How to Animate Clouds

Learn how to animate clouds from Joe Vena of the Children's Museum of the Arts in this stop motion tutorial from Howcast.

How do you animate clouds? This is a good question, and there are various answers to it, depending on the direction you want to go as an artist. I prefer animating clouds with cotton. So I’ll take cotton batting either from the inside of a stuffed animal or from a bag of cotton. You could also use cotton swabs and put them together. Or cotton balls, put them together. This cotton is really nice. It has a good pull to it, and I’ve shaped the cotton more or less into cloud shapes.

And cotton is not as shapeable, say, as clay, but you can coax it. I have three clouds, all made out of cotton. I have my camera pointing down. I’m going to use my multiplane so I get another layer here. We’ve got nice blue paper for our sky. And I think we’ll start with our clouds right there, and what we’ll do is we’ll move them. I’m going to do one cloud back here and another one here at the edge. I think we have a nice sky setup right here. Our desk lamp is giving it the look that some sunlight is coming through the clouds, nothing wrong with that. I’ll take one frame here, and I’m going to move the clouds sort of dreamily and slowly this way across our frame. And that means making very, very tiny moves.

And of course the challenging one is this cloud that’s underneath my plexiglass, and I’m just going to move that as well and take a picture. Gently coaxing the clouds toward that end of the frame. Gently moving them outside with that kind of slow move. There we go. And the clouds have all blown away. It’s a very short animation of clouds blowing through the sky, but you get the idea. A little bit of cotton, a multiplane if you have the plexiglass, some blue paper. You can animate a beautiful cloudy sky and make the clouds drift away. So give it a try.