Thursday, April 06, 2006

Barber Shop - the concept of "Organic Drawing"

Here's the rest of the comic.
Some of the drawings are generic. Some are specific expressions and some are very studiously designed.

All the drawings are Organic. The lines that flow around the characters (and the props) flow in a non-mathematical way. The curves aren't bent evenly in the middle. There are lots of "s" curves and even the "s"s are not even. In real life, nothing is even, not flesh, not rocks, not bricks, not grass, nothing. I like to try to capture that in my cartoons by using organic forms and lines.

Organic seems to be really out of fashion. For a couple of reasons.
1) Barely anybody has even heard of the concept these days.
2) Organic forms are much harder to draw than graphic mathematical simple shapes.

The use of Organic shapes and lines are not used in an arbitrary assortment here, either. They have a purpose: to describe what everything is made of and to show what state of tension they are in.

These drawings, while having fairly solid forms underneath are then wrapped in skin and cloth and hair-all three substances which are pliable and in different ways.

In most old cartoons, everything is made of the same substance- "cartoon skin"-clothes, wrinkles, flesh and even hair all act and lay on forms the same way. Look at the Porky Pig clothes wrinkles in the last post. Do they look anything like how wrinkles really work on clothes? Not that I mind. I like old time cartoon skin.

Look at these sexy examples of a door with cartoon skin (and other vital organs) from Bob Clampett's "Kitty Kornered".

http://classiccartoons.blogspot.com/2006/01/100-greatest-cartoons-of-all-times.html

In modern cartoons, most characters not only don't have structures, they don't have wrapping either. It's just a bunch of squares and triangles and circles glued together.

Ugly and uninteresting and too easy.
The end.


BTW, a modern master of organic drawing lives here:
http://funnycute.blogspot.com/

81 comments:

Chet said...

and so it ends......

Ok John i got another one-

If you add too many lines on a character then the character becomes too complicated,busy,and usualy gross looking.

Chet said...

ohh and i really dig the expression that george has on the second panel of the first image.

Anonymous said...

If all you're judging by in terms of the use or understanding of "organic" shapes is current 50s era-style TV animation, well, then, it's easy to see why you call it like that.
But in general illustration/drawing terms, more artists today are affected by past masters of illustration and using "organic", fluid shapes now than at any time in decades. There are thousands of young working artists who love Hurst, Cole, Dedini, etc., and they "discovered" them the same way you did--by collecting old magazines and buying books with those cartoons in them.
You're so pessimistic! But keep it up.

akira said...

Yea! we get to see the ending...
waitaminit... that means no more barbershop comics! cry cry sob

i'd like to see it animated where george runs his finger up jimmy's scalp, and jimmy's reaction.. the comic really triggered my imagination in those panels.

thanks for not trivializing the beginning of the comic by having some corny gag ending. i hate when that happens... are there any more comics that didn't get published? if not maybe you can post some of the ones that did get printed along with some of your insightful commentary.

Charlie J. said...

John,
can you post some of the comics that Rick Altergott colored? I dig his stuff. And his coloring on "the turtle food collector".

Jorge Garrido said...

Wait, why did Jimmy deflate? And I believe the right term for cartoon skin is "Averex"

Brian Romero said...

The cartoon skin of the 30's and 40's you speak of still seems to be informed by reality. The problem I have with a lot of modern cartoons that ape the more graphic cartoons from the 50's is that the stylization doesn't seem to be informed by reality at all.

Gabriel said...

If one looks really close, the characters don't really distort themselves that much. Most of the time it's as if they have a solid skeleton and a rubbery skin goes wacky on top of that. The skeleton itself may get distorted but it's not that often, and when it does the volume keeps constant. That might be one of the reasons of why such cartoony stuff can also be so real!

Joel Bryan said...

Brian- Yeah... copies of copies. I think creative people should go back to primary sources. It's not really that hard, especially with the internet. It just takes time.

I like that shivery effect Jimmy gets when George does that little move on his buzzcut. Funny drawing of a real life sensation... adds to the reality of it and it's just funny.

Organic lines, mechanical lines. Tube amps versus solid state.

