Saturday, January 13, 2007

Animation School. Lesson 9: Model sheets/Steve's gift to young cartoonists who thirst for knowledge

Construction

Line Of Action

Fluid Poses


Clear silhouettes, using negative shapes

Appeal and cuteness
This is a very serious message from me to you if you ever want to work on real cartoons, not phony-ass flat Nick stuff.

You have to teach yourself the principles of good animation drawing, because no school will teach you and I can't afford to train you on the job. I'm starting a new studio soon and need cartoonists, but do the work you need to.

All the most important things you need to know about drawing animation are in these model sheets I lifted from Steve's great Animation Archive.
http://www.animationarchive.org/












Do what I did when I was your age. Copy them all and learn the underlying concepts in these great drawings:

Construction
Line Of Action
Fluid Poses
Clear silhouettes
Appeal and cuteness

You kids have a head start. All this stuff was hard to find when I broke into the industry. Now you can just go to the animation archive and see some of the best cartoon and illustration art in history, and then come here to have me pick out the stuff that is the cream of the crop and the quickest to learn from.

Not every old model sheet is great. These are. I weeded the weaker ones out for you.

Take advantage and stop drawing flat and lifeless! If you can do it, then you can help me save cartoons.

If you have talent, and you copy these things carefully, and then apply the principles to your own drawings, you will learn very fast and you will be able to adapt to any style. Once you work at Nick or Cartoon Network, you can easily dumb down your ability. If you work for me, you will learn even more, but learn the principles on your own.

56 comments:

Mcnuggetinator said...

Finally another lesson! I copy from model sheets all the time, mostly the one's on Klangley's blog. I've also been copying a lot from Bob Clampett cartoons and have been learning a lot from them too. Could you post an example of a weaker model sheet?

Anonymous said...

You've inspired me once again John to draw!
I put some storyboards I did of Jones' "what's Opera Doc" If you have some time I'd love to know what you think about them. It's similar in fashio to what you are preaching in this post, I am learning, drawing the poses, and trying to understand why shots were chosen.
Thanks John
Josh Lieberman
http://kn8ian.blogspot.com

Max Ward said...

A new studio?!! Oh my god, I hope you will still have a studio by the time I am old enough to get into the industry. I've been working so hard these past few months to be able to reach your standards, but I still need a few years! Just thinking about working for you makes me so excited!

Anonymous said...

That Donald's Date model sheet is awesome. Thanks for all the lessons. Especially the layout and background stuff.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, men...I really need this for my short animation movie..
Bye.

Anonymous said...

I started copying the stuff you post just a week ago, and I've been reading the blog everyday for almost a year. And what can I say?, this material is the most useful thing I can imagine. Thanks, thanks, thanks, thanks, thanks-thanks-thanks, thanks.

Anonymous said...

I started copying the stuff you post just a week ago, and I've been reading the blog everyday for almost a year. And what can I say?, this material is the most useful thing I can imagine. Thanks, thanks, thanks, thanks, thanks-thanks-thanks, thanks.

Anonymous said...

I started copying the stuff you post just a week ago, and I've been reading the blog everyday for almost a year. And what can I say?, this material is the most useful thing I can imagine. Thanks, thanks, thanks, thanks, thanks-thanks-thanks, thanks.

Alex said...

RETURNING THE FAVOR
Hey John,
Here's something for all those Disney fanatics. They should be proud of their heroes.

http://www.prodisney.ru/index.php?page=clones.php
http://www.prodisney.ru/index.php?page=clones2.php

Btw, here's cool audio interview from Milt Kahl himself. I think you like him.http://sewardstreet.com/2005/01/10/milt-speaks/

Anonymous said...

The Animation Archive is the best resource we young(ahem) Cartoonists have at our disposal. I've appreciated all of the model sheets, cartoons, etc. that Steve has put up on the ASIFA website and all of the other goodies that he has at the Archive. I've got some studying to do!

katzenjammer studios said...

