Cut-out Animation

In traditional animation, there’re several main techs: a frame-by-frame, which is invented and used by Disney, and cut-out animation. The first technique is when an artist draws a character in each frame: his body position changes, and all the angels are drawn.


What is the cut-out animation? 


The cut-out animation is the method of creating a cartoon or video in which the artist moves by replacing the character’s body parts (a head, a hand, a neck, a mouth, and so on). It recreates an illusion of the motions of the character. When the more mobile and complex parts, then the high-quality animation is.

Essentially cut-out animation involves the production of two-dimensional objects, props, and scenes. Unlike the frame-by-frame technique, it works on the puppet principle. An artist builds the skeletal structure and takes the controllers, which he can pull on, and then the personage becomes alive. So, the moving of a character’s body parts is cut-out and moved on. Cut-out animation lends itself nicely to rapid movement or even frenzied, continuous action, which disguises some of the limitations of cut-out personage. 




It is one of the oldest types of cartoon tech. The history of this technology has roots in film cartoons. The point is that a paper-drawn object cuts to pieces, and they move away from the frame by frame. The character, cut to pieces, was posed in a certain position, photographed, and then changed the position of the body, again photographed, and so on.

Among those who first employed this technique was Lotte Reining. In 1919 she shot a short film using this method. She was the first specialist who worked on the cut-out technique. 

In the continuous growth of the genre, we see evolution in this genre. In this field, bright stand-out Russian director Yurii Norstein. He made a short animation film in 1975, “Hedgehog in a fog,” which became a beacon in this industry. He used not just paper, and he also used different elements as water, a fog when he created his film.  

Nowadays, technology is evolving fast, and animation processes have evolved with it. But despite the evolution of devices and software, the cut-out animation is still almost the same in general principle. The only difference is that the objects are drawn in animation software. Computers calculate the points of movement placed in a 2D space and the rotation of it!




Working in this technique, a motion designer, first of all, needs to work with the detail of the development of the character. Not just the form of character, namely the facial variants that suggest the story. First of all, the artist animator draws a character list that depends on the story task. Most of the working part takes place in the early stage. So, the artist draws a few parts and then swaps one for the other, as a designer, using the tools. 

Making movement in this technique is like sharing a personal experience. Basically, an artist-animator creates the mood, the manners of the character using his judgment and creative expertise. 


  1. The main advantage of this technique is that the animator needs to create fewer frames than for the frame-by-frame technique. It is important when an artist works on a small deadline.
    The motion designer uses his own workings for the creation character’s movement. So, it means that he himself is relying on the number of hours that can be spent on work. 
  2. Animation studios often use this technique because it saves a lot of time and money. The cut-out is a relatively not expansive service. It is a benefit of it.  




  1. There is a complexity to this method. In this technique, we have the limitations that are laid down in the initial drawing. Each detail applied to the shape limits the angle for the photo. So, a similar situation will be with digital animated production.
  2. It is hard to get the perfect lip-to voice-over synergy. Cut-out animation is more used for pantomimic stories duration five and fewer minutes.  


Cut-out animation is a popular technique because it saves production time and leads to smaller file sizes when compared to full cel animation. 

The Comedy Central animated series “South Park” was originally made using physical paper cut-outs but subsequently by computer animation. In fact, the South Park creators use high-end hardware and software to make an animation that looks cheap and amateurish deliberately.

As usual, an interesting video rill is a mix of techniques together. We can see the video with the frame-by-frame technique, then the shape technique, and then cut-out method. That’s more dynamic in video rill. For information, an easier video rill cut-out technique will be a good method.

Wow-How Studio is creating video rolls for ten years. We have artists-animators who work in any techniques and in this technique too. Our goal is to develop such a video to immerse the viewer in the story and be memorable.

Do you want to add more techniques to your future animation video? Just tell us about this in the creative brief (first important step of production process).

Now, let’s talk about your project!