A Brief Guide To Cut-Out Animation With Examples

Cut-out animation is one of the oldest animation styles. Read our short guide to learn everything about cut-out animation with useful examples.

We all have grown up watching the famous South Park animated cartoon. But at that time, we had no clue that it is not just simple animation.

But now if you recall, you’ll identify it as cut-out animation. Yes, though it’s unbelievable, it’s true.

Not only is cut-out animation one of the oldest, but it is also one of the simplest animation techniques.

In this article, we’ll learn the concept of cut-out animation in greater detail: a technique in which pre-cut parts of the intended design are moved frame by frame to create the illusion of movement.

So, let’s start this blog by understanding what cut-out animation is, and then we’ll move into further details such as examples and the pros and cons of using it in your business.

What is Cut Out Animation?

Cut Out animation is a form of 2-dimensional animation that utilizes cut-out materials, such as paper or cards, to create characters, props, and scenes.

In this process, the animator assembles the cut-out pieces and moves them in small increments, taking a photograph at each step with a single-frame camera.

By capturing these incremental movements and stringing them together, the animator is able to create the illusion of movement and bring their cut-out creations to life.

This technique is one of the oldest and most basic forms of animation and has many variations and approaches.

Typically, the clippings are from greeting cards, paper, fabric, or even photographs. The pieces are cut out and utilized as stop-motion puppets, with each divided into as many elements as necessary to animate the object.

As an illustration, to animate a character’s hand, the motion should follow the forearm, which in turn should follow the arm attached to the shoulder. Make sure this is the case in order to keep your animation realistic and logical.

Shadow puppetry, a centuries-old storytelling technique involving flat cutout figurines held between a light source and a translucent screen, has its origins in this simple approach.

A major difference here is that stop motion is used instead of puppetry which relies on physical manipulation. However, an important similarity between cut-out animation and silhouette style is its application in the latter.

How to Create Your Own Cut-Out Animation?

To create your own cut-out animation, you will need a few supplies including a cutting mat, bristol board, gaffer’s tape, scissors, a knife, pencil, thread, and coloring materials. You can also use pointed tools and pens if desired.

Step #1 Sketching

The first step in the process is sketching. Start by drawing your characters and props in full, paying attention to sizing so they can be used as a template later.

Next, draw each body part separately, ensuring that the head, arms, and legs overlap. It is helpful to create different angles of the character, such as front, back, and profile, for more dynamic movement. Finally, don’t forget to add color to your components. Sketching can be done by hand or using digital software like Adobe Photoshop.

Step#2 Assembling

Next, assemble the characters by attaching the individual body parts together with aluminum wire or glue.

Make sure the wire is secure and avoid lumps of glue. Remember to segment the facial features as well so they can be animated within the sequence.

Place the assembled character flat on the background.

Step#3 Animation

The final step is animating. This can be similar to stop-motion animation. Hold the characters in their positions for long enough for the audience to understand their intentions and emotions.

Then, move the character frame by frame, following the principles of anticipation, ease in and out, and follow through as outlined by Disney animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas.

Use the initial sketches created from different angles and transition between views for a natural effect.

The Greatest Example of Cut Out Animation

Introducing… Lotte Reiniger, what a name!

In 1919, Charlotte’ Lotte’ Reiniger began making short films using the medium of cut-out silhouettes, which she called “cut-out silhouettes.” She was given this name in honor of the black on white material she used to produce otherworldly shadow effects that were considered intriguing, experimental, and revolutionary at the time.

Cut-Out Animation In The Digital Age

As with any other art form, animation has adapted extremely well to our modern technological world in the last several years.

Contrary to popular belief, cut-out animation is one of the few techniques in the medium that has remained relatively unchanged over time. Despite its illustrious history, filmmakers continue to be inspired by Reiniger’s eccentric approach.

Even in today’s modern world of art and design, the cut-out is still a great way for novice animators to begin due to its simplicity and efficacy.

Director Terry Gillam’s fondness for animated inputs and sequences throughout the Monty Python films is a noteworthy example. Gillam was accustomed to the strange layering effect created by cut-out animation.

Not only does this method of production save significant amounts of money and time, but it also imparts a distinct style. Such an example can be found in the television series South Park, which features digital cut-out animation.

South Park is known for its irreverent humor, which many potential viewers find repulsive. Though many are likely turned off by the constraints imposed by the animation style.

To truly interest your audience, you might want to combine several animation approaches with cut-out animation. This enables you to strike a balance between the constraints imposed by cut-out and the advanced processes of 2D or 3D animation.

How Cut-Out Animation Can Be Beneficial For Your Business

We should explore the perks and downsides of cut-out animation to help you decide whether it is a good fit for your brand.

The benefits of using cut-out animation

Cut-out animation has a number of advantages, which we’ve listed for your convenience below:


Using silhouettes in cut-out animation is unquestionably one of the most delightfully cheerful forms of animation, especially appealing to children. It’s a medium that almost everyone can use. I guarantee that your viewers will be delighted by it.

Fun to watch

Don’t worry about the crowd! Not to mention that, regardless of age, making animated images with the stop motion technique is fulfilling and enjoyable. This technique will be a huge hit for those who enjoy doing crafts.

