ANI 101 Animation for Non-Majors

Winter 2017-2018
Class number: 20744
Section number: 201
TuTh 11:20AM - 12:50PM
LEVAN 00301 Lincoln Park Campus

Download syllabus


This course introduces a variety of basic animation techniques for cinema and gaming, such as hand-drawn, cutout, stop-motion and 2D, with an emphasis on the use of computer technology. Examples of diverse animation genres and styles (experimental, cartoon, anime, special effects, computer games) from different cultures will be screened and discussed. Students will explore the unique qualities of the medium through a series of hands-on projects that can be adapted to their own personal interests. They will learn about professional animation process (storyboard and animatic) during the production of a final project that encourages them to consider the role and potential of animation in our society.


Required Text:
Animation Cinema Workshop by Robbi Engler
Materials needed
- USB Flash Drive (1 gig minimum)
- Post-it note pad
- computer paper and a round-peg animation Peg Bar (available in campus bookstores)
- Notebook for screening diary
- Drawing materials (pens, markers, pencils etc)
- Headset to listen to the lectures in the lab
More supplies might be necessary as your work progresses.


For animation projects, I look at the amount of effort, content and overall attitude given to a project. For written assignments, I am looking for you to intelligently and meaningfully communicate critical ideas derived from screenings and research.

Course grade scale is as follows:
A = excellent. Work demonstrates superior comprehension, ability and effort.
B = above average. Work demonstrates very good comprehension, ability and effort.
C = average. Work demonstrates basic comprehension, ability and effort.
D = below average. Work demonstrates poor comprehension, ability and effort.
F = unacceptable. Work fails to demonstrate minimal comprehension, ability and effort

Grade breakdown:
Animation Projects: 75%
Flipbook 5%
Bouncing ball 5 %
Double take 10%
Cut-out character 15 %
Morph loop 15 %
Final project 25 %
Papers #1, #2, #3: 15% (5% each)
Participation 10%


There are no prerequisits for this course.

domain description and learning outcomes

Learning Domain Description
Ani 101 Animation for non-majors is included in the Liberal Studies program as a course with credit in the Arts and Literature domain. Courses in the Arts and Literature domain ask students to extend their knowledge and experience of the arts by developing their critical and reflective abilities. In these courses, students interpret and analyze particular creative works, investigate the relations of form and meaning and through critical and/or creative activity to come to experience art with greater openness, insight, and enjoyment. These courses focus on works of literature, art, theatre, or music as such, though the process of analysis may also include social and cultural issues. Students who take course in this domain choose three courses from such choices as literature, the visual arts, media arts, music, and theater. No more than two courses can be chosen from one department or program.

Learning Outcomes
Students will be able to explain, in well-written prose, what a work of art is about and/or how it was produced.
Students will be able to comment on the relationship between form and content in a work.
Students will be able to assess the formal aspects of their subject and put those qualities into words, using, when appropriate, specialized vocabulary employed in class and readings.
Students will be able to contextualize a work of art. They will be able to do so with respect to other works of art in terms of defining its place within a broader style or genre. They will also be able to contextualize a work of art in terms of contemporaneous aesthetic, social, or political concerns, discussing how these might shape the work?s reception and how that reception might differ amongst various peoples and historical periods.

How Learning Outcomes Will Be Met
We will be looking at many examples of animation covering a range of techniques, cultures, styles and animators. The selected films and clips are intended to inspire, instruct and introduce you to different ways of thinking about animation. You are required to keep a diary on the films screened and to engage in meaningful discussion about them.

Participation + Critiques
Participation is mandatory. Vocabulary, ideas, and information will be exchanged during group discussions, in critiques and during workdays. It is important that everybody be engaged in the exchange of ideas and participates, we learn from each other.
Group critiques will be held on the days the assignments are due. Critiques are essential in developing your ability to understand and discuss the formal and conceptual aspects of your work and the work of others. I expect everybody to contribute to critiques. All students must be present and participate in every critique. Treat the presentation of your work seriously. Come prepared to introduce your work and to describe your process.
Participation is graded, worth 10% of your grade.

Animation assignments
Animation is time consuming but worth it! Animation requires imagination, hard work, and commitment. Expect to invest several hours of work time per assignment.

