Tuesday, October 24, 2006

What's Wrong With These Pictures?

CONGRATULATIONS!
EVERYONE WHO COMMENTED (ALMOST) GETS AN "A".

THE CORRECT ANSWER TO "WHAT'S WRONG WITH THESE PICTURES?" IS:

EVERYTHING!

It seems like you all have been paying attention. Now how many of you will start applying this hard-won knowledge to your own art? That's what I'm waiting for. Get at those Preston Blair Lessons!




If you've been reading my blogs and lessons for awhile, you should easily be able to tear these babies up. Gimme some comments. I wanna see if you've learned anything.







Here's a start:

128 comments:

David DeGrand said...

Looks like all of those artists graduated from the "lets put everything smack dab in the center of the composition and make it as static as possible" school of design. Not one element in those designs allow the eye to wander around the composition in any way, you just remain stuck right in the middle. And I won't even get started on the lack of good use of negative space. And the pee and poo colors don't help much either. Am I anywhere close John?

Craig D said...

Um...

ANT BULLY: Crappy sky? Twinning on guy in background?

SHREK video capture image: Putrid color schemes?

David DeGrand said...

Looks like all of those artists graduated from the "put everything smack dab in the middle of the composition and make it as static and boring as possible" school of design. Am I anywhere close John?

Charlie J. said...

bright, garish colors
ugly and generic designs
cluttered backgrounds
no form
generic facial expressions ...

Max Ward said...

The characters are right in the middle of the picture, which is very lame composition. The Any Bully poster has colors straight out of the tube (The ground is brown, the grass is green, the sky is blue etc..) The character designs are unappealing and don't tell you much about the character when you first look at it...

That's about all I see.

Eric said...

Mr. K.,
My main issue with all of these is that everything is centered, with symmetrical distance on both sides of the frame. This is coming from a film standpoint, where centering a shot is on the subject exactly is director's suicide.
From the standpoint of knowing what I do from reading your posts and lessons, the characters are stuck in an impossibly cluttered world of wonderment and CG animation. Any action they might be performing are stuck in front of an overly busy background.
Also, the characters are just ugly. But that's just me.

Taco Jack said...

In the 'Monster House' poster in particular, the foreground trees would have provided a much more dramatic framing for the kids & the house if they were simply black silhouettes and brought closer to us.

The background trees serve only to distract from the house.

As computer animation progresses, the tendency to make things more realistic seems to be making things less artistic.

sajdera said...

All I know about Shrek is that I tried to sit down and watch the DVD with my friend once and I made it about twenty minutes into the opening bumbers and advertisements before I realized that it was the actual movie.

I turn to my friend and ask him, " is this the actual movie?" and he says, "I told you it was going to suck."

Not surprisingly, the same exact thing happened again when I watched Chicken Little. I made it about twenty minutes in before I realized it wasn't an advert for the fucking soundtrack or some shit.

Really lame.

Taco Jack said...

Three more points on the Monster House poster:

If the trees are all dead, why is the grass so lush and green?

If the main light source in the scene is the moonlit sky above and behind the house, why aren't the kids mainly black with just the light from the house illuminating the sides of their faces? Why is the front of the house so detailed?

If this movie is in 3D, why is there so little feeling of depth? Extruding the logo = bad fix.

frankie said...

I'm transfixed and disgusted by the boring blue skies. Thanks John!

Eric C. said...

I'll tell ya John, They're Flyping CGI in which is the ugliest and cheapest form of animation ever. They're made by guys that aren't manly enough to animate they're real drawings. Sissys. I spit on they're computerized work. UGGGG! If that's what your driving on John, let me tell ya, I 100% agree with ya on this one. How can I make a satire on those Cheep a**es to teach them a lesson John?

_Eric

Anonymous said...

Even if I didn't read your blog, I could point out one of my major annoyances of current movie posters. Everything is BOOM, right in the center. Simple, uninventive, boring layout. That's just a poor artistic choice in general, I'm not sure why movie studios seem to love it so much.

Anonymous said...

Could it be the use of peag green or that some of the characters seem like a box of skittles, color wise. I think the monster house poster is the most successful of them all, beacuase the dark muddy colors really work with the tone of the film.

LeoBro said...

All of these examples have a symetrical compositions with the center of attention in the exact center of the screen and the sides being almost mirror images of each other.

The Ant Bully poster is particularly horrible. The guy in the background is completely "twinned" (left and right sides doing exactly the same thing) except for a slight snarl to his mouth. His legs are spread so that the boy falls inside them instead of overlapping in front of them, completely losing any sense of depth. The colors are ugly too -- one-color for the sky, another color for the grass, and rest dingy brownish colors.

The framing of the Monster House poser is also symetrical, but I actually like the way the trees frame the house. The point is to make the house look like a face, and it succeeds at that. However, the kids have zero appeal, and since I'd rather watch a movie about kids than about a house, the poster fails in that regard. Again the colors devolve pretty much to primaries -- not interesting or appealing.

The symmetry of the Shrek poster makes the central image look like a totem pole. And like the other examples of your recent posts, the colors are basic and boring.

The composition of the still frame might be improved if Shrek weren't planted in the center directly facing the camera in a symmetrical pose, and if the background had more perspective to it. The background really has too much detail without offering any information. All purple and green... looks like it's missing a color channel.

RR Anderson said...

They are all colored like body fluids!

Kris said...

The biggest problem I see is that all the characters and points of interest are in the exact center of the image.

Vincent Waller said...

Well first off , symmetry is the haven for dullards.

Sean Worsham said...

Ant Bully Poster: Centered composition makes the whole thing boring. Boy's bland pose just has him standing there. No sense of Contrapasto nothing. The ants in the background further makes him blurred as their colors blend in too closely to him (not to mention the ground). This is not helped by the fact that the antagonist in the background is now the focus when it should be the main characters on the bottom. Bright colors on the top w/ garish pee pee colors on the bottom compete for space and attention.

Monster House Poster:

Poor Centered composition choice again! Good choice of colors (in terms of palette) however not used properly. The colors on the house blends to much around with the surroundings taking focus away from the main subject of the painting. The kids poses while slightly better than the ones used in the Ant Bully poster, are still boring and don't evoke the fear the kids are feeling when glaring at the house. The hose and the kids compete for space silhouettes don't read against it well.

Shrek Poster: What another centered compostion????? What's with animation houses and centered compositions???? Characters are too close together killing any chance of readability in their silhouettes. Too many primaries are used and they compete for space on the poster (what, yellow w/ red and blue????). There is no sense of mixing w/ analagous w/ split complimentaries. No color theory at all.

Shrek Pose on the bottom: Donkey and Shrek too close together killing their readability. Too bad the trees and bushes in the background provide the perfect opportunnity to frame the characters properly and Donkey could've been moved left a little more (Shrek could be slightly moved further too into the bush/trees frame,) Oh well.

thechrisproject said...

check out another Ant Bully poster.

thechrisproject said...

Here's another more interesting one for Monster House.

Anonymous said...

Ant Bully: Straight out of the tube primaries and secondaries, all the orange characters kind of blend together.

Monster House: The colors all kinda run together like a watercolor rinse jar. I'm not one to use words like 'composition' but it seems to me that the composition of all of these pictures is pretty poor, there's just nothing to look at and it feels like being in grandma's dingy cluttered attic.

Shrek1: Video box colors again, and everybody looks like they're glowing like in that Hercules still. How can the colors be overwhelming and faded-looking at the same time?

Shrek2: Everything looks grey/poo-pee and is in the center again.

I hope I actually got some of the principles you're trying to show us, and I'm not just throwing out buzzwords! Maybe you could give us a test to see if we can tell good color design from bad?

NR

Dan said...

