Introduction: Easy, Cheap, Animated Cartoon in 10 Minutes

Picture of Easy, Cheap, Animated Cartoon in 10 Minutes

I always liked to draw and was thinking of becoming a cartoonist as a kid, but the tedium of the technique at the time (1980s) drove me away. Now we have computers and everyone is making flash animations. Flash attracted me because you don't have to redraw the thing every frame, you just move it's pieces. However this severly restricts the expressiveness of ones creations. Also, you have to draw on a computer using a mouse or drawing tablet, neither of which worked ever gave me the results I wanted. So I tried claymation because this allows expressiveness without having to redraw the character each frame. Problem with this is the clay is hard to work with and a pain.
Finally I came up with a very easy and fun way to do animations which can be both expressive, do not require redrawing of the whole character each frame, and allow very easy modification: without messy erasing and without having to use a computer mouse or computer drawing tablet. For this method all you need is a 'dry erase' board ('whiteboard'), a usb camera, a computer, and some free software.

Step 1: Get Your Stuff Together

Picture of Get Your Stuff Together

You will need:

= one or more dry erase boards
(more than one is nice because you can do multiple scenes at the same time without erasing the same board over and over)

= a usb camera
I use a logitech quickcam chat, it's cheap and does the job. It also comes with a weird bendy mount which allows me to mount it on a tripod that I have.

= a computer
any old computer will work as long as it can run the software (see below)

= some free software
I use 'MonkeyJam' to make the initial animations, it's free and it's great, does everything you need to make nice animations.
I use 'Video Edit Magic' to do the post animation editing (adding music, sound effects, naration, etc). It's a very cheap, simple, and effective program.

Step 2: Set Everything Up

Picture of Set Everything Up

So set up the whiteboard on a table. Tape it down with double sided tape wo it won't shift while you draw and erase on it.

Mount the usb camera above it in a stable position. It's best to make some sort of mount that you can keep in place permanently, or at least for the time that it takes you to do your animation. If it gets shifted in reference to the whiteboard, it's annoying to reposition it to the exact same position, and then your animation will have a 'jump' in it.
I mounted my webcam on an old tripod that I foun on the street, I think the tripod was used for a high hat on a drum set.
You will probably not want to mount the webcam more than about a foot above the whiteboard, cause their resolution isn't that great.

plug the camera into your computer and start MonkeyJam

Step 3: Working With the Software

Picture of Working With the Software

Start MonkeyJam (free software mentioned with URL in step #2)

Click the button on the upper left (piece of paper with a star on it). This will create a new 'layer' in your animation.

Just click 'ok' in the box that comes up.
An orange labeled layer will appear.

Click the 'Open Video Capture Window' button (the thing to the right of the '10' button)

In the window that pops up, select 'stop motion' under the 'mode' menu.

Select your camera from the 'cameras' menu.

Then start drawing and click the 'capture' button whenever you want to make a new frame in your animation.

Step 4: Working With the Software Cntd.

Picture of Working With the Software Cntd.

you can check how your movie is looking so far bly clicking the 'preview movie' button.

When you're satisfied with your movie, click the 'exposure sheet as an Avi movie button.

Step 5: Put Your Animations Onto Youtube

Picture of Put Your Animations Onto Youtube
I was messing with 'windows movie maker' (comes with windows), and I noticed a 'narate' button. use that to add voices/sound to your animations (once they have been saved as videos).
You can also use windows movie maker for basic editing (add effects, etc).
Alternatively you can download VirtualDub from, it's free and allows basic video editing.


Put your animations onto YouTube so people can watch them. There aren't many aninamtions by nonprofessionals on there at the moment, I hope this will change after this instructable.

Here are some excellent books on animation:
How To Draw Cartoon Animals
How To Draw Real Animals
Film Directing Shot by Shot
Script Writing etc


Here are some short animations I did so far:

Have Fun!


kssn19 (author)2017-11-22

Made my first cartoon animation.This post was very helpful.

