SCROLLING ALONG – Animation Backgrounds, Colour, Line

Students use a permanent marker and acrylic paint on vinyl to create a scrolling background for use in an animation filmed using a downshoot camera angle.

Required Time

80 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 1 to Grade 9


Language Arts
Visual Arts
Media Literacy
Director's Cut


colour detail downshoot camera angle line


Crayola Acrylic paint Crayola Paint Brushes Crayola Permanent Markers Pencils Drawing Paper - 28 cm x 76 cm (11" x 30") Clear Vinyl or Acetate - 28 cm x 76 cm (11" x 30") Water Containers Plastic Container Lids for Palettes Paper Towels

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SCROLLING ALONG – Animation Backgrounds, Colour, Line - Step One

Step One

  1. Make some rough sketches of background scenes for each part of your story. Think of the details you need to help tell your story.
    - where does the story begin
    - where does it end 
    - what kinds of buildings and vegetation do you see along the way
    - where does the action take place
  2. Draw one long, changing scene on the 76 cm (30") drawing paper that includes your ideas for each part of the story.
  3. Be sure to add enough details to help tell your story.
  4. Place the vinyl on top of the drawing.
  5. Use a black permanent marker to trace the drawing onto the vinyl. 
SCROLLING ALONG – Animation Backgrounds, Colour, Line - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Place the vinyl with the marker side down.
  2. Use acrylic paint on the back of the vinyl to add colour to the scene.
SCROLLING ALONG – Animation Backgrounds, Colour, Line - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Turn the vinyl over to see the finished scene.
  2. Use the scrolling background scene to film a story.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create a long, changing background scene using marker and acrylic paint;
  • use line and colour to add details to the scene that help tell their story;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity;
  • use the downshoot camera angle to use their background in a story they have written; 
  • express and support their opinions about the artworks.


Have students:

  • work in teams to create a story with a variety of scenes;
  • create a series of scrolling backgrounds to use in their story;
  • film the story using all the backgrounds and the downshoot camera angle;
  • share their videos with another class.


  1. Pre-cut the vinyl and drawing paper - 28 cm x 76 cm (11" x 30").
  2. Download and display the Colour, and Line posters available on this website.
  3. Download some old cartoons such as Walt Disney's Steamboat Willie.
  4. Review the characteristics of an effective story.
    - hook at beginning
    - main character who must achieve a goal
    - problem to be solved
    - satisfying solution
  5. Provide time for students to write a short story about a topic that interests them.


  1. View an early cartoon such as Disney's Steamboat Willie and guide students to view the background in the scenes and pick out where it appears to be scrolling behind the action, for example,
    - notice how the same trees and hills keep showing up as the action continues
  2. Ask students to explain what they think is happening.
    the background scene has been drawn on a long piece of paper and it is being slowly pulled along behind the other figures
  3. Ask students what they know about how the cartoon was made, and explain what stop-motion animation is.
    - a type of film-making where the characters and sets are slowly moved and photographed so that when they are viewed in sequence it gives the illusion of movement
  4. Explain that they are going to learn how to make a long, scrolling background scene that can be used in an animated film using the downshoot camera angle.
    - the camera is pointed down towards the table 
  5. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Create a long, changing background scene using marker and acrylic paint.
  2. Use line and colour to add details to the scene that help tell your story.
  3. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.
  4. Use the downshoot camera angle to film your background in a story you have written.
  5. Express and support your opinions about the artworks.

The Process

  1. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - created a long, changing scene using marker and acrylic paint
    - drawn marker lines on one side of the vinyl
    - painted colour on the back of the vinyl
    - used line and colour to add details
    - created details that help tell my story
    - kept the finished background scene in good condition
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work. 
  5. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Place students into small groups. 
  2. Ask them to: 
    - Compare their work and describe to each other how the details in the scene help to tell the story.
    - Discuss how they used colour and line to achieve specific effects.
    - Talk about was difficult and what was easy for them.
  3. Share ideas with the whole class. 
  4. Ask them to tell how they felt about doing this activity.


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss their artworks – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, holds puppet to the side, provides accurate information, answers questions from the audience effectively.
  3. Observe students as they listen – looks at presenter, asks effective questions, supports ideas with evidence found in the artwork.
  4. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads - ScrollingBackground_tracking.pdf)
  5. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads - ScrollingBackgroundPrimary_self-assessment.pdf or ScrollingBackground_self-assessment.pdf)