Makes simple stories engaging

Cut-out animation may be a powerful tool for communicating your story and bringing it to life on the screen. Designing your own cut-outs gives your project a unique and personalized feel. In this way, the final output can capture the freedom of your imagination and transmit it in a moving image format.


Most importantly, for a lone animator working on cut-out animation, it necessitates significantly fewer drawings than full-scale cel animation, which saves time and money. For example, an animator can use a single drawing that has been split into bits to portray movement that would otherwise take hundreds of cels to represent it.


Because cut-out animation is so simple to make, it is frequently used in art projects with children as young as three years old!

This means that the method has become a particularly popular kind of animation for younger children’s educational curricula.

Combining traditional art and crafts with animation elevates creativity to a new level. Teachers can integrate art and technology in a way that is both creative and accessible. You’ll need colored paper or cards, scissors, a webcam, a stand, stop motion software, and your imagination.

The drawbacks of using cut-out animation

Despite its many advantages, this animation, like others, has certain disadvantages:

Mind-numbingly time-consuming

It is important to note that the length of the cut-out animation process is directly related to how complex the design is and how much detail is necessary for the finished product.

On the other hand, this procedure necessitates that you not only sketch but also separate and organize each item individually.

For those who value their time, this is a time-consuming task indeed. If you want to master the art of traditional cut-out animation, you’ll need to put in the time and effort.

Requires pro drawing skills

Animating two-dimensional characters is quite different from animating a piece of cut-out paper.

As is the case with any animation, the more advanced your design skills, the better the outcomes.

It’s acceptable if you’re not Picasso. Outsourcing an artist may be advantageous. You can assemble the elements and construct the final object from their sketches.

Note: This is just one style of animation. There are many others. If you want to learn about them too, read our blog on: the different types of animation styles with examples.

Basic and rigid animation

You can keep your characters relatively static and from being visible from different points of view by just animating them around the pivot points.

You’ll need to get your creative juices flowing to make your figures come to life in simple animation formats like Cutout.

All in all, no matter what animation style you choose, it has its own set of pros and cons.

Are You Interested In Cut-Out Animation Videos? – Get In Touch With Us

As you know, compared to other types of content, video is 1200% more effective. Because of this, many brands have started incorporating videos in their content to pique their audience’s interest and boost their sales conversion rates.

And you must be astounded to know brands prefer animated videos because they are engaging and attractive.

Suppose you’re one of those brands that want to improve their marketing strategies through animated videos. In that case, you either need a whole video production team or hire a video animation agency to complete the project for you.

If you’re looking for a reputable, credible, and creative 2D animation studio, consult BuzzFlick – one of the best motion graphics studios offering incredible and high-quality video animation and production services at affordable cost prices.

Be it motion graphics animation service or cut-out animation, we offer it all. If you want to see our work, check out our portfolio.

Closing Remarks

Cut-out animation is a simple technique for keeping your animation budget under control.

While incorporating unique design elements to really make your project stand out. Despite its simplicity, don’t underestimate its power to tell a tale through its unique quirkiness.

We hope that this blog has piqued your interest in the field of animation and that you will continue to explore the possibilities that lie ahead.

Cut-Out Animation – FAQs

  • What is cut-out animation?

As one of the first stop-motion methods, cut-out animation uses materials including paper, cardboard, photos, and fabric to cut out characters and props.

  • How can you make a cut-out motion?

To create cut-out animations requires craft supplies and a phone.

Step 1: Sketch your characters and props out and make them of the perfect size so you can use them as a template.

Step 2:  Then draw all the body parts individually and different views of the character.

Step 3: Next, connect all the body parts.

Step 4: Set a background and place the character on top.

Step 5: Set up a camera or phone and connect it with a laptop.

Step 6: Now move the characters and hold their position long enough to read their intention and emotion, then move them frame by frame by following the principles of in and out, anticipation, and follow-through.

Step 7: Move the background to show the motion of the character.

  • What is digital cut-out animation?

Cutout animation is a style of stop-motion animation that employs flat figures, objects, and backdrops made of paper, cards, stiff fabric, or pictures. Cutouts of the props would be utilized as puppets for stop motion animation.

  • How long does cut out animation takes?

The average time it takes to create an animation lasting 60-90 seconds is typically 8-10 weeks. This time frame can vary depending on the style of animation being used. Simple motion graphics animations will generally take less time to produce compared to more complex frame-by-frame animations.

  • What are the other types of animations?

Following are some common types of animation:

  • 3D Animation
  • 2D Animation
  • Whiteboard Animation
  • Typography Animation
  • Claymation
  • Stop Motion Animation
  • Traditional Cel Animation
  • Rotoscope Animation
  • Which software can you use to create cut out animation video?

Synfig Studio, similar to OpenToonz, offers a bone system that allows for more natural movement in animations. This software allows users to create cutout animations using bitmap images, and also includes a Skeleton Distortion layer for more intricate deformations of bitmap artwork.

Eich Eyf

An animation enthusiast who enjoys explaining complex animation techniques, mediums, and videos. Her love for animated films drives her. In her spare time, she enjoys watching animated films from Pixar, Disney, and Illumination productions.

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