKA, I don’t want to see Disney. I’ve seen it before. Show me what you can do.



2) Create a storyboard that tells the story in 8-12 boxes. Sketches for the storyboard may use stick figures and may not be very filled in. The key thing is that each box clearly show placement and backgrounds. Add in details you feel are necessary.

3) With the help of the teacher, choose the most interesting box from your storyboard. This box should hold at least 2 characters and should have an interesting background.


4) Character Development.

Begin sketching to create your characters. To start, look through the handouts provided by the teacher for examples. Begin by deciding what kind of characters you want.




Then begin to sketch using basic shapes. Please follow along sketching on your paper:

Then, connect the shapes, creating an outline.


4) Your characters may or may not look like a natural body. Perhaps the upper body will be 2/3 of the entire length. It depends on you. Look through the handouts on hands, legs, expressions etc. to find ones that appeal to you. Your characters may be animals or may look nothing like a person. It is up to you.

Finish designing your characters.


5) Fill in your background design. Decide what items may need to be made from relief and which need to be 3d. In the end you should have a sort of diorama with a floor and 3 sides, and a setting placed within.


6) Finally, you can begin to sculpt your clay!

Begin with your background first as before you begin modeling characters, I will talk about how to make figures look 3d.