Ant Bully:
- blue sky, green grass, red clothes and the characters are all feces colored and they blend in with the feces colored ground.
- too busy, too much detail
- too symmetrical, the right and left are basically mirror images

Monster House:
- blue sky, green grass, yellow light, red letters (sounds like the lucky charms commercial)
- too much symmetry

Dreck:
- Purple!
- And blue, yellow, green and red
- too much symmetry

Dreck cap:
- too much symmetry, twinning
- way too much detail, and boring detail at that

All this CGi stuff is such poop.

Anonymous said...

From Hasdrubal(hamilcar1234@yahoo.com)

From top to bottom:
The texture mapping of the ground on Ant Bully isn't a natural earth tone. It's just an ugly lifeless brown. The blue sky is somewhat natural, but a trite generic blue. It doesn't add anything to make the exterminator figure looking more menacing. The grass is too healthy and lacking in color variation. The bug people are the coolest thing in the picture, yet they're lost. Fewer ant people in the picture might allow them to stand out more. The dull brown ant hill dome in the background causes things to become lost.

Monster house isn't too bad. The greys and blues blending together are pleasant. The fat kid could use more highlighting postwork around the outer edge. The greyish halo effect around the house looks cool. The texture on the trees looks natural. The children should be posed with their hips in a lower position to convey action. The figure models might possibly have a problem with inverse kinetics that makes for less exaggerated poses. The grassy areas are a little flat.

The sky and fire ball colors in the top Shrek are too close to primary colors. The green princess dress looks lost in the yellow. The Princess doesn't add much to the composition. The poses and expressions aren't too funny. Shrek and donkey should have their backs arched with their asses on fire. The happy smiley faces don't work at all in this one. The artist did do a nice job with brending the castle into the sky on this one. The dragon should show some teeth. The flying pose is too flat and not scary. The lower Shrek isn't too bad. The posing of the hands could be more exaggerated. The lighting and atmospheric rendering effects are a little dirty and don't give much contrast between the figures in the foreground and the background. It's a little hard to judge this one because I don't know what the artist was trying to do in the scene. A few blades of grass in the cobble stones would have helped. The cobble stones lack variation in the lower Shrek, but look OK in the upper picture. Overall, the lower image of Shrek is better.

Anonymous said...

From Hasdrubal(hamilcar1234@yahoo.com)

From top to bottom:
The texture mapping of the ground on Ant Bully isn't a natural earth tone. It's just an ugly lifeless brown. The blue sky is somewhat natural, but a trite generic blue. It doesn't add anything to make the exterminator figure looking more menacing. The grass is too healthy and lacking in color variation. The bug people are the coolest thing in the picture, yet they're lost. Fewer ant people in the picture might allow them to stand out more. The dull brown ant hill dome in the background causes things to become lost.

Monster house isn't too bad. The greys and blues blending together are pleasant. The fat kid could use more highlighting postwork around the outer edge. The greyish halo effect around the house looks cool. The texture on the trees looks natural. The children should be posed with their hips in a lower position to convey action. The figure models might possibly have a problem with inverse kinetics that makes for less exaggerated poses. The grassy areas are a little flat.

The sky and fire ball colors in the top Shrek are too close to primary colors. The green princess dress looks lost in the yellow. The Princess doesn't add much to the composition. The poses and expressions aren't too funny. Shrek and donkey should have their backs arched with their asses on fire. The happy smiley faces don't work at all in this one. The artist did do a nice job with brending the castle into the sky on this one. The dragon should show some teeth. The flying pose is too flat and not scary. The lower Shrek isn't too bad. The posing of the hands could be more exaggerated. The lighting and atmospheric rendering effects are a little dirty and don't give much contrast between the figures in the foreground and the background. It's a little hard to judge this one because I don't know what the artist was trying to do in the scene. A few blades of grass in the cobble stones would have helped. The cobble stones lack variation in the lower Shrek, but look OK in the upper picture. Overall, the lower image of Shrek is better.

LêA said...

In the Shrek poster, there are too many "in the mood of yellow" colours, and the castle in the right put in evidence the poor "all-the-characters-at-the-middle" composition. I think the title is in a bad place, too.
And finally, if someday I'm running away from a big fire-spitting monster flying just behind me, I'm sure that I'm not ging to have that expression on my face...

XQS me 4 my english

Art F. said...

im gonna sound like a broken record but the "put everything in the center" comp doesn't work.

no clear silhouettes, everything crammed together, NO NEGATIVE SPACE. if you were to blacken in all the characters in these posters, it would like like a Rorschach test in front of some grass and dirt, a house, fire, and some buildings.

poo & pee or "straight out the tube" colors. ugly character design, and the one MAIN thing i hate about CG characters, SYMMETRY!

Mcnuggetinator said...

Hmmm, I think all the posters suffer from colors that are too bright which screws up the mood, even the Monster House one. The boy in the Ant Bully is supposed to be making a stern face but its just not working since his eyebrows are not lowered. The Shrek poster has way too happy colors,their being followed by impending doom for crying out loud! The kids in the Monster house pose suffer as well although I cant think of how those poses could be better.

cemenTIMental said...

Uhh... they're... new?

(just kidding!!!! ^_^)

Good to see the awfulness of CG movie posters pointed out!... Mind you it would be worse if they had GOOD posters. At least this way we're forewarned! :)

Symmetrical compositions are best left to Hideaki Anno! These ones are amazingly horrendous.

Here in the UK for some reason it's become a universal style for CGI movies to be advertised by individual posters of various characters from the film on a plain white background with some utterly terrible pun... how much more boring can you geT?

I always find it interesting to see Japanese posters for american films... in cases where they don't just use the US design, they're invariably MUCH better, and actually fool you into thinking the film might be as good and well designed as the poster implies.

Anonymous said...

Hi John,

There is no mood in these pictures, all the values goes from white to black. The Monster House picture, for example, could be either middle key or low key.

Also, all the colors are taken from around the color wheel and none of them or very little are actually mixed together. Since everything is under the same light, there should be some kind of relation with each of the colors.

Kristel

The Butcher said...

The Ant Bully poster clearly doesn't read. it's mashed all together. No use of negative shapes.

The Butcher said...

And of course, all the colors. Crap.

albino said...

i understand the coments on how the images are all center composed, and i understand that from a filmakers and artists standpoint it is very boring and cliche' but the thing to remember for the aplication that they are meant for they are effective considering that the standard viewer of these is a complete idiot who is more interested in what big name celebrity is doing the voice work

with that aside the ant bully is ugly because theres to much brown going on, to many drab earthy colors that are to similar making all the characters kind of blend together

shrek is ugly for SO MANY REASONS, of course the selling point of shrek is how many pop culture reference jokes they can cram into ever line so most people arent going to care if the art is ugly or awkward

i actualy enjoyed the movie monster house, there were some parts lacking, but i felt that for a cg movie it was easy on the eyes for the most part,,, the story was a little flat, and the poster art really isnt all that horrible except for the unfortunate treatment of the logo, it would of looked better flat than faux 3d

Fire Exit said...

Ant Bully: The main character is totally obscured by the tonnes of stringy annoying ants behind it.

A better composition would have the ants replacing the grass and leaving the 'ant-killer' there, maybe messing with the perspective a bit or choosing a more interesting stance, less symetrical stance. He looks like he's about to fall over backwards.

Not to mention that awful yellow!

Monster House: Why the hell is the title down there. Also the main characters seem to be blocking the mouth which ruins the whole house thats a face thing that's going on. In terms of framing, simply put, the trees are too distracting.

Shrek: Shrek is being chased by a dragon. Why the hell is he smiling? The really bright background doesn't particularly help them stand-out and considering that the dragon is really a minor plot character they could have gone for a different concept for the box. They're trying to get every single part of the spectrum in there.

Finally every single one of them has a line of reflection staight down the middle. It makes them look boring.

Fire Exit said...

