Earthworm Animation

Click the image to see the worm digest its food.


With any animation project the first step is to plan the action. You do this by sketching a series of storyboards which show the sequence of scenes and events. However, you do not then move to recreating the first storyboard in your animation package. Instead you first create your objects and characters, then you place them into scenes, and finally you create your animation. 

You can start by creating your worm from the inside out. So, first  you will create a digestive system, then surround it with the circulatory system, and skin. Then  create a piece of dirt for the worm to eat. (Worms digest the organic material in dirt and the rest comes out as a casting.) 

You will animate the hearts, the skin, and the digestion process. You create and animate the camera in order to see different views of the worm as it eats, and add lighting to bring out the details. Finally you will render the file to an AVI format. 

Creating and animating the worm is an excellent opportunity to use some special techniques, including morphing, lofting, modifiers, and space warps. Because this is a complicated project, remember to save and back up your work frequently. 

Worm Biology:

Study of worm biology will allow you to create a realistic and accurate animation.  Earthworms belong to the phylum of annelids, class Oligiochaeta.  The annelids are segmented worms and in earthworms these segments are externally visible.  They have a series of doughtnut shaped hearts to pump blood and a long tubular digestive tract.  They eat decaying organic material in the soil by ingesting it absorbing the nutrients and releasing the rest as castings.  This is very helpful to agriculture as it improves the soil structure by making it more permeable to air and water.   Worms move by anchoring tiny bristles in the soil stretching out and then pulling their tails toward their head end. 


Your first job is to create a series of storyboards describing the end product. These example storyboards start with the worm. 

The worm moves forward to eat a piece of dirt. 

Here,  the camera focuses in on the beating hearts and digestion process. 

The camera follows the digestion of a piece of dirt until the nutrients have been absorbed and the casting is released. 




Go on to Creating the Digestive System

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6/27/00 Michele Matossian