Harcourt North artist Richard Baxter taught himself animation and created 'Umbrella Dance'

Harcourt North resident Richard Baxter has been a painter for about 35 years.

But the artist and photographer said he had always wanted to do animation.

About five years ago, he decided he’d teach himself.

Today, a video posted on YouTube showed how much he’d learned.

Mr Baxter said the seven-and-a-half minute ‘Umbrella Dance’ was inspired by the memory of a moment in his childhood.

“It was a really hot, windy, dusty day and I was outside,” the 52-year-old said.

“I noticed this little speck – it was like a dot, way up in the sky.”

It turned out to be an umbrella, adrift on the breeze.

Mr Baxter said he remembered it taking a long time for the umbrella to fall to the ground – long enough that people came out of their houses to see what was going on.

“That event always stayed with me, for some reason,” he said.

The memory of the flying umbrella has stayed with the artist for more than 40 years. Picture: RICHARD BAXTER

The memory of the flying umbrella has stayed with the artist for more than 40 years. Picture: RICHARD BAXTER

Flying umbrellas have appeared in his works of art throughout the years.

“Now I kind of feel like I can turn my paintings into reality, so to speak,” Mr Baxter said.

Creating ‘Umbrella Dance’ called for the use of two sets of software – Blender3D for modelling and animating the umbrella, compositing and rotoscoping in After Effects. 

“I reckon it would have been two or three months back that I started working on it,” the artist said.

“The first thing I had to do was create the model umbrella in a 3D program and animate it so that it interacted with the cars.”

The animation is set against a video of traffic driving along Hargraves Street in Castlemaine on a rainy day.

“It will take me years yet before I become a professional [in animation]. So I’m just playing… it’s just a hobby,” Mr Baxter said.

Both photography and painting evolved from hobbies into professions for the artist.

“I just start for the enjoyment and see where it goes,” Mr Baxter said.