Animation Therapy Workshop System


  As part of my MA's Professional Practice I have been investigating different strategies that would combine to make an effective animation therapy workshop system. I want to be able to design a system with easy, clear tasks which enable the client/patient to complete an animation therapy process and be able to concentrate on that alone, without being distracted by technical difficulties.

I also want this process to be cheap and easy to prepare so a wide range of people could use the system. The brief I set myself was to design the system with user instructions, which would be easy to follow. The system must be simple to set up, portable, and the processes followed must not be too time consuming (to enable more typical short workshops), and also to be low budget.


I had a planning meeting with one of my tutors, Mary Murphy, to discuss where would be a good place to start and to devise an action plan. My research indicated that wood, as a very strong material, which is cheap and easy to shape, would be best suited for my use – as long as the correct equipment is available.


Next I attended a woodwork induction session so I could learn to use all the machines and know how to operate them effectively and safely.


I planned how to make the puppets for my workshops. I decided to use a legolike process – by which I mean that parts of a puppet would fit together in order to make the whole puppet / character. This way the client / patient will feel that it is their puppet and connect to it. I started with random shapes - which could be slotted together with wire and fixed with a glue gun. (another factor to consider when working with different ages/ disabilities i.e. I would have to be in charge of gluing).

I like the way that this opened a range of options on how to fit the pieces together and could make a variety of creatures/characters. However, I did find that certain models were difficult to keep upright this made it hard to portray movement within the characters. I tried attaching one section of the model to the surface that I was working, but that limited movement as far as ‘walking’. I am now looking into other options, such as using a rig set up. However, I’m hesitant to do this because it adds a level of complexity that I prefer to avoid.



This is an example of the sort of balance and judgment call that I need to apply when considering the practical limitations of helping emotionally / physically compromised clients to use animation in their therapy.

I then went on to make more human like characters, changing the leg and armholes around to create different movement styles - some more robotic,

others more humanistic.


These were animated on top of foam yoga blocks and the feet were inserted through the foam, allowing them to stand up and be balanced. This gave a lot more control when animating and the process met my criteria of being easy to pick up by beginners. I have also started to work on the preparation of props as these can be vital to adding that extra touch and connection for the client/patient. I concentrated on items that may be needed / wanted when making a basic animation. Things like trees, houses, a cat, dog or bike. I then progressed with these ideas by designing ways to make these easy to make, portable and, again, low budget. I analysed the predicted outcomes of this and tested both 3D models and paper cut outs

with support stands so they could stand up. 


I also started looking into how to create slightly more advanced models – beginning with a head workshop where I made an armature with clay and wire, then slowly build on this with more clay, foam, latex and paint all to create a head with could move its mouth.



I plan on setting up some workshops using all the models I’ve made to test it out within a live workshop. Some of the other issues I plan to include, based on further investigation from the workshops I set up in the first term, are things like having visual and written instructions of how to make and animate step by step.


Making of puppet –

1. Choose body and head shapes from the selection of wood forms.

2. Slot these together with the wire provided, using glue to secure.


Setting up Animating –

1. Insert your puppet into the foam block.

2. Set-up a new project on the software available.

3. Add title (your Name).

4. Press spacebar to take a photo.

5. Move the puppet into the next position and use space to take another photo.

6. Continue this process.


This user guide would contain visual aides also to ensure a clear and more versatile perspective appropriate for all possible audiences. Some clients may not be able to read, but clear visuals would help guide them through the process.



Here are some of my sketch book notes and photos of my experimatation and developmemt.   


Here is a selection of some of the mini projects I set myself to experiment different workshop possibilities. These were combined with some of the projects I took part in over my MA.  

This was a test to determine whether paper cut out was a suitable medium for the project.