I neglected to comment on the Shrek screen capture.

Too much detail! Looks like they hired someone to make the environment and there was absolutely no communication between the two. Theres just two colours here, blue and green. Two really bright garish colours and totally unnatural colours (when was the last time you saw blue slates). Shrek's facial expression which should be the main feature has been totally messed up by the crap behind it.

/\/\ikeB said...

ANT BULLY : Point of interest directly in the middle.

MONSTER HOUSE: Same thing, Horizon Line also looks like its smack dab in the centre of the poster.

SHREK : Shrek is right in the centre, the Horizon Line looks almost smack dab in the middle and Shrek's pose is incredibly blah.

Danne8a said...

The compositions reek and the symmetry of the characters is Boring, Boring BORING!
The mans hands in the first picture are perfectly symmetrical. Exactly!
Why?
Incidentally, me and my wife walked out on shrek when it first came out in theatres.
It was that horrible.
Am I missing something?

Freckled Derelict said...

There is no color difference between the background and main charcters in all these posters. Everything is the same, either overly bright or dingy dull so nothing pops..especially the main characters. None have the well thought out eye focus of the Mary Blair bird painting.

Danne8a said...

Sorry to get off topic here, John...
Another thing about these movies that stinks is their content!
I'm sorry, but comedy comes from characters and situations, Not the amount of times you can reference 'The Matrix', 'Britney Spears' and other pop culture nonsense!
Lord help us all.....

Anonymous said...

I think the Ant Bully Poster and top Shrek image are the worst. The perspective is a straight line, where a sphere would have been more dramatic and eye-catching. In the Ant Bully poster, it's garid colors galore. The colors on the first Shrek image are eye-piercingly wretched - as many others have said, chase scenes such as this aren't happy and joyful, so the characters and background shouldn't be either. The blue sky was the worst move apart from the smiling characters, as it doesn't exaggerate the flames and characters as much as it should, and just brings the image down as a whole. The sky not only takes away attention from the characters, but too many bright colors at once is blinding. @_@

bignipple said...

ok i'm not saying i'm a pro or anything but heres what i think

first picture

primary colors combined with shitty browns on the main characters which create a kind of feeling of disgust. in contrast, the villain and boring sky and grass actually have more vibrance and interest than the main characters, even thought they're in the background and not all that interesting. composition is too symmetrical. retarded perspective (vertical clouds) and weird white foggy shit in the middle of the page completely screws up the focal point of the picture by distracting the eye.

Sr. Moska said...

I think they're ok

I still miss when ren & stimpy, weren'r gay :(

I saw naked beach frenzy and stimpy was annoying, all new episodes they're too gay, no more clever jokes, just gay jokes :(

I know you will probably will delete this Mr K. But I hope you read it cuz my freinds and I used to be hardcore Ren & Stimpy fans back in the 90's

NARTHAX said...

Every one looks like it was art directed by executives standing over the artists'shoulders.

Anonymous said...

I'm trying my best to not look at any of the other answers... all of which probably already nailed every little thing to every little wall.

But here goes!

They all share overly symmetrical compositions. The main figures are framed exactly in the center of each image, thereby leading to non-dynamic, static imagery that lacks any interest or energy.

1. Ant Bully- Generic colors on the characters and the backgrounds. Red suit, a dull all-blue sky, with dull all-green grass and dirt that is also pretty much uniform. Looks like a big pile o' poo.

The central charcters are grouped in such a way as to be ridiculously busy. I can't tell at this scale, but I'd be willing to bet there are tangents out the ass in that mess. I really don't want to look too closely, it's dull.

2. Monster House. Unnaturally symmetrical trees, like they were duplicated and flopped in Photoshop. Murky colors, supposedly creating a feeling of dread but instead instilling one of ennui.

Despite a poor attempt at framing them with the magical door, the foreground figures don't pop... instead they blend into the background in a dull gray haze.

3. Shrek. Once again, dull generic colors. They're attempting to frame the figures with the flames (or massive spray of urine... hard to tell), but they're done in by lack of any silhouetting on Shrek and his buddies.

In silhouette, Shrek would basically look like a deformed potato balancing on a french fry.

The late Jack Kirby could've produced a thrilling version of this relatively simple composition with ease and in about 30 minutes, but the highly-paid compu-wank who actually did it botched it beyond belief and it probably took two weeks of render-time.

4. Shrek Redux- Beyond the shoddy composition, the colors are depressing, despite its supposedly sunny appearance. It looks like a gray haze. Monotonous, and the foreground figures don't pop at all. They recede.

The vegetation is also overly symmetrical and unnatural. It looks exactly like what it is- cloned 3D imagery. Shorthanded and lazy. Which is crazy because they probably spent $5,000 or more to produce this image.

I'm shocked this would be chosen as a publicity still from the movie. Nothing is happening. They're staring stupidly at the rubes who wasted their money on this crap.

They don't need to be dancing frantically in order to capture our attention... but they compete with each other, they're badly framed by overly-busy "negative" space and their poses have no form or silhouette.

The end.

Roberto González said...

Well, I guess I'm not very good at this...What I actually see is how bad the poses are in the majority of the posters. I think you are not asking for this right now, but there is not really line of action or exagerated poses on this stuff. I'll try, but I'm not sure if I'm going to get it right.

Ant bully poster has too vivid colors all through the picture, so everything is competing with everything else. The colors have no relation with the mood of the scene either, if it is supossed to have a mood. In fact the mood is extremely fake, cause some characters seem too happy, others angry and there is a dangerous man in the background. Too many things at the same time and like other people said, there isn't any space between them.

Monster House is clearly the best one in my opinion. I can't see too many problems in the colors or the background composition (other than it is not very imaginative and it could probably be darker). The kids could be more distant to each other and the line of action of their bodies could be more clear, though I think there is some sense of movement in the main character and the girl. The fat kid could be way more inclined to show more "action". I'm not sure if the trees have the right perspective.

Shrek poster has again too many things and too bright colors competing with each other and the whole concept seems a little silly, cause if they wanted to show the characters in a happy mood they should have chosen another situation from the movie! Other aspects have already been covered.

Shrek frame...It's difficult to me to point it out. One thing that looks completely wrong for me is that the characters seem to have not relation whatsoever with the background, but it's difficult to me to say why. It's true that like somebody said, the characters are too close to each other. Shrek's arm in particular is too next to Donkey and it seems like they are stick together in a unnatural way. Probably we should see the tree behind Shrek and Shrek should be fitting the blank space between the trees. In a similar fashion, Donkey could have been standing in the blank space after the other tree. Also, Donkey's pose is a lot more dynamic than Shrek's, who doesn't seem to be so surprised anyway. I actually think the colors in the background are nice, though (especially the houses in the right). Probably the image would work better if the characters were in a perspective more similar to that one in the background (looking to the right side of the image)or if the background had less elements in it.

FLAMINGPINECONE said...

First time commentor, bling bling!

Ant Bully: The only good thing about Aunt Bully is Bruce Campbell is in it. The poster first off has a blue sky, boooring and all the ants are clustered into the middle like a bizarre insectiod orgy.

Monster House: Best of the bunch, it's moderately well colored (save for navy blue sky) but the center leaves something to be desired. Also those two mirrored trees are retarded.

Shrek 1: Green, Green, Green, Red, Green. Blue sky. Green Green Green.

Shrek 2: Looks like the artist on Shrek could only buy the rights to about 5 colors, brown, grey, GREEN, blue and white. I thought the movie was funny if you ignored these flaws.

Pedro Vargas said...

They're all too damn symmetrical. They all have blue skies and the colors on the Shrek poster are way too flat. You can hardly read the woman and the donkey. They practically blend in with the yellow fire in the background. The ant poster is way too messy and the colors are flat and fake. All the ants look like a bunch of sticks mushed up together. I can't tell if they're ants form far away, I'd have to come close to see. The Monster House poster looks really boring and too symmetrical. The composition in these posters are all the same and show no artistic talent. They look like they were made by machines.

allamort said...

