How to Create a Flip Chart Animation

A cartoonist's animation stand supports frame-by-frame drawings and animation.
... William Vanderson/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Flip charts make a set of images or drawings appear to come alive. Their simple human-powered animation method shows the basic premise that makes motion pictures look like real life. Slight differences from frame to frame make a sequence of pictures or text seem to walk or jump. To create a flip chart yourself, you can use simple tools, leverage the power of computerized technology or combine the two to express your ideas.

1 Photographed Drawings

If your flip-chart subject matter lends itself to hand-drawn artwork, put your artistic talents on display. The techniques that underlie the earliest animated movies work just as well today. With a tripod-mounted camera focused on a drawing board or easel, photograph each page or step in your drawing progress and assemble the results into an image sequence. You need a lens that can focus on close-up subject matter so you can fill the image frame with your art. To assemble your photos into a movie, use Windows Movie Maker or the Mac's iMovie. To make a traditional flip chart, print your drawings and riffle through them by hand. You also can use online resources to draw and animate your flip-chart art in a Web browser.

2 Animated GIF

When you view an animated GIF, it proceeds frame by frame through a series of images, displaying the sequence automatically at a predetermined speed. Timed correctly, the result gives you the flip-chart look of a hand-powered animation process. You can build an animated GIF in any image-editing application that supports the file format, in a program designed specifically for GIF-building tasks or on a website that accepts uploaded images and creates animations from them. Some GIF-animation products include the ability to set different animation speeds for individual frames in a single document. Other options restrict you to one overall transition speed.

3 Microsoft PowerPoint

Within Microsoft PowerPoint's toolset, you can set type or draw simple artwork, and use the program's transitions to advance through a set of slides automatically. Once you complete the slide sequence that tells your story, you can save your PowerPoint file as a movie. Within PowerPoint's movie-creation options, the program enables you to retain your transitions, hide or show the playback controls, add a soundtrack, resize your work to specific dimensions and optimize it for playback or image quality.

4 PDF Clickthrough

Create your flip book artwork or type in any application that supports individual pages or frames and print your work to an Acrobat PDF file. To make a PDF display page by page like an animation, you can press the "Pg Dn" key on your keyboard to move through your file manually. For a more sophisticated approach, add interactive elements, including playback controls, to your source document so they show up in the PDF you create from it. Page-layout software such as Adobe InDesign and the open-source program Scribus includes these capabilities. You also can add interactivity in Adobe Systems' Acrobat applications.

Elizabeth Mott has been a writer since 1983. Mott has extensive experience writing advertising copy for everything from kitchen appliances and financial services to education and tourism. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English from Indiana State University.