module specification

CU4010 - Introduction to Drawing and Animation (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Introduction to Drawing and Animation
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 300
219 hours Guided independent study
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Oral Examination 30%   History of animation research individual presentation (10 min)
Coursework 60%   Two short animations demonstrating different techniques (2 x 10 seconds) and developmental work
Oral Examination 10%   individual presentation of animation coursework (10 min)
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Tuesday Afternoon

Module summary

This module is an introduction to 2D animation production practices. These practical skills are supported by theoretical reference to the conventions of narrative cinema, and the working practices of related areas such as animation, film and video production.

The module introduces concepts, production methods, and techniques from the animation industry and related areas. It provides an historical perspective, examining traditional animation craft skills as well as contemporary industrial practice. The module introduces skills in drawing, acting for animation, cell frame animation, lens-based animation (Claymation, stop motion, pixilation), and computer animation.

Concepts, techniques, and principles that enhance the design and production of linear narrative, character and environmental design are introduced, and students’ skills in these areas developed. Students will be able to effectively represent character, emotion, movement and narrative.

Principles will be introduced through lectures, demonstrations and participative sessions with practical techniques explored in workshops.


  1. Individual presentations and supporting documents
  2. Two short animations demonstrating two different techniques (2 x 10 seconds) together with developmental work

Module aims

The aims of this module are to introduce students to :

  1. The animation industry, its history and practices.
  2. Drawing techniques, in particular the rendering of the human form.
  3. An understanding of character acting, movement and gesture for animation.
  4. A range of animation techniques.
  5. Self-presentation and promotional skills.

The module will include the introduction of skills in the following:
Observational drawing - anatomy and proportion, composition, expression, performance and the analysis of human and animal motion.
Composition and cinematic language.
Design and development processes, asset-management.
Production pipeline for simple animation projects.
Animation techniques such as; cell animation, lens–based animation, (e.g., stop-motion, claymation, pixilation) Computer animation


  • Basic principles of animation and the pipeline process of how to integrate traditional skills and computer-based skills to produce a range of animation styles and techniques;
  • Contemporary animation and games industries, their working practices, and opportunities offered for employment;
  • History of animation, and industrial practices of the traditional and computer-based animation industries;
  • Observational drawing, with a focus on attributes of an image (e.g., line, tone, markmaking, texture, colour);
  • Anatomy and proportion, composition and expression;
  • Analysis of motion of humans, animals and objects using digital capture, sketching techniques, and acting and performance methods;
  • Visual research (e.g., public resources such as galleries and the local environment);
  • Developing and communicating visual solutions in a structured way (e.g., various types of storyboard), visual storytelling utilizing cinematic techniques such as creative use of cameras, lenses and editing techniques;
  • Construction of narrative, character, environment, and props, mise en scène;
  • Traditional techniques such as; onion-skinning, tweening, key framing and inbetweens, straight ahead, versus pose-to-pose animation, paths of action, etc;
  • Stop motion and digital photography techniques, including pixilation, animated gifs and Claymation;
  • Relationship between sound and images in animation; Lip-sync and how to make a character speak using substitution animation;

Learning and teaching

The module will make use workshop sessions. New knowledge, skills, and techniques are offered in short interactive lectures, brief seminars and technical demos, inserted into workshop setting at the start and throughout as required. Students will learn through guided experience and practice in hand on workshops (3 hours).

In addition students are expected to spend time carrying out research connected with the subject, visiting exhibitions and museums, reading and practising their skills.

Appropriate blended learning approaches and technologies, such as, the University’s VLE and online tools, will be used to facilitate and support student learning, in particular, to:

  • deliver content;
  • encourage active learning;
  • provide formative and summative assessments, and prompt feedback; 
  • enhance student engagement and learning experience.

Learning outcomes

On completion of the module students should be able to demonstrate:

LO1: An awareness of the history and current production practices in the animation, effects and games industries as demonstrated through projects illustrating key concepts – (as in, the analysis of character and narrative, socio-political, historical and geographic environment, atmosphere and props), evidenced by sketches and diagrams, and oral presentation skills.

LO2 - Understanding of the fundamental principles of animation (e.g., squash and stretch, anticipation, staging, straight ahead action and pose to pose, follow through and overlapping action, secondary action, timing, exaggeration, etc.)

