Claymation Techniques And Stop Motion Tips

Claymation Techniques And Stop Motion Tips

Playing with clay is something we love to do as children, and if your love for modelling clay extends into adulthood, why not dip your toes into the art of claymation? A blend of the words 'clay' and 'animation', claymation is an affordable and fun way for crafters to create unique videos using nothing more than clay, a camera and a computer!

At Spotlight we have all the craft supplies you need for clay animation, including a huge range of modelling clays in heaps of gorgeous colours. Are you interested in claymation? We'll go through everything you need to know about this stop motion art, identifying what you need, handy techniques and how to make a simple claymation video.

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What Is Stop Motion?

Stop motion refers to creating videos using physical characters that are moved in very small amounts between frames. When played together, these frames combine to create the illusion of movement of the character. Did you ever make a flipbook in school? This is where you draw a small character in the corner of a book on every page, with a slight change in stance on each page. When you flip the pages quickly, it will seem like the character is moving, and this same logic applies to stop motion films too!

Stop motion can be made with any physical object that you can manipulate, like soft toys, pieces of clothing and 3D paper shapes. Many crafters will create special characters specifically for stop motion, like fabric puppets, needle-felted animals or, in our case, clay shapes.

What Is Claymation?

Claymation is the art of creating stop motion videos using clay shapes and figures. Clay is one of the best materials to use when making stop motion films, as it is easy to manipulate, holds its shape and comes in a great range of colours so you can always create the character you want.

Popular films made with claymation include Chicken Run (2000), Wallace & Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit (2005), Coraline (2009) and The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). While you won't start making any stop motion films that detailed, it's great to see just how incredible this art form can be when done professionally!

Plasticine coloured clay, Jovi air-dry clay & clay making tools

What You Need For Claymation

You don't need many clay modelling supplies for claymation, and many of the electronic components you will probably already have at home.

  • Plasticine clay: This is the best type of clay for clay techniques because it won't dry out, unlike basic Play-Doh and air-dry clays. Your clay should be easy to manipulate, soft and not too shiny.
  • Shaping tools: Basic plastic, metal or wooden modelling tools are handy for creating fine details on your characters and sets. Using tools for moving, pinching and other clay techniques also prevents you from getting fingerprints on your clay.
  • Armature wire: This wire acts as a skeleton for your clay shapes and will help keep them in position, while also making your figures easier to pose between each frame.
  • A camera or phone: This is what you will use to take each 'frame' or photo of your stop motion animation. Make sure it's a high-quality camera or phone so your images come out clear, and also ensure your device is compatible with whichever design program you are using.
  • A laptop or computer: This is what you will use to compile and edit your stop motion film. Programs like Stop Motion Studio, Premier Pro and Dragon Frame are all great choices with varying price points, so make sure you are choosing the program that suits your budget as well as your technical needs!

You may also like to have a tripod for holding your camera in place and an adjustable light so you can ensure your characters are well-lit.

Choose a space for filming that is protected from excess sunlight, heat, wind and moisture, as you don't want your claymation characters being damaged or moved between shots.

Stop Motion Clay Tips And Tricks

Here are a few handy tips, tricks and techniques you should keep in mind when setting up and starting your claymation film!

  • If you have a lamp for lighting, make sure it doesn't give off too much heat. A very hot lamp can cause your clay figures to soften and even melt over time.
  • Sometimes, clay figures can leave an oily mark on the surface they have been sitting on. It's quite noticeable on paper surfaces, so if you're worried make sure to work on a non-absorbent surface like glass, treated wood or smooth plastic.
  • Use a rubbing alcohol like acetone to remove fingerprints and dust from your clay figures. You can also use Blu Tak to remove small balls of fluff and lint from your characters.
  • If there is a part of your character that won't be moving or reshaped, you can make it out of an air-dry clay. This is handy for features like eyes or background pieces like houses and furniture.
  • Create multiple versions of the same character. This way you will have a spare figure if your first one is damaged.

How To Make A Stop Motion Video With Clay

Follow these steps to create your first claymation video!

  1. Create a storyboard. Even if you're just making a simple short video, knowing what is next will make the clay animation process much smoother. The more complicated story you are telling, the more storyboards you will need.
  2. Set up your shoot. Ensure your surface is clean and stable, your lighting is correct and your figures are in their first position. Make sure your camera or phone is shooting in static mode. This means it won't auto-adjust things like lighting and focus, and it will ensure all your frames look the same.
  3. Start shooting! Make movements between frames small, as it will create a smoother-looking claymation. Most stop motion films have between 12 and 24 frames per second - it sounds like a lot, but if you're only making small adjustments each frame then the time will fly!
  4. Edit your film using your software. This involves stitching your film together, as well as adding any sound effects and music you want. You can also adjust the lighting and colour grade of each frame if needed.

For your first clay animation, start with something simple like a sphere of clay and manipulate it between frames so it flattens, thins, twists or even breaks apart into multiple pieces. You can then move on to more complicated shapes and humanoid figures.

Coloured clay creatures and monsters

Discover The Perfect Clay For Your Stop Motion Animation At Spotlight

Ready to make your first stop motion animation? Make sure to grab all your clay modelling supplies from the brilliant craft supplies range at Spotlight! Shop online, pay your way and we'll deliver your claymation supplies straight to your front door. Alternatively, visit your nearest Spotlight store and our friendly team will help you choose the right supplies for your clay animation project.

For more clay and craft inspiration, read our blogs on making pottery, a beginner's guide to polymer clay and our article on pottery artist Shelby Sheritt. And if you'd like to explore some other crafts, read our comprehensive beads and jewellery buying guide, cutting machines buying guide and scrapbooking buying guide before you buy.




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