Animation Merit Badge Resources

One of the many merit badges offered for Scouts by the Boy Scouts of America is the Animation merit badge. This merit badge was written to teach Scouts about the history of animation, how animation is used in the real world, careers in animation, and how to create animation based on their knowledge of animation principles. This section of the Animation Mouse website should be of use for Scouts looking for resources for completing their merit badge requirements.

Merit Badge Requirements

The most up-to-date requirements for the Animation merit badge can be found on the official Boy Scouts of America website. Click here to read the requirements.

What is Animation?

Animation is often referred to the “illusion of life.” When someone or something is animated, they are full of life and movement. It is impossible for inanimate objects to move on their own. An animator will bring something to life by creating an illusion as if the beholder is tricked into thinking the object is moving. Things often animated include drawings, 3-D models, real-life objects, text, shapes, logos, special effects, and photographs.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary Definition of “Animation”

History of Animation

  • Movement in animals were first illustrated in prehistoric cave paintings.
  • A piece of Iranian pottery (c. 3000 BC) includes a sequence of a goat jumping.
  • An Eygptian mural (c. 2000 BC depicts a sequence of images similar to the process of traditional animation.
  • In the Italian Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci studied human anatomy and sketched human muscles in multiple angles.
  • The magic lantern (1659) was a device that could project slides. Later on, the device could project images moved by hand.
  • A thaumatrope (1825) is a toy disc with a different image on each side. Spinning it around will create the illusion of both the images being merged.
  • A phenakistiscope (1833) is a disc with animation sequences and slits around it. Spinning it and looking through the slits in the mirror creates movement.
  • A zoetrope (1866) is a cylinder with slits on the top. A strip of drawings is placed around inside. Spinning it creates an illusion of movement.
  • Flip books (1868) show animation by flipping each page quickly.
  • The praxinoscope (1877), a device similar to the zoetrope displayed the animation on mirrors. Improvements led to the theater praxinoscope and theater optique (1888).
  • The Horse in Motion (1878) was a series of multiple photographs taken of a horse on a racetrack. The images were later projected on a zoopraxiscope (1879), a device that was able to project a disc of moving images.
  • The Enchanted Drawing (1900) is a film that doesn’t have true animation, but shows drawings in sequence.
  • Fun in a Bakery Shop (1902) was a live-action film featuring stop-motion of a quick sculpting.
  • Humorous Phases of Funny Faces (1906) was a stop-motion animation of chalk drawings.
  • The Haunted Hotel (1907) featured stop-motion animated objects appearing to be moving on their own.
  • Fantasmagorie (1908) was the first hand-drawn animated film.
  • Newspaper cartoonist Wisnor McCay created films such as Little Nemo (1911) and the vaudeville act Gertie the Dinosaur (1914). 
  • “Colonel Heeza Liar” was the first series of animated shorts. Series creator J.R. Bray invented several process simplifying animation production.
  • In 1915, Dave and Max Fleischer invented rotoscoping, an animation technique tracing live-action footage.
  • Animated series based on comic strips such as “Mutt and Jeff” and “Krazy Kat” were shown in theaters.
  • Recognizable cartoon character Felix the Cat first appears in Feline Follies (1919).
  • Walt Disney’s series of “Alice Comedies” (1923) features a live-action actor in an animated environment.
  • The Lost World (1925) was a live-action feature featuring stop-motion special effects of dinosaurs.
  • The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) is the oldest surviving animated feature film. It was entirely animated with stop-motion silhouette cut-outs.
  • Animated films begin to have synchronized sound. An early notable sound cartoon was Steamboat Willie (1928) starring Mickey Mouse.
  • Popular animated series in the 1930s included “Looney Tunes”, “Popeye the Sailor”, and “Betty Boop”.
  • The first cartoons were made in color. Early examples include Fiddlesticks (1930) and Flowers and Trees (1933).
  • 3-D stereoscopic backgrounds were used in animated cartoons to add depth to the environment. This was notably used in Popeye the Sailor Meets Sinbad the Sailor (1936).
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) was the first animated feature film in color and made in the United States. The film uses the multi-lane camera (first demonstrated in The Old Mill (1937)), ad device adding depth to animated scenes.
  • Famous cartoon characters such as Tom & Jerry, Bugs Bunny, and Woody Woodpecker made their first appearances in the 1940s.
  • Fantasia (1940) was a film combining a classical music concert with traditional animation. It was also one of the first films to be released in stereo sound.
  • During World War II, animation studios were commissioned by the U.S. government to create military training films using animation. Studios also created war-related cartoons such as Der Fuehrer’s Face (1943).
  • Momotaro’s Divine Sea Warriors (1945) was a wartime animated feature film made in Japan. This film was part of the development of the Japanese anime art form.
  • More advanced live-action/animation combinations are featured in The Three Caballeros (1945) and Song of the South (1946).
