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I am so excited to be working with Rochester-based animator Nat Unwin to create short films to tell the stories of the species in my designs. and a short clip for the website. Here is some of her work in progress:

She explained to me about how she works, often 16 hours a day, with hundreds of layers. “Once all of the objects are prepped, I take it into the animation stage. This is like a brain training puzzle. Each object in your illustration is in its own folder which has more folders inside that and each of the folders I have to tell what to do in order for it to work properly, so they are in the correct hierarchy depending on how things are to move and how they will look.

Each object’s layers are individually animated, so the Venus fly trap for example has 37 points of interest to animate, each of those needs animating individually across the timeline, with 24 frames (or images) per second of film, so of course the longer the animation needs to be the more animating there is to do. This particular illustration has around 30 objects each with their own dissected layers.

screenshot from Nat Unwin's animation

Some pieces need additional images to be drawn, for example the butterfly’s Proboscis had to have replacement animation in order to make it look like it was curling, that’s not something that can be done in the other method of animation, and an eyelid was made for the the painted bunting as I noticed when watching reference videos of them, they blink quite often (I look at reference for everything to try and get the animation true to their movements).”

It is pretty incredible stuff and magical to see the effect. Learn more about Nat on her website.