Sunday, January 14, 2007


Some people asked for Tom and Jerry models, so here's what I could find:

I put them in roughly chronological order so you can see the evolution and devolution of the style. All these drawings have most of the basic principles I always harp about so they are great to draw from.The earliest cartoons had less construction.
Here Tom is getting solidified, not perfectly constructed yet, but that's good, because it gives the character more flexibility to move and act in the animators' specific styles.

This is almost the final recognizable model of Tom. I like it better than the final, more generic one.

Here is the solidified design from the mid to late 40s, when the cartoons become excellent craftsmanship, but visually generic. The design is too perfectly mathematical (the Golden Mean) to give the animators freedom to experiment visually. It's become a formula, although a great one to study pure animation drawing principles from.
Bill and Joe, like Walt Disney had a tendency to search for the perfect formula in everything, and their styles always headed towards strict mathematical conservative formulas, even when their characters didn't start out that way.

These Jerrys are beautiful and as perfect as generic designs can be. These are all the animation principles done perfectly, with no specific original ideas or design quirks to distract you from the principles.

Note how all the characters in Tom and Jerry are the same design. The only differences are what kind of ears and what specific species characteristics are tacked on to let you know what animals they are. Tom and Jerry themselves are the same design, with different proportions and different ears.
Put a dress on Tom and make the ears smaller. Voila! You have a girl design.
Here's Tom with a bigger jaw and a Beatle haircut.

In the fifties, the characters got more generic and a bit stiffer.
This seal is what both Tom and Jerry would look like without ears.

These models are all great for you to copy. You will learn all the important basic principles of animation drawing from them.

Then you will begin to understand how other styles are variations of these basic drawing tools.

Here are the same principles used by Rod Scribner. He adds a lot more contrast and variations to the shapes and makes it much more fun and visually interesting than mere perfect circles and pears.

Here are the same principles with one addition: Angles. The designs are still even and generic but add up to a different look and feel than the same principles done with rounded forms.

Today we draw the angles without the principles underneath and get flat bland and crooked Mulan, Samurai Jack and Fairly Odd Parents.

Chuck Jones is known for his style, but he has solid principles underneath.

Tex Avery was much more creative and free with ideas than Bill and Joe. His Lion and mouse are different designs, while Tom and Jerry are the same designs.

Here's a later Tex Avery cartoon with Mike Lah's influence added to Tex' style. Another unique look that still uses basic animation drawing principles.

If you learn your principles correctly then you can contribute to your boss' style. You will be able to differentiate style from substance and be a functional useful artist.

Maybe you can find your own style one day, but remember:

Substance is more important than style.

Here's how you might draw Tom and Jerry if you didn't understand their principles:


joe said...

man, i went off and got a degree in animation, but these lessions blow it out the water.

thanks for putting yourself out there, it's really apreciated.

Anonymous said...

Thanks John,
great inspiration and usefull stuff. I promsise I'll do my homework! I would found it great if you could post some animation exercises too.

Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

Wow!! Another fascinating, amazing post :) I'll be looking at these sheets... thank you John! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, John, for digging these up and posting them! Where do you find these? I know about ASIFA and have a found a few other good model sheet scans here and there around the internet, but most of what I can find are either poor quality or low resolution.

If these are from originals you own, is there any chance of getting higher-resolution scans - big enough to print out on letter-sized paper without jaggies?

Anonymous said...

That drawing from the Tom and Jerry movie really look bad in comparison.

That might be a little too much to ask, but remember the Barbera homage I did here?

I would like to know how good/bad did I get Tom and Jerry here. Of course I didn't got all these model sheets and perhaps I was a little distracted by including some of my own style, but I did look at the Preston Blair models and Terryl C. Boodman's Tom and Jerry: 50 years of Cat and Mouse book while sketching it. I can see maybe there are some problems with proportion, but I think the construction is more or less ok.

Once I got my printer working again I'm gonna print all these and copy them. Probably I won't post the drawings in my blog, though.

xtracrsP said...

That last frame grab...HAW HAW!Why is that cat's back so fat? I do not like it Sam I am.

Ben Pixen said...

You can definitely see the evolution of the characters and can easily spot when the line of action starts to diminish.

What's happened with the archives? None of the links work for me and I want to access past Animation School Lessons.

Mcnuggetinator said...

Hey John! Would you say I have a solid understanding of the principles?

Gabriel said...

kickass post as always, john, but i think you might need some technical guidance, those pics should be BIG!

Jorge Garrido said...

Wow! John, these are just in time for me to draw Tom & Jerry for my Joe Barbera homage! Thanks!

Benjamin De Schrijver said...

Wonderful post!

Ryan G. said...

Great stuff John. A little off subject, but I was wondering if you or anyone knew who did the voice for Jerry's uncle in Pecos Pest?

jessicaLynn said...

Hey John!!
Thanks for posting these model sheets. I love Tom and Jerry they are beautiful cartoons but pretty damn boring. hehehe.See you soon!

stiff said...

You've been saying this for months, but these examples really helped me to understand exactly what you meant about style vs. principles. Thanks, as always.

The Butcher said...

Awesome! I love Tom and Jerry excluding the later Chuck Jones cartoons. It's the most solid classic cartoon, even though the drawings aren't very interesting. Still, I love how insanely violent it is.

