Claymation For Beginners

Modeling clay can be used to create movies.

Claymation is a form of stop-motion animation, and is one of the oldest and simplest versions of three-dimensional animation used. Rather than using drawings on paper or celluloid, sets and characters are made out of clay and moved by hand before being filmed. Claymation can be a lot easier and less expensive to produce than CGI 3-D animation. However, stop-motion animation is still a very time-consuming process that involves detail and shooting one frame at a time.


Claymation uses modeling clay much like the kind used by children. It is important, however, to use clay that will not dry out over time. This allows the clay to be reused, and avoids signs of aging and drying as the scenes are filmed. The clay is shaped into the characters by hand. A single character usually needs multiple shades of clay to add details like the eyes, nose and mouth. These extra details also need to be placed on the figures in a way that they can be easily altered.


Like any video production, steps need to be taken prior to the actual production of the movie. The characters should be drawn out on paper first so the animators know what to do. A script and/or storyboard should be created to use as a guide for producing the movie. A storyboard is similar to a large comic with drawings that explain and detail each scene; this is used in every form of animation.


The clay figures are arranged on a set with the cameras in position. Every figure is positioned where it needs to be at the start of filming. The camera then takes a single shot of the set. After the shot, the figures are moved very slightly–by a fraction of an inch–then another shot is taken with everything in the current position. This is repeated until an entire scene is filmed that will look like the clay figures are moving when the video is played.

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Recorded footage is edited much like any other movie production, as the video is payed back by the director and editor to determine scenes that need to be cut or trimmed. The footage also must be dubbed and trimmed using video editing and recording equipment. However, digital video cameras allow for much easier editing using editing software.


Most Claymation movies will have music and/or voice acting to go along with the video. The voice-overs are recorded separately from the video production and later added though editing. The voices can be recorded before or after the video production, depending on how the producer prefers it.