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COURSE NAME: "Introduction to Animation"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2023

INSTRUCTOR: Catherine Biocca
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: W12:30 PM 3:15 PM

Introduction to Animation provides an overview of concepts, tools, and techniques for creative animation. The course will cover elements of digital and analog drawing, modeling in 2D and 3D, storytelling, perspective and layout, and historical development of traditional animation and technologies. Though open to students of any level, it provides a possible practical continuation of foundational skills from previous experience with drawing, painting, or photography. The course also provides a historical and theoretical foundation to underpin creative development and expression through animation. Students will be introduced to basic drawing and visualization skills specific to animation, including perspective and layout, techniques for character design, methods for creating a framework and structure, and understanding the natural flow and movement of objects. The course aims to cover both the considered use of various techniques while encouraging experimentation and overlap between methods.


Students will be introduced to different animation techniques, such as frame-by-frame drawing, stop-motion, 3D modeling, and computer-generated animations through in-class demonstrations and exercises. These techniques will be applied to realize four projects over the semester, culminating in a personal portfolio at the end of the course. In addition to practical skills, lecture time will also cover animation as a concept, with a focus on the multitude of historical and practical approaches, using direct examples and investigating the medium from distinct points of view. Students will be expected to engage with these topics through in-class discussion and group critiques.


Demonstrate the ability to engage with a variety of techniques and materials in order to
explore creativity and visual expression creating and manipulating moving images.
Demonstrate technical competence in the knowledge of techniques and material and attest
an ability to coordinate them creatively and sensitively.
Demonstrate an ability to analyze and evaluate both the individual creative process and,
importantly, the work and practice of other professional artists of the field.


Portfolios: digital, video and/or web (30%) 30 %
weekly assignments (30%) 30 %
Midterm classroom critique (30%) 30 %
class attendance and participation (10 %) 10%

AWork of this quality shows excellent mastery of the course content along with exceptional levels of technical skill, artistic awareness, originality, resourcefulness, commitment, quantity of work and improvement. There has been excellent collaboration and leadership in group projects, and there have been no attendance problems.
BA highly competent level of performance with work that directly addresses the content of the course, with a good quantity of work produced.
CAn acceptable level of performance: the work shows awareness of the course content, but is very limited in quantity, quality, commitment and skill.
DThe student lacks a coherent grasp of the course material and has failed to produce much work.
FNegligent in attendance, academic honesty, engagement with the course content, or production of work.



Attendance is required.

Learners are expected to attend every class periodIf they are ill or have obtained an excused absence (in accordance with JCUs official attendance policies), learners are required to notify the instructor in a prompt and timely manner.  Furthermore, if learners must miss a class, they are responsible for acquiring the missed information and completing assignments before the next classMedical excuses without documentation from a physician are invalidUnexcused absences will affect your participation grade: 


2 unexcused absences = forfeit of one letter grade*.  

3 unexcused absences = forfeit of additional letter grade. 

4 unexcused absences = forfeit of additional letter grade and mandatory student meeting with instructor and department chair. 

5 unexcused absences = Five unexcused absences (one third of the course experience) will prevent you from passing the course.  


*Refers to learners’ participation letter grade. 

As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.



Week 1
Course overview and course objectives. Students will be introduced to the concept of animation
and gain knowledge of historical and artistic aspects of the practice. We will focus on the history of
animation and early animation devices.
Week 2
We will begin exploring the formal aspects of animation, presenting different analogue and digital
working approaches.
Animation Fundamentals 1: Storyboarding, Thumbnail and Sketches, Principles of
Animation, Key-frames
Week 3
Students will continue to explore formal aspects, gaining an overview and structural knowledge of
basic animation.
Drawing Fundamentals 2: Backdrop and Character Design, Morphing, In-betweens, Cycles
Week 4
Students will begin working individually on assigned projects.
Principles of Animation and Project 1: Bouncing Ball, Introduction to PS essentials, Timing
and Spacing Charts, Squash and Stretch, Slow In, Slow Out
Week 5
Students will continue applying other technical aspects, such as timing and sequencing, to work on
their projects. By the end of class, students will finalize a 10-15 second animation
Principles of Amination: Introduction to Sequences
Week 6
A more demanding project will be initiated, including moving elements and background elements.
Project 2: Moving Character and Background, Storyboard, Layout and Background Design,
Character Development
Week 7
Project 2 will be finalized in preparation for the midterm critique.
Principles of Amination: Visual Rhythm, Transitions
Week 8
Midterm critique. The second project will be presented in class for critique. Students will receive
individual tutorial sessions with the professor to assess midterm grading.
Week 9
Students will begin their third animation project alongside a basic introduction to Final Cut Pro.
Project 3: Sunrise/Sunset, FCP Basic Animation, Key-framing
(position/scale/rotation/opacity), Anchor Points, Motion Paths, Frame-by-frame
Week 10
During this session the students will continue to work individually on their animations,
concentrating on the aesthetics of composition and balance of movement.
Project 3: Sunrise/Sunset; Morphing and Stretching with Gradients, Shapes, and Forms; Stop Motion; Visual Contrast
Week 11
Students will complete the third project, focusing on audio skills.
Project 3: Sunrise/Sunset, Adding Audio, Collecting and Importing Audio, Staging and
Synchronizing Image and Sound
Week 12
The final project will be elaborated, focusing on the creation of a character with synchronized sound
Project 4: Character with Sound, Character and Plot Design: The Model Sheet, Analog and
Digital, Character Sketch Exercise, What Makes a Character, Character Design: Puppet
Week 13
Students will continue working on their final project.
Project 4: Character with Sound, Working with Papercuts, Composition of a Scene,
Overlapping Action
Week 14
Students will focus on introducing and combining sound elements with their animation to finalize
the project. Instructions for the final portfolio presentation will be provided.
Project 4: Character with Sound, Animating a Puppet, Integration of Audio, Synchronization
of Sound and Animation
Week 15
Presentation of portfolio of course projects, group critique, and course feedback. Final grading.



Linda Holtzschue, Design Fundamentals for The Digital Age (1997)
Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, The Illusion of Life (1981)
Brian Lemay, Layout and Design Made Amazingly Simple (1993)
Preston Blair, Cartoon Animation (1994)
Friends of ED (publisher), Flash MX Studio
John Hart, The Art of The Storyboard: Storyboarding for Film, TV, and Animation (1999)
The course will be integrate with online research and didactic material.