We took a look at speed blur on a previous post. Speed blur is what happens when a camera tracks along with a fast moving object, blurring the entire background along the path that the camera travels.
Motion blur is a little different. It’s what happens when a form moves rapidly in front of a stationary “camera.”
If you look at individual frames from live action films, any fast moving object has a softly blurred edge. The ability to simulate motion blur in CG animation was the revolutionary breakthrough that made the embryonic Pixar company take off in its first successful films. Very primitive CG animation, like traditional stop motion animation, left hard edges on moving objects, which gave a jittery rather than a fluid feeling to the motion.
As painters of still images—digital or traditional— we can take a lesson from these animation pioneers.
This oil painting from Dinotopia: First Flight (1999) shows dancers dressed up as dinosaurs parading at night through a city. They’re caught mid-stride in a wild dance. Their left feet are swinging forward, and their arms are flapping upward.
The faster the form is moving, the more it is blurred.
I painted in the figures and the background all wet together, and then softened all the edges in the direction of the line of action. For this kind of soft passagework, a slower drying medium helps.
To suggest that the “camera” was tracking along with the dancers, and to give a sense of shallow focus, I also blurred the details of the crowd across the street. If I had painted all these elements with crisp edges, they would have lost the feeling of depth and motion.
For more examples of motion blur in painting, have a look at the wildlife art of Manfred Schatz. Link.
Tomorrow: Giganotosaurus in Allentown