2: Creative Translation - related posts External Voices In Process

Creative diagramming

Creative diagramming

GAMEChange diagrams

Bono, E. D., (1982) de Bono’s Thinking Course, London: BBC Books.
Buzan, T., (2002) How to Mind Map, London: Thorsons.

!! This is a topic I had originally intended to look at in detail. Now planned for future.

  • GAMEChange pictorial diagrams
  • Mapping techniques: systems maps, concept maps, mind maps etc.
  • Digital diagramming software eg Mindjet Manager (business and strategic planning oriented), Inspiration (for essay design and education), InDesign and Illustrator
  • Freehand and sketchnoting

GAMEChange Pictorial Diagrams

The pictorial diagrams I had developed for analysis and planning with people in communities are based on a number of basic diagram types:

  • change journeys over time
  • trees to analyse issue components
  • maps to examine interrelationships
  • diamonds to develop differentiated hierarchies of criteria for assessing eg empowerment/disempowerment.

Each diagram uses systems of line, shape and colour differentiation, spatial placement etc to convey more complex information, together with the use of drawings and symbols – some of which are ‘individual parole’ symbols, and some of which are more widely acceptable common ‘langue elements. Some diagram examples used in the community research here are shown on the right. Further details are on my professional website:

Systems thinking and disruptive design

Systems thinking is a holistic approach to analysis that focuses on the way that a system’s constituent parts interrelate and how systems work over time and within the context of larger systems. The systems thinking approach contrasts with traditional analysis, which studies systems by breaking them down into their separate elements. Systems thinking can be used in any area of research and has been applied to the study of medical, environmental, political, economic, human resources, and educational systems, among many others.

Systems thinking originated in 1956, when Professor Jay Forrester founded the Systems Dynamic Group at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

According to systems thinking, system behavior results from the effects of reinforcing and balancing processes. A reinforcing process leads to the increase of some system component. If reinforcement is unchecked by a balancing process, it eventually leads to collapse. A balancing process is one that tends to maintain equilibrium in a particular system.

Attention to feedback is an essential component of system thinking. For example, in project management, prevailing wisdom may prescribe the addition of workers to a project that is lagging. However, in practice, that tactic might have actually slowed development in the past. Attention to that relevant feedback can allow management to look for other solutions rather than wasting resources on an approach that has been demonstrated to be counterproductive.

Systems thinking uses computer simulation and a variety of diagrams and graphs to model, illustrate, and predict system behavior. Among the systems thinking tools are: the behavior over time (BOT) graph, which indicates the actions of one or more variables over a period of time; the causal loop diagram (CLD), which illustrates the relationships between system elements; the management flight simulator, which uses an interactive program to simulate the effects of management decisions; and the simulation model, which simulates the interaction of system elements over time.

Systems theory is the interdisciplinary study of systems. A system is a cohesive conglomeration of interrelated and interdependent parts that is either natural or man-made. Every system is delineated by its spatial and temporal boundaries, surrounded and influenced by its environment, described by its structure and purpose or nature and expressed in its functioning. In terms of its effects, a system can be more than the sum of its parts if it expresses synergy or emergent behavior. Changing one part of the system usually affects other parts and the whole system, with predictable patterns of behavior. For systems that are self-learning and self-adapting, the positive growth and adaptation depend upon how well the system is adjusted with its environment. Some systems function mainly to support other systems by aiding in the maintenance of the other system to prevent failure. The goal of systems theory is systematically discovering a system’s dynamics, constraints, conditions and elucidating principles (purpose, measure, methods, tools, etc.) that can be discerned and applied to systems at every level of nesting, and in every field for achieving optimized equifinality.

General systems theory is about broadly applicable concepts and principles, as opposed to concepts and principles applicable to one domain of knowledge. It distinguishes dynamic or active systems from static or passive systems. Active systems are activity structures or components that interact in behaviours and processes. Passive systems are structures and components that are being processed. E.g. a program is passive when it is a disc file and active when it runs in memory. The field is related to systems thinkingmachine logic and systems engineering.

