Copy from the Best

Practice drawings.

In this post from June, I talked about getting back to basics.

I noted the difference in drawing styles between the 1940's and today.

My personal preference is for the "old school" look: rounded characters, cartoony features, fully animated, richly painted backgrounds. Those are the qualities that made me fall in love with animation in the first place. And those of the qualities to which I aspire.

My first step in learning that 1940's look is to copy 1940's animation. Thank goodness for the Internet and YouTube! I discovered the Warner Bros. Private SNAFU cartoons (all available for download) and have been copying certain frames ever since.

John K's animation curriculum emphasizes copying model sheets. It was an excellent exercise that, however, quickly became boring and felt so much like a chore that I stopped doing it. NOT the desired effect. Since John K. said that the best model sheets were based on poses from the animation and not vice versa, it makes sense to simply copy frames from the finished animation. That way, you can see how every pose works. Often there'll be a pleasant surprise, which I show below.

I started with the cartoon below called "Coming!!! SNAFU!" which was directed by Chuck Jones:

Below is an example of the surprise poses I mentioned above. If I hadn't scrubbed through the animation frame-by-frame, I would've never seen that GIGANTIC hand that Snafu snaps to his head in salute at the 00:24.15 mark:

Surprisingly BIG ASS HAND at the 00:24.15 mark of "Coming!!! SNAFU!"

An important point about this exercise: I'm attacking several of my drawing weaknesses-- cartoony expressions and round, solid volumes. BUT since the animation and the drawing is so strong, I'm enjoying performing the exercise and actually look forward to doing it!

I additionally wanted to capture the amazing gestures of this character.
Eyes in perspective and round, solid forms.

More eyes in perspective and round, solid forms.

Second, I'm practicing the John K. advice of drawing the volumes and dividing lines (in blue) first before adding the features and details. Another important John K. lesson that I'm seeing in the film stills is the perspective of the eyes. To be correct--and look correct--the closer eye needs to be larger than the farther eye. That's something you absolutely do NOT see in today's tv animation:

No eyes in perspective here...

...or here...

...or here.
Why am I so adamant about learning the "old school" methods and why should you be, too? Aside from the aesthetic preference I have for them, if we're doing something that few or other people are doing, we'll stand out that much more.

Think about it…


  1. You have such an interesting blog. Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed reading your posts. All the best for your future blogging journey.

  2. Thank you for the wonderful comment, Sridhar! I appreciate you visiting and your good wishes for my journey.