Pencil 2D Animation Software in the Classroom

Pencil - traditional 2D animation open source software

Looking for an easy to use animation program to use in the classroom? If so, try Pencil.

From the Pencil website:

Pencil is an animation/drawing software for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux. It lets you create traditional hand-drawn animation (cartoon) using both bitmap and vector graphics. Pencil is free and open source.

I started to use Pencil with my Teen 2 and Teen 3 Immersion Vietnamese and Korean students at the American International School where I teach part-time. I gave them two days (I only see them twice a week) to play and get a feel for Pencil. My goal was to see if they could teach themselves how to use Pencil (Pencil is still lacking a good tutorial at this time).

It has now been two weeks since they started to use it. They love it. Several are downloading it at home to use since they will not have my class for two weeks due to the Vietnamese holidays.

What impressed me even more was that most of them were able to create moving animations and short clips with Pencil just after two weeks.

I NEVER told them how to use it. They did it on their own. Pencil is that simple. It is probably one of the easiest animation programs for children to learn. Kudos to the Pencil development team. They got a winner for the educational environment.

During the next two weeks, my students will have to decide what they want to do for their Pencil project. I am requiring them to create a 5 minute clip, 10 minutes if they team up with a partner. I will upload their projects at the end of May when they are completed.

Oh, one more thing, I have no idea how to use Pencil, myself. My philosophy in all of my classes is to have the students teach THEMSELVES how to use various software applications. So far, it is working 🙂

Pictures of my students using Pencil on my computer lab below:

Pencil - traditional 2D animation open source software

Pencil - traditional 2D animation open source software

Pencil - traditional 2D animation open source software

  • Srikar

    Is pencil better than kToon ???

  • I am not sure. I am using Pencil since it is available on Windows. kToon is only available on Linux.

  • Pankaj

    Yeah, Pencil is a great tool. Have you tried Synfig? Some of their 2D animations look great.

  • Gerry

    “Oh, one more thing, I have no idea how to use Pencil, myself. My philosophy in all of my classes is to have the students teach THEMSELVES how to use various software applications. So far, it is working”

    I have been teaching Technology Applications for long time and hear this from teachers in this field and it just angers me. Try learning what you teach… you are the teacher. What math or science teacher says “I don’t know anything about Algebra so I make my kids teach themselves”. You would be fired your first year! Learn it and tech it and you will see how much MORE they can do with instruction!

    • @Gerry: It is really amazing how you can make comments and judge without viewing the results of my students work. People like you are the main reason why the US education system in the primary and secondary schools are falling apart. Thank God our higher education institutions in the US is able to fix and help American students compete with other countries. My students are very intelligent and they learned how to use applications on their own. If they have a problem, than as the instructor I help them solve it but I let them try to resolve it on their own. It helps build their critical thinking skills.

      The result, many of my students can install Linux on their own. They know how to use the command line to update and install packages (apt-get). They learned basic XHTML and CSS.

      What really amazed me, they learned how to unlock the iPhone ON THEIR OWN without my guidance. I told them they can do it and I am proud of them. That is the job of being a teacher.

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