These animated shorts take full advantage of the freedom of animation and push the limits of on-screen creativity.

With various tools of animation becoming increasingly accessible,  more artists are taking to animation to bring their stories to life. Over the past couple of decades, there have been many visually creative animated shorts that push  far past the boundaries of what’s possible in live action. Here are some aesthetically inventive and inspiring short films.

The Mysterious Explorations of Jasper Morello (2005)

This steampunk-themed horror mystery follows the navigator Jasper Morello on his journey to redemption. It features a stunning silhouette-based gothic look that is both immersive and reflective of the short’s grim tone.

 Logorama (2009)

Winner of the 2010 Academy Award for Best Animated Short, this imaginative recreation of Los Angeles is built almost entirely out of various logos and mascots. Following an action-packed police chase through the chaotic city, this short features over 2500 recognizable trademarks, which will give you plenty to look at and laugh at along the way.

Something Left, Something Taken (2010)

This dark comedy focuses on a couple who mistakenly identifies their cab driver as the Zodiac Killer. With a unique combination of real assets and digitally-assembled environments,  this fun short will have you in awe at its degree of detail.

Day and Night (2010)

If you saw Toy Story 3 in theaters, you might remember this simple, but intelligent short.  Bringing day and night to life as their own on-screen characters, this short will have adults and children alike giggling at Pixar’s sheer ingenuity.

Destino (2003)

Arguably the most interesting aspect of this surreal short film is the fact that it began as a collaboration between the painter Salvador Dalí, and Walt Disney himself. Left unfinished in 1946, and later completed in 2003, Destino brings the dreamlike visions of Dalí to life with a consistency that never indicates the project’s age.

Khoda (2009)

Before Loving Vincent, the widely-anticipated upcoming feature that brings Van Gogh’s paintings to life, there was Khoda. This psychological thriller employs 6000 individual paintings to add a new level of fidelity and style to traditional frame-by-frame animation. Almost every frame is stunning enough to be printed and framed on a wall, so this one may take multiple viewings to fully appreciate.

Maggie and Mildred (2009)

Like Something Left, Something Taken, this moving hand-stitched world features real-life assets that were scanned and animated with a computer. There are few (if any) traces of digital manipulation in this innocent short, resulting in a seemingly tangible, textured look.

We are quickly stripping away the limitations of video as a medium, and with modern hardware and software, almost anything is possible given enough time. Hopefully these visual spectacles may provide the creative spark you need to begin your next artistic endeavor.

What animated short films blew you away? Let us know in the comments below.