Tips for Creating Stop-Motion Slides

I’ve posted about #StopMotionSlides before and there are others out there (I think that Eric Curts’ and Matt Miller’s are both pretty definitive), but as usual – I like to encapsulate all good Googley stuff in GIF format. So here we go . . . some GIF-style tips for making really rad #StopMotionSlides projects.

1. Duplicate slides

This is the most important part – make your edits to a slide, then duplicate it before making your next edit. You’ll want to get used to using the ctrl+D or ⌘+D shortcut to do it quickly.

#StopMotionSlides Duplicate Slide Animation

2. Use Arrow Keys to Move

If you want objects in your animation to appear to be moving, you’ve got to make sure they’re moving in small, constant amounts between slides. The best way to do this is to use your arrow keys. I like to move things about 2-4 clicks per slide, depending on how fast I want them to be moving and how far they’ll be traveling. If things need to move diagonally, move a combination of the left/right and up/down arrow keys (i.e., 2 right, 3 down). One final tip – if you need really precise movements, using the shift key with the arrow key leads to even smaller movements – one pixel at a time.

#StopMotionSlides Use Arrow Keys Animation

3. Pay Attention to Degrees when Rotating Objects

Much like when moving objects, you want to make sure that you rotate objects in relatively small, constant amounts. One option for doing this is to just pay attention to the degrees you see when rotating – i.e., 5°, 10°, 15°, etc. It’s tricky to get this just right, but anything close to constant (i.e., 5.1°, 9.8°, 15.2°, etc.) should do. A second option is the Rotate 1° keyboard shortcut. Use Alt (option on a Mac) + Shift + Left or Right arrow to do this. A third option is the Rotate 15° keyboard shortcut. Use Alt (option on a Mac) + Left or Right arrow to do this. I lean towards using the second option with a few clicks (3-5) for each slide, but it’s best to pick based on your situation/goal. A fourth option which isn’t shown in this GIF below is to hold down Shift while rotating with your mouse – this locks your rotation into increments of 15°.

#StopMotionSlides Rotate Animation

4. Use Keyboard Shortcuts to Resize

There’s a pattern here, friends. If you want this to look like a legit animation, you’ve gotta do everything incrementally and at a constant rate. Keyboard shortcuts always help with that. There are a few shortcuts for resizing – the most important are Ctrl + Alt + j (⌘ + Ctrl + j on Mac) for smaller and Ctrl + Alt + k (⌘ + Ctrl + k on Mac) for larger. Both of these resize proportionally (width & height) and from the center. They’re not shown in the GIF below, but you can also resize vertically (Ctrl + Alt/⌘ + i or q) or horizontally (Ctrl + Alt/⌘ + b or w). One final trick here – you may have noticed that if you just drag the “resize grabber” in the corner it resizes proportionally, but not from the center. If you hold down Control (Option on Mac), it’ll do it from the center.

#StopMotionSlides Resize Animation

5. Move Objects Forward or Backwards

If you’re creating a good animation, you’re going to need consider which objects should be on the top “layer.” Sometimes you even need it to look like something is going inside something else. You can use bring forward (⌘/Ctrl + up ), send backward (⌘/Ctrl + down), send to the back (⌘/Ctrl + Shift + down) and bring to the front (⌘/Ctrl + Shift + up) to do this. The difference in forward/to the front and backward/to the back is whether you want it to go up/down one layer or all the way to the “back” or “front.” You can either use the right-click menu or the keyboard shortcuts.

Stop Motion Slides Move Forward or Backward Animation

6. Use Image Transparency

Need something to appear or disappear in your animation? Image Transparency is the trick for that. Under “Format Options” is transparency. Clicking along the slide makes it change in 10% increments. 10% per slide is an ideal increment for making things appear or disappear!

Stop Motion Slides Use Image Transparency Animation

7. Use The Slide Edges Strategically

Sometimes your characters or objects need to enter or exit the “screen” from one of the sides – not just appear or disappear. In that case, you should use the screen edges strategically. Anything that is off the edge of the slide won’t be visible when you’re in present mode – and this is great news, because you can use it to good effect. Check it out in the GIF below:

Stop Motion Slides Use Slide Edges Animation

8. Use Keyboard Shortcuts to select items to move/modify

This may seem like an unnecessary tip, but if you’re doing an animation where you have multiple objects moving in different directions or at different rates, or an even wider array of things happening, it may save you some seconds to use keyboard shortcuts to select objects. The Tab key toggles which object in the slide is selected. It goes in the order that they were originally added there. Using Shift+Tab will go through the objects in reverse order.

Stop Motion Slides Tab and Shift Tab Animation

9. Make Text Appear from One Letter at a time

Listen, I know the old transition in PowerPoint and other programs with the typewriter text (where it appeared one letter at a time) was torture to watch, but in a Stop-Motion Animation, having a word fade in from left to right can be useful. This one is super self-explanatory – start with one letter on the first slide in the series and add the letters one at a time until the entire word (or phrase) is showing. That’s it! As if you needed it, here’s a GIF to make it crystal clear. 🙂

Stop Motion Left to Right Appearing Text Animation

10. CHange text color from side to side

Got a key word or phrase that you want to really draw attention to? Try giving it the neon sign treatment – change the color of the text one letter at a time from one side to the other!

Stop Motion Slides - Change Text Color Animation

There’s still more to be added here. This page has been a work in progress for almost a month, now. Each GIF takes me ~30 minutes to prepare, so the process of adding to this post is a pain-staking one. It’ll be complete soon. 🙂

Published by

Jake Miller

Jake is a Google for Education Certified Trainer and is the Lead Technology Integration Specialist for Brady Middle School in Ohio's Orange City Schools. In the past he taught STEM, Science & Math in Stow-Munroe Falls, Ohio, where he was also a leader in the district's Technology Leadership Team and a co-advisor for the middle school's STEM Club. He has been an educator since 2003. His Bachelor's Degree is in middle-level education (math/science) from the University of Akron and his Master's Degree is in Instructional Technology from Kent State University. He has enjoyed providing more than 100 professional development opportunities at conferences and school districts across the state of Ohio. He is very involved in Twitter (@JakeMillerTech) and provides regular pointers for educators with his #GAFETip tweets.