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What is Rubberhose style Animation, Illustration & Graphic Design?


Animation has expanded exponentially over the years in terms of it’s style and execution. However, there exists a charming and distinctive design style that has captured the hearts of both artist and audience alike. Rubberhose illustration and design is often characterised by it’s playful and exaggerated movements as well as its distinct character designs. In this article we will delve a bit deeper into the world of rubberhose. Exploring its history, key features and its influence today.

1. Where did it all begin?

Rubberhose animation and design came to light in the early years of the 20th century, in the 1930s. The term “Rubberhose” was used to characterise the animations use of flexible limbs and joints that each character possessed. This aesthetic was less a design choice but more of a limitation of technology of the time. Resource was often limited; so when it came to creating cartoons, Animators needed a style that would be able to work fast. 

There are a plethora of iconic characters throughout time that have used the infamous rubberhose style, such as Mickey Mouse, Betty Boop, Pop-Eye, Felix the Cat all the way through to modern day with MDHR studios “Cuphead, Don’t Deal with the Devil” and “Delicious Last Course”. The essence of using simple shapes and flexible limbs not only served as a creative solution to technical constraints but became an iconic symbol of whimsical charm during the early stages of animation.

2. Key Features of Rubberhose Animation, Illustration & Graphic Design.

Rubberhose Characters often are known for their simplicity. They feature large round heads, Large eyes and basic facial features. The lack of intricate details within these designs would allow for easy, fast and fluid animations which would make it a perfect style for early hand drawn techniques. Alongside this, all expressive features are usually enhanced in size to make them more prominent. With the head, hands and feet being the most emotional parts of the body when it comes to storytelling it was important for them to be seen clearly.

In both animation and illustration, rubberhose limbs allow for exaggerated movements and poses that defy the laws of nature. Twisting and contorting into positions that reach far beyond that of a human body which further adds to the whimsical and playful nature of rubberhose characters.

3. The resurgence of rubberhose design.

While rubberhose animation saw its heyday during the early 20th century, it never truly disappeared. In fact, it experienced a revival in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Modern animators and designers began to appreciate the nostalgia and uniqueness of rubberhose design, incorporating it into their own work.

One notable example of this revival is the video game “Cuphead,” developed by Studio MDHR. “Cuphead” draws heavy inspiration from 1930s animation and features characters with rubberhose-style designs. The game’s visuals are a testament to the enduring appeal of this animation style and its ability to captivate audiences even in the digital age.

4. The Future of Rubberhose Animation and Design

As technology continues to advance, the possibilities for animation and design are limitless. Rubberhose animation, with its enduring charm and timeless appeal, is likely to remain a source of inspiration for future generations of animators and designers. Whether as a nostalgic homage or a fresh interpretation, rubberhose design will continue to captivate audiences and bring a touch of whimsy to the world of design.


Rubberhose animation and design, born out of necessity during the early days of animation, have lifted from their humble origins to become a beloved and influential style in the world of art and entertainment. It’s simple yet playful aesthetics, exaggerated movements, and iconic style have left it’s mark on the history of animation and design. With modern interpretations and a revival of interest, rubberhose animation and design continues to inspire and delight audiences, reminding us of the enduring power of creativity and imagination in the world of design.


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