Drawing People in Motion

There is an interest in animation and flip books among the oldest children in the pre-school. I studied photography for a long time and had lots of resources and books on early film. However, after consulting with their teacher Nancy, working with them on both flip books and attempting a kinetoscope, I realized that I didn't really understand the process of drawing for this type of animation.
The problems of representation (of a moving object as well as the repetition involved in drawing an animation) were as mysterious for me as for the children in the group. We all felt we knew what to do, but then our animations didn't really work.
In Reggio they speak about how the teacher has 'extra pockets' in which to keep information that may be needed during an inquiry. I needed some new information and techniques for this one.

So, we made an appointment with a film-maker parent to come in and advise us, and we began a drawing group to practice drawing moving objects. This seemed like a good place to start.

These initial drawings of a model show the children's thinking about a body in motion. They indicate with lines or spirals the direction of movement. Above, you can see Dacy's purple lines showing head and arms moving, and she has captured the tilt of the body as well. In the first drawing below, Stella was spinning slowly on the table, and Ruby shows that along with the sound S. made as she tipped slightly. In the second drawing, lines indicate that Ainsley's arms were moving . In the third illustration Sam shows Elizabeth balancing on one foot.

I hope to learn from these children how they understand drawing motion, and will continue studio drawing groups with the children in this class.


  1. Wonderful investigation, and one that will continue on, I assume, as it is such a complex riddle. I have a friend who uses a tripod and takes photos of all the small movements within a movement and then put them on a ppt presentation slide show, with just a few seconds on each, and creates a stop motion animation. Might be an interesting tool for this process. Can't wait to see more...

  2. I've never thought to ask the kids to draw a figure in motion. What an amazing idea. Sounds like my older kids will have a fun art project on Tuesday.


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