Lesson Plan Industry Sector
Arts, Media & Entertainment

Lesson Plan Originally Created By: Mike Morris

Walk Cycle with Motion Tween

Part of Unit: Animation Process

Lesson Plan Overview / Details

Students will create a simple stick figure, animate it, and add design elements such as background.  Principles taught include the understanding of motion tweening, frames, timeline, and layers, all to create a basic Walk Cycle.

This lesson has instructions for Flash, but can be easily translated into other animation software, or even hand-drawing. See Resources for suggested applications.

Lesson Time

Lesson Instruction
30 Minutes
Guided Practice
30 - 60 Minutes
Follow-up; share out
20 Minutes


Objectives and Goals

Students will successfully create a simple two-dimensional animation of a walk cycle, learning terminology and tools for this area of media design.

Activities in this Lesson

  • Getting Started Hooks / Set

    -- Ask students to name an animated feature they’ve seen recently (e.g. “Up,” or “How to Train Your Dragon,” etc.

    -- Have they ever thought about how those animations are made? What goes into the making of an animated film? (write their answers on a board). Coach them for more jobs they may not have thought of, making sure that one of the answers is “Animator”

    -- Tell them they will all become animators in one easy lesson. Show students a few examples of the completed project, from very basic to more detailed and complex.

    -- Time pending, you could show them a short animation. Make sure it's an "award-winning" short, middle-school appropriate, no longer than a few minutes. Some examples are attached.

    Resources and Materials

  • -- Point out the features of the sample videos that you will look for in their completed animation:

    1.  Their Guy will walk across the “stage”  (motion tween)

    2.  He won’t come back (he won't "loop") (action scripting

    3.  There is a visually interesting background (layers, visuals)

  • Show them how Demo / Modeling

    These are basic instructions using Flash. For detailed instructions, refer to the attached PDF. The concepts taught are applicable across various animation applications, and should be adapted according to your available software and/or hardware. The lesson unfolds in three sections:  Drawing the Figure, Animating the Figure, and Adding Background & Action Scripting.

    The teacher ("you") should demonstrate:

    I.  Drawing the Figure

    --Create a new Flash document (File -> New) if Flash does not open with a blank one. Select Flash Action Script 3.0.  You should now see a white rectangle on a field of grey, with the timeline underneath and the properties window and tools bar on the right. If you don’t see this, go to the top right menu where it says “Essentials” and toggle to “Reset Essentials”. (See image or PDF)

    --Follow these steps to draw your stick figure in the lower left corner of the “stage.”  Make sure the Object Drawing button is OFF.  In the toolbar, near the middle, there is a Rectangle tool. Click and hold to select the Oval drawing tool. In the properties, set the stroke height to 2.75 (hit Return).  Select Black for the Fill color, and turn off the Stroke color. Create a circle for the stick figure’s head, about 1 cm in diameter (see picture below). Select the line tool in the left toolbar. Make the body, arms, and legs of the stick figure. (See example in PDF)

    --To convert your figure to a symbol:

    1. Select the stick figure by clicking the black arrow “Selection” tool (Top of your tool bar) and dragging a box around the figure. This selects your whole Guy.
    2. (Control+Click) on the figure’s head and scroll down to Convert to Symbol (See image or PDF)

    Click “Convert to Symbol”, and be sure the Type is“Movie Clip”. Name the movie clip “guy”. Click OK to exit the menu. Now you should see a thin blue box around your whole guy.

    II. Animating the Figure

    --Once the figure is converted to a movie clip, double-clicking on it takes you into the editing area.  Here you will create five successive keyframes in the timeline; in each frame you will change the position of the legs slightly to simulate the movement of walking-- follow the leg drawings provided in the PDF.  It is important to note here that the figure itself DOES NOT MOVE.  You are merely changing the legs in each frame, while the whole figure stays in one place.

    1. In the timeline below the stage (see picture below), select the first frame. (frames are small vertical boxes, the first of which has a black dot in it). (See image or PDF)
    2. Press F6 at the top of your keyboard, which will create a new keyframe (in Frame 2). The new keyframe box in the timeline will have a black dot in it because you’ve repeated your image from Frame 1.
    3. Now change the legs of the figure to match the picture in Frame 2 (see the PDF), using the Eraser and Line tools. DO NOT MOVE THE FIGURE ACROSS THE STAGE. CHANGE ONLY ITS LEGS IN FIVE SUCCESSIVE FRAMES. See image or PDF for what the legs should look like.

    --When all five leg frames are finished, you must LEAVE the movie clip editing area, and return to the "Scene" level.  There will be ONLY ONE FRAME in this area; the five leg frames are "hidden" inside the symbol.

    --Extend your one keyframe to 100 frames by clicking in the 100th frame and pressing F6 on your keyboard. Then hold down the SHIFT key and click/grab your figure and drag it across the screen to the gray area off the "stage".  Then Control + Click in Frame 85, and in the drop down menu that appears, select Create Classic Tween.  Now a long arrow appears in your frame, from Frame 1 to 99.

    --To see your figure walk, test the movie (Control + Test Movie).

    --Discuss Frame Rate with your students-- is your figure moving too fast? too slow? Change the Frames Per Second to show how this alters the movement.  Have them set their FPS at 12, and talk about why professional animators might use different frame rates.

    III. Adding Background and Action Scripting

    --If your figure walks successfully, SAVE it, and add background. For this you will add a new layer:  Go to (Insert -> Timeline -> Layer). You should have a new layer, shown in the window to the left of the frames. Control+Click on the new layer and select Properties in the drop-down menu. Rename your new layer “Background”.  Rename the original layer “Guy” instead of “Layer 1”. Drag the “Background Layer” below the “Guy” layer. (See image or PDF)

    --Select the Rectangle tool in the toolbar. Then locate the area of the toolbar labeled “Colors”. Set both Stroke & Fill to the color or pattern of your choice by clicking them and then selecting a color or pattern in the popup colors box. Be sure you’re in the Background layer, in Frame 1. Use the Rectangle tool to drag a box that covers the entire white part of the stage.  When you release, you will have a color for the entire staging area in that layer.

    --Now test your movie. You can hit Command + Return to do it. If you like it, SAVE IT!!!  If you don’t like it, go back to the background layer and redo the color or pattern.

    --The FINAL STEP is to do some basic Action Scripting to stop your Guy from endlessly looping (replaying over and over forever). Click on frame 100 in the timeline (in your Guy layer) and go to the Window dropdown menu at the top of Flash. Then click on Actions (Window -> Actions).  In the large white space, type this EXACTLY AS IS:


    Then exit the window by clicking on the little button in the upper left. Test your movie again. Does he walk across and disappear? Then you’re done!  BE SURE TO SAVE IT AGAIN!

    Resources and Materials

  • Their Turn Guided Practice

    Students should have instructions either in a handout or available online for review and following step by step as they construct their own animation.

    Teacher should circulate and give assistance as needed. Students who finish quickly can also become helpers for others in the classroom.

    Have them turn in the completed project to an online site, such as a Wiki or Google Doc, so that you can view them and students can look at their peers' work.  Instruct them how to turn in the SWF that is generated when they do Test Movie, instead of the FLA file.


Assessment Types:
Projects, Observations,

Grading for the project is based on:

1. Observation of effort & participation, staying on task

2. Finished product: does it meet the three parameters described at the beginning?
-- Does the figure walk, not run, across the stage?
-- Does the figure disappear and not come back?
-- Is there appropriate background?