Wilde-pecker Walk

Kaitlyn Onela
Second Year Student, Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design


Digital 2-D animation


For this piece, I wanted to explore a mutualistic relationship between two groups of animals, in this case, oxpeckers and wildebeest. I am fascinated by the natural world, and learning about interactions between species like this is always fun. In addition, my choice in creating a short 2D animation originates from my interest in learning about creating animations.

Artistic Component

One of my main goals in creating this piece was to further explore 2D animation, particularly in the program that I was working in (Clip Studio Paint EX). I haven’t animated a walk cycle before, and this seemed like a great opportunity to be able to push/develop my skills.

In addition, I also wanted to incorporate perspective elements into the piece. Unfortunately, I don’t think that I pushed my boundaries as much as I would’ve liked to, but this piece taught me about incorporating the different elements of the background – namely the foreground, middleground, and background. However, I did manage to include atmospheric perspective, which is something I’ve been hoping to work into my pieces.

One challenge that I hoped to address with this animation was the idea of having a piece with a loop. I’ve always been interested in looping animations, and addressing the loop for the characters was a fun challenge that I was able to work through. Unfortunately, I could not figure out how to work out this challenge with the background, particularly with the foreground grass; I hope to be able to figure out how to do this in the future.

Scientific Concept Represented

I wanted to explore symbiotic relationships in the animal kingdom. Originally, I wanted to animate something about Nile crocodiles and Egyptian plovers, but I found out that their relationship doesn’t actually have verified information to support the theory. Though I discovered that the crocodiles and plovers may not actually be true, I thought about how birds and other animals interact in a mutually beneficial relationship, which led me to oxpeckers and other large herbivores, in this case, wildebeest. Oxpeckers will land on other larger animals and eat any bugs/parasites such as ticks. This is a case of a mutualistic relationship, in which both animals gain something out of interacting. Oxpeckers get a food source, and larger animals like wildebeest are able to get rid of parasites.

In addition to learning about mutualistic relationships, I was also able to learn more about both species, blue wildebeest and red-billed oxpeckers. It was a lot of fun exploring the different looks and colors to find something that worked together in a piece, as well as simplifying elements to make them more accessible to animation.