I always knew SOMETHING was wrong with those posters, my eyes would almost cross jumping from foreground and background, the perspective was so messed up...and those generic, glassy-eyed character designs that remind me of garishly-coloured anodized aluminum and porcelain- cold, soulless and WRONG. Even more depressing, there's so much potential gone to waste in that Monster House poster; the sky and house textures are great, but the kids seem airbrushed in, the perspective's wonky, the trees are a uncomfortably symmetrical, and the GREEN grass and RED logo just destroy what should be a creepy, oppressive mood.

Ted said...

"I'm sorry, but comedy comes from characters and situations, Not the amount of times you can reference 'The Matrix', 'Britney Spears' and other pop culture nonsense!"

So, all the pop culture references in classic Warner cartoons are unfunny, and don't lead to funny?
Imagine how unwatchable a cartoon about some schlocky print strip detective would be... or characters based on fleetingly popular comedians of the day... or entire series of cartoons based on the popular music library of a big multimedia corporation that basically wants to promote the stuff it already owns...

Jorge Garrido said...

Everyone is facing forward and the background is inconsequential. The background and foreground are unrelated and isolated. Also, they ignored the law of three's.

kungfukoi said...

These are gifts from the Symmetry faery!

JohnK said...

>>So, all the pop culture references in classic Warner cartoons are unfunny, and don't lead to funny? <<

They wouldn't be if that's all there was.

No one in 20 years is going to be laughing at Family Guy.

Anonymous said...

An outsider's opinion:
The title of this entry as well as some past posts would suggest you consider yourself a certain authority in the matter of all things art and animation. However watching some of Ren & Stimpy I think you're far from that. The directing work is just terrible. The scenes are badly connected and poorly timed. It appears like an episode is built from taking random scenes from a big-bag and pasting them all together in desperate hope they'll construct a whole. The most inapropriate scenes are often milked with an unknown goal and with an actual effect of total boredom inflicted on the viewer. The oldschool style can't compete with the good'ol Tex Avery and alike, and seems rather like a poor-excuse for a new-age-art-o-fobia (mmm word making Skillz). Also when watching my first episode of R&S I asked myself why are they playing some puertorican-dub version of the toon. Only later realizing with great surprise that it in fact was the orignal choice of the voice for Ren. Later seeing it was the voice of JK explained alot.
You might hate and dispize the commercial-hoe industries that make the main stream animations, but whether they crush creativity and give credit to the wrong people or not - they do a much better job.
I do watch R&S for the character animations which indeed have a very unique and quite gross style. The expressions are aslo memorable, gotta hand you that.
So summing up: "Ye without sin, cast the first stone..."

PCUnfunny said...

All three have the same problems:

Poor choice of color: All primary and highly un-appealing, straight out of the tube as you would say John.Third graders or retards chose these colors.

Horring Character designs: Too god damn realistic and bland! Were is the exagerration ?

And the most obvious problem of all,especially with the the two posters,is:

NOTHING FUNNY IS BEING SHOWN IN THESE PICTURES ! I thought these films are "cartoons", why on god's green earth whould you advertise them with a un-funny poster ?

Ted said...

Not all the humor in Family Guy is pop culture references. I think the humor of Stewie as a fey British baby trying to kill his mother and take over the world has a fairly universal appeal (uh, I guess that's the best way to put it), as is the characterization of Brian. Even Quagmire is a fairly universal character, in the same vein as a good chunk of the humor on Benny Hill. Many gags are not dependent on references (like the many robot jokes; but I'm a sucker for a good robot joke). Certain ripoffs are also inherently funny; Bugs Bunny saying "Of course you know, this means war" was funny to me long before I could connect it to the Marx Brothers, and Norm Macdonald as the voice of Death will probably remain funny due to Norm's delivery whether or not the kids of 2025 have ever heard of him.
That's not to say much of what people find funny about Family Guy now won't be lost as time goes on, but I think it's way overstating the case to say no one will laugh at Family Guy in 20 years, especially as 20 years means people still tied to the references will barely be into middle age.

Adam B said...

The character at the top of the Ant Bully poster has twinning-it is symetrical.The Shrek poster has all primary colours and the other Shrek picture the background is all grey and dreary.Boring/ugly characters and stories.

The Hyena said...

Seems to me that these aren't so much "cartoon" images as they are vehicles for the merchandise industry. There's ZERO personality in all of these. It's all fashion and no passion. Maybe im stupid, but the only way I can get through these movies is to not even consider them cartoony or animated. Just look at it from a "live action movie" perspective, and even then, it's like watching the old Thunderbirds" shows, with out the charm.
I don't advertise myself as a cartoonist or anything so I feel like I can't have an opinion, however I have been a life long fan and things just seem to have different motivation now, and that's the reason they have no real charm anymore. There are a few exceptions, but not many.

-The Hyena

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

The direct pop culture references in Looney Toons was usually kept neatly packed into those neat Hollywood party cartoons.

The rest of the time it was subtle, like Bugs showing up in a specific movie actress' wardrobe, it's funny without knowing who they're spoofing because drag on any cartoon character is funny.

Family Guy's only joke is "HEY LOOK AT THIS ZANY POP CULTURE REFERENCE HAHA ARE WE FUNNY YET?!"

Oh and Meg is fat. Haha good one Seth "Boss of Applesauce" MacFarlene!

katzenjammer studios said...

Yeah, John! Can you talk about timeless cartoons sometime? Stress how Chuck Norris won't be funny next week and stuff.

sean said...

its funny, my prefessors have told me in the past that the art market these days they love bright flashy stuff. which is what this stuff is. they like clean things, not the least bit dirty. flawless. really overdone gradients.
it all sucks.

elephantmarchblog said...

I think it's because the characters are in the exact centre of the stage and things are basically symettrical on either side (The trees with monsters house, the grass with antbully). The Ant Bully has the very predictable color scheme that dreamworks seems to have. The sky blue, the grass green, the ground brown.
In all honesty, I know these are exactly the same things you already told me, so it's quite possible I'm just repeating what you said. But then I suppose that the point isn't it.

My second favorite cartoon on tv at the moment is that Antinucci fellow's "Ed Edd and Eddy". The color of sky is different in almost every episode, and the design element is nothing but assymetry. Is that what you've been talking about?

Hryma said...

When it comes to cartoons your my hero John but I'm not going to kiss your behind and agree with everything you say, I reckon I'll be laughing at Family Guy in 20 years.
I will agree that 3D's shit.

Shawn said...

That stuff sucks.

David Germain said...

No one in 20 years is going to be laughing at Family Guy.

Well, noone within the demographic they've mostly appealled to anyway. What's happened there essentially is that the stupid yet "cool" kids in high school have deemed Family Guy to be good so therefore all the little wannabe's that look up to those cool kids also watch Family Guy in an attempt to hang with them. This unfortunately is a very fickle group to appeal to, so yeah they'll be dropping it like a hot Furrby sometime in the future. I mean Married With Children was accepted by that very same demographic a little over 10 years ago and where are they now?

Maybe the types of people who appreciate shows from any era (like me) will still appreciate the banter between Stewie and Brian well passed 2026, but I'm sure a majority of people won't.

Oh, and all those posters are terrible because everything is dead center and the colours are boring........ *takes needle off broken record, puts on a Bo Diddley B-side*

Anonymous said...

So, First not all 3d is shit! The very idea of that makes no sense, that would be like saying expressionism as a movement was crap so we can take nothing from it! How can you say that all of pixars films are crap and justify it? It is not the fault of the medium when things fail! It is the artist driving the machine that is being driven by an exec!