Key concepts
  • System: An organized entity made up of interrelated and interdependent parts.
  • Boundaries: Barriers that define a system and distinguish it from other systems in the environment.
  • Homeostasis: The tendency of a system to be resilient towards external factors and maintain its key characteristics.
  • Adaptation: The tendency of a self-adapting system to make the internal changes needed to protect itself and keep fulfilling its purpose.
  • Reciprocal Transactions: Circular or cyclical interactions that systems engage in such that they influence one another.
  • Feedback Loop: The process by which systems self-correct based on reactions from other systems in the environment.
  • Throughput: Rate of energy transfer between the system and its environment during the time it is functioning.
  • Microsystem: The system closest to the client.
  • Mesosystem: Relationships among the systems in an environment.
  • Exosystem: A relationship between two systems that has an indirect effect on a third system.
  • Macrosystem: A larger system that influences clients, such as policies, administration of entitlement programs, and culture.
  • Chronosystem: A system composed of significant life events that can affect adaptation.

Systems thinking and practice Open University 2019 Free course What is systems thinking and practice? The essence of systems thinking and practice is in ‘seeing’ the world in a particular way, because how you ‘see’ things affects the way you approach situations or undertake specific tasks. This free course will help you to learn about the problems of defining a system and meet some of the key concepts used in systems theory: boundary, environment, positive and negative feedback, etc.

Disruptive Design course

Bono, E. D., (1982) de Bono’s Thinking Course, London: BBC Books.
Buzan, T., (2002) How to Mind Map, London: Thorsons.
Stroh, D. P., (2015) Systems Thinking for Social Change, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing.

Search to Go definition:

Digital Diagramming

4: Animation Strategies: related posts Digital Media In Process

After Effects

After Effects is a motion graphics compositing software that can also produce puppet animation, as well as animate photographs and produce video effects.

The most complex effects are efficiently produced using Javascript.

It is good for multi-layered short clips in high definition. Also rotoscoping plug-ins.

For longer video editing eith fewer layers use Adobe Premiere.

For lower resolution animation and line animation use Adobe Animate or TVPaint.

Rotoscope experiments: Pig Tales

Pigfight Rotoscope 4 Pencil
Pigfight Rotoscope 5 Vector Blur 4
Pigfight Rotoscope 5 Rough Sketch
Pigfight Rotoscope 8 Vector Blur 5
Pigfight Rotoscope 6 Charcoal
Pig Fight Rotoscope 9 watercolour grunge 1
Pig Fight Rotoscope 10 watercolour grunge 2 original colour
Pig Fight Rotoscope 11 textiles original colour

You Tube Tutorials

4: Animation Strategies: related posts Digital Media

Adobe Animate

Animate features and advantages
  • Vector stick animation allows very easy and quick manipulation.
  • Easy motion graphics with shapes.
  • Html coding for motion graphics.
  • Character rigging and links to Adobe character animator make character development relatively straightforward.
  • Symbols for automating cycles and loops
  • Layer blend and opacity modes.
  • Hand painting styles and link to Adobe Animator.
  • Potential for very low band width.
  • Interactivity with html canvas.
Animate gaps and challenges
  • Number of features means a very high learning curve.
  • Artistic styles are not as advanced as Procreate or TV Paint.
  • Can crash easily if overloaded with complexity eg of art brush strokes or complex characters.

Flash Styles

Ross Bollinger Pencilmation

Animation techniques

Stick animation

Alan Becker

Ross Bollinger Pencilmation

Drawing and basic keyframing

Using Adobe Animate for Frame by Frame animation requires:

  • very good drawing for key poses and in-betweens
  • good understanding of the Disney animation principles
  • understanding of drama and timing

The best tutorials available are by:

Howard Wimshurst Animator Guild:

Flow, intensity and dramatic timing

But with good drawing and understanding how to create dramatic timing, extremely dynamic animations are possible.

The best tutorials available are again by:

Howard Wimshurst Animator Guild:

Lighting, atmosphere and distortion
Camera movement and 3D

Adobe Animate 2020 other features and tutorials

Character animation and rigging
4: Animation Strategies: related posts Digital Media In Process

iPad software review

In parallel to experimentation with physical materials, I developed technical skills in a range of digital software options that can simplify and automate the drawing process.

