William Kentridge (born 28 April 1955) is a South African artist best known for his prints, drawings, and animated films. These are constructed by filming a drawing, making erasures and changes, and filming it again. He continues this process meticulously, giving each change to the drawing a quarter of a second to two seconds’ screen time. A single drawing will be altered and filmed this way until the end of a scene. These palimpsest-like drawings are later displayed along with the films as finished pieces of art.
Animator William Kentridge animates with charcoal on paper, leaving traces of each drawing behind as the movement progresses. These traces lend a depth to the image as well as the time of the animation. They also serve a narrative purpose. Kentridge’s early animations were copied from early Soviet films, placed in the Apartheid, South African context. Apartheid was a system predicated on the exploitation of black South African labour in the interests of white South African society. Kentridge uses his animation to express his feelings of guilt for being a white male with inherited wealth and status as well as his personal fantasies of acceptance and forgiveness. The layered shadows of previous drawings that haunt his animations are ghostly reminders of the time that each drawing took to make. Animation here serves as a kind of penance.
“I am interested in how the materiality of an image can support its meaning, the tearing or disintegration of paper and marks alluding to the criminal and emotional disruption of public space. The police violence in America is happening almost too fast to comprehend and almost certainly too fast to document. In a series that started with the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012, I have been documenting the last image in the victims of police shootings lives. In this film the drawn footage is worked and reworked until the figures merge with the landscape and the paper is destroyed. There is a sense of burning, referencing lynching and also foreshadowing the subsequent riots.”
Catherine Anyango Grünewald, Live, Moments Ago (The Death of Mike Brown) (n.d) catherine-anyango.com.
My first animations on this blog are on the iPad, based on photos of community drawings or my own sketch drawings. This was useful to quickly brainstorm and explore different looks and to start to learn to do short animated clips in a very simplified way. Most of the software, insights and techniques from iPad can be replicated on any tablet and many smartphones.
Software features checklist
My list of key things 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.
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.
Frame-by-frame/cel animation/ digital flipbooks
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
Preview playback and scrub along timeline
One audio layer for importing audio and lip syncing
Import video for rotoscoping animation
Export animation to Quicktime video, GIF, or image sequence
Export projects for import to Adobe Flash/Animate, After Effects, and Toon Boom Harmony
Only one audio layer
Transformation features with numeric position, rotation and scale, but limited flexibility and without registration point
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
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
Export of creative process videos.
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.
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 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 layer blending
Stop Motion animation
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 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.
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.
Timeline and longer animations
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.
Disney animation often pointed to as the ‘gold standard’ – noticeable in comments on African animations that those refer much more favourably to smooth Disney-style animation than more obviously Afdrican graphioc styles.
Depended on a huge studio of different animation departments. Men did the design and better paid jobs. A large army of low paid ‘girls’ did most of the repetitive drawing and painting that provided the profitability. This gender power imbalance led to gender stereotyping of characters and narratives and is also replicated in much of the contemporary Disney-style animation in Africa and elsewhere.
Early cell animation
Winsor MCKay 1914 Gertie the Dinosaur was one of the earliest animations made on film. Each drawing was redrawn on each page and captured on film and then projected at a rapid rate. McKay presented his animation as a stand-up show with live narrative. Written text is also included on some of the frames.
JR Bray Dachshund: introduced the background shot and discovered use of celluloid sheets for layering where only certain elements changed each time.
Raoul Barre: Dreams of Hercules and Crazy Cat uses write on text.
Willis O’Brien stop motion animation of a prehistoric world.
Paul Terry move the background to show movement.
Fleischer rotoscoping to create realistic movement Clown and ink
Pat Sullivan Felix the Cat
Traditional Cel animation: to reduce the amount of drawing required each image was constructed using multiple overlaid layers of drawings on transparent sheets of celluloid (cels). In this way, the background scenery for say, Mickey Mouse could be drawn once for use in a scene, while Mickey would be re-drawn multiple times. Typically, an animated feature would require over 100,000 hand-painted cels. These would be photographed one by one onto a painted background using a rostrum camera – a specialised camera used to animate still objects.
Common visual conventions include:
Use of lines radiating from eye to show noticing something.
Lines out of mouth for noise
Use text screens and build-up text to drive the narrative. These screens move up and down to continue the feeling of movement from the animation.
Music of different moods and tempo
Whole screen moves up and down like camera shake. On old films the grit and scratches also flicker to give movement.
Disney animation principles
12 cel animation principles
Developed for Disney from Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnson: 1)squash/stretch 2) anticipation and leading attention, can have multiple levels 3) Staging/exaggeration/sequencing to make things clear 4) straightahead/pose to pose drawing 5) Follow through and overlapping action 6) slow in slow out 7) arcs 8) secondary action 9) timing 10) exaggeration 11) solid drawing 12) appeal