Ohjeepers said...

John
I held off on reading the entire story until now, and it was well worth it. The payoff with George jumping back in the chair for another haircut was so good, and I can't get over how cool of a character that Harvey is. It would be great to see Harvey, Victor Lugnuts, George and your Dad all beat the hell out of each other on a camping trip. THAT would be the greatest cartoon ever made.

Could you do a post about how far into production that you got on "Jimmys Incredible Accidents", did it ever reach layout, or was it just story boarded?

I check out your blog constantly! I don't post that often because it feels a little silly as a grown man to constantly gush over how excited I am by all of this great artwork that I have been waiting years to see. But if anyone out there has some money to give you to get some direct to DVD features done, they should really get this show on the road, it should be clear to everyone at this point that your work is going to make someone a lot of money.

Thanks!
James.

Anonymous said...

I've seen sketches from you and other Spumco artists that, using heads and strong poses as an example, have "guide" lines extending from or near the character outlines. It would help if I had a visual example to share for clarity, but what are these lines? Does this have anything to do with what Eddie calls "volumetric?" Or is it a guide line(s) to direct the flow or mass of the pose? Again, these lines seem to somewhat bracket the action and do not appear to look like line-of-action.

Morly said...

Great work as always, John. I love that, because George is so short, Harv has to jump in there (off screen except for his arms) and hold him up, so he can pop Jimmy in the head.

Brian Romero said...

"Organic lines, mechanical lines. Tube amps versus solid state."

Heh-heh. I really dig that analogy. I won't plug my guitars into anything without tubes!

Anonymous said...

But in modern cartoons, most characters not only don't have structures, they don't have wrapping either. It's just a bunch of squares and triangles and circles glued together.

Ugly and uninteresting and too easy.
The end.


case in point:

http://familyguysteals.blogspot.com

Brandon said...

Hilarious comic, John. My favorite part is the reveal to show that George is being held up by the barber. I love it!

Anonymous said...

So basically family guy and the simpsons never use organic drawing. John what is your opinion on these shows?

jorge garrido said...

Wait, did Jimmy shiver because he rubbed the buzzed hair the wrong way? Cuz I do that to the back of my hair all the time and it doesn't make me shiver, it just feels really cool. Especcaily when I just got a haircut. #1, please.

I got a mini-tehory: All the characters have very specific poses, in the way they place their arms and the wya tehy stand and sutff. And there's no repeating of drawings like on modern cartoons! EVerything is a completely new drawing from a new angle or a new shot, except when its a single action stretched over several frames. I hate to say it, but Spumco seesm to have the best animation acting in comics!

JohnK said...

>>So basically family guy and the simpsons never use organic drawing. John what is your opinion on these shows?

They're perfect

jorge garrido said...

>>> So basically family guy and the simpsons never use organic drawing. John what is your opinion on these shows?

He's already said he hates them.

JORGE said...

^^ Quit DOING THAT, YOU!

Anonymous said...

Jamie Hewlett does a good job of using somewhat simple shapes to define anatomy. Hey, I'd love to see a Gorillaz video animated by you, John!

http://gorillaz-news.livejournal.com/131676.html#cutid1

(link to Jamie Hewlett's art exhibition on London)

JohnK said...

>>Jamie Hewlett does a good job of using somewhat simple shapes to define anatomy. Hey, I'd love to see a Gorillaz video animated by you, John!

Jamie Hewlett is great and he doesn't need my animation. His cartoons are beautifully animated and very original.

JohnK said...

>>
He's already said he hates them.

No he hasn't.

Shawn said...

Hey, John. I really like Bob Clampett's TV puppet shows (Time for Beany, Thunderbold the Wondercolt, etc..). Just curious what you think of those shows.

Also, what do you think of the 1960's Beany and Cecil cartoons?

JohnK said...

>>Hey, John. I really like Bob Clampett's TV puppet shows (Time for Beany, Thunderbold the Wondercolt, etc..). Just curious what you think of those shows.

Also, what do you think of the 1960's Beany and Cecil cartoons?

I like them.

They're silly and dirty.