I started with experimenting with iPad software as a means of quick exploration, brainstorming and drafting. Procreate 5 and Adobe Fresco in particular have brushes and graphic capabilities that are very useful as part of a workflow with more professional animation software.

Assignment 3.2: Visual Exploration: iPad Drawing and animation experiments

NOTE: This is a continual and fast moving field. So many of the features have now been much improved, particularly in Procreate. And many of the links may have changed or now be too out-of-date.

I later developed skills in software used by professional independent animators – particularly TVPaint combined with Adobe Premiere – for my more experimental polished vignettes.

Main iPad software tested
  • Rough Animator
  • Procreate 5
  • Toontasic for preliminary narrative to make me laugh and think outside the box.
  • Imaging software for storyboarding
  • Stop Motion Studio

Even with professional pc animation software, I still find Procreate, and also Adobe Fresco useful for digital painting of backgrounds and short cut-out animation clips. Stop Motion Studio I use extensively in other animation for my Moving Image course.

Software Overview and Feature Checklist

Key features to look for when choosing animation software:
  • Drawing tools vector drawing tools for creating motion and scaling and/or pixel-based tools for more artistic effects. Including image import so that backgrounds and other features can be created from photographs, artwork or imported images from other drawing and painting aps.
  • Symbols or re-usable elements, including import from other software.
  • Puppets and rigs : ability to create characters with movable skeletons and bones that can then be manipulated for action as in 3D animation.
  • Tweening or smoothing/interpolation of animation between drawn key-frames, including control of the number of before/after frames, colouring and opacity.
  • Onion-skinning: viewing of previous and following drawn frames to facilitate accurate drawing of current frames
  • Layers to be able to create scenes with background, foreground and multiple animated elements with different animation rhythms.
  • Timeline features: control over frame speed and duration, easy addition and deletion of frames.
  • Audio features to import music, narration and sound effects – preferably onto separate layers for multiple sound effects, music and/or voice over.
  • Text features to add titles, captions, credits and additional text overlays.

I started by experimenting on the iPad with different software, to experiment with different styles and basics of short animation:

But I found the professional software on a pc with bigger screen and much better timeline automation features much more user and RSI-friendly for my work.

Useful overview that guided my initial review of the software – subsequently extended in the list on the left.

iPad Software Review

Rough animator

by Jacob Kafka for hand drawn animation application runs on Android, iOS, Mac OS, and Windows.


  • Well-designed timeline with unlimited layers, easily adjustable exposure length of individual drawings, for pose-to-pose or straight-ahead animating
  • Onion skinning
  • Preview playback and scrub along timeline
  • One audio layer for importing audio and lip syncing
  • Import video for rotoscoping animation
  • Customisable brushes
  • Export animation to Quicktime video, GIF, or image sequence
  • Export projects for import to Adobe Flash/Animate, After Effects, and Toon Boom Harmony


  • Limited brushes
  • Only one audio layer
  • Transformation features with numeric position, rotation and scale, but limited flexibility and without registration point

Procreate 5

For short artistic cel animation and/or artistic redrawing of animations from more specialised animation software. Only available for iPad.


  • Sophisticated drawing, painting and image creation tools including infinitely customisable brushes and smudge brushes, blend modes, masking, flexible selection and transformation tools, effects and ability to import photographs and video to timeline.
  • Timeline with assignable foreground and background layers, and possibility of separate frame-lengths for each frame.
  • Layers for each frame produced through grouping in a separate layers panel.
  • Onion-skinning flexible options of number of frames, colouring and opacity
  • Text tools
  • Export of creative process videos.


  • No audio
  • Complex to use unless you are very familiar with procreate drawing and painting tools.
  • Animation features are a bit clunky because of the separation of timeline and layers panels.

Motion Book

Very simple easy to use programme for digital flipbooks. Its simplicity makes things quick and easy to produce minimalist animations that can be exported to Procreate and other programmes if needed. Very good for learning basics of animation.

  • 4 basic brushes
  • basic timeline without layers but can allocate a frame for background and import photos and movieclips to it for rotoscoping.
  • inApp purchase of selection and transform tools.

