Animation is one of the most inventive and imaginative art forms — and a big reason for that is the diversity of styles on show.
In my classes, I’ve been helping children learn about one of the perhaps, lesser-used, but visually striking styles, Clay Animation, which I will discuss in this blog.
What Is Clay Animation?
Clay animation is a style that is as impressive and full of character as it is meticulous in its creation. With clay animation, every character, piece of scenery, creature, needs to be created from scratch. Then these models need to be moved in slight increments to capture individual frames, as is true of any stop motion style of animation.
The models themselves are made from plasticine, typically moulded around a wire skeleton known as an armature. These techniques have actually remained largely unchanged from the early days of the art form, even when it comes to something as iconic as Chicken Run!
The History Of Clay Animation
Whilst it has been around much longer (with the earliest examples dating back to the early 1900s) clay animation first achieved popularity in the 1950s through the American children’s television creations of Art Clokey.
However, what we recognize as the modern and more sophisticated techniques of clay animation were developed by Will Vinton in the 1970s, after which he trademarked the term claymation!
It was in the 80s and 90s where the first clay animation movies were made, demonstrating the true range of the form and producing what remains to this day, some of the most visually delightful animation movies in the form of Wallace and Gromit and then later in 2000, Chicken Run from Nick Park, and Tim Burton’s Coraline and The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Here are some of the most famous examples of movies using clay animation, that show the imagination and variety that it can produce:
Wallace And Gromit
No list of clay animation could be complete without Nick Park’s beloved creations! This one isn’t so much one movie as a series of innovative and charming movies, including the oscar-winning “The Wrong Trousers”.
Speaking of Nick Park, this is quite possibly the most famous clay animation movie and one that needs very little introduction. The highest-grossing clay animation movie to this day, it took 30 sets, 80 animators, and a team of 180 people completing one minute of filming each week to make it!
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Showcasing the variety of claymation in terms of style and aesthetic, we have something with a very different sensibility to the cuddly charm of Nick Park. Enduring as the seminal work of Tim Burton’s career, The Nightmare Before Christmas remains a high point for artistry in animation. Clay animation would also prove fruitful for Burton in the form of The Corpse Bride
My Clay Animation Classes
As you can see, there’s a tremendous amount that can be done with clay animation, and it’s an incredibly fun process that’s very hands-on!
I’ve got a course from 18-22 October, where we will create our very own animations using our own characters, and we’ll cover a variety of techniques including storyboarding, character creation, clay techniques, and animation software.
Spots are often taken up quickly, so be sure to book as soon as possible if you’re interested! Suitable from 8 years onwards.