Creating an Infographic with Movement in SketchBook Motion: Tutorial by David Thorp

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We’ve teamed up with SketchBook Motion artist David Thorp to create a series of tutorials focusing on SketchBook Motion. You can accomplish some amazing things adding animation to your static sketches with Motion, and David is here to help you figure out how he uses the app to generate his inspiring imagery. In the first of this series, David takes a stab at illustrating a model of the CERN Particle Accelerator in the style of an infographic.


My goal in this exercise is to try something complicated that illustrates SketchBook Motion in an infographic type project. I decided to try a depiction of the CERN particle accelerator from proton acceleration to collision in one image using Beeline rotation and Rain particle animation. We’ll take it step by step.

We’ll break down this seemingly complex illustration into its parts.

It took a while to research the particle accelerator and simplify it down to basic forms that could communicate the function of the collider. After a few sketches, I came up with a set of graphic assets I’d require:

Cern Exploded
I saved out each of my layers as PNG files with the alpha channel information intact.

Use Layers, Masks to Assemble Assets

One of the benefits of developing your graphics in layers like this is that you can use alpha channels to create “holes” or masks in your layers to reveal the particle effects or animation underneath. In this case I made a duplicate of the background image with openings that would reveal the animation underneath. 

 3. Cern Alpha

Import Content into Motion

Save each of your layers to the Photo Library. Import all content to SketchBook Motion using Import to Layer. 


Animation Options in Motion

The process of accelerating the protons into the LHC begins with the linear accelerator collecting the protons and moving them through a series of magnets to the Booster ring. To illustrate this, I created two Rain particle animation effects. The particles start by haphazardly flowing to the magnets so I relied on advanced and granular effects to depict this correctly. In the smaller magnetic tube, I combined Rain with Wind to move these smaller particles correctly. To control the spread of these particles through my illustration, I used a combination of a duplicate of the background with the alpha channel and a Boundary mask.

 5. Animation3a 5b. Animation3ab

The primary effect in this piece is to show the flow of protons starting with the Booster ring and ending with the final particle collisions in the LHC. To do this, I utilized the Beeline rotation animation tool. However I knew I would have a challenge placing an animating the particles within their respective rings. To deal with this problem, I created a temporary layer showing a crosshair at the center of each circle. Simply placing the rotation center point on top of the crosshair, I was able to keep the particle effects within the circles. Once this animation was finished, I deleted the crosshair layer.

6. Animation 3b 

At four points along the LHC there are collision particle detectors (Alice, Atlas, LHCb and CMS). In order to call attention to those points along the LHC, I created a white circle with a blurry edge to emulate a light source. To animate, I used Beeline rotation animation with the following scale advanced control setting:


To illustrate the collision of the protons, I created an inset diagram of the Atlas detector. Similar to the particle accelerator animation, I created a series of white dots and animated them using Rain animation from a single point. Using advanced controls, I was able to depict the collision and creation of Hadron particles.

8 Scale

To control the animation of the particles, I relied on my illustration with the alpha channel. Because I wanted the particles to gradually fade out towards the edges of the detector, I used an alpha channel with a subtle gradient.

9. Animation 3d 

Controls_New copy
You can fiddle with any of these options to make your final graphic more fine-tuned.

The Final Result: Very Professional

After all that adjusting, this is how the animation turned out. You can create all kinds of scientific and educational infographics like this that stand out in a big way because of the use of movement. 


About David

David Thorp is an illustration artist who works for the civil engineering company WSP in the Design Visualization department. There he manages a group of artists creating visualization images and animation for public outreach. Additionally, he is a freelance artist who has worked on projects ranging from mascot logo designs to nationwide advertising campaigns.