Metamorphosis is transformation that happens when a person or other being changes into a completely different form. In this activity, you will use clay or another malleable substance to transform one form into another (or many others!) by incorporating the technique of stop-motion. This form of animation gives the impression of an object moving or changing by linking together a series of still photos.


Animator Kirsten Lepore demonstrates how to create stop-motion animation (also known as claymation).


  • Clay, playdough, or Model Magic
  • Camera, phone or tablet
  • Light source
  • Foam core or cardboard


  • Look to nature for examples of forms that metamorphize (or “morph”) into others. Examples might include seeds into plants and flowers, caterpillar into butterfly, etc. Choose one to observe and study, looking at images and making sketches of their changing forms. You can base your drawings on actual observations or found photographs. Note how basic shapes and lines change—stretch, shorten, grow or shrink.
  • Set up a camera, phone or tablet on a tripod, or stand to hold your device steady in front of a “stage” with a neutral background where light can enter easily (two large foam-core boards or cardboard near a window will work). You’ll be shooting straight-on, from the level of your stage/table top, or from slightly above.
  • Using plasticine or polymer clay, Play-Doh, or Model Magic, construct the initial form of your object. It helps to use wire to to shape an armature (or skeleton) for your form so that it stands upright and maintains its shape. You can also find molds for common objects and forms. WikiHow has useful tips.
  • Place your clay object in the center of the stage and the center of your camera's view. Take a photo and carefully alter the form of your object slightly toward the new form it will morph into. Take another photo and be careful not to bump or move the camera. Continue gradually until you have 24 or more shots of the steps of the metamorphosis. Remember to change the form very gradually and subtly for each photo.
  • Some of the apps below allow you to photograph directly into them or import your previous shots to arrange on a timeline. Play with length and duration of frames (individual photos) and even transitions. You can extend your project by morphing your form into other subjects or geometric shapes. Tinkerlab is a great site for advice on DIY Animation setups.



Stop Motion Studio

  • Upload your video online and tag #ArtSchoolElements. Write a short title, description, or Haiku poem to describe the metamorphosis in your animation.
  • Have a film screening with other students. Offer critiques or make up alternate titles, descriptions or Haiku poems to describe your classmates' animations.