Unmoving Pattern

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PLAID! From the PLAID dimension!

A subtrope of Cheated Angle. Oftentimes in cartoons if a character is wearing clothes with a complex pattern, e.g. tartan,[1] the pattern on the clothing will retain the same orientation regardless of the positioning of the character. It's as if the clothing the character is wearing isn't so much patterned as a cloth-based wormhole to a similarly patterned universe, or that the character's clothing has had a static pattern overlaid on it through Chroma Key techniques. This phenomenon is known as Unmoving Pattern (or for those who like jargon, perspective incorrect texturing).

This trope, like the Wheel-O-Feet, Four-Fingered Hands and others, spawns from the Lazy Artist or a lack of budget. Patterned clothes are hard to animate correctly and take longer to do, so animators just don't bother animating the pattern. However, with the advent of more advanced digital animation tools to do such gruntwork, this trope may start falling by the wayside. Additionally, when intentionally used for lavishly animated content, it may transcend the notion of sheer laziness and become a distinct (if sometimes bizarre) visual style.

The effect is also sometimes seen in comic strips, with the pattern remaining the same orientation from panel to panel (and usually straight vertical and horizontal, regardless of the orientation of the fabric of which it supposedly is a part). Often this is because comics (especially manga) use tone paper to fill in the patterned article, which makes it rather difficult to show the proper orientation of the pattern. Most artists just don't bother.

See also Limited Animation.

Examples of Unmoving Pattern include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Gankutsuou is an extreme example that can only be described as an "acquired taste art style" - just about any detailed pattern or texture is screened in, including the characters' hair, creating an effect that's almost like an animated collage.
  • Mononoke, a recent anime series, uses this effect in a way similar to Gankutsuou.
  • Hell Girl's "kimono of exacting damnation" does the same thing as Gankutsuou and Mononoke. The pattern itself is animated, but still has incorrect perspective.
  • Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei uses this constantly, mostly with Nozomu's various clothes.
  • Bakemonogatari, by the same studio, also uses this technique for patterned clothing. It's stylistic choice (one of Akiyuki Shinbo's trademarks) rather than pure laziness, given how much they've embraced digital animation.
  • Principal Ench's suits in Crayon Shin-chan.
  • In an episode of Ouran High School Host Club, Tamaki wears an extremely elaborate designed tea kimono. The design is static, which is made painfully (and probably deliberately) evident when he does a slow motion backward face fault.
  • This happens in the ninth Bleach opening.
  • The school uniforms in Shugo Chara consist almost entirely of tartan, which makes this trope pretty glaring. But it could be even worse: Here at least, each part is oriented differently.
  • The yellow robe worn by Tobi in most of the last episode of the New Fist of the North Star OAV series.
  • All over the place in Hidamari Sketch
  • Hiro's pink tartan pants from Soul Eater, as well as manga character Tezca Tlipoca's tartan bear mask. Otherwise averted by Maka's tartan skirt in the anime.
  • Paradise Kiss's anime uses this to animate the more elaborate dresses made by the characters, though the regular clothing is animated normally
  • Kiyohiko Azuma, the artist of Yotsuba&!, sometimes averts this by, for example, painstakingly drawing realistic tartan on Fuuka's pajamas, but other times embodies it by simply screen-toning the tartan on Yotsuba's pajamas or the pattern on Jumbo's Hawaiian shirts.
  • In Ranma ½, Ryouga Hibiki's headband demonstrates this.
  • Used in the Monster manga.
  • In Seitokai Yakuindomo, the female characters wear tartan skirts and the pattern is either angled in an odd way during a still-shot, or doesn't move when the character does. With the ED "Aoi Haru", it is more obvious.
  • The Death Note manga took some very noticeable shortcuts when depicting tartan or striped clothes.
  • Averted in Kiss×Sis, which uses 3D animation for patterned skirts. Most notable in the ending dance.
  • Used in chapter 17 of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vi Vid for Vivio's and Agito's skirts.
  • In Area no Kishi, the skirts for the girls' school uniform suffers from this. It's especially noticeable when the focus is on the potential love interest, Six.
  • MM! The ending has this in their skirts and ties same pattern tartan, but the ties are angled. Watching them jump and turn around is very odd since the tartan only moves vertically.
  • Averted in Otoyomegatari. Not only does the author draw the patterns on their everything (dresses, fabrics, etc.), she draws it slightly differently between different panels depending on the angle you're supposed to be looking at, even on the same page.
  • Persona 4: The Animation has this for school uniforms and Naoto's tartan pants. The school uniforms are probably this way because there are upwards of 15 students in a shot at times, and drawing all that houndstooth would be fun.
  • The Chihayafuru opening sequence.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, there's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it example with Sayaka's bunny bedspread in episode 6.
  • Ojamajo Doremi has this during the second ending for the Dokkan! season, using floral patterns for the girls and other patterns for the boys that appear.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Scott McCloud's Author Avatar character in his Understanding Comics series.
  • Checkerboard Nightmare.
  • Roger Mellie, and sometimes other characters, in the British adult comic Viz can usually be seen sporting an Unmoving Horizontally-lined jacket.
  • Any character with a tartan or vertically-lined shirt in the early years of Modesty Blaise (when the otherwise excellent Jim Holdaway was the artist).
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, whenever Calvin's mother wore tartan, it acted like this.
  • The Jocks and the Geordies, a comic strip that ran in The Dandy from 1975 until the early 1990s, had the eponymous Jocks wear unmoving tartan hats and clothes.
  • Many Disney characters show this trope, most notably Sleuth, as seen here.
  • The main character of the title crew of the German comic magazine Yps: A checkered kangaroo.
  • This is the way the teacher's shirt works in Grand Avenue.
  • Amy Rose's tartan skirt often features this, regardless of the flow of fabric in Sonic the Comic.
  • The Phantom had an unmoving tartan trenchcoat as part of his civilian guise, until the Fifties or therearounds, when the drawing style got more realistic.
  • Tintin's overcoat in the very early newspaper strips.