But a bit basic for my purposes, though was good to learn on.

Animation Desk

Animation desk by Kdan is another animation app that allows to create animations and cartoons on android or iOS device. It is free and easy to use app where you can

  • good selection of 45 different brushes
  • easy frame by frame animation with easy alteration to frame timing etc and storyboard labelling and export
  • create animations on videos, images, PSD layers.
  • on-line Kdan cloud community


  • no audio
  • not text
  • no layer blending


Developed by Visual Blasters LLC for both android and iOS. This is a much more robust animation software designed specifically for animation.


  • very quick and easy drawing and frame by frame animation with anime style marker and brush, onion-skinning etc
  • multiple layers for each frame to do complex moving backgrounds and camera effects
  • easy selection and transform tools to move objects around in space with registration point
  • easy timeline manipulation
  • can import, add and remove video
  • multiple track audio including import and recording of own audio as well as in-App sound libraries.
  • has a video capture to export a record of the animation process
  • export as MP4, GIF, IMAGE SEQ


  • separation of timeline and layers makes animation quite time-consuming.
  • limited brushes biased towards anime style


Lego-style 3D animation developed by Google for android and iOS users.

This is a very simple App that is an entertaining introduction to 3D storytelling with narration and mood music. Movies are inherently amusing because they have the feel of children playing with lego figures:

  • You have the option of different scene numbers but are guided to have a beginning, middle and end. But these can be swapped around and extra scenes added.
  • Each scene is recorded live with a set length and stop watch while the director moves the characters around and does a voice-over narrative or adds live sounds.
  • You can zoom in and out of scenes with a somewhat jerky movement. The inbuilt scenes are quite complex with different floors of buildings and moving parts. You can draw your own very simple coloured backdrops – one brush, eraser, paintbucket and large set palette of colours.
  • There are an array of inbuilt characters that walk, talking mouths, can be scaled and moved around. Arms and feet can kick, hit and hug, but limited actions. Colours and certain parameters of each character can be changed. Only one character can be moved at a time – like children playing with lego.
  • You can draw your own characters and objects that can be extruded to be 3D but with no moving parts.
  • There is a choice of mood music – one per scene – with volume control. If you want your own music this would have to be input at the time of recording. There is no facility for importing your own sounds.

Stop Motion Studio

Stop motion studio is a popular animation apps for android and iOS users which allows make animation video on your device. It is an easiest app to get you into stop motion movie making for android and iOS users. It is also used as slow motion video app to make slow motion video with different video editor options. App has lots of attractive features, which makes it super easy to get into stop motion video. It has different modes as overlay mode, grid mode, integrated movie editor and others.

Stick Nodes

Stick Nodes is a tweened IK stick animation Apdeveloped by ForTheLoss Games, Inc for Android and iOS users. It is a powerful but also quite clunky and complicated stickman animator app with:

  • options to construct fully animating kinematic stick figures and/or import ones ready made. These can be exported to a library for re-use.
  • add one background image per project
  • automatic frame-tweening with ease and stretch
  • sound effects using sound effect apps 
  • text captions
  • virtual camera to move and zoom.

It is a possible Ap to use if you do not have more professional Aps like Adobe Animate. But time for the steep learning curve is substantial to do more than a few Japanese kick box animations with text (see below). That time is better spent leaning Adobe Animate.

I include these tutorials here because some of the techniques can be applied to cel animation figures also.


PicsArt Animator

PicsArt Animator

PicsArt Animator is a GIF and video maker app which allows you to create animations & cartoons on your android or iOS device. You can easily click snap using your 3D camera apps and use them to create beautiful animation video on your smartphone. It allows you to draw frame by frame animations and see animation timeline with play mode option. There are some advance drawing and sketching tools listed in this app which can be used to make beautiful animation video for free. Along with these you can also use multi-layering for complex animations and also control animation length and speed.


Animates loop photos and cinemagraphs.


