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In Motion


How To Make an Animation Disc

On 28, Jul 2013 | In Motion | By

Though traditional forms of animation have become less popular in both professional and educational settings, learning these techniques can be beneficial to understanding the fundamentals of animation and their application in any context.

Of course, in order to apply these traditional hand-drawn animation techniques, it is helpful to have an opaque animation disc for full control over the rotation of your drawings.  While researching this project, I found information about making one of these discs to be somewhat scarce, so I thought it would be beneficial to document this process here.


1/4 piece of acrylic
epoxy glue
jig saw
sand paper (various grits)

Step 1:

Acquire a piece of clear or opaque acrylic and draw a circle on it that is around that 17″ in diameter.  For my disc, I used the top of a Home Depot bucket as a guide.  Leaving on the protective paper, cut this circle out using a jig saw.  This can be tricky, as the acrylic will melt and fuse back together as you cut due to the high temperature caused by the friction of the blade.  The scrap pieces of acrylic will be used as under-mounted guides that sit inside the round hole of an animation desk.

Step 2:

Using a circle guide that is just smaller than the total diameter of your animation disc (again, I used the top of a Home Depot bucket for the full disc and the bottom to mark the outside position of the under-mounted guides) mark the outside of each bean-shaped under-mounted piece.  See the last picture posted in Step 1 for details.  These pieces will sit inside the hole in an animation table serving as guides for the rotation of the disc.  Cut these pieces using a jig saw.  When you are finished cutting, sand each piece, and your animation disc, until the edges are smooth.  Remove the protective coating from your acrylic if there is one, and sand any clear acrylic to create a more opaque surface.  This will serve to create an evenly lit surface when mounted in an animation table with a back light.

Step 3:

Draw a circle in pencil that is the same diameter as the one you used to create the outside curve of your under-mounted guides.  Mix your epoxy glue, and cover one of the four guides.  Glue this in place with the outer edge of the guide matching up with the circle drawn in pencil.  Repeat this process for all four guides.  Creating an animation table should be a topic for a separate tutorial, but the important part is to cut a hole in this table that is the same size as the circle that is formed by the outside of each guide.  Again, this task was made simple when creating my animation disc/desk by using the larger (top opening) of a Home Depot bucket for the outside diameter of the disc, and the small (closed bottom) of the bucket for diameter of the circle that forms along the outside edge of each under mounted guide.  For the peg bar shown below a three hole punch was used to mark the location of each peg on a 1/8″ piece of aluminum, holes were drilled in each peg location, and epoxy was used to glue in small round pegs cut from an aluminum rod.