Thursday, June 08, 2006

Animation School 8 - Proportions affect design-Contrasts

http://www.animationarchive.org/2006/06/media-tail-of-two-bulldogs_114980929673711442.html

What makes something cartoony?
Partly it's exaggerated proportions.
Here is your basic generic 1940s cartoon bulldog.
It's not very cartoony.

Why?
Because the proportions are too even.
The chest is big but not too big.
The butt is small but not too small.
His head is split evenly into 2 parts: the cranium and the jaw.

Here's a Tex Avery bulldog and look how much more cartoony it is!
The basic construction is the same as the Hanna Barbera bulldog, but the contrasts in sizes of the shapes is much greater.
The chest is REALLY big.
The butt is REALLY small.
The chin is waaay bigger than the cranium.
The eyes are tiny.
The front legs are way bigger than the back legs.

CONTRASTS in proportions=exaggeration=cartoony=funny.
Got it?

*Interestingly, the only contrasts in this design are contrasts of size. The character is completely constructed of ovals. Varying the size contrasts alone makes it an appealing funny design.

Here's another Tex Avery bulldog.
This design has the same basic construction as the Tom and Jerry Bulldog, and the contrasts are slightly more exaggerated than the first bulldog but not as exaggerated as the first Tex Avery bulldog.

BUT! It has some other variations from the generic bulldog:
It's eyes are on angles-they are wider apart at the top than at the bottom.
The back legs are bowed apart, while the front legs are pigeon-toed.
His head is more triangular, with the point on top, rather than an evenly shaped oval.

So it has not only contrasts in sizes of forms, but also in shapes of forms and directions of forms.

So these variations on the basic evenly shaped and proportioned Hanna Barbera (I think it's Hanna Barbera) bulldog make it a particular design, whereas the Hanna Barbera mutt is merely generic.

Generic means even and inspecific. To qualify as a design, there has to be a set of specific variations on a basic set of forms.

Chuck Jones, Bob Clampett and Tex Avery are such big stars because they all have very specific styles and their cartoons make all kinds of specific statements and they constantly experimented.
This is why you can so readily recognize their cartoons as being theirs.

Most people in every field are generic types. They don't have individual statements to make.
Humans are naturally attracted to very individualistic people with charisma. Elvis, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Kirk Douglas, Joan Crawford, Humphrey Bogart and most stars of the past.

In the 1940s when Avery, Jones and Clampett really stood out from the rest of the animators, we also had very generic animators like Friz Freleng, Hanna Barbera, Harman and Ising and Walt Disney. They believed in "quality" of course, but were very conservative about style and statements.

Today, almost everything is generic - only it's generic without the skill and high standards of the 1940s.

GO SEE THE CARTOONS HERE!

65 comments:

christopher said...

Thank you John! I really appreciate you taking the time to post these lessons! Can't wait for the lost episodes!

Aimee's Sketch Blog said...

I love the Tex Avery bull dog, It's the one I tried to draw when I started these lessons!

Good post. Learning alot!

Chris said...

Bad Luck Blackie! My fave MGM Tex Avery cartoon.

Thank you for showing the T & J vs Tex contrasting bulldogs - I've always preferred the exaggerated cartoony qualities of Tex's bulldogs.

Even the Magical Maestro '50'-style Spike was funnier than the Tom & Jerry counterpart.

Chris

Anonymous said...

Hey John, have you talked about these other famous Looney Tunes characters yet?:

Foghorn_Leghorn
Marvin_the_Martian
Pepe Le_Pew
Road_Runner
Wile_E._Coyote
Yosemite_Sam
Speedy_Gonzales
Tasmanian_Devil

JohnK said...

>>Hey John, have you talked about these other famous Looney Tunes characters yet?:<<

Not in any detail yet. I will eventually.

Kevin Langley said...

Great lesson, it should be fun experimenting with different proportions. Can't wait to get started. I only just got around to posting lesson6 and lesson7.

Julián höek said...

shit that's one hell of a funny buldog!!

Anonymous said...

Hi John

I love Tex Avery's "Bad Luck Blackie" but I do like the style of the first Avery bulldog then the second Avery bulldog. I even noticed that these were the bulldog characters that Avery used in his cartoons before creating Spike (from Droopy). Do you have any old modle sheets of Spike & Droopy to put on here? Keep up the cool and helpful lessons. "YOU ROCK!!!!"

your pal,

Jesse Oliver

Gobble D. Gook said...

