Make a Paper-based Animation




 Have you seen the cards where there appears to be a moving picture just by using a piece of plastic with lines on it and an image underneath?

This instructable shows you how to make your own with just a computer, printer, paper and transparencies.

I'm assuming that you have the Gimp image editor installed. Hopefully you can translate this as needed for other programs. 


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Step 1: Create the Base Image and Gridlines

Create a new file that is 1000 pixels by 1000 pixels

Create a new layer called 'Grid 1'

Select that layer from the layer dialog

Create the grid by selecting the 'Filter' menu then 'Render' -> 'Pattern' -> 'Grid'
unlock the horizontal and vertical settings for width, spacing and offsets.
Use the following settings (image below shows the settings for the 'Grid 1' layer
 - Width 0,18,0
 - Spacing 21,1000, 2
 - offset 0,0,6

repeat for layers 'Grid 2' to 'Grid 7' using horizontal offsets of 3,6,9,12,15 and18 respectively.

Step 2: Add Animation Frames

 If you have a gif animation file you'd like to use, use the 'File' menu then 'Open as Layers'. 
(there is a discussion at the end on picking existing animations)

If there are more than 7 frames, use the following guidelines
 - if there are 7-14 frames, pick every other frame
 - if there are 15-21 frames, pick every third frame
 - if there are 22-28 frames, pick every fourth frame
(or use a picking method that works for you)

If you don't have an animation, create seven empty layers.

Call each layer of the animation as 'Image 1' - 'Image 7'

Put each image layer below a grid layer. (i.e. 'Image 1' goes below 'Grid 1', 'Image 2' goes below 'Grid 2', etc.)

Step 3: Filter Animation Image by Grid Layer

Here are the steps to use the black portion of the grid layer to delete from the frame image
 - view the grid layer and the associated image layer (starting with 'Grid 1' and 'Image 1')
 - highlight the grid layer in the layers dialog window
 - select -> by color
 - click on a black area
 - highlight the frame layer in the layers dialog window and turn off visibility for the grid layer.
 - delete the selected area.(using the 'delete' key)
 - de-select all
repeat for the remaining layers (save early and save often!).

Step 4: Merge Image Layers

show just the image layers

convert to grayscale (if necessary) (image -> mode -> grayscale)

Save as 'image.gif'
choose option to merge visible layers (should be default)

make just one of the grid layers visible
save one of the grid layers as grid.gif 


Step 5: Print!

Print the 'grid.gif' on transparency
Print the 'image.gif' on paper.

These two files are in the '' file attached.

slide back and forth, and Woo Hoo!

Step 6: Selecting an Existing Gif Animation.

It must be:
 - high contrast (the more contrast, the better it will look, 2-color (black and white) is the best)
 - coarse detail (lots of thin lines won't show up well) on moving portions
 - if there is a 'stationary' portion of the image, it can use thin lines.


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    29 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Did you remove your video or did Yahoo just mess up? It seems the video link is no longer valid.

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    Sorry about that. The video was removed quite a while ago and I need to fix the instructions. I'll need to see if I still have the original and post it somewhere else.


    Reply 3 years ago

    No worries! Your instructions are actually quite clear without it, but I thought you might want to know the link was bad.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    You can create same card with some mouse click. Check video tutorial below:


    9 years ago on Introduction

    gracias por este gran aporte, son de gran utilidad estos tutoriales,......

    im from mexico,........

    and i dont speak english,......

    thank you......

    3 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Me alegro de que encontrar estos utiles. Para descargar el tutorial, es necesario registrarse.

    (en Ingles)
    I'm glad you find these useful. To download the tutorial, you need to register.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Me alegro de que lo encuentres útil. Para descargar el tutorial, necesitas registrarte.


    9 years ago on Step 1

    could you send me the grid layer please?

    ive been trying to make it following your instructable but it doesnt work, please tell me how or send me the file with the grids

    2 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

     The files I have available are on 'Step 5'. If these aren't enough, then I'll need more specific information on where things go wrong. To start with, can you let me know which steps you know were successful? Then let me know what step doesn't make sense to you and we can go from there.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

     It really is pretty cool, almost puts today's computer based animations to shame. Lot of creative ideas that came out of that too.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I like it, it's just so simple.

    Other things in that video were quite impressive as well, my Aunty is really into miniatures, I should show her.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

     I just saw a 'making of' video of that, which got me to thinking about this other illusion.

    In that illusion, the designer used two 'starburst' pictures on transparency and produced this effect.

    Thanks for the feedback. Hope you enjoy it!



    9 years ago on Step 1

     I don't currently have Photoshop, so I'm not really able to give you exact instructions. However, here are some specific things you'll want to find out.

    Making the grid
     - You'll first want to find a similar way to make a set of vertical lines that have the correct spacing. I used the 'grid' function in Gimp. A quick search in Google showed that making a custom pattern may provide the same result (  ) This pages does horizontal lines instead of vertical lines. 
     - However, the key to making this work is the 'offset' which shifts the grid appropriately. You may need to make the pattern 21x21 and create a pattern that is all black except the first 3 columns, then another that is all black except colums 4-6 (then 7-9, 10-12, 13-15, 16-18, 19-21) and apply those to the grid layers.
     - This is really a best guess and since I don't have Photoshop, I can't really troubleshoot further. Hopefully someone with Photoshop can confirm or correct this.

    Using Layers
     - If you know how to use layers in Photoshop, the translation should be pretty straightforward.
     - If you haven't used layers much, I'm sure there are lots of excellent tutorials online.