You Can Learn

Getting Started.  We have all, at some point in our lives, contemplated the possibility of a cute, cuddly, warm fuzzy animal of no particular shape, running across the margins of our text book.

This does not stir from a disinterest in the material within the textbook you intend on writing your flipbook animation.  You could draw something which enhances your course material.  Everyone has to get started somewhere, right?  This brings us straight to step one.

Step One.  Draw in your notebook.  Or textbook.  Whatever you find handy enough to create your hand-drawn flipbook.  Don't be too overly ambitious.  Give your self a project that you know you can finish, and have no expectations about the result.  Here's a question to ask yourself afterwards when you're done:  does it accomplish what you set to accomplish?

Of course it does!  You're on Flipbook Island!
Examine the image that you see at the top of the page.  It's called "Shape," although it's really about layering.  Note how on the top image, all you see is just two straight lines (one very thin below the thick one) and another, in the form of a hill.  That's layer one, and layer one is the first layer you draw.  Now, notice that on that hill, I have added three circles (the lines between the circles are just to show the distance), and a small shrub on the other side of the hill.  That would be layer two.

In layer three, you can see that I've added a body to the cyclist.  That's important, as you know, because the cyclist needs to have shape.  These are all thinner lines, so the detail is greater in there.  That's why the body of the cyclist is its own layer.  You will find that each layer only should contain about three or four different elements, when getting started.  Meaning, that you should draw three or four lines every page per run.

What's a 'run' ?

A "run" or a "page run," as it's called, is a full flip of the animation that you're drawing.  If you are drawing a flipbook, a "writing run" is one in which a layer is added to the entire duration of the animation.  There are also "partial writing runs" in which you add elements that only last a few pages.


1.  You are adding a turtle to the bicycle.  The turtle is on every page of the notebook.  What is the classification of this type of addition?

a.  A full writing run
b.  A partial writing run
c.  Partial page run
d.  Fun

The answer is (d. Fun), although if you want to get technical, you could have also responded with (a).

A full writing run is one where you compose an entire layer over every page.  Does anybody realize we're still on step one???

The Truth About Step Two

You should think about step two before you start step one!  Perhaps I should have listed step two as step one in the first place, but chronologically step two happens after you're done making your flipbook.

Step Two.  Share it.  And by that, I mean give it to somebody else.  It's one thing to email your friend a link to a video.  It's entirely another thing to hand a physical object to that person and say, "here, this is yours."  Step two is the most crucial step in flipbooks, because without it, there would be no point to any of this.

With that, I say that you must consider the purpose of your flipbook before you write it.  That's going to be discussed in the section that I call "Layout."  Maybe you want to make a flipbook that goes with a song.  Perhaps then, you should draw it while listening to that album.  Or you'd like to make something significantly greater than a stick figure, which is practically one-dimensional.  Those are all things that you are going to understand by reading the Instruction Manual.

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