Welcome to the Digital Cut-Out Character Animation Reference Library!

This is a collection of references on how to build, rig, pose, and animate cut-out characters for 2D animation. This is an active reference library, with new contents being added frequently. Subscribe to the 2D Animation Mailing List to make sure you’re not missing out on the latest updates (join via the BUTTON at the bottom of this page).

Important Note: the demos shown here are based on Toon Boom Studio 2D animation software. However, the concepts are very generic and can be applied to other 2D animation programs with vector keyframe animation support such as Toon Boom Harmony, Adobe Flash, and Synfig Studio.


Part 1: Getting Started – For Absolute Beginners

For the absolute beginners, a very good place to start would be to learn how to build, rig, and animate simple stick figure style characters.

How to Make Simple Cut-Out Characters

Here are references on how to easily and quickly create your very own cut-out characters for your 2D animation.

How to Pose & Animate Your Cut-Out Characters

After building and rigging your characters, you’ll want to animate them with basic actions. Here are several demos and articles on posing and animating your cut-out characters:


Part 2: Advance Rigging & Animation

Examples of More Advanced Cut-Out Character Rigs

Once you are familiar with the basic rigging techniques such as the ones described above, you can move to more flexible rigging techniques to create even better looking characters. One very easy way to do that is using some kind of Stick Figure Poser rig. Here are several example demos of what you can do with the Stick Figure Poser technique:

You are only limited by your own imagination. The possibilities of cut-out character animation that you can create are endless.

Here’s a 10-second clip giving you an example of character animation that you can create using the Stick Figure Poser technique, combined with a very easy live action keyframe tracing technique:

Basic Building Blocks of the Stick Figure Poser Rig

The basic building block for the Stick Figure is the limb-and-joint design, which is described in the following article:

We’ll get into more details on how to use the basic building block to build your own characters in a future article.


COMING SOON: More FREE Learning References

There are lots more contents planned to be added to this reference library for you wonderful folks! So stay tuned and check back soon for more FREE cut-out character animation demos, references, and ideas.

Here are just a few of the topics and features in development or being planned for this page (you can let me know which topics you would like to have added first):

  • 2D Animation software programs for cut-out character animation style for beginners
  • Cut-Out Character Head Rigs
    I’ll reveal the secrets of my Toon Baby’s cut-out head rig:

  • Cut-Out Character Mouth Rigs
    We’ll see how to build and animate cut-out mouth rigs like the one you see on my Toon Baby, as well as a much easier design that I used on Critter:

  • Easy Live Action Keyframe Tracing Technique
    (see the Funky Ninja animation for an example of what you can do with this technique)
  • Run Cycles
  • Work Flow & Checklist
  • Lots of cut-out character examples
  • How to animate your character in a scenes
  • Downloads: Toon Boom project files, templates, etc.
  • Lots more. Suggestions are welcome!