reflections in animation: Vermeer painting The Music Lesson zoomed in on the mirror behind the piano

Mirror reflections in animation

Representing mirror reflections is a tricky business in all visual arts. Nowadays, we can use 3D software to calculate reflections. But before CG was available, any mirror reflections in animation, drawings, and paintings had to be figured out by the artist, and matching the subject with its reflection was solely the artist’s responsibility. We see […]

Hear it before you see it: The Doppler Effect

One way to give the effect of a moving object is to use sound. A moving object making a particular sound, such as an ambulance with a blaring siren, can seem to be making sounds with two different pitches. This is because of the way sound waves work. As a moving object approaches making sounds, […]

burning car

What is a gas, really? And can it always explode?

The term gas explosion could be used to describe several different kinds of explosions. In order to understand this, let’s take a look at different definitions of the word gas. Gas – Short for gasoline, a flammable liquid commonly used to fuel vehicles, called petrol outside North America. Gas – Short for propane gas, a flammable vapor […]

pi circumference circle square

Why you need pi in animation

When you were studying animation, you probably thought you had no need for math. But one thing you definitely need to know about is the value known as pi, and how you can use pi in animation. Why pi? For centuries, mathematicians were obsessed with the relationship between the diameter of a circle and its […]

lightning pattern

Lightning burn reference

If a character or environment object in your scene is struck by lightning, you’ll need some reference for the jagged burn pattern that will visibly emerge after the strike. The burns from a lightning strike aren’t just random lines—they follow a specific type of pattern. Lichtenburg figures, besides providing a great lightning burn reference, are […]

Paraglider in the clouds

Cloud reference, the hard way

Ah, storm clouds. So beautiful and exciting! If one of your characters is going to fly through a storm cloud, you’re going to need some cloud reference. And what better way to get it than to paraglide through the clouds? Before you sign up for classes, consider the story of Ewa Wiśnierska, a German paragliding champion who did […]

What is fire?

I recently discovered minutephysics, a YouTube channel with a lot of short, interesting perspectives on different physics concepts. Below is my favorite, called What is fire? There’s even a few tidbits in there that will help artists depict fire more realistically. In Physics for Animators, you can learn more about how to depict fire in […]

Types of Clouds

A cloud is a big fluffy thing made of water droplets, right? Well, yes, but there are around a dozen types of clouds, each with different characteristics. For example, a rain cloud can be a fluffy blob or a big sheet that extends across the sky, but a speckled cloud is made of ice and […]