I can't wait to meet Steve at the Archive. I've got a lot of research to do on cartoon frogs and pirates. Anybody know how the archive works. Do I have to make an appointment with Steve?

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure I have the Reluctant Dragon from when I was a kid. The Knight made me want to eat radishes, and then I tried them and they were disgusting. Nice post.

Cayen said...

I'm working as fast as I can. Theres so much to absorb and I just started a little over three months ago. These lessons are so fantastic it's hard to 'cram' them, and probably not the best.

Anonymous said...

A new studio?
Oh good! If this means you getting to make more cartoons more often and doing what you enjoy then FUCK YEAH!

I assume this is due to Raketu? Raketoo. Cant spell. :/

Mad Taylor said...

You know how terrorists die and think there will be scantly clad virgins awaiting them? Well the eqivalent for us cartoonists is the archive, and we don't even have to die! Hell, I might just head over there this Tuesday.

The Butcher said...

Keep it up John. I promise it'll sink in with some people. Maybe not me, but I'm trying.

I posted a funnie on my blog. It's not that good, but by just trying to apply what you've been talking about I think it's better than most of my cartoony stuff.

Anonymous said...

I was reading your post regarding background paintings and was sorely dissappointed not to see eyvind earle mentioned...

http://www.gallery21.com/a_graphic_a_sounding_of_surf_earle.htm

Dave_the_Turnip said...

Wow, i was wondering when the next lesson would be posted. Not that i'm all caught up. I need to pull a finger out and get lessons 7 and 8 completed before moving on to this.

This might give me the boost i need though. :)

Anonymous said...

I'M A HUGE FAN! Watching Ren and Stimpy inspired me to draw, and I've always tried to draw them and trying to teach my self to draw. I've even been reading the lessons on how to draw and can't believe a cartoonist would actually do this :). So thanks for showing the book and sharing about the ASIFA archives. Good luck with your new studio! I hope I can work for you some day!

Anonymous said...

Nice Lessons John, I've been reading this blog since you started it.
Your blog has gotten me back into classic cartoons, before I'd watch nothing but Simpsons and Family Guy.
Thanks for all the inspiration! :)

PS: There seems to be a problem with viewing older posts, do you know how to fix that?

Anonymous said...

Those are fantastic modelsheets. Although I don't know much about animation (only a bit of storyboarding) and I don't have the chance to work for you since I am not sure I am good enough and I live in Spain (although somebody could work for you via internet, which I doubt), I am still going to print and copy these and I think they will at least help me to draw better poses of my own characters in the future.

Anonymous said...

YAY! A Tom & Jerry model sheet. The one I found online is pretty good but I'm not sure it's a vintage one from the original studio. It might have been something that someone from Cal Arts whipped up or whatever. But, that one is definitely the genuine article. I'm not sure if Preston Blair ever work on any of the Tom & Jerry toons (maybe Thad and his "posse" would know) but he was certainly there when they were being made.

Thanks John and Stephen for digging that up.

Anonymous said...

Thanks John, for not giving up on us! Love your advice, direction and opinions.

Anonymous said...

A new studio? Rock On! This means animation has hope once again. I would love to part of this revolution!

Lattaland said...

Wow!I step away for a week and look at all this good stuff I find upon my arrival!
Thanks John, us old timers dig the posts too!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful model sheets! I loved the Aracuan bird as a kid in the Three Cabelleros! I'm gonna be printing all these up and sticking them on me wall =D

Anonymous said...

One other thing - do lots of life drawing! Do quick sketches of people in public places, and longer drawings with posed models. Go to zoos and draw the animals!

The better you understand how the real thing is constructed, how it moves, the better you'll understand the simplification choices these past artists made!

juvenile_cyle said...

This is really great! I'm inspired! Thank you sssoooo much!

Hey, do you have any Sody model sheets?

JohnK said...

Thanks Jeff.

Life drawing can be good if you do it with the idea that you will apply some of the general concepts you learn from it to your cartoon drawings, but most artists don't.

