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The fine art of Sand Animation

Updated on September 27, 2012

The performing arts - Sand Animation

Just now, did you ask yourself "What's sand animation anyway?"

I'll try to explain in this lens what it is and show examples of works of some well known artists...

There is no person in the whole world who hasn't drawn in the sand or dirt at least once in their life, using sticks or his/her own fingers... Then you can say that you know what Sand Animation is :)... Sand Animation is simply the art of using one's hands to draw with sand. Artists create their master pieces by adding or removing sand from glass table lit from below. By using both positive and negative space, amazing images come to life before the audience. The presentation is often enhanced by the use of music and various lighting techniques under the table. Most performances follow a story line or script. This creates a sense of motion in the imagery and draws the audience into the creation process.

What is: Sand animation?

Initially a means to create animated short films, sand animation was brought into the live performing arts stage by Ferenc Cako. You may hear these live performances called sand art, or sand painting. Although the art itself has been around for decades, there are still very few successful artists. Many find that simply being able to draw images with sand is not enough to captivate observers. They must also be able to entertain and create and tell a compelling story. Today there are only a handful of well known sand animation artist within the community. Below are the most prominent.

Performance artists

Popular artists

Su Dabao is best known for his Chinese traditional style in sand animation.

Ferenc Cakó

Ferenc Cakó (born 1950) is a Hungarian artist whose specialty is performing sand animation.

He graduated from the College for Creative Arts in 1973 and did amateur animation at that point. His first success was in 1982 and in 1989 he was named artist of the Hungarian People's Republic. After that he did workshops in Finland, France, Spain, Belgium, and Portugal.

Amongst his more recent performances, Ferenc Cako performed in IIT Bombay, Mumbai, India at Techfest 2004. His show in the Open Air Theatre was a huge hit with thousands of students, professors and visitors attending it.

Cakó's films have won prizes including the award for best short film at the Berlin International Film Festival and the jury prize for short film at the Cannes Film Festival.

Kseniya Simonova (born april 22, 1985) is a sand animator from Ukraine. She started drawing with sand after her business collapsed due to the 2008 financial crisis, and had less than a year's experience when she entered Ukraine's Got Talent. She became the 2009 winner of that show, constructing an animation that portrayed life during the USSR's Great Patriotic War against the Third Reich in World War II.

Simonova won 1,000,000 Ukrainian Hryvnia (approx. USD125,000) for her first place in the show. A YouTube video of the performance has received more than 15 million hits.

Sand Animation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sand animation, also known as sand art, is a term which has two meanings. It is the name given to a style of live performance art, and also to a type of animation. In the former, an artist creates a series of images using sand, a process which is achieved by applying sand to a surface and then rendering images by drawing lines and figures in the sand with one's hands. To increase visibility and to add further artistic aesthetic, a sand animation performer will often use the aid of an overhead projector or lightboard. In the latter, animators move around sand on a backlighted or frontlighted piece of glass to create each frame for their animated films. Caroline Leaf is a pioneer of this type of animation. It has also been intermittently used in recent years by Belarusfilm.

Caroline Leaf

Caroline Leaf (born 1946 in Seattle, Washington) is a Canadian-American filmaker and animator.

Leaf made her first film, Sand, or Peter and the Wolf, in 1968 at Harvard University. The short was made by dumping sand on a light box and manipulating the textures frame-by-frame.

Sand animation vs. Canvas painting

Which is more expressive in your opinion: Sand animation or regular canvas painting?

Sand Art Festival in Germany

free BING images sand art

To participate in this International Sand Sculpture Festival the sand artists, the seniors as well as junior sand artists, from all around the world arrived to Berlin this year, where the festival took place.

Sandsation brings sand art to Berlin

Let's play with sand!

Sandplay Therapy: A Step-by-Step Manual for Psychotherapists of Diverse Orientations (Norton Professional Books)
Sandplay Therapy: A Step-by-Step Manual for Psychotherapists of Diverse Orientations (Norton Professional Books)

A clear step by step guide to using sandplay, outlining a variety of directed and non-directed options for individuals, couples, families, and children. The information is very practical and immediately useful. It provides detailed information about working with non-directed trays, as well as ideas for directed trays. This book has thrown wide-open the door of possibilities.

5 LBS Pure White Sand
5 LBS Pure White Sand

Great for Sand and Water Table.

Step2  Naturally Playful Sand Table
Step2 Naturally Playful Sand Table

It's very well built. The top fits very snugly. It's great for building sand castles, digging tunnels, etc.


Ferenc Cako

A Hungarian artist with over 30 years of experience. He is credited with moving sand animation to live performances. As one would expect he has been very successful with his performances including an appearance at Techfest 2004 and work for various TV shows.

Ilana Yahav

An Israeli artist with several years of commercial experience. She is most known for the use of her art in several Qwest commercials. Ilana's work can be found on as well as

Joe Castillo

Currently a pastor by profession, Joe uses sand animation to create captivating images from the scriptures. He is best know for his performance to the soundtrack of the Mel Gibson file “The Passion of the Christ.” Joe is also the most publicaly connected performer with profiles on Flickr, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and Youtube. He focuses on the story aspect of the art to the extent that his work has attracted the title of SandStories.

Sand Animation Art

What do you know about Sand Animation Art

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I love to receive comments in my guest books and I leave them open to anyone.

I would like to know if you find this lens interesting...

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      there is a company that produces sand animation tables. check at

    • profile image

      JoshK47 6 years ago

      This is really cool!!! I've never seen anything quite like this before - thanks for sharing!

    • HealthfulMD profile image

      Kirsti A. Dyer 7 years ago from Northern California

      Thank you for including my lens on Kseniya Simonova - Sand Artist. I think what she does is amazing.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 7 years ago

      The lens is fabulous and it is hard to imagine the hours of painstaking work in some of those sculltures, but what happens to them afterwars? Featured this on Art Supplies.

    • profile image

      mtonlife 7 years ago

      I love sand animations. When I have seen Kseniya Simonova's Sand Animations at the first time I was crying. It's very impressive.

    • kare2share profile image

      kare2share 7 years ago

      What a fascinating lens! Sand animation is such a beautiful form of expression, and I was mesmerized by the videos. Thank you for sharing!

    • SueM11 profile image

      Sue Mah 7 years ago from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

      I have seen sand art but not sand animation. Sounds interesting.

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 7 years ago from Iowa

      I love sand art but had not heard of sand animation. Was quite interesting.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 7 years ago

      Yes, I found this very interesting...I love sand art!

    • Charlino99 profile image

      Tonie Cook 7 years ago from USA

      I find this lens very interesting and very educational. The videos selected are spot on, and the artist information is wonderful. Thank you for sharing this art. It is beautiful.

    • Charlino99 profile image

      Tonie Cook 7 years ago from USA

      I find this lens very interesting and very educational. The videos selected are spot on, and the artist information is wonderful. Thank you for sharing this art. It is beautiful.