PCUnfunny said...

The Tom and Jerry 1940s designs are my favorite, thanks for posting this John. Hell any character designed during the 1940s looked good because "good" was the standard.

Eric C. said...

Hey John,

How long and how much the process does it take to animate a Ren & Stimpy Cartoon?


Anonymous said...

Great post John! thanks for digging up these model sheets for us.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if you or anyone knew who did the voice for Jerry's uncle in Pecos Pest?

Shug Fisher played Uncle Pecos

Anonymous said...

its quite good information. But its true that is difficult to copy those model sheets because of their size.

Frank Forte said...

Great models John! Thanks!

Ryan G. said...

Hey thanks Kevin! I dont think it says in the credits..

Anonymous said...

I remember when I was a littlun and I saw in the Radio Times (the british TV guide published by the BBC) that there was going to be a cartoon in a ten minute slot I was always excited, then my heart sank a tiny bit when I realised it was Tom and Jerry.

Of course I still watched it and I didn't hate it and it was better than no (golden age) cartoons at all, but I sort of knew at the start that I was unlikely to be earth-shatteringly surprised or delighted.

I remember noticing with my Mum that the early ones seemed more beautiful. (To us.) When Tom's eyes were big and yellow and green (or I might be mis-remembering that slightly) and he was more cat-like, and everything moved a little bit more magically.

But these model sheets do illustrate your point about principles perfectly. It's fascinating that a design can be 'perfected' or evolved into mathematical correctness.

Anonymous said...

It's really helpful having you break this stuff down. There is so much I would miss without you pointing it out. After that, it's a lot easier to spot it on my own.

I don't really care said...

Yes, the only disappointment in those model sheets is the small size of the scans.

Regarding the archives, there is a mistake in the url.

As Stephen Worth reported, it
should be "archives", not "rchives".

add the "a" and you can get them.

Maybe John can fix it sometime.

Anonymous said...

I want to know who's responsible for the Tom and Jerry movie.
That person needs a slap.
Tom and Jerry was always about a cat and a mouse who hated each other and rarely spoke.

Whose bright idea was it to make them talk (in horrible voices) and make them help a little girl get her deceased grandfather's Will and Testament?

Who the hell came up with THAT idea?

Cayen said...

nice post about Tom and Jerry.

I'm going to start posting some of my work. I've been loving what you've been putting out.

JohnK said...

>>Whose bright idea was it to make them talk (in horrible voices) and make them help a little girl get her deceased grandfather's Will and Testament?<<

Probably Joe's. He did that to his characters all the time. Anything to make a sale.

Kevin W. Martinez said...

Remeber that it was the Hanna-Barbera Studio who gave us the mon-violent Tom and Jerry in the 70's where they were friends and Jerry wore a bow-tie. There's no better source for people who have revulsion for 1970's cartoons.

Even worse is how Ttom and Jerry are currently owned by Warner Bros., who care even less about quality than Bill and Joe did. That's why there all these lameass direct-to-video Tom and Jerry movies that attempt to cash in on the lastest Hollywood blockbuster.

Ted said...

And yet Tom and Jerry is about the only classic cartoon they bother to put on Cartoon Network anymore. It seems so weird that kids are more likely to have seen T&J than Looney Tunes...

Anonymous said...

Yes...I think I read Joe Barbera had some input in the Tom and Jerry movie. I think Tom and Jerry themselves still had some dignity in the movie, even if the voices were not so cool. Almost everything else sucked, though.

It's like the Looney Tunes movies. It seems as if the normal decission would be trying to do these cartoons as great as you can, so they'll be enjoyable homages to the classics, yet clearly they'll probably be flawed and not as great as the original ones. Instead, the way they do those movies seems more like this: they try to figure out how to fuck everything up, then they add some dignity to the main characters with a couple of decent lines in which they make statements about how lame is the whole movie or something. It seems as if they do that just to keep us "animation purists" happy or something. The thing is everybody would love those movies if they were great. Not only animation geeks. Probably they stil make a lot of money in the box office, but I know people that find those movies embarrasing to watch because of their crappy plots. They're not animation fans, but they can sit through and enjoy classic shorts to some extent and they'd probably like those movies if they were more close to the originals.

Anonymous said...

awesome stuff John, Tom and Jerry has stuck in my mind for years- thats saying something about the power of this particular cartoon.


Anonymous said...

This doesn't relate to the blog post, I just wanted to say I recently saw your Weird Al video, which led me to Weird Al's Myspace page, which led me to your Myspace page, which led me to this blog, which led me to grabbing and watching the Ren & Stimpy Lost Episodes. Great stuff all around. The booties in the Weird Al video would make Robert Crumb jealous...and the Ren & Stimpy cartoons were hilarious, although the gross one at the end had me closing my eyes and cringing for most of the cartoon. I still feel a little sick.

Sata said...

"Substance is more important than style."

... What? :D

Tung Vu said...

Tom and jerry is the cartoon movie happy, I like watching this :)

Aleksandar Smith said...

At first Tom was just a fat shapeless cat, and later on by time he got true recognizable character. Jerry looks the same, from the start though. this is my site btw, is you have time to check it tom and jerry games