Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Scene 28 Clean Pencil Animation

This has been a BEAST of a scene (which explains my long absence from blogging) but slowly and steadily, it's getting closer to completion. I will NOT be beaten!

Here's some animation with clean pencil drawings:


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Blow to Hand-Drawn Animation

This is deeply lamentable. The imagination of Hayao Miyazaki and the team at Studio Ghibli will be sorely missed in the animation universe.

My Miyazaki favorite will always be NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Finding the Right Expression—Scene 28

One of my goals for this film is specific, significant acting. I want each character to truly behave as though they were actually alive and experiencing that moment.

The scene on which I’m currently working, Sc. 28, is one of the few in which Honey has a variety of emotions and movements. For this segment of the scene, I wanted to show Honey struggling to pull a cell phone out from under her shower cap.

When I sat down to animate, I realized that I didn’t have a clear idea of her expression. And cartoon expressions is one of my (many) weak areas. 

Instead of using random trial and error to find the proper expression, I pulled some samples of expressions that I’ve collected:

Used courtesy of Jerel Dye ©2013-2014

Courtesy of John K. 
Courtesy of John K. 

Kirk Douglas in "Paths of Glory."

Nale & art ©2007 Sarah Shaw

Based on these examples, I spent some time searching for the best expression for Honey:

I’m happy with the ones I’ve indicated in red so I’m now ready to start animating with those expressions. The next step is to accurately animate Honey’s struggle to pull the phone from under her cap. I’ll share the roughs for that when they’re ready. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Scene 28 Roughs & The Importance of Practice Drawings

Curious why I haven't posted in awhile?

It's because this scene is KICKING MY ASS!


I've tried about 5 different approaches to Honey's performance in this scene. Either they didn't fit with the action or I couldn't draw it well. I'll spare you all of the rejected drawings. :-)

At one point, I thought I had it figured out!

Then I looked at it again and wasn't liking it. My rule for this film is that I have to be comfortable with each scene's progress before continuing. If I have any reservations, I address them.

My biggest struggle was turning the head. What I discovered is that my construction of Honey's head was flawed from the beginning (yup, I'll be designing my next characters A LOT better!) Trying to animate a flawed design is a struggle.

Then I happened upon some animation instruction online from CartoonSmart. My exact problem of head turns was the exact same topic of one of their tutorials! I bought a collection of tutorials (at a great!) and used this new knowledge to re-think the scene.

Eventually, I settled on the action below. This is about half of the scene and it doesn't yet have the inbetweens for the latter part when she's digging in her shower cap:


This scene shows why I do the drawing practice every day instead of spending all of my limited time on animating. Although I use a mirror, I still would not have been able to draw the arm movement as quickly and as well as I did ("well" being relative, of course. It's well for my skill level.) if not for the practicing and studying (as I discussed in the previous post.)

It's not Glen Keane-quality but it's the best I can do at this time. I'll add a few inbetweens to smooth out some of the action and then proceed to the heart of the visual gag, her hand digging under the shower cap then pulling out a cell phone!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Back to Basics REVISION

I posted earlier about my need to return to drawing basics. After studying a lot of books and learning rudimentary anatomy, I see and feel the need to review some areas.

Initially, I intended to review the Andrew Loomis books, Burne Hogarth books and the Famous Artists courses. I started with Loomis's "Fun With a Pencil" but still felt that I wasn't getting what I needed.

Then I remembered John K's Animation School. Five years ago I rushed through his lessons and I doubt I got the full benefit. I'm returning to his lessons because I'm convinced that they're the one thing I need at this time to improve my cartooning and animation. Also, I completely agree with John K.'s position that Golden Age animation and cartooning was extremely superior to today's.

I grew up in the 1970's and fell in love with animation that looked like this:

I didn't know at the time why it appealed so much to me—emphasis on the word APPEAL, a topic John K. covers on his blog—but I knew that I believed that Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry were REAL.

It turns out that the reason I believed they were real is because of their CONSTRUCTION. All of those characters from the 40's and 50's were drawn round and solid.

How are cartoons from the 1960's to today made? Flat and angular. For example:

I acknowledge that my skills are not even close to the person/people who drew the above or anyone else working in the animation industry today. I'm simply pointing out an aesthetic difference between the cartoons that made me fall madly in love with animation and the cartoons today which I find unpleasant and find impossible to watch (i.e., Family Guy). And I think John K. would agree with me that the characters above are missing some animation fundamentals that were often present in Golden Age animation. In the characters above from the series The Awesomes, I don't see dynamic lines of action; solid, 3-dimensional drawing to give weight; large eyes to allow for expressiveness; and overall appeal. 

I did some quick research and discovered that almost ALL American tv animation looks like this, flat and angular. Completely absent are roundness and solidity. 

And that's exactly why I'm going to work hard to draw the "old-fashioned" way. Not only do I think it looks infinitely better, but it will be a way to distinguish my work from all the others.

If you want to improve your cartooning and animation skills, I HIGHLY recommend that you click the link above for John K.'s Animation School. I'm convinced that if you follow his lessons carefully, your work will reach the next level in a short period.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Back to Basics

Back to basics is what I've done in the last week.

It was clear that despite my improvement, I still don't possess the skills to realize my animation vision without a lot of mental breakdowns, cursing, throwing of personal items and punching of hard objects.

After nearly breaking my drawing hand as the result of one of these breakdowns, I decided that the better approach was to return to some of the books I'd already studied.

And this time, study them slower and more carefully.

This means I'll be reviewing all of the Loomis books I have (Fun With a Pencil, Figure Drawing for All It's Worth, Creative Illustration, Successful Drawing and Drawing the Head and Hands. I don't have his last, The Eye of the Painter probably because it's selling on Amazon for $365…used. I already spent $100 on Creative Illustration and I heard his books will finally be reprinted so I'll wait until then.)

After Loomis, I'll return to the Hogarth books (Dynamic Anatomy, Drawing the Human Head, Drawing Dynamic Hands and Dynamic Figure Drawing. I didn't like his approach in Dynamic Light and Shadow and Dynamic Wrinkles and Drapery. Maybe it was too dynamic for me.) then the Famous Artist Course, Famous Artist Cartoon Course and Hale's Drawing Lessons from the Masters.

I've limited my list of studies to these because they were the most helpful the first time around. Vilppu's, Bridgman's and Eisner's books didn't speak to me as much as the others.

And after a brief departure from gesture drawing, I decided to return to that, too. Every figure drawing class I've heard of starts with gesture so I think it's something with which I should continue.

Some back-to-basics drawings:

Drawing from Loomis' Fun With a Pencil book.

Gesture drawings from photos.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Scene 18 completed:


NEXT: Scene 28, wherein Honey pulls a cell phone out of that green shower cap! (Inspired by Pam Grier in "Foxy Brown.")