1. Flipbook:
Make a flipbook animation in a post-it note pad (see Animation Bible p. 134-137) of a circle turning into something (anything of your choosing). Then have this something turn back into a circle, but use a DIFFERENT method of transformation. The total animation should take at LEAST 17 images. Bring the completed flipbook to the next class, and make sure that you have it in working order. Also, make sure you write your name on it.
Subjects covered: frame rate, morphing, line, key frames and in-betweens (basic).

2. Bouncing Ball
Make a 3 second bouncing ball animation in After Effects. The movie should be a 720x480 DV format QuickTime movie, H.264 compression, uploaded to the site BEFORE class. The ball should come from off-screen, bounce twice, and then leave the screen in the opposite direction. You can use the ball I've created in Photoshop if you'd like (ball01.psd).
Subjects covered: After Effects, layers, key framing, spacing, paths, Bezier handles, frame rates, video format, compression (H.264) importing files, exporting movies

3. Double Take:
An elaboration on the bouncing ball. Bring two objects/images into After Effects and animate them using two or more cartoon-ish techniques (squash and stretch, timing, etc).
The movie should be a 720x480 DV format QuickTime movie, uploaded to the site BEFORE class.
Subjects covered: Squash and stretch, spacing, speed graphs, complex key frames (separate keys for position, scale and rotation), exaggeration.

4. Cut out character animation:
Create a digital 2-D character of cutout shapes and/or body parts in Photoshop. Then make it walk across a background animating the parts in After Effects.
Subjects covered: Jointed characters, creating comps in Photoshop for AE, importing as cropped layers, rigging (anchor points and parenting), cycling

5. The Morph Loop:
This is a class project that begins with everyone drawing a character. You will receive another character drawing from a classmate. Using hand drawn in-betweens, all drawings will eventually morph into one another.
Subjects covered: Hand-drawn animation, peg bars, registration, character design, representing volume, line, morphing, planning, using Photoshop, scanning, Actions, batch processing, sequencing layers, pencil testing with AE.

6. Final project
The final project is a ten second animation in the style of your choice. You will submit a one page written proposal that explains your idea in detail, citing inspirations, intended design, and technique, as well as a storyboard. You will pitch your idea to the class, we will then discuss ways to best plan and structure your idea.

All assigned animation work (except the flipbook) must be completed and submitted through D2L one hour BEFORE class starts.
Any animation assignment (except the final project) can be re-done for an improved grade, as long as it was initially turned in on time. If you resubmit work, send me an email.

Writing Expectations
Students will be expected to complete a minimum of 5-7 pages of writing for this course.
How Writing Expectations Will Be Met
Papers #1, #2, #3
These three papers are to be written in response to films screened in class.
Each paper should strive to formally interpret the film in regard to style and content. Do not just describe the film but express your opinion about it and how it uses animation to create meaning. Compare it to other work that has been screened in class. Each paper should be 2 pages, double-spaced, typed, free of grammatical errors and must be turned in on D2L.

School policies:

Changes to Syllabus

This syllabus is subject to change as necessary during the quarter. If a change occurs, it will be thoroughly addressed during class, posted under Announcements in D2L and sent via email.

Online Course Evaluations

Evaluations are a way for students to provide valuable feedback regarding their instructor and the course. Detailed feedback will enable the instructor to continuously tailor teaching methods and course content to meet the learning goals of the course and the academic needs of the students. They are a requirement of the course and are key to continue to provide you with the highest quality of teaching. The evaluations are anonymous; the instructor and administration do not track who entered what responses. A program is used to check if the student completed the evaluations, but the evaluation is completely separate from the student’s identity. Since 100% participation is our goal, students are sent periodic reminders over three weeks. Students do not receive reminders once they complete the evaluation. Students complete the evaluation online in CampusConnect.

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism

This course will be subject to the university's academic integrity policy. More information can be found at If you have any questions be sure to consult with your professor.

Academic Policies

All students are required to manage their class schedules each term in accordance with the deadlines for enrolling and withdrawing as indicated in the University Academic Calendar. Information on enrollment, withdrawal, grading and incompletes can be found at

Students with Disabilities

Students who feel they may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the instructor privately to discuss their specific needs. All discussions will remain confidential.
To ensure that you receive the most appropriate accommodation based on your needs, contact the instructor as early as possible in the quarter (preferably within the first week of class), and make sure that you have contacted the Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) at:
Lewis Center 1420, 25 East Jackson Blvd.
Phone number: (312)362-8002
Fax: (312)362-6544
TTY: (773)325.7296