Friday, October 13, 2006

Leonardo’s drawings animated

As part of an exhibit called Leonardo Da Vinci: Experience, Experiment, Design at the Victoria & Albert Museum in the UK, there is an online exhibit of Animated Illustrations, in which the director of animations, Steve Maher and his team have used a combination of hand-drawn and computer-modeled animations to bring some of Leonardo’s amazing notebook pages to life.

There are animations of his drawings of the human figure that have been set in motion, his intricate studies of the anatomy of a bird’s wing, his crafty, and craftsmanlike, war machines, studies of rays of light reflecting from a convex mirror and a 3-D excursion between his floor plans and elevations for a church. The animated progressions from one geometric solid to another are obviously computer animated, but are quite beautiful as animated drawings.

I was particularly fascinated by the animations of Leonardo’s drawings for the working of the human heart because I took on task of animating the heart for this project on organ and tissue donation (click on “The Interactive Body”, I did the Flash module in the pop-up). In addition to explaining organ and tissue donation, the aim was also to demonstrate how the transplantable organs work and I found the animation of the heart the most challenging.

Leonardo’s heart drawings, like his other detailed anatomical drawings are the result of his practice of dissecting corpses in secret, a process which seemed to have no other motivation than Loenardo’s insatiable curiosity, and for which he risked imprisonment (or worse) for heresy.

While all of Loenardo’s drawings should be interesting to artists, of particular interest is the animated version of the Virtuvian Man, in which you get to see the master’s anatomy lessons in motion and watch, for example, the changes in the forearm as it pronates. (Now there’s a great idea – a complete animated anatomy text, rotating the forms in 3-D space and showing changes to the various muscle groups as they flex and extend!)

They’ve taken some liberties, of course, and these animation s should not be thought of as the original drawings, although they are always the starting point. The result is not only a nice series of animations. Sitting in front of a computer screen on which Leonardo’s 15th Century drawings are being rendered in motion or rotated in three dimensional space produces a fascinating feeling of immediate connection between the present and past.

 

One thought on “Leonardo’s drawings animated

  1. Medical Charter

    I was hoping that the links onyour page still worked so I could view these animated illustrations but they seemed to remove them. Why would a museum pull something down of their website as wonderful as this? Where can I view these animated illustrations now?

    Leslie

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