3.10 Animation techniques

The purpose of this exercise was to research animation techniques and interesting and innovative illustrators/animators.

Key words from the brief:

  • Pick a range of different animations and try and identify how they have been made
  • Can you identify examples of illustrators being inventive with the technological limitations they have available to them?
  • Can you find examples of illustrators who are pushing the boundaries, finding new ways of working?

Different types of animation

There are five basic types of animation.

  1. Traditional animation
  2. 2D Vector-based animation
  3. 3D computer animation
  4. Motion graphics
  5. Stop motion

Traditional animation

Sometimes referred to as cell animation. Individual images are painted onto clear cells that have registration marks to ensure alignment. Pictures are taken of each cell and projected at a rate of 25 frames per second.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was Walt Disney’s first animated feature production that used this technique and was released in 1938.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Fig 1 – Still from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1938)

2D vector-based animation

Vector animation is used to describe animation that are based on vectors not pixels. There are numerous software packages such as Adobe Animate that allow illustrators and animators to create sophisticated animations. Numerous animated television series are created using this technique.

Monkey dust
Fig 2 – Still from Monkey Dust: Ivan and Mr Hoppy Part2 (2003)

3D computer animation

A digital technique that uses software applications to build 3D models and that appear to be in 3D space. John Lasseter really mastered the techniques in Pixar’s short film Tin Toy and then went on to direct Toy Story.

Toy Story
Fig 3 – Woody and Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story (1995)

Motion graphics

There’s a lot of overlap between 2D vector animation and motion graphics. The distinction is one of emphasis. Motion graphics are generally not story or character based and often represent animated information graphics.

From paper to screen
Fig 4 – Still from ‘From paper to screen’ (2014)

Stop motion

In stop motion animation physical models are moved in small increments and photographed so that when the images are played in sequence they give an illusion of movement.

Isle of Dogs
Fig 5 – Still from Isle of Dogs (2018)

Illustrators being inventive with the technological limitations they have available to them

Animation tools are becoming more and more affordable and don’t require specialist equipment.

Russ Murphy has a very loose expressive style to create animated sequences for music videos and graphics for MTV and Nickelodeon using Photoshop and a Wacom tablet.

Russ Murphy
Fig – 6 – RUFFMERCY: Instagram

Illustrators who are pushing the boundaries, finding new ways of working

This short stop motion film is the shortest film to ever be nominated for an Oscar. It’s wonderful, clever and humorous. The film is available to watch here: https://pesfilm.com/pages/fresh-guacamole

Fresh Guacamole
Fig 7 – Still from ‘Fresh Guacamole’ (2013)

References

Figure 1 – Snow White talking to the dwarfs (1938) [Animated feature film] In: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Walt Disney Studios

Figure 2 – Still from Monkey Dust: Ivan and Mr Hoppy Part2 (2003) [Animated TV Series] In: Monkey Dust London: BBC

Figure 3 – Woody and Buzz Lightyear (1995) [Animated feature film] In: Toy Story Pixar Studios

Figure 4 – Still from From paper to screen (2014) [Animated short] In: From Still To Paper

Figure 5 – Still from Isle of Dogs (2018) [Animate feature film] In: Isle of Dogs Germany: Babelsberg Film Studio

Figure 6 – Murphy, Russ, RUFFMERCY (2018) [Instagram]

Figure 7 – Still from Fresh Guacamole (2013) [Animated short] In: Fresh Guacamole PES