Animal drawing is a good idea.

Starting with these model sheets will help your cartoon drawings the most.

Alex Whitington said...

I don't have talent.
Can I be excused from this class?

Anonymous said...

Yes sir.

dieselcreek said...

I don't suppose you need a freelance graphic designer?

Unfortunately, for me, the cartooning talent coming from some of the readers here blow me right outta the toon-pool.

But I'm a well experienced print/video/web-flash designer, FWIW. Always looking for new clients to contract.


.

Raff said...

I think I'm starting to get a handle on this stuff.

Anonymous said...

Hoo Rah! The return of animation school! These model sheets are exactly what i've been looking for, thanks.

Jorge Garrido said...

Darn, I'm still not good enough! I'm still trying to perfect lesson one! Gotta get cracking!

John, is the studio going to be called Spumco?

>I'm not sure if Preston Blair ever work on any of the Tom & Jerry toons (maybe Thad and his "posse" would know)

Well, that's not technically a model sheet, it's a page from Preston's book, but the poses look straight out of the cartoons. Like he used them verbatim as animation drawings (at least the correct line of action ones.)

Ben Pixen said...

This lesson helps me a lot. Characters should look like they are more than just a flat stylized drawing. I'm going to practice this lesson.

Did you recieve my email?

Anonymous said...

Well, I know I'm way past the shelf life on working for you, and not nearly up to snuff in the skills department, but I still work on this stuff constantly.

Even when I'm sitting in my classroom, waiting for students, I get out some paper and start constructing heads and figures and thinking in terms of line of action and silhouette.

For me, this stuff is useful for doing whatever it is I'm going to do on my own... more than likely comics. It's unbelievably helpful to art in general and I've been telling some of my friends to jump on this stuff and learn from it. At least one of them I think would master this pretty quickly and fit right into your John K. schema... if only I can motivate her to do it!

Fire Exit said...

"New studio"

I'd absolutely love to see some proper cartoons this side of the Atlantic.

Will this new studio be doing promotional stuff like the Rateku and Tenacious D. stuff or creator-driven cartoons with proper storyboard driven action!

Julián höek said...

hi john. could you talk more about what you think of life drawing? how to take the most out of it and the way to apply it to cartoon drawing?. i remember once i read an interview you gave that lot's of young artist show you in they porfolios 5 minutes poses and you don't like that 'couse those sketches never show you the finished drawings.
thanks

Anonymous said...

Great model sheets John!
So a new studio, eh?
Ever think of coming back to Canada and opening one here? Maybe here in the central spot of the country?
I can dream can't I?

Raff said...

>> Well, that's not technically a model sheet, it's a page from Preston's book, but the poses look straight out of the cartoons. <<

Unless I'm mistaken, at least some of those are not Preston's drawings, particularly the Tom and Jerrys. He obviously got permission (at the time) to use them in his book. I saw those drawings in another book with credit given to somebody else. Can't remember who, unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

I was inspired, so i got to drawing, check it. http://kateyarberry.blogspot.com/

oh and about that job.... feel free to hire me any time. seriously.

Ted said...

Kieranm: the old post archives have a mutilation in their url formation. There is a word that should be archive that is, instread, rchive. Alter "rchive" in the url to "archive" and the links will work.
John, you can manually alter the html to fix this if you like.

Ted said...

Actually John, I may be wrong about you being able to edit the html of the archive links manually. I can't seem to do it in the old version of blogger; if you're using the new version, I don't have anything of value to tell you. You might be able to alter the archive settings and republish, then alter the settings back to the current configuration and republish again, to fix the problem. Or maybe it's a deeper problem.

You could fix the archive links manually and add them as some of your custom links, tho. Or create a link called "REAL Archive" or somesuch to a webpage that has updated working links to the archive pages.

El Bergo said...

thanks a lot, its a really great exercise to copy these model sheets!