>>Hey John, have you talked about these other famous Looney Tunes characters yet?:

Foghorn_Leghorn
Marvin_the_Martian
Pepe Le_Pew
Road_Runner
Wile_E._Coyote
Yosemite_Sam
Speedy_Gonzales
Tasmanian_Devil <<

Hey, you forgot Michigan J Frog!

S.G.A said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
bardhol said...

Done! Te he he, oh just kidding. But I do have everything up through the line of action lessons up, as well as a few caricatures to guess at.

Franfou said...

Great Lesson !! I will study more and more these fabulous Chuck Jones, Bob Clampett and Tex Avery... by the way, I think you have also a specific style that makes your work stand out from the rest...

Ryan G. said...

John, when you color your outlines digitally, what areas determine whether they get color, or stay black? Obviously subltle areas like hair and textile might get a colored line, and thickest and closest parts will stay black, but any other theories you go by?

Evan said...

Very interesting post. I know it's been said, but you really could put together one killer book. I've heard people sometimes shop their blogs around as a way to get a book deal.

This is unrelated but I drew some Paris Hiltons, then designed a cartoon Paris and did a little (crappy) construction practice if you'd like to see it:

Evan's Parises!

My Paris is very much inspired by your caricatures of her. Speaking of caricatures, when are we gonna have another caricature contest here?!?

El leo said...

yes, i want to participate too! i saw the last one, was so funny!

Kyle aka Scout said...

Hey John why don't you do a post about Alex Toth who just recently passed. I heard the poor man died at his drawing table, that shows dedication, plus for his cool style from Johnny Quest.

Jeremy said...

hey john, have you ever thought of doing good ol' internet cartoons again?

Emmy said...

I love the third bulldog best, it's like a mix of both extreme styles.
ANd I think the out-turned back legs add to it's stability, which is something that the first two lack, especially the first one. I always hated the back legs on the first one because they seem too much like floppy dead-weight.
The first dog has too much gooey floppyness
The second one has too much bouncey, tight elasticity
The third has a great mix of both!

I AM CURIOUS as to what your opinion on Anime is :) A rant about Anime would be freakishly fun to read!

Per said...

Hey John, you sure know your stuff. I check out your blog every day for inspiration. I am curious what you opinion is on something like aeon flux...

Anonymous said...

thanks for defining generic. it sounds so simple after hearing it and I feel retarded admitting I didn't know what it means, but I guess if I was alone, most cartoons wouldn't be so bland.

Gavin Freitas said...

Thanks for the post! Helpful as usual. We all must remember that we are making cartoons, distorting real life!

Trevour said...

Coincidentally, I just watched "Bad Luck Blackie" tonight! It gets me every time when the dog bellows out his laugh, with his big lower lip sticking out.

That model sheet must be from early in production of that cartoon, because the bulldog looks much more cartoony (like the drawing above that) in the completed picture. Very similar to the dog in the "King-Size Canary" short.

EIBass said...

Thanks for taking the time to give such a great course. I've loved your work for a long time but I grew up watching Toons by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. I did not see examples of their work on your blog(except for the Knock off Yogis from a previous post) And I believe the "Hanna Barbera" brand of toons came out in the 50's.Not saying I like them all that much but you gotta give them credit for the first Gay cartoon. "Heavens To Murgatroid" 'Exit Stage Left"
SnagglePuss
Thanks again for posting such a great course.

benj said...

Thanks for sharing:)

John Surname said...

This is a really interesting blog! I'm not a cartoonist, but I still find it fascinating anyway.

Spizzerinktum said...

>>Hey, you forgot Michigan J Frog!<<

That's Michigan_J._Frog.

David Germain said...

I grew up watching Toons by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. I did not see examples of their work on your blog(except for the Knock off Yogis from a previous post) And I believe the "Hanna Barbera" brand of toons came out in the 50's.

Dear Eibass

1. Actally the team of Hanna & Barbara started together in 1939 at MGM. Before that, Bill Hanna had worked as a director for MGM himself while Joe Barbara worked for Terrytoons in New York. They directed about 4 or 5 cartoons together before they hit upon Tom & Jerry whose first cartoon was nominated for an Oscar in 1940. The Tom & Jerry series would go on to win 7 Oscars and be nimonated for 5 others all throughout the '40's and '50's. But, in 1958, MGM closed down their animation department. THAT'S when the Hanna Barbara team went into TV animation and created all the cartoons you grew up with.