Movepic is a popular photo motion apps for android and iOS users which allows you to easily create live photo with animate effect. It is available with both free as well as app to purchase option with lots of features. It brings fabulous photos & gifs into your social life with various animated effects and beautiful filters. You can easily animate anything in loops photos simply by drawing a path , and make your still images into awesome loop photos & cinemagraphs. Along with these it also allows you to adjust the speed of the loops photo animation.


Featuring @spaghettinoodies fun animation! To be featured use #flipaclip in your post! #art #animation #fyp #foryoupage

♬ original sound – FlipaClip
0: Zemni Animation: related posts In Process

Animation health and safety

4: Animation Strategies: related posts In Process Physical media

Charcoal animation

3: Contemporary Animation Inspiration - related posts In Process Inspiration: art and illustration Physical media

Lines of communication

Much of the power of animation comes from the drawing style and how far the type of line supports the emotional and narrative content.

Clean outlines lines for manipulation of rigged characters have become the norm. They are easier to read, clearly separating characters from backgrounds and are easier and faster to replicate as part of animation studio production lines.

Hand-drawn lines in natural media, or digital lines that attempt to replicate natural media, convey emotion and feeling.

to recall the reality within the drawing rather than thinking the drawings themselves are real

Isao Takahata

There are many different line styles that can be used expressively: thick lines, thin lines, variable width lines. Choices to be made about the colour of lines and how far they affect colours of shapes. Different types of line can be used for different characters. Or can change with a character’s emotions.

It is also possible to omit lines all together to give greater freedom with palettes. But this requires attention to tonal contrast and negative space so that figures continue to be readable against backgrounds.

The artists and illustrators below present a range of graphic styles with which I would like to experiment in my animation on the iPad. Many of them have also worked with textless, or near textless narrative, and their work as a whole is discussed in more detail as I develop my own animations in Part 4. The full posts are accessed through the title links.


Stik is a British graffiti artist based in London known for painting large stick figures as street art, often with a very political message about social inequality, homelessness and gentrification of low-income areas..

What interests me is the way in which he manages to get a wide range of expressions and stories in his murals simply through varying the size and position of a few dots in a circle, together with rectagle body and length and angle of the stick legs.

For more details see:

Quentin Blake

Quentin Blake is a British illustrator who is particularly well-known for his illustrations of children’s books. His quirky line drawings over whimsical watercolour wash have a childlike nostalgia and can make even dark themes seem lighter and humorous.

He has authored textless books like ‘Clown’ and some of his work has been animated.

For more details see his website:

Sarah Fanelli

Sara Fanelli is an Italian British artist and illustrator, best known for her children’s picture books

She combines drawing and painting with cutouts and collage to create humorous expressive images. Although she uses text in different expressive handwritten styles, her visual approach could be adapted for animation without text.

For more detail see her website:

Marjane Satrapi 

An Iranian-born French graphic novelist, cartoonist, illustrator, film director, and children’s book author.


Yoshimoto Nara

Yoshitomo Nara is a Japanese artist best known for his paintings of children and animals that appear simultaneously sweet and sinister, as seen in his work Do Not Disturb! (1996). He explores themes of isolation, rebellion, and spirituality through printmaking, painting, sculpture, ceramics, and installations.

For more images see:

Tracey Emin

Tracey Emin’s drawings, back-traced monoprints and animations about sexuality and violence have a very vulnerable line that reflects their subject matter. The drawing style is somewhat reminiscent of the Indian community drawings of empowerment and disempowerment

Tracey Emin talks about her work for the 2010 exhibition ‘Those Who Suffer’.
A somewhat bemused response from a somewhat bemused and worried male American tourist.

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) was an African-American artist whose spray-painted gestural expressive marks and scribbled words, referenced everything from his Haitian and Puerto Rican heritage, to political issues, pop-culture icons, and Biblical verse. “If you wanna talk about influence, man, then you’ve got to realize that influence is not influence, it’s simply someone’s idea going through my new mind.” At only 27, his troubles with fame and drug addiction led to his tragic death from a heroin overdose on August 12, 1988 in New York, NY.


