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Learning how to draw means learning to see. A good art lesson teaches us not only to create but to look at, think about and understand our world through art.

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Saturday, October 24, 2020

Create your own 'Skeleton Dance' Animation: Inspired by the 1929 Disney Animated short film


This animation lesson was inspired by the 1929 Disney animated short, The Skeleton Dance:

Click here for the link to the Google Drive folder with all the animation assets for this project. 
Below is the video I created with all the instructions for the project:

Due to the Pandemic my students will be at home doing this lesson on their Chromebooks using Photopea and the Wick Editor websites, however you may also complete this project using Photoshop and Adobe Animate instead. Here are the instructions for using Photoshop and the 'bone tool' in Adobe Animate to create a dancing skeleton or figure:

Step 1: Open up the 'animation assets' folder and download the layered Photoshop file.
Step 2: Open up Photopea, log in to your account and open the file in Photopea
Step 3: Experiment with moving the character to create a dance
Step 4: refer to this 'Walk Cycle Worksheet':

Create a walk cycle, a series of sequential PNG images, for your skeleton.

Step 5: open up each one of your walk cycle images in Photopea and copy and paste them into one PSD. Line the layers of skeletons up so that they are all stacked on top of each other and then crop the PSD to get rid of any extra space on the canvas.
Step 6: Export your the layers of your PSD. This will download as a zipped file, which you will have to extract. 

If you are unable to unzip files on your Chromebook disregard step 5 and 6. Instead, just open up each file in your walk sequence, trim it and then re-download it.

Step 7: Experiment in the Wick editor with making your skeleton dance.

Step 8: Create a storyboard. Invent a story involving a skeleton or skeletons dancing, walking or moving. The storyboard should have at least 6 frames and a beginning, middle and end. Be as original and creative as possible. 

Step 9: Figure out a setting that involves a foreground, middle-ground and background so that your characters can move through three dimensional space and not just from left to right. You may use my skeleton or draw your own. You may include other characters, that you create, in your story. 

You may include any character that you have previously created for my class, as long as the character is original and not based on anything that is copyrighted by another artist.

You may also work with other students (of your choosing) and share each other's characters and backgrounds.

If you work with another student you must EACH create one character and you must EACH create one background that you will BOTH use. You will not be allowed to create the same storyboard or story as each other. Instead you will each create your own episodes or scenes of a story involving both characters. You may collaborate on developing the plot of your story and each animate different scenes that will later be edited together.

If you decide to work collaboratively with another student I will create a breakout room for you to discuss and brainstorm plot and character ideas.

I strongly suggest that you consider reusing characters from previous assignment to save yourself from extra work. 

You may use the characters from your 'turnaround' project.

If you plan on applying to art school or majoring in art in college, I strongly suggest that you create your own cartoon skeleton drawing for this assignment.

Keep your drawings as simple and cartoony as possible for this project so that you do not get so bogged down in details that you do not have time to finish.

Here is a tutorial on using the shape tool in Photopea to design your original characters and turnarounds:


I created the landscape above using the Photopea website on a Chromebook.
All the landscape assets are original. I did not use any clip art.
I was able to create the image using the shape tool, combining shapes, rasterizing them, warping them and transforming them.
The videos below explain how you can create your own setting, step by step:

Part 1: Creating the haunted house:

Part 2: Creating the mountains:

Part 3: Creating custom brushes and assembling the finished composition:

Part 4: Creating trees:

Part 5: Designing an interior space:

Part 6: Create your animation using the Wick Editor. Below is a playlist of instructional Wick Editor videos: 

Student Art Gallery
Below is a compilation of Skeleton Dance videos created by my students at Perth Amboy High School:

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