The Concepts of Tracking

Tracking Concepts” (as used here):   Any aspect of reading the tracks and trail of any being or object across any surface that will hold a track.  This includes; methods, definitions, track structures, and body movements, how to find and read both tracks and trails, and illustrations of the tracks of specific animal species.

Why (the short version):

     This site is about stirring interest in improving the illustration of the concepts of tracking by including the mediums of animated motion and 3D modeling (current software Blender 3D ver 2.78c) in the methods used to illustrate the concepts, and using these forms of illustration to reveal the inner hidden processes of track formation as well as those of the more obvious exterior features.

     Why is improving the illustration of the concepts of tracking worth the effort?  Illustrations that demonstrate the processes of track formation in motion are rarely included in the literature, yet understanding these processes is essential to mastery of tracking.  Use of this form of illustration will decrease the lengthy learning curve required to learn how to read tracks and trails by providing the student essential knowledge … Why and how tracks are formed  … Offering that insight in the most efficient way possible … Three-dimensional moving images … Created to clearly and accurately demonstrate track formation without the foot obscuring the process.

At present the clips posted here are only brief glimpses of selected concepts, meant to begin the process of full illustration, and test ways to best accomplish that … It is also one way to demonstrate the communicative power of these mediums.

The level of detail currently portrayed, size of sand grains for example, has more to do with the graphics capabilities and processing power of the computer used,  and much less to do with the software used (Blender 3D).  With use of a more capable computer configured specifically for graphics the level of detail in the clips will increase dramatically.

Because these illustrations are first efforts, corrections, improvements, or even complete revisions are expected.  Accuracy is always essential in this work … Thanks to all those who have suggested corrections and improvements so far.  If you find needed changes please feel free to suggest them as a comment, or (even better!) create your own improved version (the author will be happy to help with this!).

The Concepts:

Foot Movements – How the foot moves when approaching, while contacting, and when leaving contact with the ground

How to Find Tracks – Some tracks seem to be missing? … There are ways to reveal them

How to Read Tracks (and trails) – The problem isn’t lack of information

        Substrate Movement – The soil, sand, etc. responds to the energy of, and forces exerted by the foot

Species – Tracks of distinct species and track features unique to them

Track Features – The story is left in the details

Trails – Putting the Story Together


————— ————— ————— ————— ————— ————— ————— ————— ————— —————
Initial Idea: The Translucent Foot

The Goal:  Create and animate a translucent foot making  track, and create a video clip from that so one can see the both the internal and external features of the track as they form.

This early example uses animation to control the foot, with Rigid Body physics controlling the formation of the track (the interactions between sand objects and the foot surface).

(Human foot mesh from


——————- ——————- ——————— ————— ————— ————— ————— ————— —————
Links to other pages …

Page: Foot Movements …
Canine Claw Tip Leaves Track in Fine Sand

Page: How To Find Tracks …
Controlling Lighting to Increase Visibility of Tracks
Finding the Next Track
Track on ‘Bare’ Rock (Red Fox Front Foot)
Using Stone Rolls to Find Tracks

Page: How To Read Tracks …
Dust Compressions (Dull on Shiny by Canine Toe Pad)
Simple Tire Track and Direction of Travel
True Track (Canine Toe Pad)

Page: Species …
Deer Foot – One Walking Step
Red Fox Front and Rear Feet – Side Trot

Page: Track Features …
Pressure Against the Track Wall (Canine Toe Pad)
Simple ? Wave
The Ridge Between Canine Front Toes
The Layer of Sand in Contact With The Foot

Page: Trails …
The Human Trail
Following a Trail


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s