Friday, November 30, 2012

Terrific Animation Panel Presented by NYWIFT

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending a New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT) panel called "Women in...Animation: The Business of Creativity." Candy Kugel, Deena Beck, Bernadine Santistevan and Ginger Brown were generous with their experience and advice. The people of Raw Space/Imagenation should also be commended for supplying the venue (and the post-presentation refreshments and music!)

Some take-aways from the event:

1. Be fearless

2. Do what you can with the resources currently available to you

3. Maximize all avenues (web, film festivals, museum installations, children's books)

4. Pursue your passion project because it's most likely other people will relate to it

Andrew Loomis's "Flat Diagram"—Part II

In Part I of this topic, I broke down the first of two figure-in-perspective methods explained by Andrew Loomis. The methods are diagramed on page 30 of his book "Figure Drawing For All It's Worth."

My preference is for that first method. It involves drawing fewer lines and is easier to follow. This second method is more complicated but it could be helpful to some so I'll break it down into steps.

1. Establish your vanishing point which is located on the horizon line (eyeline). (Note that Loomis doesn't show the horizon in his diagram.):

2. Draw a line that represents the width of your figure. This is line A-C (like the diagram on the left) and Loomis labels it "1":

3. Find the midpoint of line A-C. This is point B:

4. This step is not labeled on Loomis's page but I think it needs to be clearly stated. Find the midpoint of line A-B. This is point D:

5. Draw lines that extend from points A-D to the vanishing point:

6. Draw a line to indicate the depth of the figure. Loomis labels it as "Optional depth for rectangle." The confusion for me is Loomis's use of the word "optional" which implies it's not necessary. But it's TOTALLY necessary! I think he meant to say "arbitrary":

7. We now have our large main rectangle. To continue, we need to find its midpoint. To do this, draw a diagonal from point A to the opposite corner of the depth line. Loomis labels this "1st diagonal":

8. Draw another diagonal in the opposite direction. Loomis labels this "2nd diagonal":

9. The intersection of these two diagonals is the midpoint of the box. Draw a horizontal that goes through that intersection and extends from line A to line C. Loomis labels this "1st division" and "5":

10. To create the next segment, draw a diagonal from point B to point 5. Loomis labels this "3rd diag.":

11. The 1st diagonal and 3rd diagonal now intersect. Draw a horizontal through that intersection extending completely across. Loomis labels that line "2d division" AND "3":

12. Draw a diagonal from point 5 on line A to the intersection of line B and the depth:

13. You've created a new intersection of lines. Draw a horizontal through that intersection to get line "7":

14. Draw a diagonal from point D to point 3 on line A:

15. Continue to draw diagonals lines A and D until you have four total (in the far left section/column of the rectangle):

16. Draw remaining horizontal lines through the new intersections created by the diagonals. Loomis labels those lines "2," "4," "6," and "8":

17. Now with the 8 divided boxes you can place the figure into this diagram using the anatomical landmarks established in the frontal flat diagram at left:

The first of Loomis's methods I broke down into 9 steps and this method has 17. That's enough of a reason for me to stick to the simpler first method although it doesn't hurt to know this alternative.

Hopefully you found this helpful. In Part III of this series, I'll explain these diagrams:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Andrew Loomis's "Flat Diagram"—Part I

I'm currently studying Andrew Loomis's 1943 classic book "Figure Drawing For All It's Worth." I was moving along until I turned to page 30 and saw THIS monstrosity:

Dayum! That's A LOT of information! Moreover, Loomis makes assumptions about our knowledge and therefore doesn't fully explain all of these diagrams.

I went online looking for an explanation of this confusion. Instead I found only more questions. NO ONE had a full explanation as to what was happening on this page.

So I decided to crack the Flat Diagram code myself and can happily say that I think I did it.

The first step is to divide this page into sections. For now, let's focus on this part of the page:

Loomis has divided the figure into an idealized 8 heads tall and 2 1/3 heads wide shown in equally divided boxes. Loomis notes some anatomical points that relate to the box divisions (the female figure's divisions vary slightly, see page 27):

That's pretty clear and self-explanatory. Where the trouble begins is adding perspective to that diagram which Loomis, in my opinion, doesn't fully explain. Here's my approach:

1. Establish your vanishing point. Loomis doesn't show a horizon line in this diagram, but that's on what the vanishing point sits (also known as the viewer's eye line).

2. Draw the width of the figure with a line, here it's A–C. (The dashed lines indicate the extending of the width from that diagram to the new, perspective diagram.)

3. Indicate the midpoint of line A–C with point B.

4. Draw perspective lines from points A, B and C to the vanishing point (NOTE: in the image below, I extended the three perspective lines to the vanishing point. They're not fully shown in the book.)

5. Draw a horizontal to create the first box's depth by "eyeballing" its position. Notice that Loomis labels it "Optional Depth" with an arrow and the number "1". 

6. Draw a diagonal line from point A through line B to line C. Where the "Optional depth"/box 1 line meets line B is point D. Where the diagonal meets line C is point E. Loomis labels the diagonal just drawn the "1st diagonal."

7. Point E indicates where the horizontal for box 2 should go. From point E, draw a horizontal to line A. Where this horizontal and line A meet is point H. Also, where box 1's horizontal meets line A is point F. See Loomis's note about the lines.

8. Continue to draw the 2nd and 3rd diagonals. When completed you'll be as far as line G–J and point I. This gives you the first three of eight boxes.

9. Continue the same method of drawing horizontals and diagonals until you have all eight boxes.

10. Now when you place your figure drawing in the perspective diagram/map, according to the original diagram at left, you'll have the figure in correct perspective as shown in these diagrams: 

So that's my explanation of the first of Loomis's two ways of rendering the box of the flat diagram.

Tell me if you found this helpful or if any of it is still confusing.

My part II blog post discussing this page will explain the diagram below, the second of the two methods for creating the box:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

You Can't Create Unless You're Healthy

Animator M dot Strange has a helpful post regarding the importance of staying healthy. He learned after neglecting his health during the production of his first film that having a strong immune system is essential to staying production. See his recommendations HERE.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Creativity vs. Discovery

Creativity is deeply misunderstood.

I once told someone that I was about to spend some time feeding my creativity. He scoffed, responding that I shouldn't have to work at being creative, that's it's just something you "have."

He couldn't have been more wrong.

Creativity isn't inborn nor is it "created." Instead it's a discovery, a product of all of the influences you has absorbed. When you sit down to create, you're actually searching for the answer to a problem, drawing upon everything you've ever heard, seen, smelled, touched or felt. It's not conjuring something up out of thin air. I became fully aware of this difference when I started to animate Honey in Scene 13.

I realized that I hadn't fully designed Honey yet so I went about creating her look. Below are the six pages of "searching" for Honey's look. I knew I wanted a few characteristics for her features (rounded face; almond-shaped eyes; heart-shaped lips) but putting the elements together in a pleasing fashion took numerous attempts over the course of eight days. This process made me realize that the entire act of creating is just that, a process. One doesn't sit down and knock out genius. No artist ever did except for those few prodigies, like Mozart. For everyone else, it's a search for the best solution to the problem, for what best works. On the final page, you'll see what I discovered to be the best solution.