A Basic Toolkit for Stop Motion

Useful things for making your own animations

You can make awesome animations with basic tools and materials. These are my top 8 essential supplies for making stop motion films on a shoestring. I find this basic toolkit really useful when I am animating, and I hope you do too!

1. Sticky Tack

Sticky tack, often known by the brand name Blu-Tack, is incredibly useful stuff for stop motion. There are all sorts of uses for it. Put a small blob in each corner of a piece of paper for your background sheet to stop it sliding around. It is also good underneath toys that need a bit of help standing up. Or a blob in each corner under a LEGO baseboard.

2. Cocktail Sticks

You may know them as toothpicks. They can be found in most supermarkets. They are one of the best (and cheapest!) tools for model making. You can use them to make holes for eyes or to draw on a mouth. If you are using painted beads for eyes, you can use a cocktail stick to move them side to side.

3. Masking Tape

This is brilliant for stop motion. You can find it in decorating stores. It is important to have everything fixed in place when you are animating, such as your tabletop studio and camera. The great thing about masking tape is that it sticks well and can be easily removed without marking your table. Another bonus is that you do not need scissors as you can simply tear it by hand.

4. Self Adhesive Magnetic Tape

When used with a magnetic surface, magnets are very useful in stop motion as they help keep things still. You can get magnetic tape on a roll which will last a while. The added bonus is that your puppets will make great fridge magnets after you have animated them. I use magnets a lot with my table-top studios – included in each of my workshops, you will find a guide on how to make one.

Here is where I get mine from Guy’s Magnets. For outside the UK, you will be able to find it in craft stores or ebay. I have not used this brand before, but for teachers in the U.S. I came across this.

5. Invisible Thread

Fishing line is a quick and easy way of making things fly or jump in the air. Tie it around your object and use a little bit of tape or blutack to help it attach if your object is heavy. Look for a fine gauge (thickness) of around 0.3mm.

6. Brads

Also known as paper fasteners or split pins. Use them to create articulated puppets with moving joints. Look for mini brads approx 3mm – I buy mine on ebay.

7. Aluminum Foil

This is another brilliant budget material for stop motion. Scrunch it up and use it as the base for background scenery, such as rocks, that you then cover with plasticine. Or mould it around wire structures to provide extra support inside polymer clay props (like Fimo or Sculpey) before you bake them in the oven.

8. Polystyrene Balls

Cover these with plasticine to make things such as heads and bodies for your characters. It saves plasticine and helps keep your models light. You can find them in Art shops. Stock up at Easter time as you’ll find big bags of polystyrene eggs of all shapes and sizes in shops.

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Ready to animate & to see how you can use this kit? Come and have a look at my online workshops!