Anonymous said...

What do you think of pudding?

WIL said...

"The skeleton itself may get distorted but it's not that often, and when it does the volume keeps constant."

"Organic lines, mechanical lines. Tube amps versus solid state."

My two favorite quotes!

Mish said...

Haha you gotta get over Katie. Eventually. Not that she isn't a Godess, but man, never seen anyone praise anyone like you do.

Stewart C. Russell said...

John, is page 17 missing? It just seems that Jimmy's playing with his cut hair, then it jumps straight to George's "whitewalls" comment. Also, the image numbering skips a page.

That Shane can ink!

Chet said...

seriously John,

Wahst your opinion on the simpsons?

Pedro Vargas said...

John! I just wanted to thank you for posting this crazy, well-thougt-out, awsesome comic and all of your structural tips on how to do cartoons.

Hey! I have a theory! I call it "Real Cartoons". It's where cartoons come to the point where they feal so incredibly real that they become surreal, thus making it a cartoon all in itself. Well hopefully that made some sense hehe

once again thanks John!

your huge fan!

Pedro

Alicia said...

I've come to a conclusion... I think I'm just going to print out all your blog entries into a quick reference book so I can take it in when ever I need it. This blog has been an invaluble tool in bringing things to my attention that I never noticed or actually putting things into words that I have a hard time trying to express myself. Since I'm still border-line sucking when it comes to drawing, your tips have already made my life a bit easier.

By the way, I think you should form a second blog. Not as interesting as this one, just call it "Stuff John Likes". You can post the names of all cartoons and directors in existance and write "like" or "dislike" beside them. Don't forget other silly things like "boxers or briefs" or who your favourite Back Street Boy is. Geesh!

Adam B said...

How come Bob Clampett left Warner Bros to do puppetry? Was he bored with animation?

TJ said...

Hey John, I just wanted to tell you that I really enjoy reading your blog, and I'm trying really hard to learn from it, although occasionally I think I may be too stupid. Your style and your attitude toward cartoons and art in general has been a big influence on me, and I stop by here whenever I need some inspiration. That's all. Cheers!

Mitch K said...

Hey, great couple of posts I missed out on recently!

I really love this cartoon. The bit with the moose is hilarious, and I LOVE that drawing of Porky right before he gets poked in the eyes.

Great ending to that comic!

Magenta Rose said...

I'd just like to say that if
this is the real John K's blog,
I think you're a genius.
R&S was my childhood, and one of the greatest parts of it. Your ideas brought cartoons back to life in such a vivid and deliciously insane manner.
There is not much greater gratification I get than a rainy
afternoon and some "Sven Hoek."
I applaud you, sir, and am proud to say you've inspired me to keep drawing!

Anonymous said...

The following sums up what I think about art schools teaching animation or cartooning:

http://www.misterkitty.org/extras/stupidcovers/popeye6.jpg

Anonymous said...

haha that's great... Those must have been 3 very useful years...

Anonymous said...

Hey John K.

It's your pal Jesse. I have a question for ya. Will the Ren & Stimpy episode "Wilderness Adventure" ever be produced? I love R & S cartoons with George Liquor.

JohnK said...

>>It's your pal Jesse. I have a question for ya. Will the Ren & Stimpy episode "Wilderness Adventure" ever be produced? I love R & S cartoons with George Liquor.

So do I.

I guess it depends on how well the "Lost Episodes" sell on DVD.

The hundredaire. said...

when is the DVD coming out?

I'm tired of waiting to spend money that I'd like to spend already.

Anonymous said...

I know. I just can't wait for that DVD. In a promo ad on a South Park DVD it said the Lost Episodes DVD will have 5 unaired episodes. Is there really two more episodes or are Altruis and Stimpys Pregnant both two parters?

Jesse

JohnK said...

>>

I know. I just can't wait for that DVD. In a promo ad on a South Park DVD it said the Lost Episodes DVD will have 5 unaired episodes.

Whoa, they lied!

Maybe 5 unaired half hours.

There are 9 half hours, but 3 of them are 2 parters.

I wish I could see that ad.

Did they run clips?

