Animation Challenges of Drawing Army Tanks Considered

Animators are often asked to animate things that are involved in human conflicts and wars. Sometimes the animations are being done for a company that is a defense contractor that is trying to put forth a concept to get funded. Thus, they need to make videos and have animation ready to show their new weapons as if it is in the battle space.

Those animators that need to help with war fighter simulators, or preparing video games, or even animated movies will at one time or another have to learn how to draw an army tank. That sounds pretty easy, and there is no doubt that most of the CAD/CAM animation software already has basic models built in that can help you with a starting point.

Still one of the skills you need to be able to possess is to take something from the drawing board and then scan it into the computer where you can give it a set of point values on the grid. Let’s consider some of their drawings that you need to be able to handle;

Firing Projectiles
Moving turret
Tracks in Motion
Traveling on the Terrain

Now then, army tanks are weapons and they fire projectiles at the enemy, well hopefully the enemy, sometimes friendly fire takes its toll on an army. Therefore, you must know how to draw the firing sequence; as the shell emerges from the tank’s barrel and travels forward while puffs of smoke and cloud expand out of the barrel with curved lines from the smoke to the back of the projectile. You can see that right? This is the first step in drawing army tanks once you have drawn the original vehicle.

Next, you will need to figure out how the turret moves in the barrel moves up and down, as we will be creating quite a few axis points, as we prepare these drawings for the actual animation. Of course, as this is happening the tank will be traveling up and down the natural terrain as the tracks on the tank contour themselves to the rocks on the ground and the uneven surface.

Further, the tracks themselves are moving along with the wheels inside of the tracks. You can understand how complicated this gets and how important it is to get it right. If you will consider that many animation drawings will have multiple tanks on the battlefield firing weapons at different times moving over the terrain at different speeds and being fired upon by other enemy forces; well, let’s just put it this way you have your work cut out for you. Please consider all this.


“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


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