How to Create an Animation Flip Book

Practice your animation skills by making hand-drawn flipbooks

You can make a traditional hand-drawn flipbook with a regular notebook or any stack of sequential pages. Practicing flipbook animation is an excellent way to hone your drawing skills.

What Do You Need to Make an Animated Flipbook?

Flipbooks work best when they're small but thick. A flimsy flipbook won't allow you to get a good grip on the pages to flip them properly, and large pages will move too slowly as they encounter air resistance.

You'll want to get a pocket sketchbook, 3" x 5" or so. For the best effect, you'll want something with a flexible top cover, a rigid backing, and pages with a slightly lighter weight so that you can see one through the next (nothing as thin as tracing paper, though).

You can also just bind together copy paper at one end, trim it down to size, and either glue the ends together, clip them, or staple them with an industrial-strength stapler. You'll want more pages than you actually intend to use for your flipbook animation.

Student flipping through book; motion of turning pages
Steve Debenport / Getty Images

How to Make an Animation Flipbook

Once you have the materials you need, follow these steps to create your hand-drawn flipbook:

  1. Create your first drawing on the bottom of the stack. Flipbooks work best when you flip them from bottom to top, using your thumb to fan the pages, so you'll want to start your first frame at the bottom and work in reverse order. Your first drawing should be the start of your animation sequence.

  2. Layer the second-to-last page over your first drawing. You'll want to deviate just enough in your drawing to demonstrate one frame's worth of motion. For example, if you're animating a blink, you may want to draw the eye one-third closed. The timing doesn't have to be perfect for a flipbook, but you'll find that the more you practice, the better you'll get. You can also create flipbooks by copying time-lapsed photos.

    If you just want to practice estimating frames, use stick figures instead of making elaborate drawings.

  3. Continue layering and drawing pages until your sequence is finished. Animate the rest of your sequence from beginning to end, with the pages in reverse order from bottom to top.

  4. Flip the pages and watch your animation. With larger flipbooks, you can just lift the pages, then let them fall. With smaller ones, you can brace them against your palm and use your thumb to fan through the pages quickly and watch your flipbook animation.

Tips for Animating a Flipbook

The point of the flipbook is to exhibit basic animation skills and principles. Flipbooks aren't usually drawn the way most animations are using keyframes and in-betweens, although you can try putting in key drawings at set intervals on different pages.

It's best to work in pencil so that you can erase. Also, try to draw closer to the bottom of the page, in the space covering the bottom half. Anything close to the top half or binding may be harder to see when you're flipping.