Also these films are what they are because of limitations on software, and studio execs that have no idea what the hell they are talking about rubbing pennies together the whole time! John of all people should be able to tell you what it is like to have to produce on a schedule that has been nickled and dimed to death!
No one really gets this until they work in an environment structured like this!

These films all host solid forms of acting, staging, and posing that should be looked at for that alone if nothing else. Denouncing it as shit right off the bat is the wrong
method. Learn from these mistakes, If you are serious about this you are the future of this industry and should do what you can to better it!
The times are changing rapidly, the consumer is aware of what is wrong in the animation industry and the box office reports reflect this. The
structure will be re-evaluated and you can have a say in this with hard work! Preston blair will not teach you how to be the best, he will teach smoke and mirror drawing tips that will only take you so far! If this was considered to be the only way to draw well then why did we stop using it? Not everyone is too greedy or lazy to want create the best art they can so thats a no, The reason is so that everything does not look the same. Kind of like what 3d is going through now, huh? We have a method for creating things it's easy, makes money, Makes suit guy happy, and we get paid! It does not make it right.
Look back on the life of everyone whom is heralded as a god of this industry and they have no cartoon school training just real studies of fine art! Life drawing is the most important way to better yourself as a whole! Developing a formula is like cutting off your own feet, it does not make any sense! If everything could be learned from a book then where are all the real prodigies?

While I agree that they are not the greatest films they still have a place, for kids!!! So you can sit here and thrash on the posters of movies that people busted their asses on that may not have been that perfect, or we can put our money where our mouth is and step up to the plate!

Roberto González said...

Just a little comment here: since you chose the posters (though your points could have been made if you have chosen all framegrabs from the same movies too)...is there any good posters in history of animation? Cause the classic feature posters were often done by other artist and sometimes the art wasn't very good either, well, the character design was sometimes poor, though the colors and composition were often more clever and original.

Besides, when it comes to good modern posters I think The Nightmare Before Christmas had some decent ones, am I right about this or do you see problems in them too?

Antikewl said...

"Family Guy's only joke is "HEY LOOK AT THIS ZANY POP CULTURE REFERENCE HAHA ARE WE FUNNY YET?!""

Exactly.

http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1715277

Anonymous said...

John could you give some good modern examples to contrast the bad that you are giving?
Not just the older ones?
Tell us what you think is good today and not just the bad?

-Marc.

Roberto González said...

Humm...the Monster House SECOND poster thechrisproject linked is actually quite better. The tree is placed too next to the house but other than that it is more original than the more familiar poster. Even the pose in the kid is actually a tad better.

Simon said...

Taco Jack said: "If the trees are all dead, why is the grass so lush and green?"

Hey Taco Jack, I have to wonder if you walk outside every winter and mutter to yourself: 'Huh. The trees are all dead again, and yet the grass seems OK. Bizarre! Same thing happened last year!"

David Germain said...

Oh, and by the way, I know this is off topic and several months too late, but I vastly improved my drawing of Mr. Jude Law that was for your contest back in March or something. Better late than never, right? ;)

Matt Greenwood said...

"I will agree that 3D's shit."

I don't think that's what he said.

In 20 years, Family Guy will seem dated. No matter how much you like it now, you can't deny that with a show that uses pop culture references as such a crutch will hold up in time. I'm not saying it's not funny now, but no one will laugh at He-Man jokes in decades to come.

benj said...

First of all, I'd like to thank you John for sharing all those theories with us. I dont always comment, but I read your blog on a daily basis and I'm still doing the The $100,000 Animation Drawing Course... Im still posting drawings and (if you got some time) I'd like to know what you think or if you got some tips, just to know if I'm heading in the right direction.

Here's the thing!

Thanks and keep it up!

Oh!.... and heres my try at tearing up the pics you posted:
(even if you already told us the correct answer...:/)

Ant Bully: No silhouettes (why they didn't put the guy's thumbs in silouhette?), everything is in the middle, no negative space... except for the little boy's crotch.

Monster House: Symmetry all over the place.

Shrek:a weird & ugly green on a pure (primary) yellow BG, nice symmetry :/, no silhouette at all, ... they're running for their life and their smiling like idiots.

Arschblog said...

I don´t like the most computer animation stuff. It´s the same stuff over and over again (crazy stories, crazy gags, crazy colors, crazy characters), the most important things are that the movie is crazy and that they can sell their merchandise stuff. They don´t know the important things in cartoons, computerstuff looks so cold and dead. Boring.

Jorge Garrido said...

On closer inspection, the characters in the Monster Houseimage arne't facing forward, but it's like they're in front of a flat background instead of a new 3D world, like in thoe Eager Beaver pictures. The tree in the Eager Beaver picture serves a purpose. In the posters it's window dressing.

Ken M said...

The thing that depresses me about the first few examples here and for modern poster/promotional art for movies in general is that they are supposed to be selling us on a visual medium. The hallmark of movies, animated or otherwise, should be strong images. That's supposed to be the one storytelling edge they have over literature (and radio).

If you cannot mine an entire film and come up with even one strong image for a one sheet, why would I buy a ticket or even rent it? Promotional art for live action films has devolved to dull arrangements of actors' faces. Even if you believe audiences buy tickets based solely on who is in the cast, there's no excuse to do this for an animated film, yet they seem to be enamored of boring symmetrical arrangements of characters, too.

In addition to the graphic diaster that is the "Shrek" poster, something about the way they are all smiling while running (and karate kicking?) away from a fire breathing dragon makes me think that the poster artist should be scaling back his Lithium dosage.

Gabriel said...

You might hate and dispize the commercial-hoe industries that make the main stream animations, but whether they crush creativity and give credit to the wrong people or not - they do a much better job.

Huh??? I completely understand people coming here to bash John K and Ren & Stimpy. Not that I agree. But what kills me is to see people defending crap. A much better job than a 4 year old, maybe, yeah...

JohnK said...

>>So, First not all 3d is shit! The very idea of that makes no sense, that would be like saying expressionism as a movement was crap so we can take nothing from it!<<

Many of these films cost a fortune. Way more than 2d cartoons. CG has been around now for about 15 years. Plenty of time to make some advances, yet it is till totally primitive. They can't do convincing walk cycles, lip synch, acting and characters can barely even touch each other.

Even if they didn't cost a fortune, it doesn't cost extra money to hire a real character designer and layout and color artists who at least know basic art principles.

These are the movie posters. You would think they'd use some halfway professional layout to sell the movie to you, yet they are completely amateurish.

Jeff said...

would it be possible for you to speak at my university? Texas State in San Marcos, Texas. preferrably at my graduation, May 2008, but a design seminar will also do.

Eric Brandt said...

Well, for one thing: Shrek is one of the most disgusting characters in popular culture. I still have a hard time explaining to my non-cartoonist friends that, "Yes Shrek is supposed to be a gross ogre, but he could be a gross ogre who looks appealing.

One non-visual thing I am reminded of is the situation in modern animation with this obsession with hiring big-name stars to voice roles. I always find it distracting and these people aren't trained to voice cartoon characters. I think this trend got in full-force when Robin Williams played that sick genie in Aladin. It's too bad they need big name film stars to draw people to poor films.

Also, How many damn computer-generated ant-related movies do we need? Antz, Bugs Life, that other one... and now Ant Bully? Are kids way into ants?

Vincent Waller said...

"It is the artist driving the machine that is being driven by an exec!"

Who is driving?
Artists on the wheel and Execs at the pedals?

Saw Monster House last night. It looked like it would been a very dark interesting story before the water was added.

Anonymous said...

The Shrek poster looks as if it's an advertisement for botox and casual jogging.

I think these artist need to look elsewhere besides their 4th grade spin art for inspiration.