Anonymous said...

http://gagaman.blogspot.com/2006/12/rock-paper-scissors-sneak-peek.html

Ha, I really suck at this. I've been animating a film recently, and constantly forget to use these principles in my drawings. I just can't be arsed. I have a long way to go, me thinks! =S

Ted said...

Ah, I see the archive links are fixed. What did it take?

Anonymous said...

It´s pretty curious that such a Disney-basher like John actually uses Disney model-sheets for examples of good character construction...

JohnK said...

Why is that curious?

Anonymous said...

Isn't most of animation really depending on what you're trying to do? Don't get me wrong, sir, I enjoy your articles and I can totally agree with you on almost 90% of what you say.

And I've also factored in that the 10% I don't agree with is also due to the fact that I just grew up with some of the things you bash. So I let it go.

But I've noticed that really, animation can fall into a few categories on how you want to show that via animation is the key. I think lumping something like The Iron Giant with say, a show on cartoon network like Juniper Lee or god knows whatever else crap that they have on there, is a bit off. Just because it's animated, it doesn't mean it should get lumped into that category.

Now if you take Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck and make a movie like Iron Giant and they don't apply all the things you point out, I can totally see that. But I think animation in some cases totally is more of how you wanna tell a story within a certain guideline. Like Samurai Jack and the Warner Bros./DC comic cartoons as of late, while I agree and see your points, then comparing them to Fairly Odd Parents and Time Squad among others, is a bit off.

To me, those shows don't appear stiff because to me they convey a different line of thought all together, sorta like Iron Giant. They are not entirely meant to be cartoony. (Samurai Jack I can see it being cartoony tho as well as the aliens, etc.) For as comparitvely(sp?) against those other shows, they are emoting something different to me than the other shows are. Odd Parents are 'trying' to be funny, but they end up flat, like you point out. Iron Giant though is down a different path emoting something a bit different than I'm looking for.

It sounds like you're just lumping together animation in general, no matter the intent of the cartoon (whether it be funny, comical toons like back in the golden age or semi-serious from the 30's to present day). And again, maybe it's because I grew up with some of these shows, and as a storyteller I also love the story they are telling.

Thoughts?

Felicity said...

I agree that construction is what’s missing from cartoons today. I’ve tried and tried for 20 years to learn to draw by construction, but the part of my brain that contains spatial IQ must be damaged or missing. Also I suspect the problem is that all drawing books assume that I already know the fundamentals of how to draw and that I just need to learn the right technique and do it the right way. I don’t already know how to draw. I’ve been practicing all my life but I’ve never achieved it. I can’t seem to think in three dimensions or grasp complex systems. I had this same problem when I read How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way and Constructive Anatomy when I was a teenager, both books which also stress construction as the first step. I can’t do the proportions in my head. The only way I can get things to look OK is when I draw from photo reference, where everything is already flattened and I can judge the distances two-dimensionally. Even then nothing lines up the way it does on the photo but at least it looks halfway good. I wish there was a computer chip I could have put in my brain that would enable me to think three-dimensionally and understand complex systems...

David said...

this is top stuff!!

Roxi said...

I'm good at tracing, but when it comes to drawing without looking, I do have a few problems with it.
If I copy all of them out, will it really help me? I started to do so a few days ago, but I'm not sure if it will work. Is there any way for you to see my drawings and comment on them and tell me how to improve? By email maybe? Thank you!

islandheroes said...

I think I am going to split my posts for this lesson into 3 since it seems like a long one to get through. Here are my construction drawings for this lesson: construction drawings

islandheroes said...

I am posting my line of action drawings and my fluid poses drawings.
The fluid pose drawings get better at the end I think. Here are the links:line of action
fluid poses

It may take me a while to do the rest.

islandheroes said...

Hi John and everyone. It took a while to get this one done. My drawings aren't perfect but doing your lessons is helping me get better I think. Here are my appeal and cuteness drawings:
*Lesson 9 * Appeal and cuteness*
Thanks!

-Rob