  • George Pal produced stop-motion animated short films with puppets that had replaceable parts. One of his most recognized films was John Henry and the Inky-Poo (1946).
  • “Crusader Rabbit” (1949) was the first animated series produced specifically for television.
  • United Productions America (UPA) produces cartoons with an abstract style in limited animation most notably with Gerald McBoing-Boing (1950) and the “Mr. Magoo” series.
  • Melody (1953) was the first animated cartoon to be viewed with 3-D glasses.
  • Animated films, such as Toot, Whistle, Plunk, and Boom (1953) and Lady and the Tramp (1955) were filmed in widescreen CinemaScope.
  • Television cartoons such as “Huckleberry Hound” (1958) and “Rocky and Bullwinkle” (1959) became more prominent.
  • Vertigo (1958) had a title sequence animated with an analog computer.
  • “The Flintstones” (1960) was the first animated sitcom airing on prime-time television.
  • Xerography was a technique that directly copied pencil animation drawings onto celluloid. It was used in One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961).
  • More stuidos other than Disney produce animated features including Yellow Submarine (1968) and A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969).
  • Early computer animations include Hummingbird (1967) and Kitty (1968).
  • Fritz the Cat (1972) was an early animated feature film for an adult audience.
  • A Computer Animated Hand (1972) was an early computer animated film with 3-D graphics.
  • Video games with animated graphics, such as Pong (1972) are released.
  • Hanna-Barbera and Fimation produced cartoons airing on television during Saturday mornings such as “Scooby-Doo” (1969) and “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids” (1972).
  • Scanimate was an analog computer that was able to create motion graphics in real-time. Many films and commercials used this technique in the 1970s.
  • Saturday morning cartoons helped promote toys and products popular with children such as “The Smurfs” (1981) and “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” (1983).
  • Dragon’s Lair (1983) was an arcade video game using laserdisc technology. The game was animated with traditional animation.
  • Computer animated 3-D models were capable of character animation and backgrounds as seen in The Adventures of Andre and Wally B. (1984) and Luxo, Jr. (1986).
  • Computer animated is used for special effects in both live-action and animated films such as Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) and The Abyss (1989).
  • Animation is used for music videos such as Take on Me (1985).
  • The Great Mouse Detective (1986) combined a computer-animated background with hand-drawn animated characters.
  • Audiences gain interest in theatrical animation with films by Disney (The Little Mermaid (1989)) and Don Bluth (The Land Before Time (1988)).
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) combined live-action and animation through the entire film.
  • “The Simpsons” (1989) was a revival of prime-time adult animation.
  • The Computer Animation Production System (CAPS) was able to digitally color animation drawings. The Rescuers Down Under (1990) was the first feature film to use CAPS.
  • Television networks such as Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network aired original creator-driven content such as “Rugrats” (1991), “Ren & Stimpy” (1991), and “Dexter’s Laboratory” (1996).
  • Computer animation becomes more believable in live-action films such as Jurassic Park (1993) and Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999).
  • The Mask (1994) includes “cartoony” computer animation in a live-action film.
  • Casper (1995) was the first feature film to have a computer-animated character with a lead role and interact with live actors through the majority of the film.
  • Toy Story (1995) was the first feature film to be animated entirely with computers.
  • The Spirit of Christmas (1995), a stop-motion animated short was shared across the internet and became one of the earliest viral videos.
  • More adult animation premiered on television including “Beavis and Butthead” (1993), “King of the Hill” (1997), and “Family Guy” (1999).
  • Popular television cartoons during the 2000s include “SpongeBob SquarePants” (1999) and “Phineas and Ferb” (2007).
  • Computer-animated feature films become more prominent such as Shrek (2001) and The Incredibles (2004).
  • Animation released exclusively on the web became more prominent including “Homestar Runner” (2000) and “Eddsworld” (2003).
  • Adobe Flash becomes a common tool to make cartoons and animate website elements.
  • The Polar Express (2004) was a computer-animated film made with motion capture.
  • Television series such as “Adventure Time” (2010) and “Bob’s Burgers” (2011) are popular with audiences.
  • Animated series such as “BoJack Horseman” (2014) are distributed on streaming video platforms.
  • ParaNorman (2012) is a stop-motion animated feature that uses 3-D printed elements.
  • Paperman (2012) is a stylized short film combining hand-drawn and 3-D computer animation.
  • Adobe Character Animator is software that can be animated for live video. Homer Live (2016), a segment on an episode of “The Simpsons” uses this technology.
  • Augmented reality allows mobile phones to display animated graphics in a real-life environment. Apps using this technology include Pokémon Go (2016) and Snapchat (2011).
  • Collaborations between different internet animators become popular on YouTube including The Dover Boys ReAnimated Collab (2018) and Shrek Retold (2018).

