Tag Archives: Technique

The Lost Art of Rotoscoping


Rotoscope by Max Fleischer, patent drawing from 1914.

This is a guest post by Olivia Lennox.

Animation has come a long way since the days of the first cartoon motion pictures in the early 1900s. It’s come so far in fact that it’s difficult to believe it started as a few hand-drawn images on a page. Compare and flick book to the trailer for Pixar’s upcoming movie Brave and you’ll get the idea. But here we are, in a world where computer generated imaging has quite literally taken over the world of animated film: when was the last time Disney released a ‘2D’ movie in their original style? It’s been some time indeed.

Animation A Handy Guide by Sheila Graber book review

Sheila Graber sent me a copy of her latest book Animation A Handy Guide with a request to review it. The book came at an opportune time, as I was just off on holiday to warmer climes, to escape our cold winter weather. It made excellent holiday reading.

The book comes complete with a DVD. When I got home from holiday I popped this into my computer player and was amazed to find, not only the complete book reproduced page by page, but now the pages were interactive so that many of the examples in the book could be brought to life and the movies mentioned were there to view. More on this later.

Getting started in animation with Stan Hayward

I recently came across an excellent website about creating animation called Make Movies. It belongs to scriptwriter Stan Hayward, notable for his work at the Bob Godfrey studio and in particular on the Henry’s Cat TV series.

It is a great resource for introducing children to animation because it is clearly laid out. It covers drawing simple cartoon characters and, as you might expect from a master of scriptwriting, some instructive and detailed articles on animation scriptwriting.

Build a simple webcam animation rostrum

How do you support your webcam when you are filming pencil tests? Do you use a tripod, a chair or a pile of books? This post will tell you how to build a simple webcam rostrum using just a screwdriver, a drill and a saw. If you get your wood merchant to cut the wood to size you won’t even need a saw. If you opt for the bracket method you may not need a drill.

Before we start building lets take a look at a couple of ready made rostrums that I found on the Animation Supplies.net website.

Animation by Preston Blair – learn how to cartoon

Preston Blair’s Animation was one of the first books that I added to my animation library many years ago. It is said by many industry professionals to be the best “how to” book on cartoon animation ever published. He went on to produce two more books and all three have been combined into a 224 page book called Cartoon Animation (Collectors).

In the introduction to Animation Preston Blair said: “The art of animators is unique. Animators bring life to their drawings, creating an illusion of spirit and vigour. They caricature the gestures and expressions in the drawings, give them a fantastic array of character and personality, and make us believe that the drawings actually think and have feelings.”

My 10 favourite blogs by professional animators

It is great to discover new animation blogs and if they are written by professionals in the animaton industry then that is a special treat. Much can be learned from the wisdom imparted by these talented bloggers. Sometimes even a casual remark can shed light on the creative process.

How to become an expert animator in 5 steps

The good news is that you are already an expert at many things. You have mastered at least one language and have learned to read. By following the technique of learning by doing, you will become an expert animator over time.

The best thing of all is that learning how to animate is great fun. The first time I run a new animation sequence that I have created, I feel like I have performed a magic trick. Maybe it needs a bit more work and polish but the satisfaction is immense.

Nintendo DS animation with the Colors! program

Colors! is a painting program that takes advantage of the pressure sensitivity of the Nintendo DS touch-screen to create a digital sketch-book. Animator Sheila Graber, who has been experimenting with it, told us; “It is great for ‘smudge and click’ as I used to call it in ye pastel days when I used 16mm film. It is SO much easier using this programe and you don’t get your hands dirty! I can recommend it for animators of today”.