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What This Post Can Teach You About Clay Animation

Liza Brown
Liza Brown
Originally published Jan 26, 22, updated Jul 12, 24
What This Post Can Teach You About Clay Animation

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The kids of the last decade probably grew up with at least one of their favorite mooring binge cartoon being a clay animation.

Filmmakers have been stunned and amazed witnessing how spectacular the results are in clay-mation. Clay can be molded and shaped into almost any object an infinite number of times to create figures.

You will notice how there are but a few Claymation blockbuster movies. That because the process of making one requires precision and a lot of patience.

Part 1 How Does Clay Animation Work?

Claymation sculptures originate from blobs of clay. Claymators mold them into their desired characters using painstaking efforts, patience and team work. First, a miniature skeleton is made to fit the clay around. On top of that goes a latex layer. Then the Claymation artist moves the models into required position following the storyline or script. Clay animation not only uses clay, sometimes it involves wires and armatures for smoother movement of the characters. Moreover, artists have to be concerned about fingerprints and dirt marks all the time. At times, plastic made or fabric made accessories is brought into play to give the figurines a realistic look. Detailing is the most difficult and important part for enhancing your clay character and film.

Clay animation also uses stop- motion animation. It includes capturing minute movements and of models to make it look like the characters is acting on their own. In stop motion animation, animators typically shoot at fps or fps. Though some claymators prefer to capture it at half the rate, fps or fps whereas fps is frame per second these captured still images are edited then converted into a video or film using stop motion software.

In recent times use of editing software and developed cameras has made the shooting process easier. Also, armatures clay models have eased the process of creating sculptures. Though, time is still a great deal while making clay animation.

Part 2 What Are Some Famous Clay Animation Characters?

Wallace: The character was born during the 80’s, back when stop motion was relatively unheard of. Wallace is the star of the franchise featuring Wallace and Gromit. The idea of this dynamic duo took about seven years to turn into a full scale television show. It went to becoming an Oscar winning work of art.

Victor Van Dort (Corpse Bride): The persona of a handsome man in his prime. Short and messy brown vest over a slim structure with big brown eyes. The protagonist of the corpse bride, Victor is a character in conflict stuck within an epic love triangle involving the dead. This amazing dark satire brings out the best in clay animation with precise movements and amazing music.

Rocky (Chicken Run): Mel Gibson went out on a foot with Rocky, though he is known for the same. Rocky is the second character with prominence in the film. The plot is about chickens attempting to escape their inevitable demise. Rocky crash lands in the coop pretending to have figured out how to fly.

Coraline: Not your everyday story about an eleven year old. Coraline Jones continues to haunt/impact us all even today and has a strong cult backing. It was initially meant to be live action but was later shifted to Claymation which took over four years to make.

Shaun the Sheep: Shaun is a sheep (obviously) who goes on world adventures. The movies was featured as the TV spin off. The character was meant to appeal to both children and family. The entire movie was dependant on movement and expressions rather than dialogue making Claymation the perfect medium to bring out the character.

Part 3 How Many Changes Does a Clay Animation Movie Require?

It is difficult to say what is the exact time taken by a Claymation production as all stop motion movies are unique and require a considerable amount of time to make.

An estimate made by Fords depicted that that it took a single two minute footage of ‘Boxtrolls’ a week to make. The total running time ended at 1 hour minutes.

Part 4 8 Famous Claymation Movies in 2022

Claymation movies showing up on the silver screen is a rare event but they have often regular staple for cartoon television series. Despite the fact that the process is time consuming and labor intensive some of the best filmmakers and animators still prefer Claymation as a medium. Though recently, CGI based animations are taking up the vast market share of animated films, clay animations have been around for quite a while even before Plasticine. Here is a list of some of the most memorable Claymation flicks.

01Wallace and Gromit – The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

wallaca and gromit

The British stop-motion comedy franchise which had 5 installation had been a first of its kind. The characters Wallace and Gromit later inspired their own movie "Wallace and Gromit – The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" which was released back in 20by Dreamworks Animation. The mystery solving duo ran a pest control company while Wallace experiments on a brain washing gadget for dissuading wild rabbits which leads to its own disaster. This movie has a classic appeal amongst children an adults alike.

02The Nighmare before Christmas (1993)

nightmare before christmas

Directed by Time Burton, this film is one that impresses us all every time. The success of this Claymation is embedded in the fact that it made creepy gothic characters look appealing. It has a mixture of both the Halloween and Christmas theme. The character Jack Skellington goes through a magic door to arrive at ‘Christmas Town’. Using Claymation was an excellent choice for the script as it enabled the animators to bring about that distorted movements that evolved into a gorgeous visual storytelling.

03Chicken Run (1994)

chicken run

Popular claymation give credit to Chicken Run for its amazing dramatization of fiction. For the first time ever a stop motion film had a cast as amazing as Chicken Run; starring Mel Gibson and Timothy Spall. The film was a collaboration amongst elite production studios like Aardman Animations and DreamWorks Animation. The story is a spoof of the 19film ‘The Great Escape’.

04The Corpse Bride (2005)

corpse bride

The Corpse Bride is probably the second Tim Burton film on our list. The director seems to have a special preference for the stop motion genre. When you combine that with an amazing musical script and charming but relatable ghoulish characters, the flick becomes an absolute delight.

05Coraline (2009)


Here’s where Tim Burton establishes his cult following. The film Caroline was based the novel by Neil Gaiman. The story is about the weird adventures of a girl named ‘Caroline’ and a button eyed rag doll who she meets after travelling through a portal. Laika Studios made the appeal of the film as beautiful yet unsettling. It harbors plenty of dark and creepy aspects like by many followers of this type of fiction.

06Frankenweenie (1984)


There are dozen animated films that were way ahead of their time and were discontinued as the medium was seen more to be specifically directed for children only. Tim Burton’s creation ‘Frankenweenie’ was considered a ‘love letter’ to the Golden Age of Horror films. It was considered too dark for the average viewer so the director was later let go by Disney.

07Paranorman (2012)


A more somber attempt at stop motion films was Paranorman. It featured printed faces in the characters which needed a new and innovative creative approach. People experienced ground breaking characterization of an openly gay character in the film which was a milestone in terms of mainstream animated films. Films like ‘Paranorman’ perfectly depicts the entry of modern film making software like Wondershare Filmora Video Editor and Maya in stop motion animations.

08The Boxtrolls (2014)


From the makers of Paranorman, Boxtrolls all introduces an innovative approach to using clay models in films. Featuring Ben Kingsley, Simon Peggs and Richard Ayoade, Boxtrolls is probably the very few box office hits on this list. The film first premiered at the Venice Film Festival the same year of its release.

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Key Takeaways from This Episode

Stop motion animation has evolved into various different genres and styles but the Claymation has been accepted as a classic medium.

Not every filmmaker chooses to go down the clay path to animation but those who have has clearly achieved wonders.

If you wish to give it a try, there is no reason to think that it is impossible but rather demand all your dedication.

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