John, do you have a take on the minimalist music vs jazz debate? (is there a debate? i like both anyway)

Anonymous said...

more detailed thoughts;

Even the Monster House poster uses TV box colors: blue sky, green grass, yellow lamp-light, grey sidewalk, poo-children. You'd thing that they might stray from TVbox when attempting to convey creepy/weird situation.

As far as CGI rendering it seems that one has to go against the nature of the technology to add any artistic touches. The software automatically renders shrek's shadows as dirty puke (pooed-up puke). Everything in the background is in perfect focus all the time. Highly distracting. in order to simplifiy the background, you'd either have to render different backgrounds for each shot (much like cel animation), or you'd have to invent focus and color filters to fine tune the backgrounds. To me, neither sounds incredibly difficult to do but these animators misdirect all their efforts into rendering every imaginable (and unnecessary) detail into the backgrounds. That's fine for video games where the idea is to explore a simulated environment. However, these are high-paced films with a fixed viewpoint in each frame. They should be read easily and quickly.

Anonymous said...

I just noticed another thing about the Shrek poster. They blurred silhouettes into the flames behind the 3 fore characters. What a cheap fix to the cluttering! And it doesn't even work!

In fact, they do the same thing for the other 2 posters. In Monster House they put that inexplicable light spot where the kids are because no one thought to make the house and the kids separate colors.

The Ant Bully poster fades the ant hill and the exterminator's legs in attempt to make the image legible. It still doesn't work! Moreover, it makes the ant hill a color worse than poo: faded poo!

The ants' cast shadows have no perspective. They're just vertical reflections. And how can the cast shadows point towards the viewer when the small characters' obvious light source is from the left? Meanwhile, the exterminator's light source is on the right. This movie must take place on an alien planet with at least 3 suns. Obviously, this poster was composed out of random character clippings rendered by separate people and shoved on the desk of some random production artist who never composed anything 2-D in his life.

Kali Fontecchio said...

Ah! I fell out of the loop!

3D is super ugly, I've known that since the first time I saw some laserdiscs of pixar crap in the 80s. Little did I know then that they would take over the industry and compel other companies to make shitty 3D movies. They shouldn't have released any until it looked good ( if it ever reaches that stage). It seems like if they have a hard time keeping the character from walking through the floor, they'd have an even harder time making it cartoony. They should just stick to what 3d is good at, copying real objects for commercials to cut the cost of filming expenes. No more "animal" movies.

I already saw a preview for one that is coming out next year about surfing penquins, and everyone around me who saw it said, "ooh, the water looks so realistic!" No one said anything about the characters etc. because it's all crap!

Eric C. said...

John, If I may ask. With the Preston Blair lessons. What is the main thing that makes the students drawings better? The construction technique and details or the 40s way of cartooning or both?
Just of curiosity of the main ingredient.
_Eric ;)

Eric C. said...

"No one in 20 years is going to be laughing at Family Guy."

John, if I could reply to your comment and say what I think in my opinion, even if no one on this blog cares I feel everyone has a say. For example, there was a satire puppet show for adults in the UK called "Spitting Image" that satired both 1980s pop culture and politics. It's been of the air 10 years ago and I've resently discovered it last year. I didn't know any of their targets, but laughed like hell. And so I did some research and found the sources from their parodies and satires.

In my opinion, I believe this becomes very educational for the veiwer in who is curious and interested.

_Eric ;)

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if just repeating things, but I find the Princess' (Can't remember her name for the life of me) pose in the first Shrek poster to be awkward. She's running away from a fire-breathing dragon, yet she looks like she's trying to do some sort of flying kick. Then again, everyone's smiling for some reason, so maybe the dragon's just trying to play some kind of game.

Anonymous said...

well, although i almost completely agree with you on how the 'pee pee and poo poo' colors make a boring image, i don't agree with you on what they do to the mood, i don't think 'the triplets of belleville' could have been done any other way. the lack of vibrant, gorgeous colors helped reflect the mood. and eric c's post (down there) is simply too critical. agreed, traditional animation is a gazillion times more fun for the eye, but if all those artist who do computer animation aren't really artists, then why has the form of animation taken over? i am also anxiously awaiting the new tenacious d music video, the first one was excellent.
-tyler

I second that! said...

"John could you give some good modern examples to contrast the bad that you are giving?
Not just the older ones?
Tell us what you think is good today and not just the bad?"

Yeah, do it! I'm honestly curious to see what you consider "good" modern animation.

Anonymous said...

I can't watch CGI animation. It looks too shiny, perfect (something that doesn't exist), and too squeaky clean. I always prefered cel animation, and primarily 2D animation. I wouldn't be enticed to go see any of those films based on the promotional posters

Vanoni! said...

I don't think that's a fair comparison, Eric!

Spitting Image had a very political agenda behind it. Being topical was in the nature of the show.

Family Guy has no agenda. It's just supposed to make you laugh. To do that they make jokes about Tony Robbins and the poor quality of UPN's television lineup.

Those topics may be funny to some people now but I find it hard to believe anyone will find them educational in 20 years!

Back to deconstructing crappy composition and the $100,000 animation course!

Desiree said...

Hi John!

Ant bully. The man doesn't look huge or threatening at all. The sky uses up more space than he does. His legs are in the wrong perspective and why are they washed out? To highlight his face?? Which is too detailed and which I can't really look at because of the stupid gear that hes wearing and hat and I cant recognize his profession. Actually everything is out of perspective and whats that brown mess behind the boy? i dont remember.

Monster House, really really bad font. The only thing i really see and like is the forest background. it's pretty and very realistic and has nothing to do with the film and doesn't serve its purpose of framing the house and the kids which im supposed to be looking at. The kids are ordinary and I don't see any intersting personality traits in any of their poses or designs or clothes.

Shrek?? I fucking hate that shit. If i passionately hate anything it's shrek. its cold and hard and metallic and i Feel NOTHING! Its a green man with a marionette for a girl friend in a gray baren land. the screenshot looks washed out and metallic.theres no weight. They don't look like theyre standing on the ground. Very hard edges everywhere, no color no contrast. The sky is bleak and dead. Its a moving polygon world. Loads of mocap. Too much talking. blabla. Why do adults like it? Cus they made CG mud? I fucking hated it! It was a pure moneysucker!! Greedy greedy humans made that film happen.

Anonymous said...

Cgi anime never generates any real laughs. Theres stuff in there that they want you to find funny but isn't. Most people working with plastercine or 2D have the potenial to make people laugh because it's much more cuter and less digitally sickening. Smoke me bagel on the barbie!

Desiree said...

OH and also Shrek looks like hes floating probably from the color of his pants, or is it his gray shirt that blends in with the background?? Is it the donkey blocking the sun from hitting his legs?? How many suns are on this set anyway?? theyre in a desert or something. Couldn't they matt paint the houses?? theyre so cold and have no mass or don't look like u can go inside them.

Anonymous said...

When you've already convinced yourself that everything modern that isn't from spumco = bad, then it naturally becomes difficult to appreciate some of the finer points of compositioning. I like how everyone here was so eager to critisize everything they possible could without mentioning anything that they DID like about it - y 'know, like a REAL compositions critic/observer would do. With that said, I'll continue on with my critique - likely to be deleted by the king of Spumco Nazi-ism, John K himself...

One thing you have to remember about these posters/ads are that they are part of marketing strategy. They have to [VERY quickly - as in the first 2.15 seconds] communicate a simple, direct, and easy to understand message whilst enticing the viewer to learn more about or just go ahead and see the movie. When the casual movie goer walks by a poster they are barely even aware the poster has edges for the first 2.15 seconds. For the first 2.15 seconds, the casual movie goer's brain will only recognize about 1, maybe 2 characters before gaining a good understanding of what the poster might be about. It's too easy for the casual movie goer to lose interest after 2.15 seconds. I know that kind of catagorizes most people to having serious attention span deprivations, but you've got to look at the global big picture - if you can't grab interest in those short seconds, everything else done to the poster was for waste of energy. With that said, I feel it is unfair to judge ads so unfairly. These posters are most commonly first seen either on the internet or in front of movie theatres - you've got to think about how long your viewer plans on spending time staring at the poster - build your design strategy on that. Everything appears to be in the center because psychologically it is much easier to guid your attention to what is directly in your field of view. However, on some of those posters they could have done even that much better. There are other ways to communication, but I wont go into detail on that.

