Saturday, February 03, 2007

The rise and fall of Construction in cartoons Pt 1 - principles discovered


Each part of Donald is disconnected from each other part. The construction is just piled on top of each other, rather than flowing along an overall statement or direction.

Where limbs and bodies bend, the bend is usually in the middle of what's bending-not organic.
Early 30s - 2 dimensional construction
The animators add a bit of dimension.
The details start to wrap around the circles.
The forms get a little more organic.

Disney lets animators experiment a bit with less generic and more cartoony designs.
Ward Kimball and others animated some really fun cartoony stuff in Toby Tortoise Returns.
Grim Natwick brings the East Coast stronger design sense to some shorts.

Characters get more detailed, but the details follow the forms.

Characters get more organic, yet still flow around structured forms.
The animators experiment with more interesting designs.

Doing caricatures forces you out of drawing formula shapes. Animation is such easy prey to formula. Animators should constantly caricature in the hunt for new shapes and ideas to keep us from falling into habit. APPLY THE NEW FACIAL FEATURES TO YOUR ANIMATION DRAWINGS!

Construction becomes a science of hierarchy. This cactus is an overall shape that is then broken into 2 main pieces plus limbs.

This is good. No one does this anymore.
Each of those forms in turn are broken into sub forms. All these sub forms within larger forms obey the same direction and perspective of the larger forms.

Remember the concept of HIERARCHY. It applies to good stylized drawings too.

The Animation Principles Style
The 7 dwarfs epitomize all the major animation principles working together.
Hierarchies of forms.

Line of action
Clear staging

Squash and stretch and overlapping action (freeze frame their cheek movements and see if you don't get ashamed of what you're thinking!)
Organic everything.

This is the approach and high standard that evolved in the 1930s and influenced everything in animation all the way to today.

Bill Tytla more than anyone else combined all the principles and kept his characters looking very weighty and solid, yet organic at the same time.
It takes a ton of control to be able to make so many concepts work at once.

Everyone in the late 1930s aimed for this high standard of multiple principles and hierarchy of forms. It was too much for many animators but they nobly aimed high anyway.
Here is a weaker animator imitating the Disney style superficially, but he doesn't have the drawing skill needed to control all the skills at once, so his animation and drawing appear sloppy and the features float loosely around the bigger forms.

Each successive animation style through history is just a matter of subtracting one or more of the 30s principles away-with each decade more principles have been stripped away until today when we are just imitating poorly cliched expressions and poses that began 60 years ago.
Even Anime can be traced back to 30s Disney.

Ugly trends begin....
Characters get more human (taller) proportions. In the process Walt urges the animators back to generic design, while making the animation much harder to look convincing.

An audience is much more nitpicky when watching art that approaches an imitation of reality.

That's why humans always look so bad in cartoons. 2D or CG.

Walt and the animators learn this ugly truth from experience but Walt can't be swayed. He wants to impress the unwashed masses with animation that looks hard to do. He relies on rotoscoping to try to make the animation more "realistic" and what he gets is humans that are much less exaggerated or interesting in cartoons than the unique real life humans who live next door to you.

Art and animation needs to caricature life to make its point. This kind of drawing-the stiff animation "realistic" style is an "underture". It is less specific and cartoony than reality.

He forces Grim Natwick-a great cartoony animator to waste a few years of what could have been a creative explosion for him, if only Walt had encouraged his natural talents.

This insanity-animating generic designs with tall proportions and bland expressions - one of Walt's greatest follies has horribly influenced animation down to this day.

Here's what's left after you subtract all of the great animation principles of the 1930s and leave only Walt's poor taste:

I removed the Batman image, because I don't want the comments to degenerate into a discussion about superhero "cartoons".

The age of mannequins with rectangular holes in their faces that annoying voices come out of.

NEXT-1940S, COASTING ON PRINCIPLE at Disney's, developing specific variations derived from principles at Warner's.