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                How to generate animated pictures using Scratch

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Scratch Account Creation (scratch.mit.edu)

Scratch is an online tool which helps kids learn the fundamentals of how code works and lets them create their own animations, games and more.

As well as being a tool, Scratch is a community: users can share their projects, make copies of each others' and 'remix' them, which is a bit like forking code in GitHub and consists of copying someone else's project and adding your own improvements or changes to it. Instead of expecting learners to write their code from scratch, Scratch provides them with a set of blocks: lines of code which they drag into place to create their code.

To create an account, go to the front page at scratch.mit.edu and click "Join Scratch" in the top right hand corner. If you already have an account, it will first ask you if you want to retrieve your password. When you get to the signup page, enter the following data:

Username
Use one that reflects you in some way, but does not give away any personal information like your full name or address. Do not try to impersonate other users, and do not use an inappropriate username either. If you do, your account might be blocked or deleted.
Password
A secure password should have both letters and numbers. To make it stronger, you may use symbols or a upper-lowercase combination, but make sure you can remember it! Always write your password down somewhere safe in case you forget it. But make sure not to leave a piece of paper with your password just lying around! Also remember not to write 'Scratch password' or similar on it, as that would be risky. To change the password after you've logged in, visit the Account Settings page.
Email Address
An existing email address is required so that the email address can be confirmed and the account is confirmed. If an account is not confirmed, it will not be able to comment or share projects.
Other data
Some of this data is optional, although your birthday, gender, and country are still required in order to create a Scratch account.
Then click Sign Up. You are now ready to CREATE, post projects, comments, and use the forums.


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Obtaining Your Idea or Storyline

The first step in making a story animation is to have an idea in your head. It is important to have a storyline in chronological order. A storyline can be in the present or the past.

Drawing inspiration is often the toughest part of the project. Most animators spend a long time thinking about the "perfect" idea, which is required to make an animation. However, for the beginner, it is often more rewarding to get your hands dirty. Getting the "perfect" idea could take ages and it might be better to choose one simple theme and stick with it.

Brainstorming could be a difficult process. To let your creativity flow, try to get inspiration from other sources. Watch animations or read comics that you like. Developing a character and then a storyline around the character is a good way to start. You might not want to make your character "perfect", instead, make your character human. He/she should make mistakes, or even be the villain. Queer people you know are great ways to start developing a personality.

Story

Creating a storyline around a character is a lot easier. Think about how the character would react to various situations. Often in story animations, the storyline is less important than the little things. Make story lines open-ended. In contrast to novels, where story lines should have a clear beginning, middle, and end, cartoons have the freedom to end a plot suddenly with a twist. For example, you could make an entire cartoon about a character trying to milk a cow, by giving an account of various attempts and how they failed—this makes excellent material to build slapstick comedy or gags upon. Repetition is another useful tool.

Being absurd (within reason) and completely unexpected is extremely important to making a funny story animation. Think about every detail, and consider whether you can replace it with something which would be funnier. Remember, your audience will think exactly as you will: if you find something predictable, your audience will, too. For example, if you are talking about a spaceship, don't make a mundane flying saucer. Add some detail that will surprise the audience, like an unexpected bumper sticker (e.g. "How's my driving?").

Drawing

Drawing is hard for most people, especially on a computer. Here are some drawing to tips to follow:

  • Start with a sketch (on paper)
  • Outline the needed parts in your sketch (darken lines with pencil)
  • Draw final in pen either traced or redrawn (trace over or draw the whole thing again on another piece of paper)
  • Draw your final drawing on the computer in the paint editor, or use a drawing tablet.
  • When drawing on the computer, try to simplify final drawing by removing unneeded features.
  • Color it using shading and other styles of drawing.

Animating

Drawing an animation is a lot harder—it requires a certain degree of perseverance to perfect it.

Animation is based on moving frames (a bunch of pictures put together with little changes in each of them).

Some steps to follow:

  1. Draw the character or object.
  2. Redraw the character with a small change in movement.
  3. Repeat step 2 until character looks like it's moving.

Tips

  • The more frames in each animation the slower it is.
  • The less frames in each animation the faster it is.
    • All of this depends on how many seconds there are in between the frames. It is recommended that the wait is 0.05 seconds.
  • The less frames the more choppy the movements seem. Choppy means that the animation will seem to be skipping movements. For example, if a stick figure is blinking it will be fine, but if the stick figure is moving its arm, then the arm will seem to be moving very fast then stopping.
  • Try to have the objects move fluidly. This means that the animation needs to look smooth, not robotic and choppy like it was just thrown together.

Animation with Vector

Start by making your character. Make his/her arms and legs be lines. Then, duplicate that drawing and use the reshape tool to bend the lines around which makes animating a lot easier.

Frame-By-Frame

Now, it's all about doing the long part of making any story animation. You have to draw the character and redraw the character with a small change in movement. Just remember that this part will take a while and anyone animating has to be patient.

It may be best to form a group and have various Scratchers animate parts of the story animation. Scratchers can work on the part of the story animation that they are best at. For example, if the story animation calls for a walking cycle, have a Scratcher animate the character walking if that Scratcher specializes in that area.

Uploading

To upload it to Scratch, take the collaborators' animations and put them into yours, animate it the way you want it, give credit to the collaborators, and share.

Have Fun

The most crucial part of story animation making is to have fun. The story animation reflects on the animator's or writer's mood. Most viewers want story animations that can entertain them or wow them. That is the animator's job to entertain them or wow them.

Aftermath

At this point the story animation may be done. Find someone close to you to look over the story animation and have them give feedback. Uploading the project on a test account is not very effective. It could be weeks or even months before a scratcher gets enough feedback online to go back to their story animation and make some changes.


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