How to make a flipbook

a flipbook illustrating the process of a match burning
Year 0 co-ordinator_Oliver O'Keeffe

Article by: Oliver O'Keeffe

Publication date:


Subject: Fundamentals of Animation

Duration: 2 hours

A flipbook is a very simple and effective way to make an animation. All you need is a stack of paper, a bulldog clip and an idea. This workshop will show you how to make a simple flipbook animation using a limited amount of materials.

What you'll need to make a flipbook:

  • Pencil
  • Felt tip pens
  • Light source (Could be a window, light-box, monitor, smart phone or TV)
  • Stack of A6 paper with at least 24 pieces of paper (You can cut down larger pieces to a smaller size.)
  • Tape
a pencil, black, orange and yellow felt tip pens, a silver bulldog clip and a stack of A3 paper


Video tutorial

Step 1. Sketch out your idea

To start, sketch out your idea for your flipbook animation.

For this workshop we are going to animate a burning match. The reason for choosing the burning match is because it is easy to draw.

You can animate whatever you like, but keep in mind that it needs to be simple and the drawing needs to be easily replicated multiple times.

Begin by making three drawings that show your flipbook animation at three different stages. The start, middle and at the end of your flipbook. For example, the first drawing will show a newly lit match. The middle drawing will show half the match burnt and the end drawing will show a burnt-out match with a dying flame.

It is important to do these sketches because it helps you plan the animation out in your mind.

a persons hand using a pencil to sketch out an animation of a match burning

Step 2. Draw your first frame

Once you have your plan, you can start to make your flipbook.

Begin by getting a piece of A6 paper and drawing your first frame. Make sure your drawing goes on the right-hand side of the page, as the left is going to have a bulldog clip holding the flipbook together.

To start, do the outline of your match in pencil first. Then, once you are happy, trace over the match in black and the fire in yellow.

Finish your frame by numbering it.

Tip: When drawing fire use orange at the bottom of the fire and use yellow for the tips. This will give the effect that the fire is very hot.

a pair of hands using a yellow marker pen to colour in a flame

Step 3. Place the paper on a light source

Place a new piece of paper over the first frame and secure it with a piece of tape. Then find a good light source.

Place the paper on the light source making sure you can see the drawing of the first frame shining through from behind and use it as a reference. Draw your second frame with the match slightly more burnt than the first frame.

Tip: As you go through your animation make sure you don’t draw your match burning too quickly. If you do this then your animation will be too fast. If you want to slow your animation down take a piece of paper and draw new frames in-between the original frames.

a pair of hands using a pencil to sketch a match onto a stack of A6 paper

Step 4. Repeat until the animation is complete

Continue this process until you have finished drawing your match burning all the way to the end. Make sure you draw at least 24 frames. Any less and your animation won’t be long enough.

Tip: Use your sketch from step one to make sure your flipbook is progressing the way you want it to.

a pair of hands organising a stack of A6 paper with the match burning animation sketched on them

Step 5. Clasp your paper together on the left-hand side of the page

When you have finished drawing your flipbook get a bulldog clip and clasp your paper together on the left-hand side of the page.

Once you have done this flip through your pages at an even pace and you should see your animation come to life.

Tip: Leave some blank paper at the back of your flipbook. This will leave a bit of space at the end of your flipbook so your animation won’t end abruptly at the last drawing, making your flipbook animation clearer to see.

a pair of hands flipping through the finished flipbook, showing the match burning animation

Additional notes

Remember that animation takes patience and you might not get it right the first time. Though if you stick with it you will be surprised how quickly you improve.

For a more in-depth tutorial on how to make a flipbook please watch the accompanying video.

Get in touch

Ravensbourne Outreach tutors and students have produced a new series of online projects and courses to help you stay creative at home If you'd like to find out more please visit creative projects or contact us via:

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