Thank you.

rhinogates (author)2014-05-19

I would like to make an animation using some good software. Just one problem:

I have a macintosh computer and cannot get that windows software. Any Mac alternatives?

feltonjones (author)rhinogates2014-12-21

I have a mac mini and loaded windows 7 so that I could use certain windows programs. Look up Bootcamp using the following link:

Good luck.

geekangle23 (author)2014-10-16

This is a very helping post, the info you shared here worth learning, Its cool and a attractive way to gain attention
easily by white
board animation and draw your business into the path of
success and sales.

joybrooki (author)2013-08-27

Wow, Amazing that's some cool stuff. I think we can make some nice video animation.

LE PETITE ARTISTE (author)2012-11-18


Talo12Filmz (author)2012-05-24

Interesting way to do it. I have always drawn out what I needed on paper. Scanned it to my computer. Opened it in Photoshop CS5.1. Traced the lines of the drawing, usually individual parts, like trace the hand, save; trace the foot save; and so on. Then use something like Anime Studio.

Wingmaster700 (author)2012-05-01

That was great, totally made my day hahaha. Please make more

vpolyachenko (author)2011-12-09

Rate my first cartoon, please:

Shany120 (author)2011-08-18


vishalapr (author)2011-07-20

These animations are amazing! Very well done!

splazem (author)2011-05-29

Cool, very cool. I love animations.

neetz (author)2011-05-28

this is so neet! i do a lot of drawing and that is so cool that you can turn them into a acual short! the only thing i do different is that i use plastic paper(also called cel paper), just like the original cartoons. you can get it at like office max office depot in like a package of like 100 ,it is kind of expensive but it is worth it . sooooo cool!

hiwaarco (author)2011-05-14

We are producing a short film. Are you willing to participate?

Green-option (author)2011-02-20

we are interested in cartoons (creating animations). Can you take an assignment? Please respond in private

timwinter79 (author)2009-06-29
I've had a similar life experience with animation and illustration

mondial99 (author)timwinter792010-11-01

I like your work. 2 questions - Can you do whiteboard animation like that which was done in Dan Pink's speech on motivation? and are you currently taking new assignments?

Respond in private to



punkhead58 (author)timwinter792009-11-05


Lance Mt. (author)timwinter792009-10-27

 You sir.. are a god.

Thats the coolest thing i've ever seen, and yes americas voting system is.. well, i've seen better (COOOOOUGH) 

 -Cheers, Chris

the_burrito_master (author)2010-10-14

I wish that monkeyJam allowed me to import images from my computer so i wouldn't have to buy a web cam. maybe i can borrow my bro's when the time to capture my frames. great ible! :D

jackatronix (author)2010-10-07

very cool animations
what is your youtube name???

technoguy94 (author)2010-05-15

Cool. It reminds me of a free program for the Nintendo DSi, Flipnote Studio.

Anonbonbon (author)2010-04-09

this is great, thanks alot. Hey, could this technique possibly be transfered over to digital? Like, using photoshop, or a similar program and simply keep duplicating the layer, and erasing and replacing the moving parts? Probably would take longer, but would be better for things that had to look like cartoons, like a fan-animation for an anime, or something. Just a suggestion, I'll have to test it first. Again, great job explaining this, I'm gonna use this technique for a few of my first animations^^

reverser514 (author)2009-09-13

you can do the EXACT SAME THING with windows movie maker

Yes, but you have to add and shorten EVERY SINGLE FRAME IN THE DAMN VIDEO. Then there is the fact that the program and the videos it makes are extremely slow. I don't see the downside of downloading something specifically made for the purpose of animating.


Whales (author)2010-01-30

 What you could do, they used to do this back in the old days, might be the 80s frame you talk about. Is that would draw the more same things, like background, static objects on wax paper, or see-though w.e then when you're ready for a shot you just lay the sheets over whats moving. that way you can actually keep things for later.