Illustrator Line Art

4: Animation Strategies: related posts In Process Stop Motion CutOut/Puppet

Stop Motion: Puppet cut-outs

Cutout animation is a form of stop-motion animation using flat characters, props and backgrounds cut from materials such as paper, card, stiff fabric or photographs. The cut outs are used as puppets for stop motion. Cut-out animation puppets can be made with figures that have joints made with a rivet or pin or, when simulated on a computer, an anchor. These connections act as mechanical linkage, which have the effect of a specific, fixed motion.

The technique of most cut-out animation is comparable to that of shadow play, but with stop motion replacing the manual or mechanical manipulation of flat puppets. Flat, jointed puppets have been in use in shadow plays for many centuries, such as in the Indonesian wayang tradition and in the “ombres chinoises” that were especially popular in France in the 18th and 19th century. The subgenre of silhouette animation is more closely related to these shadow shows and to the silhouette cutting art that has been popular in Europe especially in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Cut-out techniques were relatively often used in animated films until cel animation became the standard method (at least in the United States). Before 1934, Japanese animation mostly used cut-out techniques rather than cel animation, because celluloid was too expensive.

While sometimes used as a relatively simple and cheap animation technique in children’s programs (for instance in Ivor the Engine), cut-out animation has also often been used as a highly artistic medium that distinguishes itself more clearly from hand-drawn animation. Today, cut-out-style animation is frequently produced using computers, with scanned images or vector graphics taking the place of physically cut materials.

Of most relevance to my work here are:

– puppets manipulation of cut-out photographs, drawings and other flat materials.

– manipulation of drawings and paintings in natural media like charcoal and scraperboard to produce expressive lines

For other types of stop motion see my research and own work in:

My experiments January 2021

‘Tupa Tupa’ DRCongo
Animatic with digital manipulation of photograph cut-outs in Procreate on iPad. To be developed as Stop Motion photo-collage in Stop Motion Studio with final composite in After Effects.

Pig Tales, India
Feeding the pigs sequence. Started with digital manipulation of photograph in Rough Animator on iPad. The version here was produced by drawing and watercolour painting from video, then photographing the puppets and manipulating in Procreate on the iPad. With final toning and tinting in After Effects. To be redone with smoother movement as cut-outs of the sketches and drawings and multiplane manipulation in After Effects.

Silhouette experiments for Mary’s Story, Uganda and/or Pakistan ‘The Airplane’ are also envisaged.

Key Inspiration

History and Evolution

Quirino Cristiani

The world’s earliest known animated feature films were political cut-out animations made in Argentina by Quirino Cristiani. He generally animated on his own. One film could take 7-8 months. Unfortunately the films were burned in a fire, and not much remains.

Lotte Reiniger

Made extraordinarily elaborate silhouette animations. She invented the multiplane camera with background, middle ground and foreground and lit from below to give the illusion of depth.

She used a similar technique to produce different monochrome and coloured styles with different degrees of ornament and abstraction in the cut-outs.

Her earliest animations were: Das Ornament des Verliebten Herzens (1919); Amor und das Standhafte Liebespaar (1920); Der Fliegende Koffer (1921); Der Stern von Bethlehem (1921); Aschenputtel (1922); Das Geheimnis der Marquise (1922, advertisement for Nivea); Dornröschen (1922) and Barcarole (1924, advertisment for Mauxion).

Her most famous film is “The Adventures of Prince Achmed” 1926 – the oldest surviving full-length animated film. Pre-dating Disney by a decade.

She continued to make dozens of shorts throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Other projects were her fantastical short animation, “Papageno” (1935), and a dazzling struggle between the Frog Prince and a covetous octopus. She moved to London to escape from Hitler in 1938 and worked and lived in the United Kingdom until her death in 1982.

General documentary of her work.
Documentary of key innovations.
“The Adventures of Prince Achmed” 1926. Visual highlights. Lotte Reiniger cut the figures out of black cardboard with a pair of scissors, and joined movable parts with thread as armatures in order to animate them. Backgrounds were variously painted or composed of blown sand and even soap. Walter Ruttmann collaborated on the special colour and light effects.

The Secret of the Marquise (1922) silhouette animation in an early advert for Nivea skin care products.
Details of technique.
Details of technique.