2. Those "Yogi Bear knockoffs" were films that John K. directed himself as a loving tribute to one of his favourite cartoon characters.

Diego said...

Hey John,

When you say that today ALMOST is generic, which are the exceptions, in your opinion?

Anonymous said...

*(almost EVERYTHING, i mean)

JohnK said...

>>When you say that today ALMOST is generic, which are the exceptions, in your opinion?<<

Gorillaz

Anonymous said...

Hey John, do you think Bruce Blitz is generic?

JohnK said...

>>Hey John, do you think Bruce Blitz is generic?<<

Don't know what that is.

jess green said...

i agree, the gorillaz have a completely unique look, which some hate, but i really like!

For anyone who may possibly have seen my post on yesterday's thread, the overlords at geocities denied access to my site as I went over the limit.... I'd love to hear from anyone about my efforts on the lessons (i've done 2...working on 4)
Come and see my work!

thanks, -jess

Anonymous said...

Bruce Blitz is a 'who', not a 'what'. He used to teach cartooning; he had a TV show, books, drawing kits, etc.

Evan said...

Wow John, you LIKE gorillaz?

BrandonPierce said...

John... WHERE do you get these model sheets from? You must have collected a lot of animation drawings over the years.

Do you have any model sheets of Avery's Egghead character? Maybe you could do some kind of blog on how Egghead became Elmer Fudd.

Anonymous said...

That model sheet must be from early in production of that cartoon, because the bulldog looks much more cartoony (like the drawing above that) in the completed picture. Very similar to the dog in the "King-Size Canary" short.

Animation isn't all about a design just sitting on a model sheet, it's what an animator does with the design, given what the storyboard requires him to do. I'd say that's one BIG reason the bulldog in "Blackie" looks better and "more cartoony" when he's doing what he's supposed to: being a bulldog in a cartoon rather than just exist as a "funny-looking drawing". Some of the work in funny cartoons has to be carried by the movement.

Trevour said...

Animation isn't all about a design just sitting on a model sheet, it's what an animator does with the design, given what the storyboard requires him to do. I'd say that's one BIG reason the bulldog in "Blackie" looks better and "more cartoony" when he's doing what he's supposed to: being a bulldog in a cartoon rather than just exist as a "funny-looking drawing". Some of the work in funny cartoons has to be carried by the movement.

Yeah, that sort of goes without saying - I'm just saying the model sheet bulldog shows a much more serious personality, compared to the bullying bastard ass of a character (and funnier) in the short itself.

Ryan G. said...

Yeah, those Gorillaz videos are incredible! 2d animation and CGI mixed in these videos. Some of the coolest animation out there..

JohnK said...

>>John... WHERE do you get these model sheets from? You must have collected a lot of animation drawings over the years.<<

Click "more Cartoon Stuff" in the links on the right of my blog. Kevin Langley puts up lots of old model sheets.

Thank him!

P.C. Unfunny said...

Hey John, what do you think of Jack Hamm's "cartooning the haad and figure " book ? I found that this book ,and the Preston Blair book, has helped me alot.

cableclair said...

awesomeness! Thanks so much! I'm behind on the lessons (parents had their 40th celebration and kidnapped us to a deserted Island called Ameland) but I'll be catching up this weekend.

Dirk_Schulz said...

Hey John

Art F. said...

That Tex Avery bulldog is my favorite! i just saw him (or a variation of him)earlier today in "king size Canary". thanks for the insight John! You're my hero!

Dirk_Schulz said...

Hey John!

Big fan of your work.
I´ve some Ren and Stimpy pics/doodles.
Maybe you can enjoy them.

http://www.deviantart.com/view/34484108/
http://www.deviantart.com/view/34324324/

Greetz
Dirk E. Schulz

Thad K said...

That first bulldog modelsheet is from Tom & Jerry's "Dog Trouble" (1942).

- Thad

Ollie said...

John, do you think Disney Animation, The Illusion of Life is a good book?

Also, how many hours do you spend drawing in an average day?

-Ollie

JohnK said...

