The Animation Challenge of Space – Drawing Rockets During Propulsion Phase

If you are going to be an animator sooner or later you are going to have to draw things happening in space. This means people inside of spaceships, and the spaces themselves. Now then, let's consider how to draw a rocket ship that is blasting off. What things do we need to consider? Well here…

If you are going to be an animator sooner or later you are going to have to draw things happening in space. This means people inside of spaceships, and the spaces themselves. Now then, let's consider how to draw a rocket ship that is blasting off. What things do we need to consider? Well here are a few;

  • Flame Design
  • Booster Phases
  • Spinning of Rocket
  • Perspective & Curve of Flight

The design of the propulsion flame is extremely critical. When the rocket ship originally blasts off there will be all kinds of smoke and clouds around, then the rocket ship will pierce through them with a trail of smoke. The flame will appear to be violent with lots of vortex motion, and as the rocket picks up speed the flame will be more of a straight line or a series of lines and perhaps, an interesting design.

Once in space the flame will have a more intricate and mathematical type design. And on its way into space as each booster phase is completed the boosters will be jettisoned and they will fall into the flame all this is a very important part of the animation.

Additionally, Rockets do not need a straight at a neutral point, that is to say that the Rockets often spin as they go vertical. And as an animator, you might be doing the animation from the perspective of someone inside of a vehicle going a different direction. Therefore Einstein's Theory of Relativity and his explanation of someone tossing a ball out of the train will apply.

Namely, the rocket will appear to travel in a curved path of flight. All of this must be animated and you can not make a mistake other those who view it will pick it up, and it will register in their minds that something is not right. As a matter of fact, it is quite easy to make a mistake like this if you do not think it through properly. I sure hope you will consider all this and do some reading on your own.

References:

“The Animator's Survival Kit; a Manual of Methods, Principles, and Formulas for Classical, Computer, Games, Stop Motion and Internet Animators” by Richard Williams (director of animation “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”), Published by Faber and Faber, New York; 2001. ISBN: 0-571-21268-9

And

“3D Graphics & Animation; from Starting Up to Standing Out,” by Mark Giambruno; New Riders Publishing; Indianapolis, IN; 1997. ISBN: 1-56205-698-0