On the ant Bully poster, if you look at the sky, you'll see that there is no sky. It's more of an allusion than a sky. The "sky" isn't really "there" because the space that occupies it doesn't serve as a sky. Thats why we don't see much detail there - you can pull of some decent detail there if you wanted, but then again, it might not be completely necessary. That space primarily serves to illustrate how you should be feeling about the character in front of the "sky". Thats what really counts - the purpose of the poster would not benifit too greatly from anything else - only to make things a little more complicated then they might need to be. You don't even see 80% of the characters until about 3 seconds into staring at the poster. In a way that benifits the composition - the viewer would only have to register the main character and "Ant Bully" without having his/her field of vision too clogged by other elements. However, those other elements tend to appear after the 3rd second when our viewer is mentally ready to recieve them. Monster house is the same way. All you really see is the caption "Monster House" and the house that obviously looks like a monster. Then about 1 1/2 seconds later you see our main protagonists - which serve as icons that imply "plot" for the first time to the viewer. If you were to ask me about the movies THEMSELVES I'd give you a whole essay on how they critically lacked in the writing and visual arts department despite their state-of-the-art CGI technology, but thats a completely different story for a completely different time. Shrek looks very generic. Cinematography in CGI animated films have never really astounded me - but then again a good handful of them don't really need them. Regardless of how badly drawn out the characters looked or how uninteresting the colors were, or how boring the composition meshed, a lot of the enjoyment and value for some of these films was held together by proper storytelling. I don't care if you're making a film out of stick figures, if you have good story telling it really doesn't matter quite as much. Film is a gift of culture - its one of many storytelling methods we as humans have developed. If critical aspects of a film EX "OMG the trees aren't dark enough - just look at that composition, omg how ugly" keep you from enjoying film then I dunno, you miight be out. learn how to appreciate the story, no matter how lame the visuals are. One of the most important lessons you'll ever learn about WATCHING film. Strive to draw excelent compositions regardless though.

Again, sure, artistically these compositions could have been much better orchestrated, but the psychology behind how the viewer will register these images still play an important factor. The viewer just isn't quick enough to soak in the entire composition immediately, the brain just isn't quick enough. Should you sacrifice artistic merit to better acheive the goal the ad was designed to acheive? - Artists will hate me when I say yes. The end result is just much better for business. I'm an artist too [one of very few who actually think this way] - but this is a business as well. For individual art pieces, these pics do not work very well at all - but for ads, they get the point across, I think, with fairly decent accuracy. Any deviation from making the poster any more or less marketable will take away from how well said poster fulfills purpose. Sometimes you've just gotta learn how to GET OVER IT in order to work in unity with said business.

Anonymous said...

"I like playing in a band because it's actually fun and no one tells you to be lousy on purpose."

- JohnK

For all those that appear to be blaming the artists for these messes, can I refer you to the above statement from from Mr K.
I'll put all the money I have that artists had very little to do with these posters, character designs, story etc.

The industry is at a very different place than it was when our beloved classics were made. Authorship is a dirty word in the current studio system where monkey faced marketeers rule - at least, it's a title they'd certainly not want to bestow upon just an "artist", what do they know about selling a movie.

Good old fashioned authorship and consistency is what's missing here, the rest is just details.

Ben Becker said...

I can see some issues with the posters, but some things have to be taken into account. Poster design is more about the advertising. For example, the centered approach can help bring (and keep) attention to the product. If you look at a lot of posters, centering is quite common. The Ant Bully poster has two triangles (one with the grass, leading the eye to main character). The other(legs), is leading the eye to the Bully and title. Check out Polish posters. I always ask: "Does this stand out?" when looking at posters. Remember, all of these ads have to visually compete with other movie ads in the marquee.

Anonymous said...

All I see here is a bunch of hypocritical ass kissers. Although I agree with the lacking of compositon, and color styling of these movie posters, I guarentee 99% of the people that have left comments bashing 3D animated movies have seen and enjoyed Pixar movies. If anyone can seriously say that they absolutely despised "Finding Nemo" or "The Incredibles" is probably completely full of shit. I assume everyone here is a fan of "animation" and have witnessed the advent of a new way of story telling. Thats all 3D is. Just a differnt medium. Toy Story was in fact made by all 2D animators. I agree that there is now an abundence of crappy 3D animated films but there a good ones as well. Its not taking over, its just a current trend. Its good that some shitty 3D movies have been released for the fact that its not the computer that makes the movie, its the writing, the story, and most importantly, the characters. This is true for live action, cartoons, and for 3D animation.

TP said...

3D animation is having the same problems now that traditional animation has had for a long time. If you look at the concept art for some of these 3D movies, it's gorgeous! But very little of it makes it to the final movie because it gets changed over and over again by non-creative people. Open Season and Monster's Inc are the best looking 3D movies yet. It's no coincidence that these films held to the original designs that the artists initially created.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

In terms of the composition, all three posters are the same. It's purely a cut-and-paste job, like a Photoshop template. And we sit here and wonder why movie posters have become so absolutely fucking boring. Yuck.

The thing I hate most about today's movie posters? The taglines. I bloody hate those things; it's as if they're composed by people who couldn't hack it writing Hallmark cards. Double yuck.

Final, and possibly worst, crime? The screenshot from Shrek, which reminds me of Eddie Murphy's singing at the end. OWW!!! Stop singing! Eddie Murphy singing a Smash Mouth cover of a Neil Diamond song that was recorded by The Monkees?!

I think my head is going to explode from the hurting.

TP said...

You know John, I was thinking about it, and I think a lot of this crap gets through because the people that pay for it and are calling the shots think animation is a childrens medium, and they underestimate children. This has happened with all modern media, including books. If it's "for children," don't pay extra for the art. Isn't that sad?

JohnK said...

>>Its good that some shitty 3D movies have been released for the fact that its not the computer that makes the movie, its the writing, the story, and most importantly, the characters.<<

The CG stories are no better or worse than the 2D stories. They all use the same formulas.

But this post is about bad layout and design, not about CG VS 2d.

JohnK said...

>>Remember, all of these ads have to visually compete with other movie ads in the marquee.<<

How do you compete when everything is the same? My no-idea poster will outsell the other guy's no-idea poster?

JohnK said...

>>Again, sure, artistically these compositions could have been much better orchestrated, but the psychology behind how the viewer will register these images still play an important factor.<<

An excerpt from a long-winded, round-about excuse for bad art that does not attract your eye or sell anything.

I can't believe the lengths some dimwits will go to justify no thought at all.

Anonymous said...

I just forced myself to watch some Shrek and Pixar clips on Youtube. Out of about 300 combined shots only a handful didn't have dead-center compositions. and most times if something WAS off-center it was because it just moved FROM the center. I was actually amazed . It seems as if they even forced some shots to be dead center. They centered subjects I didn't think could be composed that way. Simply amazing how dreadful this crap is.

Anonymous said...

>>Again, sure, artistically these compositions could have been much better orchestrated, but the psychology behind how the viewer will register these images still play an important factor.<<

An excerpt from a long-winded, round-about excuse for bad art that does not attract your eye or sell anything.

I can't believe the lengths some dimwits will go to justify no thought at all.


