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Sand Art / Sand Drawing / Sand Animation

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

How to define this magical art that amazes and provokes intense emotion? Sand Art is a general term that encompasses various artistic creation techniques that use sand. Thanks to its ephemeral and powdery nature, sand allows to create very diverse works: sand sculptures, animated films and cartoons, live shows with sand drawings, paintings, or scenography with three-dimensional mapping (3D mapping).

Mood of Spring. Dessin sur sable - Katerina Barsukova
Mood of Spring. Sand drawing - Katerina Barsukova

The unstable nature of sand, compared to other materials used in artistic creations, gives a particularly ephemeral character to the sand art works. But some types of creations with sand can be captured and immortalized, thus abandoning this fugitive quality. This is possible while creating sand decorative objects, pictorial works, animation films, and advertising and promotional videos.


Artists who work with sand are generally called SAND ARTISTS in English and French, because their know-how often includes several creative techniques. In Russian, the names of artists are more precise: ПЕСЧАНЫЙ СКУЛЬПТОР (Sand Sculpture) et ХУДОЖНИК ПЕСОЧНОЙ АНИМАЦИИ (Sand Animation Artist) for the rest of the practices with sand.

Here is a table summarizing the different terms in 3 languages: English, French, Russian.

Les différents arts avec le sable / Sand Art / Tableau
Different Sand Arts


First of all, we can divide the sand arts into two big families according to the artist’s profile:


Sand Sculpture is part of the family of land art, that is, the art of nature design. Among the artists of land art who sculpt objects from natural materials, we can count the professionals of ice sculptures, snow and other ephemeral materials. Sand sculptors therefore make ephemeral works by sculpting sand on beaches or in places that contain sand. They can also produce a backdrop with sand for the show.

Sculpture de sable. Disney Sand Magique. Festival de sculptures de sable à Ostende, Belgique.
Sand sculpture. Disney Magic Sand. Sand sculpture festival in Ostend, Belgium.


Sand animation as an art appeared in the 1960s as a cinematographic technique. Caroline Leaf, a Canadian-American cartoonist, contributed to the recognition of this art by creating in 1969 a cartoon "Sand or Peter and the Wolf" (Sand or Peter and the Wolf) based on the famous musical tale of Sergey Prokofiev.

She also invented a technique of drawing on moving sand: an artist places one or more layers of sand on the bright table (or box), the camera attached to the top simultaneously films the creation of the drawings by the hands of the artist. This is a great novelty for animation art because the camera is fixed and the attention is focused more on the permanent movement of the sand.

Sand or Peter and the Wolf, Caroline Leaf (1969)
Sand or Peter and the Wolf, Caroline Leaf (1969)

The sand drawing and animation artist is generally a versatile artist. He practices painting, drawing, he writes scenarios of his animations, he films videos and does their editing, and he performs on stage during concerts and shows while mastering the digital world.


We can distinguish two types of works in sand drawing: tangible works and non tangible works.

1. TANGIBLE SAND ART WORKS: graphic art on sand (painting, drawing, decorative jar with sand…) and sand animation (video).


Since sand is an ephemeral material, artists who draw on sand take pictures of their works. These can then be printed on different media. These photos, projected on a screen, can also be used as a backdrop for concerts or shows.

Another way to immortalize the work on sand is to draw directly on a layer of glue. Once the sand is laid on a support, it will no longer be possible to modify the drawing. This technique therefore requires a lot of training.

Portrait d'Olga Aleksandrova. Sand artist - Katerina Barsukova
Portrait of Olga Aleksandrova. Sand artist - Katerina Barsukova

1.2. VIDEO

Sand animation is often recorded in video, either through the stop motion technique (cartoon technique), or continuously by focusing the camera lens on the hands of the artist who is drawing an picture.

2. NON TANGIBLE SAND ART WORKS : concerts, spectacles, live shows with drawing on sand. We are talking about live sand performances on stage. In this case, the sand artist is often not only the creator of a work, but also its interpreter. She or He first creates tangible works such as scenarios, sketches, storyboards, or graphic works for projections, then he implements all these creations during the show by performing herself / himself on the stage. The audience thus becomes the witness of the creation of the work, which brings a fascinating and captivating side to the show. In the context of stage performances, sand art itself becomes a component of the show by merging with other artistic genres such as music, narration, theatre, dance, singing…

Sand art is a synthetic art and follows technical progress. It gradually integrates different techniques: drawing on sand in color, drawing on water, digital art, video art, 3d mapping… Each artist has his own style and specialty.

Sand Animation Origins

It is with a great Hungarian artist Ferenc Cacó (born in 1950) that the drawing on sand live gained momentum. The animator and producer of animated films Ferenc Cacó is one of the first sand artists who began to explore the different effects of this art. These include the effects of light and shadow, the plastic qualities of sand (transparency and precision) and transformations where each next drawing is the fluid transformation of the previous one. He produces animated films not only in stop motion technique, but also in continuous drawing where you can see the hands of the artist. He began to present his works live in concert halls.

Do you want to create an artistic project, concert or show with Sand Art?

Katerina Barsukova, sand artist, graduated from the Saint Petersburg School of Fine Arts, winner of international competitions, and her manager Olga Aleksandrova will be at your disposal.

We will establish real artistic collaborations with musicians, actors, stage directors and producers. We bring artistic expertise so that sand art fits in harmony with your concert, show or event.

Our know-how, 13 years of experience and highly personalized approach to artistic projects will ensure an unforgettable event for your audience. Contact us.

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