Anonymous said...

the clips they showed are of the following episodes

Onward & Upward
Ren Seeks Help
Fire Dogs 2
Naked beach frenzy
Altruis
Stimpys Pregnant

The ad is on Disk 1 of the 7'th season DVD of South Park.

Jesse

JohnK said...

>>the clips they showed are of the following episodes

Onward & Upward
Ren Seeks Help
Fire Dogs 2
Naked beach frenzy
Altruis
Stimpys Pregnant

Irony of ironies.

Can you get it on Youtube?

I'd love to see it.

Was it well cut together?

Does it look like it'll sell the show?

Anonymous said...

I really don't know anything about youtube. But it sure as hell looks like it will sell GREAT. The quality of the episodes look beautiful. They look like works of art.

C. A. M. Thompson said...

There's a great audio-interview with Clampett on the Beany & Cecil DVD. It's long and cut together from a lot of different interviews but it's well worth listening to, because he talks about his whole career in animation. The DVD also has some John K. drawings of Cecil as extras. I think Clampett always wanted to do something with puppets and it sounded like he really loved doing Time For Beany. All those puppet shows were live, so it was probably really exciting for him.

lastangelman said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
lastangelman said...

A great end to "Get A Haircut!"
Small favor to ask John K.
I recently started a Yahoo! group that will focus on Spumco and other animation art. Not much discussion going on at the moment, but it does have many links to websights related to animation, cartoons, Spumco artists, etcetera.
I'm asking for your permission to upload the "Get A Haircut" jpegs used in your blog to the Files session.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/usafanatics/

JohnK said...

>>'m asking for your permission to upload the "Get A Haircut" jpegs used in your blog to the Files session.

Not all of them!

Make them come here.

Post a couple teasers-some extra funny pages.

lastangelman said...

>>'m asking for your permission to upload the "Get A Haircut" jpegs used in your blog to the Files session.

>Not all of them!

>Make them come here.

>Post a couple teasers-some extra funny pages.

Okay. The funniest teasers - whoa - tuff job!
Already have a link to your blog, but I'll make it more promiment.

Anonymous said...

Actually I have to disagree with one thing you've said, John K.

I find drawing organic lines and shapes MUCH easier than doing mathematical and mechanical ones.

But I do see what you mean, a lot of young kids who read and copy off of manga do really stiff, mathematical crap with no life in it.

thanks for sharing these comic pages, they are great

cheers

-lfw

BrianB said...

>>Irony of ironies.

Can you get it on Youtube?

I'd love to see it.

Was it well cut together?

Does it look like it'll sell the show?<<

Haha. I could make a lot of jokes here, but I'll lay off and instead just tell my friends season 7 of South park on dvd is "awesome" now.

But I'm sorry to say I don't own the damn thing. Where those other people arguing the show's greatness the other day gone? I'll see what I can do though.

R2K said...

Cool stuff :)

R2K

Duck Dodgers said...

Ehi, John

Cold you please contact me?

Thanks!

jorge garrido said...

>>
No he hasn't.

Stop it!! You're confusing me!

Hey, John, were my theories correct or were they obvious? I could probaably never do a commentary on something cuz I always point out teh obvious or explain something that don't need explaining.

p.maestro said...

i agree you wholeheartedly, john. this nouveau cartoon retro garbage may look interesting as graphic design, and may be very well suited to illustration, but i do not see the appeal in seeing it animated.

i appreciated the cinematography and directing of some of the Samurai Jack episodes, and it was nice when Johnny Bravo seemed the only thing like it on TV, but these shows (mostly) are about as entertaining as the old HannaBarbera cartoons.

although, i suppose that's the point really.

Anonymous said...

looks like Billy West is talking shit.

http://www.billywest.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=120&PN=1&TPN=1

"I like South Park when I get to see it.I really don't watch television except for news,information and animal shows.I've never been approached to do the show.Probably because John K. was fartin' higher than his ass and decided to bad mouth Trey Parker and Matt Stone and making ''manly'' noises about suing them for stealing the idea of talking sh*t from him.Hmmm--lemme' tap my temple over this one.Those guys basically told him to take a fast flying f**k on a gallopin' goose.Ever hear of R.Crumb? Did he steal talking sh*t from you as well? If I go look up the word ''narcissist'' in the dictionary will I see John K's picture? Signed??