I think some people get jealous of all these smart cartoonists in the room and decide to disagree just to feel better about themselves. I bet if everyone was talking about how awesome we thought Monster house was they'd be denouncing THAT with same fervor.

Also-wise, yes I have enjoyed Pixar films. Some of the writing is good. The visuals can be fun in that they are a spectacle. However, I dont tfind myself appreciating them on any artistic level. Spectacles have almost no repeat value. it's OOO AHHH and then it's been there done that. I can watch Chuck Jones all day, but i rarely crave to see the likes of Finding Nemo. Some people maybe be satisfied by surface and glamor. That's great/ But some people like to go farther. That's what John's about. That's why we're all here; we're trying to figure out how to take things to the next level. Part of that is learning what to avoid. We're not here to attack poster designers for sheer schadenfreude. They just happen to really suck and deserve all the criticism we throw at them in the process.

FUCK! i could have been oogling girls but instead have to get long-winded.

Ben Becker said...

Hot Damn! You go for the jugular! Just trying talk about the advertisement side of the images.

Ben Becker said...

Nevermind John, You called Anonymous a "dimmwit". I found your comment to me "No-poster idea" (I agree, NO creativity). Wow, Anonymous called you a Nazi. I can see why you said "dimmwit".

Ben Becker said...

In your opinion, is there any decent animation coming out of the U.S. right now?

JohnK said...

I like Gorillaz, but that's UK, right?

Hammerson said...

Well, nearly everything's been said about these posters, so I won't repeat the same things. Just want to add that Ant Bully poster is one of the worst, most wretched pieces of "art" that I've ever seen. It took me only 2.15 seconds to realize this, and for the next ten minutes I stared in vain at that damned thing trying to find anything positive, any trace of skill or creativity... It looks like cut and paste job by some moronic producer or exec. They could have hired a real artist for the tiny fraction of the money paid to those four "voice-actors".
Shrek poster is almost on the equal level of suckiness, while the "Monster House" has some redeeming points. It's relatively effective, though still far from being good (that title font really ruined it for me).

Ben Becker said...

yep. Good concept for a band.

Anonymous said...

Hot Damn! You go for the jugular! Just trying talk about the advertisement side of the images.

i was going to make a point about the advertizing side, but John already expressed it very well. Arguing that crappy designs are good advertisements is completely invalid. Good design captures the eye better than the saem old bulls-eye targets. Interesting compostions draw the viewer IN and make them want to look for more than 2.2 seconds. On the other hand, that jumble of pee-poo ants camoflouged over a pee-poo background just makes my head hurt if i try to read the image. In a good design i would actually be able to tell wha ti'm seeing at first glance.

Good Design = Good Advertising

People ≠ Ain't So Stupid

The Gaber's Sketchblog said...

There are no Boobs. Ant boobs don't count, and neither does Shrek's. There isn't any beer drinking, or guys getting drunk and trying to get girls with boobs (see first sentence.)

Ben Becker said...

John,
I wanted to thank you for two things.
First, the idea of "never draw the same drawing twice" approach. Second, the idea of "learn how to draw what you see correctly, don't copy style." I mentioned the info on your blog to an ex-Disney animator (phil young). He said it was a damn shame how many students he teaches want to emulate the results of their idols without emulating their knowledge.

Jorge Garrido said...

Notice John didd't put any Pixar posters in this thing? That's because Pixar is awesome.

Ken M said...

I don't get the people who posted like they were responding to an "everything new sucks" post. The original post featured several particularly bad examples and invited comment on their badness. The stuff in the original post was graphically uninteresting and representative of some of the worst modern tendencies for reasons that have been well established. If you are concerned that an "everything sucks" attitude is infecting the discussion, you are better served by pointing out something good rather than defending crap.

Personally, I liked some of the posters and one sheets for the Pixar movie "Cars". The better ones had interesting compositions and managed to create layouts that overcame the fact that the characters were inherently symmetrical machines. While there may be things that could be better about them, they were not the home runs of graphic ineptitude on display in the original post.

PCUnfunny said...

Damn did that Anonymous user with huge physcho-bable post miss the point,the posters suck because of bad construction and coloring, it's as simple as that.

The Hyena said...

Yeah, Jamie Hewlett, the guy who does the Gorillaz stuff is UK. Same dude who did the Tank Girl comics. His stuff is great!
I'm glad John mentioned somethingmodern that he feels is a good example.
For some reason I was wondering his feelings on stuff like Venture Bros., Samurai Jack, and some of the other more current animation. I fit's not too much trouble...

The Hyena

Anonymous said...

"i was going to make a point about the advertizing side, but John already expressed it very well. Arguing that crappy designs are good advertisements is completely invalid. Good design captures the eye better than the saem old bulls-eye targets. Interesting compostions draw the viewer IN and make them want to look for more than 2.2 seconds. On the other hand, that jumble of pee-poo ants camoflouged over a pee-poo background just makes my head hurt if i try to read the image. In a good design i would actually be able to tell wha ti'm seeing at first glance.

Good Design = Good Advertising"

Don't misread my paragraph/essay. You can have a good design AND good advertising. These needless to say, produce some of the better ads. However, unfortunately you can still have bad design and good advertising. These examples weren't very 'awsome by any stretch of the imagination, but they get their job done fairly decently.

Anonymous said...

My god, talk about a piece of crap, center aligned composition. What was he thinking?

www.arlindo-correia.com/020602.html

Anonymous said...

I was trying to think of some lame reason these centered symmetry designs even -exist-, from a marketing standpoint. I'm sure there is probably a similar pose without text, to lend to print media, that may want to plaster their own text on either side. That is, they are giving some art director, some layout hack who wants something centered, something centered.

But as someone mentioned, seeing similar scenes in the cg movies, it might be a side effect of how animation is rigged, the views shown to the puppeteer (or animator if you will call them that) by the software, that decent layout and composition falls by the wayside.

Remember, at least for the Pixar films, they go through and RESTAGE for the 3:4 NTSC ratio-- staging for widescreen and TV sized screens.

Hryma said...

I have seriously used 3d programs, there is no soul in it, it is easy to use but limitless and as John said "it has been around for fifteen years!" and it dosen't seem to be getting any better. There might be an artform to modelling in 3D but to animate in it is dull, it dosen't beat making something with your own two hands, that's talent! To all the tech geeks learn the roots.

Yes 3D is shit!

S.G.A said...

Monster house stands out a bit from these, as far as facial ticks and movements That I haven't seen in the other junk, I remember a moment when that chubby kid actually emoted.... beyond that I can't find anything positive to say. My son wouldn't even watch shrek 2, He said, " I don't think kids like this, cuz I don't ."
So we stopped watching it
When I was a kid my mother took me to see the Go-bots- Rocklord movie, we didn't last but 10 minutes . i knew it was garbage.

Have you seen day time kids shows?
Pre - Scholl stuff? I could write an entire blog on that myself .
If you think the movies you posted here were bad watch an afternoon or 2 of different networks kiddie tv , it's mind numbing and kind of scary.

S.G.A said...

If you want it Make it happen yourself! It's good to have this blog, to wake us up, and get like minds together and get the gears turning.

I kinda ,sort of saw a few things in monster house, that was a step in in a better direction .
For one no crummy references to other pop culture stuff that isn't funny,that is to write' " no Matrix parody stuff etc.." Burt still you know , ehhh !

The GagaMan(n) said...

Seems Dreamworks haven't learned much since the first Shrek film, have a look at this dreadful preview shot from 2007's Shrek the Third:

http://www.cartoonbrew.com/archives/futureofcg.jpg

I think I'm gonna be sick looking at that.

Boris Hiestand said...

the difference is that Monster House is a terrific film that has little to do with animation; all the others are absoliute GARBAGE but very animated.

Art direction wise they could all be a lot better- Shrek being the worst saturated piece of shit ever. Again, Moster House comes out best!