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Animation Desk – wonderful free app for creativity on Android & iOS

Animation Desk is a lovely app for creating self-drawn cartoons and animations and is available for free on both Android and iOS. The app is wonderfully engaging and really unlocks the creativity of the user. As such it has uses across the whole curriculum; ICT for the principles of animation and sequencing, Art, English for reciting, drawing and imagining story sequences, Science for documenting experiments, Maths for creating animated sequences of shapes or numbers, History for charting historical events or Geography for geographical ones, such as animated explanations of volcanic eruptions rather simply labelling a static diagram, and so on.

The premise is really simple, and the app is very easy to learn how to use. You have a canvas, a selection of pencils and brushes for different effects and a colour pallette which can be customised to provide the precise colour and shade required. You then draw a character and/or scene on the canvas, hit the menu button at the top and add a new canvas, re-drawing the scene with a slight difference. Once this has been repeated a few times you can hit the play button to watch your frames together to form your animation.

That in essence is it. We have used this Year One and Two children and with teaching and support staff during CPD sessions and all are able to pick it up quickly and effectively within a few minutes. The strapline on the website states that ‘Anyone can be an Animator’, and this is certainly the case with the app.

There are a few more features, but again each is very simple to understand and use. The speed of the animation can be altered using the FPS (Frames-per-Second) dial on the left-hand side. Clicking the light-bulb will provide ‘onion-skin’ visibility; this is where the ‘ghost’ of the previous frame appears on a canvas so you know where to draw the character and so on. You can also add a background scene as an image, meaning that the animated sequence can take place anywhere in the world or beyond. Clicking at the bottom gives you a timeline view of each frame which can be returned to for editing, deleted etc. Once you’re finished with an animation, you can save it to the Projects screen to be returned to later, and you can export it as a ‘movie’ into the Gallery – the movie can then be imported into other apps such as iMovie or Video in Video for editing and integrating with other clips.

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