B. "

Anonymous said...

It's in the south park topic in the coffee lounge.

jorge garrido said...

^Don't star another war, please. I almost did once but John told me he doesn't want any wars.

John, if there are no straight lines in nature, what do you do when drawing a table or a blackbaord or something? Can these man made objects be drawn organically?

junior said...

what about the sea horizon, ain't that straight? Just being annoying, haw haw haw!

C. A. M. Thompson said...

Man made objects can be drawn organically. Look at Fleischer cartoons!

jorge garrido said...

^ You're right! When a pole or table starts to dance or something it's consistancy is the same as Averex (the cartoon skin)

Overall this comic was amazing. Mike is a genius. What was it made for? An unpublished issue of Comic Book! or for the old Spumco website?

Stephen Worth said...

Try and find a straight line on your grandmother!

See ya
Steve

jorge said...

^haha thats a good point, stephen! Hey when are you gonna post john's interviews with the classic directors?

Frank Tinsley said...

Okay okay okay okay, yes, in real life, things don't look like... cartoons? Aren't we all missing a key part of cartooning here? Is cartooning really about drawing things the way they look in real life? Isn't it about simplifying them? Sure, there are plenty of cartoonists that use this in animation to kind of cheat and inevitably lose something but it always seemed to me that a part of a cartoon's intense expressiveness came from the simple, easy-to-connect-with, and often cuter simple lines.

Anonymous said...

Waitaminute, waitaminute, waitaminute...Now you are saying Family Guy is perfect? I guess you already said you didn't like the look of that cartoon. Am I missing something?

The Simpsons look great for me, but the look of Family Guy is boring and kind of ugly in my opinion.

BrianB said...

>>John, if there are no straight lines in nature, what do you do when drawing a table or a blackbaord or something? Can these man made objects be drawn organically?<<

Curvlinear perspective.

Horsey said...

Ah phooey. I love Ren and Stimpy, but I also love Samurai Jack.

I'm not an artist or a creative type. I'm just your average Joe consumer, that likes reading comics and watching animation. To me, what is hard to do for an artist is completely irrelevant to my enjoyment. I don't even know what you magicians find hard or easy--and frankly I don't care. It's exclusively your end-product which interests me.

I'm sure Ren and Stimpy is a masterpiece of artistic achievement, but thats not why I love it. I love it because its the whole package. Funny animation, dialogue, brilliant pacing--everything.

Samurai Jack is equally entertaining to me. The action scenes kick ass. Its kinetic. I don't know how else to describe what its like for me.

Anyhow, if you're drawing for other artists, then all of this stuff is probably very relevant. But if you are just drawing for everyday scums like me, then the only thing that matters is whether we feel something visceral when we look at your work.

Whee!

Anonymous said...

Fucking A.

It might have already been mentioned before but I'm on a pretty tight timetable tonight: Animation, too, suffers from this diseased lack of grit. Floating heads, jarring perspective changes, spline curve motion. It's nauseating.

Everything is so clean-looking in cartoons nowadays and I'm pretty sure that it's because of the fact that even code jockeys can use artistically oriented apps like Flash or USAnimation to get their "visions" completed. I'm fresh off of animation school (well, two years fresh) and half of the students were programmers, I shit you not. Couldn't even sketch a dot on a cocktail napkin and these are the guys that are getting the jobs.

Not that I'm bitter or anything.
I just want some good looking toons.

-Corey

C. A. M. Thompson said...

Just because you're going for simplicity doesn't mean you have to use perfect circles and right angles. Look at Ed Benedict. His art is really sylized but also organic. What a brilliant artist.

In my opinion good cartoon design (and also other design) should go against man-made geometric perfection and precision.

Evan said...

Amazingly enough, in a couple of my drawing classes at Ohio State, we did learn about organic drawing. For once, my college education has come through for me!

cartooncrank said...

