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3.17: Animation

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    Now that we know how to get the Pygame framework to draw to the screen, let’s learn how to make animated pictures. A game with only still, unmoving images would be fairly dull. (Sales of my game "Look At This Rock" have been disappointing.) Animated images are the result of drawing an image on the screen, then a split second later drawing a slightly different image on the screen. Imagine the program’s window was 6 pixels wide and 1 pixel tall, with all the pixels white except for a black pixel at 4, 0. It would look like this:

    Figure 10

    If you changed the window so that 3, 0 was black and 4,0 was white, it would look like this:

    Figure 11

    To the user, it looks like the black pixel has ―moved‖ over to the left. If you redrew the window to have the black pixel at 2, 0, it would continue to look like the black pixel is moving left:

    Figure 12

    It may look like the black pixel is moving, but this is just an illusion. To the computer, it is just showing three different images that each just happen to have one black pixel. Consider if the three following images were rapidly shown on the screen:

    Figure 13

    To the user, it would look like the cat is moving towards the squirrel. But to the computer, they’re just a bunch of pixels. The trick to making believable looking animation is to have your program draw a picture to the window, wait a fraction of a second, and then draw a slightly different picture.

    Here is an example program demonstrating a simple animation. Type this code into IDLE’s file editor and save it as It will also require the image file cat.png to be in the same folder as the file. You can download this image from This code is available at

    import pygame, sys
    from pygame.locals import *
    FPS = 30 # frames per second setting
    fpsClock = pygame.time.Clock()
    # set up the window
    DISPLAYSURF = pygame.display.set_mode((400, 300), 0, 32)
    WHITE = (255, 255, 255)
    catImg = pygame.image.load('cat.png')
    catx = 10
    caty = 10
    direction = 'right'
    while True: # the main game loop
        if direction == 'right':
            catx += 5
            if catx == 280:
                direction = 'down'
        elif direction == 'down':
            caty += 5
            if caty == 220:
                direction = 'left'
        elif direction == 'left':
            catx -= 5
            if catx == 10:
                direction = 'up'
        elif direction == 'up':
            caty -= 5
            if caty == 10:
                direction = 'right'
        DISPLAYSURF.blit(catImg, (catx, caty))
        for event in pygame.event.get():
            if event.type == QUIT:

    Look at that animated cat go! This program will be much more of a commercial success than my game, "Look At This Rock 2: A Different Rock".

    This page titled 3.17: Animation is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Al Sweigart via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.