Learn animation techniques such as stop motion, 2D, CGI and pixilation, in this NFTS course with award-winning animators.

50,430 enrolled on this course

Animation: a variety of characters created through stop motion, 2D, CGI and pixilation
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Become an expert animator and master different animation techniques

Whether you’re a budding animator or animation fan, this 4-week online course from the internationally acclaimed National Film and Television School (NFTS) will have something for you.

Our team of award-winning animators will take you through their approach to telling stories and demystify their own animation technique.

Step into stop motion animation

Take your first step into the fascinating world of stop motion, the animation technique used by the creators of animations such as Wallace and Gromit, Coraline and Isle of Dogs.

A glimpse into Aardman Animations studio will give you an introduction to stop motion techniques, and you’ll finish the topic by watching a short stop motion film.

Try 2D animation and pixilation

Cel animation, otherwise known as 2D animation, will be your next topic. You’ll learn different cel animation techniques, tackle character development and discuss how to create a series.

You’ll get the opportunity to brush up on your drawing skills and hear from animators at Collingwood & Co studio.

Pixilation is another animation technique that you’ll be exploring during this course. The technique involves filming and editing the movements of real people so they appear to move like artificial animations.

Discover 3D animation and pick up CGI techniques

Prepare to delve into the world of 3D animation and CGI in your final week, where you’ll learn CGI techniques and 3D principles.

You’ll discuss how to build a 3D environment for a character and think about 3D spaces in animation. Then you’ll evaluate what the future of animation might look like.

At the end of the course, you’ll receive insight into animation careers and witness a discussion of graduate projects by NFTS animation directors.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds Hi, I’m Jon Wardle. I’m the Director of the National Film and Television School in the UK. And this is our free online course, Explore Animation. The course is run in partnership with Creative Skill Set. And whether you’re a fan of animation or an actual animator, this course should have something for you. Over five weeks our team of award winning animators will take you through their approach to telling stories and demystify their own animation technique. Our contributors will use examples from their own work as well as the animated films that have influenced and inspired them, to enable you to explore different forms of animation. We will take you behind the scenes at a number of UK Animation companies.

Skip to 0 minutes and 51 seconds From Ardman in Bristol to Blue Zoo in London, and we will also be dropping in on graduation projects at the film school itself. Explore animation features a Number of award winning short films made by recent graduates of the NFTS and aims to inspire you to try out some small scale animation for yourself. So join us on the course to explore animation.


  • Week 1

    Stop Motion or Stop Frame Animation

    • Introducing the Course

      We will introduce many of the contributors to the course and get you started on some ideas about animation, including your first practical task!

    • Introduction to stop motion

      We visit Aardman studios, where creative director, Merlin Crossingham tells us about the company and introduces stop motion and the character, Morph.

    • Film of the week: Miss Todd

      This week's featured animation 'Miss Todd', is introduced by the director, Kristina Yee, who explains some of the challenges she faced in making it.

    • Reflections

      In this final part of the week, Kristina Yee tells us about what happens to a graduation film once it is completed; we ask you to share any animations you have already made and we provide a glossary of terms used during the course

  • Week 2

    2D or cel animation

    • Introduction to 2D animation

      We explain 2D or cel animation with an introduction to Collingwood & co in London.

    • Cel animation techniques

      Ed Foster, animation tutor at the NFTS, explains more about cel animation techniques and the art of character creation.

    • Film of the week: Sleeping with the Fishes

      This week's featured animation is the Bafta-winning Sleeping with the Fishes. Director, Yusif Al-Khalifa and writer, Sarah Woolner, describe the process of making the film.

    • Collingwood TV shows

      Tony Collingwood talks about some of the decision-making in the production process of two of the shows his company has made.

    • Reflections

      We give you a chance to reflect on what you have learned in Week 2 of the course.

  • Week 3

    Big scale animation in the real world

    • Introduction to big scale animation

      Director Dougal Wilson introduces the idea of big scale animation in real world contexts.

    • Film of the week: Stanley Pickle

      This week's featured film uses the technique of pixilation, as explained by director Vicky Mather.

    • Dougal Wilson's work

      Dougal Wilson talks us through more of his projects, including adverts for IKEA and John Lewis.

    • Reflections

      You will have an opportunity to reflect upon your learning from this week and to consider the relationship between editing and animation.

  • Week 4

    CGI or 3D computer animation

    • Introduction to CGI or 3D computer animation

      Oli Hyatt from Bluezoo discusses the 3D animation industry and we look at some techniques.

    • Starting to think in 3D

      Robert Bradbrook from the NFTS introduces you to some techniques of 3D without you having to invest in expensive and complicated software!

    • Film of the Week: Robomax

      Our final NFTS graduate film of the week is Robomax, a 3D CGI production by Moayad Fahmi, who tells us about his work.

    • Reflections

      We reflect upon the careers of some of our contributors, take a look at the work of the next generation of animators and give you the chance to reflect on the course as a whole.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Experiment with a variety of animation techniques
  • Explore ideas about how animation works
  • Produce short animations and share them with others
  • Reflect upon own work and that of others

Who is the course for?

This course is for anyone interested in animation or learning animation techniques and does not require any existing specialist animation skills or equipment.

If you want to enhance your learning experience, there will be opportunities to try out animation techniques using everyday tools and free applications.

Who will you learn with?

I'm the Director of the National Film and Television School. I wrote and developed the the Explore Filmmaking: from Script to Screen course.

I am a film education specialist, freelance filmmaker and a tutor on the NFTS & BFI's 'Explore Filmmaking' and 'Explore Animation' courses.

Who developed the course?

National Film and Television School

The National Film and Television School is one of the best and most respected film, television and new media schools in the world.

Endorsers and supporters

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Creative Skillset logo

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