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?

Cutout animation is a kind of of stop-motion animation in which flat characters, backgrounds and props are being used cut from papers, cards, photographs or stiff fabric. These objects are used as puppets after cut out stop motion to create a sense of movement.

The method of cut-out animation is used to create a 2D animated cartoon or a video taking a photograph at each step with a single-frame camera. The character’s body parts like head, arms, neck, etc. are replaced and the animator moves them to recreate the illusion of character’s range of motions.

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.

Cut-Out Animation: A Brief History

The animated films in early days in cut out style were created way before Disney by some small animated studios. Thus, probably the world’s first-known cutout animated films were made by Quirino Cristiani, in Argentina. However, Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (1926) is the only animated cut-out film surviving till date.

According to Adobe cut out animation is the oldest feature-length film directed by Lotetr Reiniger, a German director is The Adventures of Prince Achmed (Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed) 1926.

Since then, we’ve seen the evolution of cut out animation. Although it is perhaps done the old-fashioned way mostly, one can also replicate it with robust software and to improve animation’s quality and give it a modern touch.

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.

What Are The Advantages Of Cut-Out Animation?

Cut-out animation is a prevalent animation technique to save animation production time. It requires lesser files with smaller sizes as contrary to full cel animation. “South Park, the Comedy Central animated series was initially created with various paper cut-outs but later through computer animation.

Anyway cut-out animation has numerous more advantages and we’re listing few for your convenience below:

Appealing & Versatile

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.

Engaging & 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.

Dynamic Storytelling

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.

Children Love 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.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Cut-Out Animation?

Despite its many advantages, this animation, like others, has certain disadvantages like, flat shapes (2-D shapes) make it hard to achieve smooth movements, especially when moving closer to or farther away from the camera. Adding details to a flat shape also restricts the angles from which an animator can capture it.

Also, we’re listing few more disadvantages below:

It’s Complex & Challenging

Cut-out animation has many challenges when it comes to the flexibility and animating individual elements of a character. The process of creating elements like eyes, pupils, and lips movement (for instance, opening and closing the eyes) can be complicated and difficult.
However, the advantage is that the character as a whole can be manipulated more easily, allowing for changes like stretching, shrinking, rotating, etc., without much difficulty. In summary, animating specific details can be challenging, but overall character adjustments are more manageable.

Limitation In Facial Close Ups

There will be an angle limit for the animator to picture the frame if any details are applied to cut-out animation. Also, when it comes to facial close-ups, cut-out animation doesn’t work well. It is because animators find it challenging to synchronize the lip movements of the character with recorded sound (lip sync). This limits the inclusion of detailed dialogue scenes in cut-out animation.

It’s 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 it.

Look how complex this animation style is. That is why save yourself from all hassles and look for a company that can handle all of it on your behalf like BuzzFlick. We provide variety of animation and video production services; from stop motion, cutout, to 2D, and 3D animation services, we’ve got your back.

Cut Out Animation: The Greatest Example

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.

Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (1926) directed by Lotte Reiniger is known to be earliest cut-out animation film available.

It is the the greatest example we have right now to know how cut-out animation used to be in initial phases.

5 Examples Of Cut Out Animation

We’ve share one classic example of cut out animation above. Here are 5 more cut-out animation examples you must watch:

Piranha: Paper Cut Out Stop Motion Animation

It is great example of paper cut out animation with the story of the “Piranha” who encounters a situation while pursuing a fish. With simple paper and stop-motion animation techniques, animator bring this simple storyline to life.

Coco- Paper Cut Out Animation

This is another great cut-out animation example with a message “life becomes less enjoyable when your best buddies aren’t around”. This is a paper cut out animation by Katherine Manaog, who took inspiration from here experience when she missed her dogs while she moved to another country for art school.

Honda Paper Commercial

This is one of the most iconic stop-motion cut out animation commercial ad. This Emmy Nominated commercial for Honda took 4 months to be created with dozens of illustrators and animators using thousands of hand-drawn paper cut outs to explain Honda’s history creatively.

Did Cartman Get An Anal Probe? – South Park

South Park’s “Cartman Gets an Anal Probe” is the animated American television series. Short on money, the producers animated this specific episode entirely through a paper-cutout stop-motion technique, and till date it remains the only episode of South Park that is animated largely without any help of computer technology.

Once Upon A Dream- A Stop Motion Wedding Movie

Directed by Noam Gordon and Yigal Feliks and animated by Shirie Gordon-Feliks, it is wedding movie for a lovely couple Carmit and Oren.

It took 10 weeks, and 763 pictures and paper cut outs to bring this animated movie to life.

A great example of cut out animation that uses real human characters and hand drawn sketches to present something innovative.

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?

Cut-out animation is a prevalent animation technique to save animation production time. It requires lesser files with smaller sizes as contrary to full cel animation. “South Park, the Comedy Central animated series was initially created with various paper cut-outs but later through computer animation. It creates a great impact on businesses and their revenues.

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 company, consult BuzzFlick – 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.

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Frequently Asked Questions- Cut Out Animation

What is cut out animation?

Cutout animation is a kind of stop-motion animation cut outs of from materials like cards, papers, pictures, fabrics, etc. are used to make flat characters, backgrounds and props. These cut outs are then used as puppets for stop motion animation.

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?

A digital cut-out animation is actually a stop-motion animation that uses cut out props characters, and backgrounds to create animation. These objects are cut out from papers, card sheets, fabrics, etc. and then used for animated videos with the help of animation software like Adobe, Maya, Blender, etc.

Is cut-out animation easy?

Cut-out animation is one of the classics, simplest, yet oldest and animation techniques with many variations and so many forms. Fundamentally, cut-out animation uses 2D characters, backgrounds, scenes and props made from paper, card, or fabric cutouts to produce animations frame by frame. Although it seems easy, but in reality, it is time taking and complex.

How long does cutout animation take?

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.

Concluding It…

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.

BuzzFlick is one of the best Stop motion and motion graphics studios that can provide best cut out animation for you. Contact us for further queries.

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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