Federico Tobon aka WolfCat is an artist from Los Angeles, CA who loves working with his hands beyond just sketching. You may recognize the name from a feature we did back in 2015, or from his vibrant uploads to the participate section. After discovering his latest creation over on Instagram feed, our heads almost exploded…We’ve all seen a classic flip book, but WolfCat took it a step further by incorporating a drill as a continuous power source for his doodled animation and it’s absolutely mesmerizing. Naturally, this project left me intrigued and wanting to know more, so I decided to ask him a couple of questions. Keep scrolling and check out the exclusive process videos and interview below!

DA: How long did the process take from start to finish?

FT: About 8 hours in total spread over several days. I would say the most labor intensive part was inking the 24 frame animation. I made it twice the size of the final product, drew a basic outline of the path the creature would follow on tracing paper,  and then penciled it. Once I had the basic pencil animation I went over it with black ink using my trusted brush pen. It really feels like you are drawing the same thing over again for a while.

DA: Did you run into any mishaps along the way?

FT: The tracing paper I used bleeds through more than I expected, so I had to repeat a couple of frames. Also, on my first pass, I didn’t have the creature go all the way to the end in 24 frames, so the animation didn’t loop as smoothly. I had to go back and edit some of the frames to get a better transition.

DA: We’ve all seen a simple flip book (like on post-it notes) but the drill tool is what really blew us away. What sparked the idea?

FT: I had seen this type of animation on old-timey coin-operated machines called “mutoscopes“.  Then recently an artist I follow posted a small hand-made version of one and I thought: I have to make my own. His name is Eduardo Salzane and he makes these beautiful and delicate mechanical sculptures. Another thing that was very helpful was seeing the kits from flipbookit.com. I wanted to make my own from scratch so I started building it. When I had the frames mounted on the spindle I wanted to test it and since I didn’t have a box yet, or any other plans for a crank or a motor, I mounted it on the drill to get a smooth rotation. The drill seemed like the easiest thing that was lying around at the moment. 

This was an “in progress” video when I posted it, but the contrast between the delicate animation and the power tool is pretty compelling. The kind of thing that reminds me that sharing your process is important. If I had posted pictures of the finished thing only, the drill wouldn’t have been there, it would have been like telling just half of the story. 

DA: Any tips for someone who wants to give this a shot? (I know I do!)

FT: Draw your animation on paper with the correct aspect ratio to use the Flipbookit maker tool. It’s a pretty nice free tool that lets you upload your animation and it turns it into a printable template. It’s a good idea to start with the right proportions to minimize editing after scanning. That would be 4:3.34 – after scanning each frame will be 800 pixels by 667 pixels. 

There are only 24 frames, and that sounds like a lot of drawings, but it’s a short amount of action when animated. So make it simple, and plan the flow of the movement ahead of time. If you plan on making your own flip cards use cardstock and tape a piece of stiff wire on the edge, then glue your printed animation over it. Not all drills are made equal, find one that can go at slow speed. If you want more specific details feel free to send me a message and let’s bring back mechanical animations.

Like WolfCat mentioned, sharing your process is so important because something you might overlook could be surprisingly cool and helpful to somebody else, possessing it’s own kind of beauty. Hearing about his process and seeing the final result has undoubtedly inspired me to try something completely different than what I’m accustomed to and I hope that you feel the same! A huge thanks to WolfCat for taking the time to share one on one with our community and be sure to follow him on Instagram for more out-of-the-box creations like this one!