Sand Animation

Sand animation is a cinematographic practice which uses the visual and aesthetic properties of sand to create an animated image.


The history of Sand animation is Sand drawing (or sandroing in Bislama) which is a ni-Vanuatu (an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean) artistic ritual tradition and practice.

It is produced in sand, volcanic ash or clay. The artist’s medium is a single finger.

It consists in “a continuous meandering line on an imagined grid to produce a graceful, often symmetrical, composition of geometric patterns”.

The Sand animation done today, is a live, spectacular and original sort of painting art. The moving sand creates continuously fantastic and poetic figures.   Caroline Leaf is a pioneer of this type of animation.

How do they do it

Sand animation takes place on stage: Sand is spread over the glass table, which is illuminated from underneath.  A video camera is positioned over the glass table upon which the artist creates the sand magic. The image is instantaneously projected onto a big screen for the audience to see.

The backgound music and the artist’s involvement adds mood for the animation done on the sand.  With sand and the artist’s fingers, magic pictures are growing on the table and the screen.

Fluidity, high speed execution and superposition form spectacular drawings in perpetual transformation which excite imagination, surprise, allow abrupt changes of tone and images unforeseen.


There are few people who practise this art.  Ilana Yahav, David Myriam are renowned among them. Su Dabao is best known for his Chinese traditional style in sand animation.  Last year Kseniya Simonova’s Amazing Sand Drawing about her country’s history won her first place in the Ukraine’s Who’s Got Talent Show.  This show has popularised the art by giving her the top rank.