It's pretty obvious if you ever watch old scooby doo cartoons, the things that move are drawn with less detail and usally in slightly brighter shades.

Institoris (author)2007-03-10

You see i made this a month ago,i think.. for a girl in my class.I know it's not the perfect animation and that there might be some problems with the animation technique but i really had a great time making this short film :)Can anyone tell me the name of a course book or something like that for the basic things in animation,the different types,etc.?I I think that this would really help me to improve myself and i would be really happy if someone can help me with this:)
timothymh (author)Institoris2009-12-06

 Incredible animation! I'd love to do this sort of thing but I lost the USB cable for my camera (oops) and I dot' want to keep pressing the shutter button because the camera moves a little every time you press it.

timothymh (author)timothymh2009-12-06

 Oops, I meant "don't".

Nirgal38 (author)Institoris2009-11-30

That is very cool!

There's an old college text called simply, "The Animation Book" by Kit Laybourne. It was printed in 1979 so it'll be hard to find but Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon, USA has it in stock as of November 30, 2009.

It has exercises, techniques and lots of stills from award winning animators including a lot of independents.

Hope this helps! You've got a gift and it would be great to see you expand it.

Could you please give me the YouTube address that will take me to your video? And may I forward the address to my friends? I know they wil "LOVE" it!!!!

Enjoy watching  :P

Vissy (author)porcupinemamma2009-07-12

simply click on it

porcupinemamma (author)Vissy2009-07-12

Oh ! I just had to write again. If a boy had made something so beautiful and creative for me, I would ask him to marry me right on the spot! You have a ton of talent!! Please keep in touch, I want to follow your career. God bless you. Lyn

nave (author)Institoris2009-04-21

dude that was awesome how you made the globe spin

Institoris (author)nave2009-11-25

well I just drew how the continents usually move without deleting the circle :P

ixisuprflyixi (author)Institoris2009-11-24

I think your animation is amazing. Great job.  You should be an animator or cartoonist or an illustrator. 

Institoris (author)ixisuprflyixi2009-11-25

haha Thanks.Then you'd be surprised to know that eventually I decided to take up medicine and now I'm a medical student in my second year.However,I do continue drawing(my biggest hobby)and I'm planning to make another movie something a bit longer than last one.The only problem is time:/.Luckily many people ask me for drawing them something on T-shirts or making them greeting cards or something like that which kind of keeps in touch with the area.Last but not least if anyone here can tell me where to download a program for whiteboard animation I'd be grateful because the one I used in the above movie had a range of only hmm 1600 frames I think which for me wasn't enough :P
Thanks for the post,again. :)

bounty1012 (author)Institoris2009-03-29

Very nice.

goatgirly (author)Institoris2009-03-28

Cool! I love the music and the lightbulb part.

irinazcona (author)Institoris2009-03-22

this is awesome, i love it :)

You did a fantastic job! I wish i had your talent! Well done!!!!!

oli1122 (author)Institoris2009-02-15

wow it so sweet that you made that for a girl i would get the bout the second part of the heart and think f this im having a coffey lol great animation

INSTRUCTUBAL (author)Institoris2009-01-28

dear god, that was great, but in my school if anyone did that, he would seem like a REALLY big creeper

ART9 (author)Institoris2008-12-27

Very Artistic!

Institoris (author)ART92009-01-14

Thanks :)

zenilorac (author)Institoris2007-03-11

a rather excelent book for anyone interested in handdrawn animation techniques (also useful to CG animators and stopmation fiends!)-
"The Animator's Survival Kit: A Working Manual of Methods, Principles and Formulas" (by Richard Williams)

sadly seems to be down at the moment

as an alternative gooogle for free stopmotion programes
or look at lists a variety of different aplications you could use

happy animating

Institoris (author)zenilorac2007-06-24

10x :)

Migacz (author)Institoris2008-12-06

finally someone who uses colin- perenthesy (:))

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