Art lesson resource: Split pin characters

Here is an extended task to go with the animation project we normally do with Year 7. This is actually suitable (with adaptation) for Year 5 or 6. Some of this is fairly straight forward but does require some technical know-how. I will include an example character resource below.

What you will need

  • Cereal boxes or thin white card
  • Scissors
  • Choice of colour technique; paint, felt tips etc.
  • Split pins (essential)
  • Green cloth
  • Camera
  • Computer to create final cartoon


Still image from Ivor the Engine

To accompany the many types and methods of animation, it is worth showing students Oliver Postgate’s work, especially Ivor the Engine.

The story behind the artist and Smallfilms:


There are many templates for split pin characters (here is a split pin model free resource), however, for Year 7 we like to get students to develop their own ideas in a sketchbook. These can be story related or based on characters by Sjors Vervoort like ours. Here you can see development of my example character; a cheeky fox.


Next transfer the character outline to card (use thin card like cardboard cereal boxes as easier to cut with scissors). Use an appropriate method to add colour but remember to separate arms, legs and head or any moveable parts!


Cut out each part carefully. Make a pilot hole using a compass at each split pin position. Attach the split pin carefully. As you can see from the example, I painted the tops of each split pin to match the background colour.


Photograph against your green cloth in a well lit room. Change positions of limbs etc to suggest movement in each frame/photo. Transfer the set of images into the movie editor of your choice or use an app like Doink on iOS.

Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 09.59.21

I used iMovie and followed this simple green screen tutorial. I have added a bit of music and sound effects just for fun but this is only supposed to be a screen test. The real fun is getting the students to make their own!




Top 5: Photography Teaching books



When you’re looking at resources to help develop a new course or just out of personal interest, often you browse Goodreads or Amazon looking for that perfect book. As can be read in a previous post, I found websites that really helped me focus essentials for a GCSE Photography course. Looking across my bookshelf, I realised I had quite a few photography resources already (see image above). How do they compare with supposedly more ‘current’ information on the web?

Here is a quick round up of my top five.


The Photography Book Ian Jeffrey

  • Paperback: 520 pages
  • Publisher: Phaidon Press; mini format edition (30 April 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 071483937X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714839370
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 3.2 x 16.5 cm
  • Review: 5/5 Perfect! Pocket sized and alphabetical for quick finding inspiration.


The Photographer’s Eye Michael Freeman

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Ilex Press; First Edition edition (11 Jun. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905814046
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905814046
  • Product Dimensions: 23.7 x 1.4 x 25.9 cm
  • Review 4.5/5 Superb for intruding design and composition creativity with the not-so artistic. Amazing examples.


Teaching Photography Rand & Steven

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Focal Press; 2 edition (8 April 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1138838543
  • ISBN-13: 978-1138838543
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 18.5 x 2.3 cm
  • Review: 4/5 Includes advice for questioning, photographic technique & creativity. Edtech section will date fast.


Collins’ Complete Photography Projects Garrett & Harris

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (7 Nov. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000750926X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007509263
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 17.8 x 22.2 cm
  • Review: 4/5 Good catalogue of ideas and Quick Tips per section. Needs more Photoshop/Lightroom projects to be truly complete.


Understanding Exposure  Bryan Peterson

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Amphoto Books; 3 edition (7 Aug. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0817439390
  • ISBN-13: 978-0817439392
  • Product Dimensions: 21.7 x 1.1 x 28.1 cm
  • Review: 3.5/5 Comprehensive but would have benefitted from being bundled with his book on composition and further aperture advice.


What would be in your Top 5 Photography teaching books?