Docu-animation series design


Communicating self expression through animation

What we set out to do

Developing a series of short docu-animations depicting the journey and experience of girls associated with SELF academy exploring crucial aspects unpacked and explored during the sessions such as – Girls and Tech, Sports, Freedom to access public spaces, Negotiating life choices etc. The videos were animated using digital puppet animation technique, using the footage, recordings and grassroots-comic characters developed during the sessions in SELF as the primary reference and the driving voice of the narrative.

The tone of the animation were deliberately kept playful, entertaining, easy to consume yet informative.

What is SELF Academy

The SELF (Sports, Expression, Leadership, and Freedom) Academy is a 15-day residential leadership, knowledge, and skills building academy for girls and young women in the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. SELF academy recognizes the inherent capacity of girls as leaders, exposes them to different skills and encourages them to create supportive networks for themselves. With a strong focus on self-confidence and leadership, the academy creates a safe space for all girls to learn, reflect, question, lead and aspire. The academy gives girls the confidence to break gender stereotypes and assert their choices; express their desires and aspirations; go out of their homes, play sports in their communities and claim public spaces for themselves. SELF builds the self-confidence of girls to negotiate more control over their lives within their families and communities, to stand up against pressures like early and forced marriage and discontinuing education. SELF instills in young girls a sense of self-worth and confidence, to identify and also challenge discriminatory gender norms and stand up against gender based violence.

SELF EXPRESSION | Animated Series of the stories and experiences of young people in Self Academy.


CREA’s SELF (Sports, Expression, Leadership, and Freedom) Academy is a 15-day residential leadership, knowledge, and skills building academy for girls and young women in the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. The Self Expression series highlights the stories and experiences of the young women of rural India exploring Safe Spaces, Public Places and Access, Negotiating life choices and identity, Technology and Sports

Public Places | Episode 3

SELF Academy has long enabled conversations about public space and accessibility, which has ensured participants are well equipped to advocate for their rights and change dominant narratives. The girls and young women of SELF Academy are seen occupying public spaces in several ways- be it playing football, cycling, walking to school or just having fun!

Girls and Sports | Episode 5

The free movement of bodies. Competition. Speed. Sports has long been considered a male domain. Girls are often prohibited from playing, uniforms are considered indecent, or their time away from home is strictly controlled. SELF Academy is a space where women are able to access a space where they are encouraged to do all of these things irrespective of what society or their families demand of them.


Adolescent girls need safe spaces to form connections and speak openly. The SELF Academy provides an essential space for the girls to discuss, debate, share experiences, learn, find new friends, and freely voice their opinions. This enables them to build confidence and negotiation skills to speak their minds and exert greater control over their lives. Hear from the girls of SELF about what it means to them.

Negotiating Life Choices | Episode 4

Episode 4 explores how SELF Academy enables girls and young women to increase their awareness about their rights and equips them to fight oppressive social norms. The confidence they gain at SELF Academy helps them to negotiate and challenge obstacles that stand in their way in choosing their partners, continuing education and accessing the right to choice.

Gender and Tech | Episode 6

Gender-based norms often deny women and young persons access to technology. SELF Academy enables girls and young women to gain access to the internet through phones and computers and use various forms of #media to not only increase their knowledge but to use that knowledge to take control of their own narratives and make their stories known to the world by using technology!

The Process

Character Transformation

Story board for Safe Space (Panel 1)

Visual Language:

The illustrations in the comics made by the young participants of self academy were used as primary characters. The characters were repurposed to make paper cut stop motion animation, keeping very doodle-like and crayon feel to it. We also identified 6 overarching running themes in most of the comics, we decided these themes as episodes of the series, talking about a crucial factor each:

  1. Gender and Sports

  2. Tech, Gender and Sexuality

  3. Negotiations and Decision Making

  4. Access to Public Spaces

  5. Impact of having Safe Space (in SELF or else-where)

  6. An Introductory Video to stitch all together

These themes were then explored through the lens of bodily autonomy, policing of women’s bodies, body politics, ideas of beauty and worth, ideas of safety and control, body image, freedom to personal choices, disability and gender diversity, support from community and caretakers amongst others, keeping the stories true to the lived experiences of the girls and what SELF Academy means in their life and context.

Script Writing and Storyboards:

We wrote the scripts for the animations based on the real stories and lived experiences shared by the participants in the comics and using the existing audios for the narration of the videos, we weaved the stories together on the themes identified by us along with Team CREA.

Once the stories were written and approved by the CREA team, we worked on the consent from the participants and checking in with them if there’s anything they are uncomfortable sharing. Once the stories were finalised, we made storyboards based on the scripts, storyboards were then converted into animatics and then illustrated frame by frame to animate.

Story board for Space (Panel 2)