Japanese cut-out animation

Before 1934, Japanese animation mostly used cut-out techniques rather than cel animation, because celluloid was too expensive.

Some modern Japanese animators have also used cut-out with painted puppets.

Noburō Ōfuji (1900-1961) was a Japanese film director and animator. He is one of the pioneers of the Japanese animation using Japanese paper with coloured figures and the shadow picture animation .

Russian cut-out animation

!! More research needed

Ivan Ivanov-Vano “Seasons” (1969) has very static puppets with most of the effect created by the delicate tracery on the multiple moving planes to which oily and other substances have been added for atmospheric effect.

Sergei Ryabov

Eastern Europe

Czech animator Dagmar Doubková created several short cut- out animations, often with a feminist message and very distinctive painted style:
– as Oparádivé Sally (1976) (broadcast in the USA as About Dressy Sally on Nickelodeon’s  Pinwheel
Sbohem, Ofélie (Goodbye Ophelia) (1978)
Královna Koloběžka první (Queen Scooter First) (1981)
The Impossible Dream (1983)
Shakespeare 2000 (1988)

She later co-founded 3D Art And Animation Studio with her husband.

Dagmar Doubková: The Impossible Dream (1983) Takes a wry humorous look at the double workload of a full-time job and being a housewife.
Dagmar Doubková, Ofélie (Goodbye Ophelia) (1978) An animated lecture that gives young girls advice on life when it comes to conquerors and others.

Dagmar Královna Koloběžka první (Queen Scooter First)- 1981
Dagmar Doubková Shakespeare 2000 (1988)

United States and Canada

No. 12, also known as Heaven and Earth Magic by Harry Everett Smith, completed in 1962, utilizes cut-out illustrations culled from 19th century catalogues.
How Death Came to Earth (1971) Ishu Patel

Digital cut-out animation

Many digital software programmes can now produce different types of cut-out puppet animation styles.

Physical cut-outs can be filmed in Stop Motion using Stop Motion Studio on the iPad or Dragon Frame on the pc.

Software like Adobe Animate and Adobe After Effects have 2D puppet rigging features to manipulate photos of physical puppets or imports of digital puppets from digital drawing programmes like Illustrator or Photoshop.


South Park is a notable example of the transition since its pilot episode was made with paper cut-outs before switching to computer software.

Svetlana Androva Russian digital Stop Motion
(2017) uses digital animation to imitate cutout animation in the storyworld sequences

4: Animation Strategies: related posts Inspiration 3: PigTales, India Rotoscoping

Rotoscoping Styles and Methods

Rotoscoping Overview


Contemporary Inspiration
Zemni rotoscope experiments

1: Rotoscope as Reference: Mary’s Story, Uganda: Cow Walk
2: Rotoscope as line animation and Effects: Pig Tales, West Bengal
3: Rotoscope as impression: Airplane, Pakistan

What is Rotoscoping?

‘Rotoscoping’ is the process of frame-by-frame tracing of recorded movements of actual humans or events. It involves drawing and painting on and manipulating video or photo sequences to produce animated frames.

This can be done using natural media on tracing paper or cinema film or digitally in any professional 2D animation software.

Rotoscoping is not an easy option to avoid drawing freehand. Producing dramatic animation requires in-depth understanding of keyframing and movement to select the frames, and good drawing/painting skills to select and reproduce elements on each frame. Drawing mechanically on top of photographs and video produces robotic and uninteresting animation – unless that is the effect required.

– rotoscoping limits possibilities for creating imagined worlds and narrative
– real actors and objects do not have line, so tracing often results in lines being too prominent and sharp, too flaccid or too stiff.

But it is possible to produce very beautiful work this way that also plays on distinctions between fantasy and reality. With good drawing skills and an understanding of ‘boil’, keyframes and dramatic abstraction, different degrees of replication and fidelity of line and/or shape can original produce a range of effects from mechanical to chaotic.

History of rotoscoping

Rotoscoping was developed in 1915 by animator Max Fleisher who used this technique as a way to create a seemingly more ‘realistic’ (or photorealistic) style of movement. Disney and other studios used this technique as one way of enhancing ‘realism’ in animation through the mimicry of live action.