Eastern Animation[edit | hide]

Film (animated)[edit | hide]

  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit?: It's a little harder to detect than most of the examples, but Jessica Rabbit's sparkling cocktail dress is an unmoving Shiny.
  • Dumbo: The Pink Elephants during this part of the "Pink Elephants on Parade" song.

...I am not the one to faint
When things are odd or things are quaint
But seeing things you know that ain't
Can certainly give you an awful fright
What a sight!

Literature[edit | hide]

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Stan the Salesman from the Monkey Island games incorporates an Unmoving Plaid jacket in his outfit, deliberately, up to and including the series' latest 3D installment.
    • Check here. And yes, it's even uglier in motion.
    • Inverting this trope's usual purpose, applying this pattern to a 3D character was actually difficult. They did it solely because that's apparently just how Stan looks.
    • In Tales of Monkey Island, his jacket maintains this trait. It looks a LOT better than it did in Escape, and for the first time in the history of the series, it's actually a plot point/part of a puzzle solution. Seeing it in motion is kinda hypnotic...
    • It was initially a limitation of the computer hardware (and, presumably, the patience of the animator) in Secret of Monkey Island. Later games appeared on computers that COULD handle moving tartan, but kept the look as an homage to the original, since it was so iconic of Stan that it simply didn't look like Stan if it moved around.
  • Gaia in EVO Search for Eden also deliberately uses this effect, but with her hair; it's colored with a cloud pattern that scrolls on its own, giving her hair the appearance of shimmering clouds.
  • Touhou does a similar trick to EVO with Utsuho Reiuji's cape; the inside of it has a deep space pattern that, like Gaia's hair and Stan's suit, scrolls independently of Utsuho's own movement, giving the illusion that her cape is a portal to deep space.
  • League of Legends: Kassadin's Void Blade doesn't have a standard texture to it, instead it appears to be a hole into some oddly-patterned realm.
  • The underside of Bleck's cape in Super Paper Mario.
  • Brax the shopkeep in Dungeons of Dredmor.
  • The complex colors of pants in The Fancy Pants Adventure: World 3 stay still when Fancy Pants Man moves. Since this game is a 2-D platformer, Brad Borne would not appreciate animating each of the 30 frames per second of this game for dozens of colors of pants.


