Leonardo DaVinci the Animator? (Everything new is old again)

Over the years I’ve seen a lot of references to various precursors to animation:

Suggestions the Pharaohs had reliefs painted on columns so that visitors could be amazed at the ‘living beings’ that danced as they whisked through the causeways on chariots at high speed.

Belief the images on cave walls represent animals in motion (perhaps used to teach young warriors how to better strike at their prey during the chase).

A desire that the vases with variations in their imagery could be spun to create ‘motion pictures’.

As I’ve read these reports I’ve mostly viewed them with a great deal of skepticism but cannot help but feel we are falling as far short of the truth as we are exaggerating what we think we see there.

One example in this same area that I haven’t presented elsewhere as an example of a precursor to animation is the following sequential images attributed to Leondardo DaVinci:

What principles of animation and composition can we see here:

  • Anticipation
  • Pose to Pose
  • Squash and Stretch
  • Straights and Curves (and Straights against Curves)
  • Line of Action
  • Opposing Arcs
  • Silhouette
  • Clarity

See anything that I’ve missed?

Is there any question that Leonardo understood a great deal about how things (both mechanical and organic) were motivated and manipulated?  What of his studies in anatomy?  What of his imaginary (flying) machines?

If the field of animation was already this refined in 1508 perhaps we aren’t even close to scratching the surface of animation history.

About Rodney

Cartoonist and Animator! I'd tell you more but then I'll have to debrief you.
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