Tynker Toolbox: The Animation Tool

Tynker Toolbox: The Animation Tool

Do you love writing stories and drawing characters with Tynker? Well, now you can make your projects even better by creating your own animated artwork. 

Animation uses still images called frames to create movement. Here are some frames of a running horse animation:  

Credit: Eadweard Muybridge (Library of Congress)

With enough still images, animators can create the illusion of movement by displaying frames quickly, one-after-another: 

Tynker’s new Animation Tool makes creating animations fast and easy!

Tynker’s Animation Tool 

If you’d like to follow along, open Tynker Workshop using the +Create Project button on your dashboard and then select Blank Project. Now choose Add Actor and create a new one with the Drawing Tool. Or you can open an actor like the Coin (Add Actor > Media Library), which already has a series of costumes that create an animation. 

On the right, notice a list of all the costumes for an Actor. This area has a bunch of handy features for previewing and controlling animations. Let’s take a look:

1. Preview Animation ▶️

Plays a video preview of your costumes in sequence.

2. Copy Costume

This creates a duplicate of the current costume. You can edit costumes to quickly create frames of an animation.

3. Click and Drag

Move costumes up-and-down to reorder the sequence of your costumes (frames)

4. Trash 🗑️

Discard a costume (frame).

Two-Frame Animation

You don’t need that many costumes to create an animation. In fact, you only need two!

Animate Between Two Key Frames

Start by drawing two key frames of your animation: The starting and the ending positions. Try to add frames that are in-between these two positions to create a smooth transition from one frame to the next. Use the Preview Animation button to see how it looks. Keep adding frames until you’re happy with the effect. 

Consider the ideas of anticipation, follow-through, and exaggeration

Camera Shake

Don’t want to draw? You can make objects appear to shake and shudder. 

Create costumes by duplicating the original with the Copy Costume button—then move the costume a little bit in a random direction, each frame, using the Selection tool. 

The Selection Tool

The result is a jittery kind of animation:

Make a cloud move by and enhance the effect!

Digital Tracing Paper: The Onion Skin Tool

Drawing your own animation by hand? You can use the Onion Skin tool to show how nearby frames of animation look. This tool is like digital tracing paper! 

Follow along to see how it works. To draw a new actor yourself, go to Add Actor > Drawing Tool

Then let’s suppose you’ve already drawn a single frame, like this dog, that you’re happy about and ready to start animating. 

Let’s add a few frames of animation—so that this dog wags his tail. First, copy the starting costume using the Copy Costume button. 

Then switch to your new costume, erase the parts you want to change—for us, that’s the dog’s tail. 

Then click the Onion Skin button: 

Just like real-life tracing paper, this shows a translucent overlay of nearby frames, so you can so you use it as guidelines for your new frame of animation. 

Draw the tail of the dog in a slightly different spot for each successive frame, using the Onion Skin, Copy Costume, and Animation Preview tools, as you work. The result can be smooth motion like this: 

Want to learn how to make animations like this? Check out the complete video tutorial to Create Your Own Virtual Pet

Make a Button Grow and Shrink

You don’t have to use an actor’s costumes to create an animation, either. This script will make a button grow, then shrink in response to getting clicked. 

Make a Rollover Animation 

Want your users to get a hint that they can click on a button? Use this conditional code, which adds a glowing effect on mouseover: 

Hat Tip: Inspired by Scratch Team. 

Make It Flash

The show and hide blocks can make simple animations, too. Here’s one that lets the player know that an enemy has been defeated by flashing

Keep At It!

Here are some other ideas for improving your animations: 

  • Zoom in and out to get a closer look at your costumes. Use the (+) and (-) buttons in the Drawing Tool or the keyboard shortcuts. You can get close enough to see individual pixels and take fine-grained control of your art:
  • Have an animation-style you want to mimic? Try watching the video as slowly as possible, frame-by-frame, to see how the artist achieved the effect
  • Look up the “12 Rules of Animation” and practice with them (as described in The Illusion of Life, written by Disney animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston)
  • Want to draw realistic hands or people? Take photos and work from a reference
  • Practice with pen and paper—but try out a tablet or touchscreen if you get a chance, too
  • Look at flipbooks and stop-motion video for ideas of what’s possible with animation

Don’t forget you can import your artwork and photos into Tynker (Add Actor > File Upload). 

Want to use this tutorial in your class? Go ahead. And if you make a cool animation that you’d like to share with the Tynker community, email us at community@tynker.com and we’ll post it in our next round of Tynker Toolbox.

More Activities!

Looking for more activities? Check out all the Tynker Toolbox articles for coding ideas!

  • Tynker Workshop Basics — Learn about coordinates and start coding with Tynker.
  • The Character Creator — Take control of custom rigs using the Animation blocks.
  • The Physics Blocks — Create games or simulations with gravity, collisions, and more. Think: Angry Birds and Marble Madness.
  • The Pen Blocks — Make your actors draw as they move. Create patterns, draw geometric shapes, and more.
  • The Sound Blocks — Play music with code! Add custom sound effects, too. Tynker’s brand new music tool supports MIDI and MP3. 
  • Code Block Tricks — Get top-secret ninja tips for writing code fast in Tynker Workshop. 
  • The Debugger — Learn about Tynker’s data debugger and get bug-fixing tips.
Tynker enables children to learn computer programming in a fun and imaginative way. More than 60 million kids worldwide have started learning to code using Tynker.