The first software to do digital interpolated rotoscoping, ‘Rotoshop Software’, was developed by computer scientist Bob Sabiston in the 90’s which he used to make his film “ Snack and Drink ”. Subsequently this software was used by director Richard Linklater for the production of his feature films Waking Life (2001) and Scanner Darkly (2006).

Rotoscoping techniques

Digital rotoscoping: Filmed or live media are used as a reference point for the creation of digital animated movement: motion capture, interpolated rotoscoping, mattes and frame by frame rotoscoping.

Motion capture: Uses live actors and the signals of their movement is interpreted by a computer.

Mattes/Masks/Stencils: Similar to motion capture but uses two dimensional sources to create a silhouette (called a matte) that can be used to extract that object’s shape from a scene for use on a different background. This extraction is often aided by green screen technology, motion-tracking and/or digital onion-skinning. Then images are composited in layers these in much the same way as a stencil or cut out shape would work in analogue collage/layering. Digital rotoscoping plays a large role in the production of visual effects and animation.

Interpolated Rotoscoping: the digital equivalent to the pose-to-pose approach. The animator sets a particular style, line weight and colour. They then link key drawings to anchor points in the source footage. The computer then ‘interpolates’ all the in-between movements according to the action on screen.

Digital Frame By Frame Rotoscoping does the in-betweens by hand – either in physical or digital media. Each frame of the video footage is drawn or painted over, one by one. Done digitally the technique requires import of the source video, but can be done in most professional animation programmes. In physical media every source frame is printed out and manipulated before being rescanned and played in sequential order.

Zemni Examples

Mary’s Cow: Rotoscoping as reference for line animation
Pig Lament, India: Rotoscoping as line and shape animation
!! To be done. The airplane, Pakistan: Rotoscoping as video effect.

Contemporary Inspiration

Jonathon Hodgson here uses video as references for very expressive line drawings.
Tommy Pallotta, Snack and Drink (1999)
Gianluigi Toccafondo mixes rotoscoped video footage with very expressive painted shapes and background.
Elizabeth Hobbes, Finding My Way (2014)

Zemni Rotoscope Experiments

Rotoscoping for reference: Experiment 1, The Cow, Uganda
7 Woman gets a cow
Woman Walking with Cow 3 with Stop Start animation. TVPaint
Woman Walking with Cow 4 Red Eyes
TVPaint. Refining the Stop Start animation with the cow running off the screen.
Cow Walk Cycle 3D animation video source from You Tube.
Cow Rotoscope 2 keyframes only TVpaint
Woman Walking with Cow 1 The different image planes were layered and used motion tween to move them at different rates across the screen TVPaint
Cow Walk Cycle 1 Rotoscope overlay with notes
Cow Walk Cycle 3 in-betweens
Woman Walking with Cow 2 Walk cycle overlaid on rotoscope with pose marks

Rotoscoping as animation: Experiment 2: Pig Fight, India
Rotoscope Pig Fight

Rotoscoping over an edited version of the Kadiri pig fight video in TVPaint. These are not so successful and not as dynamic as I would like them to be.

The line drawing would be better as a gesture drawing from live video. The coloured version would be more interesting painting into that digitally or on acetate using printouts from the line animation as underguide.

Pig fight 1: Line rotoscope of edited version of pig fight video. TVPaint. This would be more dynamic as a gesture drawing from live video.
Pig fight 2: Coloured version of line rotoscope. TVPaint. This would be more dramatic painting into the gesture line digitally or on acetate using printouts from the line animation as underguide.
Pigfight Rotoscope 4 Pencil
Pigfight Rotoscope 5 Vector Blur 4
Pigfight Rotoscope 5 Rough Sketch
Pigfight Rotoscope 8 Vector Blur 5
Pigfight Rotoscope 6 Charcoal
Pig Fight Rotoscope 9 watercolour grunge 1
Pig Fight Rotoscope 10 watercolour grunge 2 original colour

3: Rotoscoping as animation: Domestic Violence, Pakistan

Key Issues and Conclusions

4: Animation Strategies: related posts In Process Physical media

Hand Drawn Animation