Web Comics[edit | hide]


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Averted in Rocko's Modern Life; specially Rocko's complicated triangle shirt. The creator has playfully mentioned in interviews that it most have drove the animation team nuts.
  • The chalk speckles in ChalkZone have this effect.
  • The tartan coat worn by Tommy from "The Off-Beats" on KaBlam!!. This jacket is what initially inspired the trope's name.
    • The cartoon did that with several other materials, too. September disguises himself as "the President", complete with wig with unmoving hair texture.
  • Crocadoo has Rufus Hardacre's distinctive polka-dotted shirt, as well as most other clothing from the series.
  • The characters on Chowder have unmoving patterns superimposed over their clothing (or in Shnitzel's case, his entire body), but here it's a deliberate stylistic choice.
  • Same with Wunschpunsch. All the fuzzy animal fur and fabric were textured that way.
  • Wes Weasley from Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog wears a suit like this. However, unlike most other examples, the pattern was drawn manually, so the effect doesn't quite hold up.
  • Avoiding this was the reason that neither Zatanna nor Black Canary wore fishnets with their costumes in Justice League Unlimited.
  • Delta State really liked using this for Phillip.
  • Along the same lines, the Thing in the animated Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes had his bulky body drawn traditionally while the animators used computers to generate a hexagonal grid pattern over his skin to indicate the his rocky hide.
  • Josie and the Pussy Cats often wore dresses with this property.
  • Irritatingly noticeable in the Animated Adaptation of Where's Waldo/Wally.
  • At least one Looney Tunes short featured Bugs Bunny tangling with a gameshow host in a tartan jacket.
  • The animated adaptation of the Berenstain Bears avoided this by simply removing the patterns. Papa's tartan and Mama and Sister's Polka Dots are all taken out in favour of solid colours.
  • Dad's trousers from Cow and Chicken were like this, except in striped green trousers.
  • A couple of early computer-animated (no, not that kind of computer-animated; imagine an MS-Paint drawing come to life) spots on Sesame Street used this.
  • The Mr. Bean cartoon used this on many objects, including bedsheets.
  • Used in Watch My Chops.
  • Yakkity Yak took this trope to the extreme with Dr. Crazy Hair's hair.
  • Used often in The Ren and Stimpy Show with That Guy's tartan jacket (at least on the episodes that were produced using digital ink-and-paint.)
  • The Cheshire Cat in Care Bears In Wonderland constantly changes patterns, and all of them are this.
  • In My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, the Ursa Major's pelt is an Unmoving Star Field. While Princess Celestia's mane also flows, the colors on her mane don't flow the same way. And on one occasion, the colours on Rainbow Dash's tail continue to curve smoothly even where the end of the tail is ruffled into a zigzag.
  • In Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy's Big Picture Show, Eddy's brother's shirt does this. So does Jimmy and Plank's outfits in the school picture episode.
  • Angus Dagnabbit (and later his ghost) in Mad Jack the Pirate wore unmoving tartan kilts.


Other[edit | hide]

  • Crops up occasionally among users of programs such as Photoshop, who decide to use background patterns with colours only in certain areas of their images (clothing being a common example).
  • Has been used deliberately, and to nice effect, in at least one Demoscene production.
  • Easy to pull off when making animations in POVRay to the degree that newer users will often do it by accident. Simply have the scene code for an object apply the transformations to it before applying the texture.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Certain skin conditions can hop from an arm to the chest without following the curvature of the body, giving the appearance that the rash was spray painted on. Most common (though still rare) with the bullseye rash characteristic of Lyme's Disease.
  • If one wears distinctly pure green or blue clothes, the unmoving tartan can be achieved via Chroma Keying.
  1. In any place except North America, "plaid" is the sash-like article of clothing worn by a regimental piper in full dress, and "tartan" is the pattern on it.