Design Review: Zoetrope

The Zoetrope was perhaps one of the oldest platforms for animation. It’s origins are a little unclear, however, it was popularized in the 1900s as an artifact. Growing up, animation and cartoons were a big part of my life. I owe my ability to draw years of watching anime and trying to replicate that. Hence I have an emotional attachment to this project and am excited to personally draw the frames for the animation.

The design which I want to go with will be dictated by the aesthetic that I choose. The basic design will be a box with the zoetrope on top, the box dictating the aesthetic having interactive components and the zoetrope mounted on the box. The interactive components would be either a switch to activate the zoetrope or a hand crank depending on further tests with colleagues and friends.

The preliminary sketch for the design.


The aesthetic of what captures my interest are expressed through some fonts which have the essence of the aesthetic.


This design conveys the carnival aesthetic. Gaudy colors, flashing lights and a hand crank would go with this aesthetic.

1980s Video Game

This aesthetic is very dear to me. I am a huge fan of retro games. Perhaps an animation of Space Invaders or Pacman would be great!

These two aesthetics probably received the best response to and I will pursue one of them depending on further testing with my teammates.

I have some challenges to overcome, especially with making the cylinder. But one by one I will address my issues that I posted in my 5 challenges post and hopefully I will have my project!

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9 Comments. Leave new

  • Siddharth Nigam
    March 16, 2017 5:11 pm

    You have a great detailed sketch (very artistic). And I love how the font affects the aesthetic so much and you recognize that. Be careful when you consider different sizes and see if you can incorporate a few different animations by making it slightly modular!

  • Thank you for choosing this project: I had no idea what a zoetrope was, and now, I’m really excited about seeing your final project. Your product is very dynamic and allows for lots of creative freedom. I like the idea of the micheal jackson moon walk, and that the product has the ability to change designs. Good luck with this!

  • Cyron Completo
    March 15, 2017 12:49 pm

    Excellent idea! With a hand crank mechanism, I am curious about how you would address the flow of the animation depending on the speed of the cranking. I suggest adding elements to each animation panel that only shows up depending on the speed of rotation.

  • Gautham Govindarajan
    March 15, 2017 12:46 pm

    I love the idea that you want to use a hand crank rather than a motor. The moonwalk would be really awesome if you make the sketches. Do you plan to use a lamp inside may be to have an extra functionality?

  • Emma Hammerton
    March 15, 2017 12:45 pm

    I have never heard of a zoetrope before. Finding the optimal length of the slits shows that you put a lot of thought and research into this project. I agree that the hand crank sounds more fun than the motor since it’s already such an engaging project. Props to you for working hard on the illustrations for animation. I like the carnival aesthetic. Have you thought about weight control if you are going to use a wooden cylinder?

  • Alexandra Rivas
    March 15, 2017 12:45 pm

    I’ve always really loved these too! Its like a cool version of a flip book.
    creating a modern version of something that is so old school is very neat.
    The carnival aesthetic is my favorite.
    How will you make sure each frame of your design is uniform enough? I just know I wouldn’t be able to replicate accurately enough!

  • The inspiration you get from anime will really help you make a great zoetrope. Drawing each frame by hand will give you endless amounts of possibilities for your final sequence and I look forward to seeing where your creativity takes you. Prototyping the slit width was a smart idea, seems like you learned a lot of useful information that will help you in the final design.

  • This is a great idea! There are lots of aesthetics to play with this design. I like the 1980s arcade game aesthetic a lot. I think the crank idea is better than the motor. You must be a great drawer.

  • Morgan Ulrich
    March 15, 2017 12:43 pm

    I remember a scene in the animated movie Tarzan where Tarzan plays with a zoetrope. Super cool and unique idea to make your own! I really like that you can change the animations with the pocket idea. I’m curious how it’ll turn out.


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