Creating Your Backdrop


Instructor: Amy Johnson

Grade Level: Middle Ages 6th-8th, High Grades 9th-12th

Media: 18 x 24 white paper, pencils, permanent pens, colored markers, tempera paint

Time: 1-hour long session(s)

TLW define backdrop.
TLW select an appropriate setting for their Claymation.
TLW illustrates strong understanding of design by keeping the backdrop “readable”, and simple.

Step 1: The teacher will introduce this as the 4th lesson in the Origins of Animation unit. S/he will review previous vocabulary in the unit such as thaumatrope, animation, flip-book, and story-boarding. The teacher will present the materials to the class (paper, pens, paint, pencils). S/he will ask students to brainstorm about what the students can infer from these materials about the lesson. After a brief response from the students, the teacher will relate to students that they will be creating their backdrops for their claymations.

Step 2: The teacher will discuss with students the importance of a simple backdrop. S/he will ask students to brainstorm as why simplicity is key. The teacher will stress that the backdrop cannot change throughout the video and for the students to create their backdrop accordingly. The teacher will discuss the materials markers and paint and explain to students that they have the option of using both, or just one or the other.

Step 3: The teacher will hand-out the reviewed storyboards to the students. S/he will place materials on each table and ask the students to create their backdrops.

Step 4: The teacher will lead a demonstration in backdrop design based on a random student’s storyboard. S/he will demonstrate to students how to make as simple backdrop by folding the 18 x 24 inch paper in half to create a “floor” and a “background” S/he will again stress the importance of simplicity and the importance of contrasting colors so as to assure that the main characters will stand out in the video.

Step 5: Students may use the balance of class to create their backdrops.

-Permanent markers
-18 x 24 in white paper
-tempera paint

Backdrop: A painted cloth hung at the back of a stage set. Also called backcloth.

-DLP Projector
-Overhead Projector

The Power-Point for this lesson features active .gif file animations that create flashing. This is a SERIOUS health hazard for students with epilepsy. Be aware for of any students you have with epilepsy and/or any students who show signs of reacting poorly physically to the flashing. Should your classroom have students with epilepsy: Delete the flashing imagery in the Power-Point and instead show the students actual exemplars of the animations. Follow the instructions and goals of the students’ IEP. For students who need more structure/rules, take the time to have some independent instruction with them. Have the student mimic the technique back to you, so you can assure mastery

CHECKLIST (all must be checked-off, grade is a pass/fail)

  1. Backdrop completed?
  2. Backdrop neat?
  3. Backdrop demonstrates contrasting colors from characters?
  4. Backdrop simple?