LO3 - Understanding of and ability to use computer skills and design methods to produce a range of styles and techniques for animation and effects - to include: lens based techniques such as Claymation, Pixillation, and stop motion, traditional and computer based techniques, such as, cell-frame animation, parenting, puppeting, rigging, onion-skinning, keyframing, tweening, etc.

LO4: Provide evidence of a general understanding of legal, ethical, social and professional issues relevant to working practices – to include issues such as intellectual property, career development and employer requirements.

L05 - Understanding and skills in observational drawing, and research into drawing techniques, such as an investigation into the attributes of the image (e.g., line, tone, shape, texture, and colour), the capture of human and animal anatomy and motion, (including structure and proportion), the visual analysis of character, environment, atmosphere and props.

Assessment strategy

This module will be assessed by 60% individual coursework and 40% oral presentation.

1. Oral presentations : individual research into history or contemporary industry practice and students own practice  40% (LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5,)

2. Two short animations demonstrating different techniques (2 x 10 seconds) and developmental work 60%. (LO1, LO2, LO3, LO5,)

Students will produce a range of drawn and pre production work including sketchbooks/ workbooks in which they will capture and keep ideas, images, reference material and concepts, character designs and storyboards and technical working methods for animation. They will produce two short animations based on the preproduction work.



Eisner, W. (2008) Expressive anatomy for comics & narrative London, Norton ISBN: 978-
Hart, C. (1997) How to draw animation New York, Watson-Guptill
ISBN 0-8230-2365-6 [CORE]
Hart, C. (2000) Human anatomy made amazingly easy New York, Watson-Guptill
ISBN 0-8230-2497-1
Simon, M. (2000) Storyboards: Motion in Art Boston, Focal Press
ISBN 0-240-80374-4. Ebook also available
Stanchfield, W. (2009) Drawn to life: 20 golden years of Disney master classes. Vol. 1
London, Focal Press ISBN: 978-0-240-81096-6
Tillman, B. (2011) Creative character design London, Focal Press.
ISBN: 978-0-240-81495-7

Acting for Animators

Hooks, E. (2011) Acting for Animators Abingdon, Routledge
ISBN 9780203816226
Kundert-Gibbs, K. (2009) Action!: Acting Lessons for CG Animators Indianapolis, John
Wiley & Sons ISBN 0470227435. Ebook also available
Madden, M. (2005). 99 ways to tell a story London, Jonathan Cape
ISBN: 978-0-224-07925-5


Furniss, M. (1999), Art in motion: Animation aesthetics London, John Libbey & Co Ltd,
ISBN 1864620390 16
Muybridge, E. (1984) The Male & Female figure in motion New York, Dover
publications. ISBN 0-486-24745-7
Shaw, S. (2008) Stop Motion: Craft Skills for Model Animation Burlington, Focal Press
ISBN 9780240520551 0240520556
White, T. (1986) The Animator’s Workbook Oxford, Phaidon
ISBN 0-8230-0229-2
White, T. (2009) How to make animated films Amsterdam, Focal Press
ISBN 978-0-240-81033-1 [CORE]
Williams R (2001) The Animator’s Survival Kit London, Faber and Faber
ISBN 0571202284 [CORE]

History of animation / contextual studies

Beck, J. Ed (2004) Animation Art Flame London, Tree Publishing
ISBN 1-84451-140-5
Bendazzi, G. (1995) Cartoons: One hundred years of cinema animation London, John
Libby & Co Ltd. ISBN 0253311683
Collington, M. (2016) Animation in Context A Practical Guide to Theory and Making
London, Fairchild Books. ISBN 9781472578280 [CORE]
Faber, L. & Walters, H. (2004) Animation Unlimited London, Laurence King Publishing
Wiedemann, J, Ed. (2004) Animation Now London, Taschen
ISBN 3-8228-2588-3
Pilling, J. (1997) A reader in animation studies London, John Libbey & Co Ltd, ISBN
Pintoff. E, (1998) Animation 101 California, Michael Wiese
ISBN: 0-941188-68-X
Thomas F.W and Johnston, O. (1997) Illusion of Life: Disney Animation NY, Hyperion
Press ISBN 0786860707 [CORE]
Van Sijll, J. (2005) Cinematic Storytelling: The 100 Most Powerful Film Conventions [CORE]