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04th Apr 2017

Disney animators reveal the reason cartoon characters have just three fingers on each hand

Mystery solved


Why do many of the world’s best loved cartoon characters only have a thumb and three fingers on each hand?

It’s probably not the sort of question that’s kept anyone awake at night but, at some point in our childhoods, it probably crossed our minds.

As far as we’re aware, nobody’s ever bothered to find out the answer to it, either. Thankfully, we no longer have to, either.

In a video for BBC News, Emmy-award winning animators Dan Povenmire and Jeff ‘Swampy’ Marsh revealed some of the tricks of their trade.

After explaining that the eyes are the starting point of their animations, the pair then move on to discussing the hands – regarded as one of the more complicated parts of an animated character to draw.

“Everybody shortens it to three fingers and a thumb… just simply for an economy of line,” Marsh explains.  “When you’re having to animate 24 drawings per second, dropping one finger makes a huge difference,” he continued.

Fair enough. With 1,440 drawings required for a minute’s worth of animation, it’s inevitable they need to cut a few corners once in a while.

Here’s the video…

Milo Murphy’s Law airs on Disney Channel on Mondays at 5pm and DisneyLife

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