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The Complex Beauty Of Simple Animation- Part 1: The Body

For an old fashioned and relatively basic form of animation, stop motion is a technique capable of some downright amazing things.

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Even with a low barrier to entry, something as simple as rudimentary face painting, combined with stop motion animation (and in this case, the presence of a few well placed mirrors), can provide relatively compelling results.

With a slight stepping up of complexity, and a little vision, remarkable effects can be achieved. Of course, no small degree of patience is required for any of this to work, but if an artist is willing to invest the time, skills usually thought of as the domain of makeup artists and face painters can enter another realm entirely.

We Have Band - You Came Out (Official Music Video) / Via youtube.com

In this instance, although a bit more technically demanding in that one must be able to approximate variation in mouth shape, entirely new kinds of motion and affect can be created. This particular instance is very similar to the way clay mouths are animated on the show Robot Chicken.

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Ruby - Stop-motion face paint animation - Official Version / Via youtube.com

The still using the face as a subject and canvas, this artist has chosen to remove the contrast between the face and the background, focusing our attention in this sequence on the growth of a cute little character on the subject's face. This is just one of many astonishing sequences in the original video. Beautiful stuff!

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Identity. / Via youtube.com

Expanding downward from just the face, here animation is across the entire upper body. The ongoing animated transformation in the video is remarkable, and is absolutely worth a watch.

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Artist in Japan creates surreal illusions by painting on bodies / Via youtube.com

Bringing a knowledge of optical illusions into the process of stop motion animation on the body is unique approach that can produce mind-bending results. This video includes behind-the-scene coverage of the art and filming process, as well as a number of other art and animation sequences from the same artist.

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body painting stop motion blackpainter / Via youtube.com

Skewing in a different direction, and taking on a more illustrated quality, this artist turns the subject into an almost overwhelming repository of detail.

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Painted: An Adventure in Stop Motion Body Art / Via youtube.com

Combining animation on the already mobile body with animation on the more static background surface can create some stunning results. This video demonstrates a number of different possibilities, and is totally worth the time to take in.

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FRICTIONS: Stop Motion Animation HD / Via youtube.com

In this last video, stop motion is used to capture not only the motion of the animation elements, but the dynamic interaction between the normally static elements and the human body in motion, turning what had mostly been 2D art in the previous samples into a more 3D stop motion experience. In its own way, this opens an interesting door into the possibilities for narrative storytelling using a mix of real "live action" actors and 2D stop motion elements. Relatively complex and exciting pieces can be generated with just a few dollars worth of colored paper... and tremendous patience!

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We'll examine more of the possibilities of stop motion animation in Part 2.

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