Clay Animation

Definition of Clay Animation

Clay animation, also known as claymation, is a form of stop-motion animation that uses clay or similar moldable materials to create characters and objects. In this technique, artists manipulate the clay figures frame by frame, capturing images at each stage to create the illusion of movement when played in sequence. It is widely used in movies, TV shows, and advertisements due to its distinct and visually appealing style.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Clay Animation” is: kleɪ ænɪˈmeɪʃən

Key Takeaways

  1. Clay animation, also known as Claymation, is a popular form of stop-motion animation that uses clay characters and objects to create visually engaging stories.
  2. The process involves taking individual pictures of clay figures in various positions and playing them back in quick succession to simulate movement and bring the characters to life.
  3. Clay animation requires creativity, patience, and attention to detail, as minute movements and tiny adjustments to the characters are crucial for the fluidity and realism of the final product.

Importance of Clay Animation

The technology term “Clay Animation” is important because it refers to a unique and widely appreciated form of stop-motion animation that has been employed in the film and entertainment industry for decades.

By using pliable and malleable materials such as clay or plasticine, animators can create intricate and visually appealing characters, settings, and objects that seem to come to life on screen.

This technique enables artists to tell engaging stories with a distinct visual style and often evokes a sense of wonder and nostalgia in audiences.

Furthermore, clay animation has contributed significantly to the evolution of animation technology as a whole, inspiring new techniques, innovations, and encouraging creativity in the field.


Clay animation, commonly known as claymation, is a unique form of three-dimensional stop-motion animation that utilizes clay as the primary artistic medium to create visually captivating stories, characters, and sceneries. The purpose of clay animation is to generate engaging narratives through the manipulation of clay figures and objects, frame by frame, to generate the illusion of movement when these frames are played together in succession.

This approach to art and storytelling has been utilized for decades in a variety of creative applications, ranging from television series, short films, advertisements, educational materials, and feature films to independent projects by artists and enthusiasts seeking to showcase their imaginative ideas and creations. The true potential of clay animation lies in its ability to bring intricate, hand-crafted stories to life through painstaking frame-by-frame manipulation and photographic techniques.

These meticulous efforts pave the way for the creation of diverse, detailed, and enchanting worlds that often explore emotions, concepts, and social issues through the portrayal of whimsical storylines and unusual, iconic characters. The tactile nature of the medium offers creators endless possibilities for exploring the depths of their imagination.

With the advent of digital technology and computer-generated imagery (CGI), clay animation continues to evolve, incorporating new digital methods and tools to further expand its expressive range and maintain its charm amidst the modern era of rapid technological advancements.

Examples of Clay Animation

Coraline (2009): “Coraline” is a critically acclaimed stop-motion animated film directed by Henry Selick, based on the novel of the same name by Neil Gaiman. The movie showcases the use of clay animation to create a visually stunning and unique world. Coraline, the main character, is a clay figure, and the film’s eerie and fantastical settings were brought to life by animating the characters and scenes frame by frame using clay models and miniature sets.

Wallace & Gromit: Wallace & Gromit is a British clay animated comedy series created by Nick Park of Aardman Animations. The series follows the adventures of Wallace, an absent-minded inventor, and his intelligent and loyal dog, Gromit. The clay animation technique in Wallace & Gromit allows for a distinctive visual style and the opportunity to create dynamic, quirky stories that appeal to both children and adults. Some popular films and episodes in the franchise include “The Wrong Trousers,” “A Grand Day Out,” and “A Close Shave.”

Gumby: Gumby is an American clay animated television series created by Art Clokey in the early 1950s. The show features a green clay humanoid character, Gumby, and his adventures with various friends, particularly his sidekick, a clay horse named Pokey. The series is one of the earliest examples of clay animation in television history, influencing and inspiring future animators to continue exploring the medium. The iconic Gumby and Pokey characters have endured as cultural icons for decades.

Clay Animation FAQ

1. What is clay animation?

Clay animation, also known as claymation, is a type of stop-motion animation that uses clay figures to create characters and scenes. These figures are carefully manipulated to simulate fluid movement when the individual images are played back in sequence at a rapid speed.

2. How do you create clay animation?

To create clay animation, you will need a set, lighting, camera, clay figures, and software for editing. Follow these basic steps to create clay animation:
1. Design and create your clay figures and set.
2. Set up your camera in a stable location with proper lighting.
3. Frame your shot and take a photograph.
4. Move your clay figures slightly, then take another photograph.
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the entire scene.
6. Edit and create a final video using editing software to play back the images in sequence.

3. What kind of clay should I use for clay animation?

For clay animation, non-hardening, oil-based clay is the best choice. This type of clay does not lose moisture and remains pliable during the animation process. Some popular and widely-used clays for animation are Plasticine, Van Aken Plastalina, and Newplast.

4. How long does it take to make a claymation film?

The amount of time it takes to make a claymation film depends on various factors such as scene complexity, frame rate, and the skill level of the animator. A short, simple scene can take a few days, while more complex projects can take weeks, months, or even years to complete. For example, a film that is 5 minutes long with a frame rate of 12 frames per second would require 3,600 individual images and can take a significant amount of time to create.

5. What are some famous examples of clay animation?

Some famous examples of clay animation include Nick Park’s Wallace and Gromit series, Art Clokey’s Gumby, and Will Vinton’s The California Raisins. These films showcase a range of styles and stories that have brought clay animation to a wider audience and captivated viewers for decades.

Related Technology Terms

  • Stop-motion technique
  • Armature
  • Modeling clay
  • Frame-by-frame animation
  • Claymation

Sources for More Information


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