History of Animation Image Gallery

The Twelve Principles of Animation

Typically, animation is built using one or more principles of movement and design. This YouTube video by Alan Becker Tutorials demonstrates the twelve principles of animation in an enjoyable way.

Principles of Animation

Squash and Stretch
Straight Ahead Action and Pose to Pose
Follow Through and Overlapping Action
Slow In and Slow Out
Secondary Action
Solid Drawing

THE ILLUSION OF LIFE — Gif animation demonstrations of the Principles of Animation

Understanding Disney’s 12 principles of animation — Article written by Tammy Coron

Animation Techniques

There are many different ways to create an animation. In this YouTube video by Bloop Animation, you will learn about five types of animation and how they are created.

Create Your Own Animations

Animation Studios

An animation studio is a place or company where animation is being made. In this video, the steps of the production process for animated films produced by Dreamworks Animation are explained.

Where Animation is Used

Animation is everywhere! Moving objects can be found in many of the things you use in your everyday life. Here is a list of where you can find the illusion of life.

Advertising and Branding
Amusement Parks
Computer Software
Fine Art
GPS and Maps
Job Training
Medical Science
Mobile Apps and Websites
Movies, Television, and Video
Performing Arts
Science and Technology
Toys and Decorations
Video Games
Virtual and Augmented Reality

Careers in Animation

2-D Animators
3-D Animators and Modelers
Animation Historians and Archivists
Character Designers
Concept Artists
Creative Marketing Professionals
Graphic Designers
Mechanical Engineers
Motion Graphic Artists
Special Effects Artists
Story Artists
Studio Artists
UI/UX Designers
Video Editors
Video Game Designers
Web Designers

College Degrees in Animation

Character Animation/Effects Animation
Computer Science
Film Production
Graphic Design
Mechanical Engineering
Media Production
Studio Arts
Web Development/Design

Many universities, colleges, and schools offer courses and curriculum related to animation. For those wanting supplementary learning, there are many books, videos, and websites about how to create animation. (Your local library is a good source.) Many animation studios and companies offer internships and training programs for those wanting to get started in the animation industry.

In this YouTube video by Extra Credits, a narrator talks about how you can go for a career in animation. Topics mentioned include getting experience making animation, colleges and learning programs with animation curriculum, and skills you will need to know in order to be a good animator.

All videos are copyright of their original owners and have been embedded from their original YouTube source.