Evolution of Animation by A Caricature Artist

Evolution of Animation

What is Animation?

Animation is a method in which pictures are manipulated to appear as moving images. In the traditional form of animation images were drawn by hand on transparent celluloid sheets or acrylic paint was used for color to be photographed and exhibited on film. Most animations are made with computer generated Imagery.Now, lets discover the evolution of animation.

How did it all start?

The word animation comes from the Latin word animation, which means bestowing of life or liveliness.

Animation came long back before mainstream cinema, yes you heard it right.

The art of putting images in a sequence to tell a story came from a long time back in history it was just an improvisation in storytelling.

Comics for example are the best scripts any film maker could get. Also because every scene has already been in a storyboard form, where characters in their particular motion along with their specific dialogues are already in place.

Take for example the marvel universe and the DC comic characters existed long back but we the world saw it when everything came from just simple illustrations to larger than life animation.

So how did these characters make their journey from just basic colored drawings to three dimensional animation?

Lets go back in time a little.

Humans have always been fascinated by the illusion of things and animation exactly uses that, it’s all an illusion.

What is illusion?

Just look at your fan while its moving and you can see when in motion there are no three petals but it looks like more that is one simple example.

Now more than a game of artists it’s a complete game of optics, light and mechanics lets keep sound aside for now.

For the fun side of it lets call these instruments toys

Instruments of Animation.

1824 Thaumatrope– A paper circular disc attached by strings at horizontal ends, has images that co relate.Example a bird on one side a cage on the other side.Now, when flipped quickly with the string back and forth the illusion of the bird in the cage becomes clear. Persistence of vision principle comes into play.

1832 Phenakistoscope

It was invented by the Belgian physicist Joseph Plateau

It’s made of a simple circular cut chart paper that has images in sequence.Any art depicting an activity, example- like a ball going upward, a bird with wings moving.Also, nothing of this is moving because all are still drawings made in a division around the circular chart paper and are separated by slits.

Therefore, if you just simply rotate the disc in front of you, you won’t see anything.Instead, if you face it towards the mirror and then you will see how it bursts into life, viewing the discs reflection through its slits separates the colors and you get the perfect illusion of motion.

1834 Zoetrope

Known as one of the best early animation device was invented in 1834 by William George Horner. It is made up of metal or brass drum that is mounted on a wooden stand that also enables the metal drum to spin freely.The animation strips which have images in sequence are placed in the drum, once you spin it and view it from the side through the slits you get to see the illusion of motion the images come to life.

The main improvement of the zoetrope comparing with phenkistiscope was that it had the ability for multiple viewers as it was in a cylindrical shape and people could sit on all sides and view it.

1877 Praxinoscope

It was invented in 1877 by It is an advanced version of Zoetrope. Its made up of circular angled mirrors in the center of the access and the drum has no slits.The animated strip of images sit on the side of the drum.Once it starts spinning, the images placed on the side of the drum and reflect the illusion of motion. The most important part is that this instrument provides a very clean illusion.

Here is the working of all these in this video.



1877- 1879 Emile Reynaud – “Praxinoscope”(9 early animations)

Humorous Phases of Funny Faces 1906

Felix The Cat 1919

Flowers and Trees 1932

King Kong 1933

Tweety 1941/1942

The Flinstones 1960

The Adventures of Mark Twain 1985

Harry Potter Series

Emile Reynaud: Pauvre Pierrot 1892

Fantasmagorie Emile Cohl 1908

Steamboat Willie 1922

Goofy 1932

Donald Duck 1934

Superman 1941

Bugs Bunny 1938

One Hundred and One Dalmatians 1961

Who Framed Roger Rabbit 1988

Toy Story 1995

Avatar 2009

Marvel Cinematic Universe

The Enchanted Drawing 1900

Gertie The Dinosaur 1914

Dizzy Dishes 1930

Popeye 1933

Daffy Duck 1937

Casper 1945

Pink Panther 1963

Jurassic Park 1993

Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers 2002

ParaNorman 2012

DC Comic Books

Evolution of Animation -When Art Met Technology

How did we get into Computer animation?

Lets, enter what I would call the second stage in the evolution of animation.

John Whitney Sr, was an American animator, composer and inventor he is also known as the father of computer animation.

He first started out by making experimental films with his brother James using an anti-aircraft analogue computer,imagine creating a work of art with an instrument of war. Controlled by a servomechanism to control the motion of lights and lit objects.The first example of motion control photography.

John Whitney demonstrates how analogue computer works.

There are many other pioneers who have contributed in many ways when it comes to computer animation.

The Rescuers Down Under was the first feature Film to be completely created digitally without a camera. It was created by Computer Animation Production System.It was developed by Walt Disney in collaboration with Pixar in 1980 similar to the Traditional cel style animation.

Types of Animation

What are the Types of animation?

So in animation there are many types of animation that is used to get the illusion of motion and also to entertain viewers, over the year’s technologies and Ideas have advanced so we will be talking about them.

Traditional Animation

It was mostly used in the 20th century. The individual frames of a traditional animated film are photographs of drawings.Each slightly different from each other so as to generate the illusion of motion. These photographs are then photocopied onto transparent cells.Which then are colored using paint and are then processed finally using a rostrum camera.


Live – action/Animation

A new feat in the evolution of animation. It’s a merger of drawings based animations with adjacent to live characters, example Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

Stop Motion Animation – Animations where real life objects are used to create the illustration of motion by photographing each frame of the object.These objects are manually moved by hands and after each slight movement its photographed.This surely gave a new fun dimension that non-living things could actually move without someone moving it. The following are some materials used to create this style of animation.

  • Puppet Animation
  • Clay Animation
  • Cut-out Animation
  • Model Animation
  • Object Animation
  • Pixilation

Computer Animation

Completely designed and produced on a computer, no photographs or camera used, absolutely digitally created.

Gone are the times when people drew on sheets or cels now they directly draw on screens and latest software’s create the movements as desired.

2D Animation – Two dimensional animation it’s made using two D bitmap and vector graphics.Its all the traditional techniques have been computerized.

3D Animation – Three dimensional animation is made by using a 3D polygon mesh, the animator uses it to generate or manipulate desired movement.

It includes vertices that are connected by edges and faces.

Mechanical Animation

The use of Machines as props why I say that is because the movements are minimal. Robotics in animation could be seen in amusement parks in Disney Land and also used in 4D roller coaster.


This blog is my take as a caricature artist on how animation has evolved from such a long time, and most of us still believed that the word animation existed after computers came.

The truth is far different, the evolution of animation, and the illusion of motion still continues to excite us and keep us happy.

Animation has made possible what logic could not process, we have animals talking, cars and trains having conversations. It has gone a long way from illusion of motion to ocean of imagination and an end number of possibilities.

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