Shelley Sunday: Mary Shelley Animations

From TED-Ed Original Lesson:

An Animator’s Take on Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”

We’re honestly just so wowed by the beautiful backgrounds in our recent lesson, Everything you need to know to read “Frankenstein”, that we wanted to share some of the background and atmosphere designs with you!


Above is the house of Lord Byron on Lake Geneva, where Mary & Percy Shelley spent their vacation in 1815. This was shortly after the eruption of Mount Tambora that plunged parts of the world into darkness and marked a gloomy period that came to be known as The Year Without a Summer. So, the three were stuck indoors in this house and gloom that screeaaammsss ghost story, right? Lord Byron actually proposed a challenge to his literary companions: Who could write the most chilling ghost story?


18-year-old Mary set off right away on her ghost story, which would later become “Frankenstein”. Above is an image of Shelley diligently writing. We love the composition and the use of color and shadows in this overhead shot of Mary Shelley penning her famous novel.


Mary was heavily influenced by the art and literature of the Romantic Period. Above, director Silvia Prietov uses the only somewhat sunny colors in the entire animation to describe the Romantic’s appreciation for nature, emotion, and the purity of art. This scene starkly contrasts the otherwise gloomy house and the fierce & fiery colors of the scenes in Frankenstein’s lab.


And finally, above is a delicate design depicting Mary Shelley at the window as we learn more about her life and past leading up to writing “Frankenstein”. We’re swooning over the details hiding in the shadows, the color choices, and the mood created in this scene, that just invokes a pensive, rainy day.

To see all of the lovely art from this lesson, and to learn about the origins of “Frankenstein”, check out the TED-Ed Lesson Everything you need to know to read “Frankenstein” – Iseult Gillespie

Animation directed by Silvia Prietov, Designs by Andrés Felipe Landazabal

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