A short animation looking into the dangerous and often underappreciated world of First World War Tunnelers. These tunnelers, affectionately named moles, worked in the pitch dark, fighting their own battle beneath the trenches.
This animation was created for the Narrative Unit in Second Year Illustration. I’m very interested in Animation and History, and wanted to create a narrative around this theme. I looked into anniversaries around 2015/16 and came across articles about tunnelers from 1915/16. I found the research side of the project fascinating as interesting characters popped up as well as the tunnelers being recruited from coal mines and underground workers.
I created the animation using Blender, and scanned in my own drawings to use as the textures. I looked into films such as La Jetée by Chris Marker which told stories using photographs and sound. Another artist I looked at was Frank Brangwyn, who’s work really encapsulated the mood and the fear in the trenches. The gas masks in the drawing referenced make the men look like strange monsters and the darkness is looming over their situation, only growing worse. I also looked at the sketches of E H Shepherd, the creator of Winnie the Pooh, during his time fighting in the First World War. His sketches capture a more lighthearted side to the fighting. I wanted the animation to come across as catastrophic, hot and sinister. I made sure that all three tunnelers could be interpreted as either German or English. No uniforms, badges or markings that could distinguish them from one side to the other. The tunnelers fought their own war, beneath no-mans land and the trenches. They were tasked with mining under opposing trenches and blowing up supply lines. Some tunnels were used to counter these and so many tunnels were extremely close to one another. The music for the animation was composed and created by Paul Wendlandt, and greatly enhances and emphasizes the tense atmosphere and mood of the animation. A sense of danger and dread looms over each day the tunnelers work, not knowing how near they are to the enemy.
Find more of Gabes work here –
And more of Paul’s work here-