Illusion of Life

>>John, do you think Disney Animation, The Illusion of Life is a good book?<<

The book is mainly a propaganda piece for Disney. It claims that only Disney animation is worth anything, that they invented everything and completely discounts other cartoons-even cartoons that are far superior to theirs in terms of acting and gags, both of which, for some inexplicable reason, Disney prides itself on.

It has one good chapter-the one about principles of animation-some of which they never use themselves.

Thad K said...

John,

I can't comment on the animation pieces, since I really have no interest in being an animator, but as a 'junior historian' I found it to be completely grating as a Disney history. And that's not even with their ignoring of other studios!

They barely mention the 'lesser' (which I actually think are their best) classic movies like they didn't happen. There's also barely anything about Dick Lundy in the book, and not enough Fred Moore.

Basically, if you want to copy the magic of "Robin Hood", I'd get it. I have a pretty new copy I'd be willing to sell if anyone's interested... Only thrown once!

- Thad

Clinton said...

Lesson 8,

I have a long ways to go still. Here is what I have so far. I'll get there, y'all, and all eyes are welcome, even glass ones.
Lesson 1
More Lesson 1
Lesson 2
Lesson 3 and 4

Spook said...

Again, one of those things that I didn't really appreciate until it was pointed out. It isn't even something subtle, just not talked about (by the layperson like me).

Have you considered writing a book?

Kevin Langley said...

>>John... WHERE do you get these model sheets from? You must have collected a lot of animation drawings over the years.<<

Click "more Cartoon Stuff" in the links on the right of my blog. Kevin Langley puts up lots of old model sheets.



I you don't feel like weeding through all my posts check the archives from March through May, most of the model sheets are found there. I think that the King Size Canary model sheet is particulary of interest regarding proprtions affecting design. I think all the Irv Spence model sheets would be useful to study from.

Do you have any model sheets of Avery's Egghead character? Maybe you could do some kind of blog on how Egghead became Elmer Fudd.

I noticed there was no reply to this question. I think I have a couple. I'll post them on my blog this weekend for you.

Ryan Kramer said...

Yea, both bulldogs are nice but Tex's use of contrast definately gives it tons of appeal. I remember that bulldog in the episode with that cute little kitten, i think his name was mark anthony...hilarious.

Great Post.

Stephen Worth said...

Illusion of Life is the book it is because of who wrote it. Originally, Walt himself chose Les Clark to write the book. Clark started with Disney in 1927 and was trained as an animator by Ub Iwerks himself. He animated on every Disney feature except Bambi, and had a better concept of the "big picture" than any other members of the "nine old men" because he had lived through all of it. Unfortunately, Clark passed away during his preliminary research for the book,

Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston were more aligned with the "Milt Kahl School" at the studio. They looked upon animators like Moore and Ferguson as being "primitive" compared to their style. They also were more politically inclined to give short shrift to the artists of the thirties who didn't stick with Walt during the strike.

I wonder what the Illusion of Life would have been like had Clark written it. I think we would have had a clearer picture of the earlier years, and a better appreciation of the "naturals" like Moore and Ferguson, not to mention those who left like Tytla, Babbitt and Natwick.

See ya
Steve

VirtualBambi said...

Thanks so much for posting these lessons, they are a huge. I just wish I had found your website earlier before I started working on my animation for school.

But hey my next one will be better!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for letting me know what you think about the book John.

Ollie said...

Oops, forgot to put my name on that anonymous post up above.

-Ollie

Dave_the_Turnip said...

Well, i finished lesson 6. Gave me a lot of trouble it did, but i feel like i learned heaps.

It can be found here.

bodidarma said...

what up john, i'm one of those graffiti people, hearing you talking down about it has inspired me start up these lessons.keep on spitting them out

Anonymous said...

Would a Stephen Worth be updating his student pages soon perchance?

My conktributions thus far

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

Damn you blogger! Here are my lesson attempts so far... Ignore the previous post.

hobo divine said...

CONTRASTS in proportions=exaggeration=cartoony=funny.
Got it?

got it.

Thank you

P.S. Could you explain the difference between 1945 Porky Pig and 1946 Porky Pig?

John said...

Hey John,

I've done drawings for lessons 1 to 8 here

(in case that link's broke its http://paintthemeggs.wordpress.com - had trouble before)

Great post!

Connor Leahy said...

My attempt here.