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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How To Suggest Movement In Minecraft

I thought I would talk about an artistic technique for making an otherwise static looking world seem like it is moving. The specific examples are the airships below but also in the previous post about the airship terminal where an airships seem to be coming in for a landing.

So the first thing to decide is where in your world movement would be occurring and what direction it would be going in. This means figuring out the line of movement; the vector, if you like. Artists call it the "flow."

The rule here is that you can direct the eye by anticipating where movement is going. This is to say that if someone throws a ball we look to where we expect the ball to hit. We look even if the person throwing the ball is painted. If we see something the ball might hit we perceive action i.e., movement. So a painting of someone in the stretch ready to unleash a fast ball is far less effective if the back catcher isn't also in the picture. A batter will really set the piece off! Our minds will anticipate all the action and thereby our minds also animate the picture.

So if I put an airship at dock and another where we would expect it to have come from we perceive movement. This doesn't mean we see things moving but that it feels like movement. This brings the world alive much like a painter brings their work alive.

In a 3D world you want the movement to be very lineal and without much distraction since it will have to be interpreted by any angle.

So in my example below you can see the two construction ships are really very close together. That is because they are surrounded by so much distraction (buildings and what not).

You can also see that they are carrying something that obviously fits somewhere else. This also helps create the line of action (remember the back catcher), this is where the block is going. So we have where it has come from and where it is going.

It also works to think of this as an animation. You have the start of the action, the end of the action (where the piece fits) but you also need some players in between (the airships) to help tell the narrative, that is, explain how the action is going to unfold. The fewer the distractions the further apart players can be.

The nice thing about minecraft is that, because it is 3D, you don't need to worry about composition; it really is all about the flow of action, which is why the action is difficult to capture in a screen shot, but on the ground it looks great.

Anyway, I hope someone finds this tutorial useful. It might take a little practice but suddenly a very plain world can seem alive and moving. I think the effort is well worth it.

I've done a lot of stuff since my last post and I'll have to show it shortly.

Thanks for supporting.


  1. I've never thought of trying to incorporate motion into my world before. It does kind of make sense though. I might try something like that soon. You're airships are so boss though.

  2. I wish I had movement in my world. lol.

  3. good tutorial, does look good

  4. I've never actually built an airship in Minecraft yet....