Perhap it's too late to post such a question, but here goes:

Does this mean all those "rubber hose" cartoons from the thirties are examples of "inorganic" drawing? And if not, why not?

Will E. said...

I'm glad I ran across this article. I think my drawings have suffered because I haven't been thinking about things being organic.

Anonymous said...

You know, I was drawn here by a critic of your post but I actually really, really agree with you. It's true that geometric squarish art is really popular, and in a lot of cases it can be done well enough to look good.

However, it is so sad that 99% of cartoons out there nowadays use these techniques. It's as if the 'edgy' new times literally translated into the toons and artwork. I grew up at the point where the oldschool toons were going out of style for the new toons. As someone who draws now mainly for fun, it sucked being a kid who really considered persuing art, but was scared out of it because literally all my art teachers taught the whole, "Start from a box and expand" when I just enjoyed drawing various cartoony shapes. Even now all I ever see are people doodling their square people and such, while everything on my paper twists and curves around my notes.

It also sucks that almost every cartoon now looks like it was made in Flash. But I digress. I'm glad I was led here, and glad to see that maybe I'm not such a whackjob and that I should stop conforming my art to what other people would want it to be. Who cares if it's not popular.

Okay. That was a bit longwinded. Sorry!

CarolineJarvis said...

Great character designs... love how ya pushed the poses!

Mindspy said...

I'm not sure if you're fammiliar with the litterary work of H.P. Lovecraft, but I think that your style would capture some of his creations, such as Cthulhu and the Color out of Space quite well.

[CW]Darth_Stiva said...

I hate to be an ass and nitpick like this (well, no I don't), but nature is mathematics. I understand what you mean, of course; the human (or other animal) body is very dynamic. However, some of the most beautiful things in nature are defined by mathematical functions. Helices, spirals, and the Fibbonacci sequence are commonly found in nature - seashells, pine cones, phyllotaxis, et cetera.

On a more positive note, you're an absolutely excellent artist (just maybe not a great mathematician). I enjoy your work; great stuff.

Mr. Semaj said...

As an ametur artist, I do have a slight criticism about your view on organic drawings.

You make a persuasive judgement about how things in real life are imperfect, how they're reflected in animation and so forth. But, the technique where you use basic line and shape construction is a tool most artists use to learn to draw.

I just stated the painfully obvious, but I used to draw things "organically" when I was younger. I'd give my soul to have the photographic memory that McKimson or Scribner did, but I just don't!

Usually, the organic drawings I made didn't come out as good as I'd like, and even today, that's still the case. But I got around to utilizing the line-and-shape technique a couple years ago, and that actually ENHANCED, not hindered, my ability to draw characters, animals, and to a lesser degree, things like cars, trees (two of my personal challenges), and buildings. In fact, the technique has helped me be able to draw a lot of cartoon characters, both classic and contemporary, but mostly the latter.

My arguement here is that it's okay to use line-and-shape construction. The only way they're a problem is when the artist depends entirely on lines and shapes for the final design, which then makes their characters highly geometric, like the ones from Family Guy. The line-and-shape technique should be a tool for beginning artists to exercise their own potential, like training wheels on a bicycle.

Vixus said...

Hey again. Thanks for the inspiration, I've realised I need to stop copying art and create it instead. I'm going to draw anything I see the way I see it.

I'm getting back into the drawing business.
I agree many cartoons today tend to be plain and generic. I only tend to follow cartoons that I find artistically interesting. Namely yours, ie. Ren & Stimpy and the one with the 3 hero brothers (forgot the name). Johan Vasquez, that sorta thing.

Anyway... thanks for the inspiration.

andres lozano, from argentina said...

John , I really love your work you have such an original style, one that anyone could recognize from far off..and I think you are the reason i've got myself into Animation, im From Argentina,we have an studio called La Secta edicion ,that has produced almost 15 shorts in 3 years, so I woul like to send you our stuff ,tell me please where to... at least in retribution for all the good laughs you gave us down here in argentina
salutes gently
andres lozano,
buenos aires,
argentina
http://www.lasectaedicion.com.ar
andreslozano80@hotmail.com