The plethora of stunning visuals and exciting characters made through modern 2D and 3D animation can make them easy for audiences to take for granted. Animators spend countless hours and years to lay a scene’s groundwork. Successful animation requires not only a skilled and steady hand, but an intuitive sense of which visuals best propel the narrative as well as sustain a viewer’s attention.

Characters or objects in a scene are often framed by elements of their environment. Sloping hills, the curvature of tree branches, aren’t thought up on a whim—each detail is deliberately crafted to make a single frame as appealing as possible. Animators rely on shapes to dictate an “eye-path,” designed to guide the viewer’s eye and rest on the area of focus. Incorporating these many aspects ensures the completed animation looks tightly composed, convincing audiences that the world presented on the screen is one they can step foot in.

In this short clip, Professor Ken Spirduso talks more about visual development and the use of shapes to construct eye-paths.

Learn more about shapes, 3D modeling, and more animation tools in our free online course, Visual Development: Envisioning a Narrative in Film and Video Games.

Visual Development: Envisioning a Narrative for Film and Video Games

Ringling College of Art and Design