Thursday, March 22, 2007

Terrytoons- "Champion of Justice" Silhouettes

If you remember awhile back in one of the animation lessons, http://johnkstuff.blogspot.com/2006/05/animation-school-lesson-5-line-of.html
I talked about the importance of silhouettes in making your poses read clearly.

Here are some great scenes from an old Terrytoon.

"Champion of Justice" (1944), Terrytoon Cartoons


If you combine silhouettes with line of action, you can control your poses so that they tell the story well. Every pose should have a direction. Where you aim the body can tell you what the character is doing and what he is feeling. People tend to lean toward or away from things and where the lean helps give meaning to each moment.

Many cartoons today have no line of action or silhoettes. The characters just stand straight up and down. I see this even in a lot of full animation and in a lot of animation students' cartoon drawings.

In this animation, you can see the real value of clear staging using line of action and clear silhouettes. The limbs are kept in the clear.



CLICK HERE TO SEE CLIP! (3.29 mb)


Here we have no line of action and barely silhouettes:


Here's fake line of action:
Samurai Jack has a line of action.
The other characters have arched bodies which would make you think you are looking at a line of action, but the arches don't have direction. They don't aim or point anywhere. You need your characters to aim somewhere to have a line of action.

Here are some jumbled undirected poses from expensive modern cartoons to compare approaches.

http://www.disney-dreams.net/gallery.php
I know the animators are totally capable of clear classic principles. I assume that it's the management that thinks if something looks classic, then it's too "cartoony" so they bend the artists towards what they think is more like what imagine live action is.
If you are thinking that those don't have line of action or silhouettes on purpose because they are "realistic" then take a gander at this Frazetta painting:


I think old school clear staging whether in cartoons or illustrations is more effective than modern stiff awkward stuff.



It's hard to stage a fat guy, but this drawing shows a lot of skill and thought. The line of action is clear even though the silhouette is not.


If you wanna see tons of old classic cartoons that you can't see anywhere else, you gotta visit Asifa's amazing animation archive. If you are in LA, be sure to drop in and experience cartoon heaven!

http://www.animationarchive.org/2007/03/meta-visit-archive.html#comments

http://www.animationarchive.org/
Or better yet, be a volunteer and help them archive all this great stuff.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can't. stop. reading. your. blog.

Kali Fontecchio said...

I love that Terrytoons cartoon! That skinny guy has such a cool design- kind of reminds me of Chuck Jones for some reason. I remember the cartoon also having a painting of an old couple with all the vermin running around them; and then to signify that they died the painting fades away. Ha!!!

Mad Taylor said...

why isn't the silhouette clear on the drawing of the fat guy?

William said...

Fairly Oddparents is so astonishingly bad it's difficult to believe that it exists.

In other news, Lady and the Tramp simply perfect in every way.

tanisha said...

thanx john,with a right line of action i did found a lot of change in my drawing.i compared it with my old drawings and there is hell lot of diffrence.thanx really cant stop reading ur blog.i now think i dont need to spend money on useless animation institute i go.

Mike said...

Haha old bike!

I really like how he struggles slips around before he makes it onto the bike ( I think there's a special name for that kind of bike ).

Yeah the silhouettes are really clear too, you can tell he's mischevious as well.

John, who did the backgrounds for that cartoon? And what DVD of Terrytoons is this on? Amazon doesn't list off the shorts on their website.

Benjamin said...

You're trying to prove that the "expensive modern cartoons" hardly (if ever) have good line of action, by giving screengrabs of a completely frontal view where the character bends towards the camera and a pretty much throwaway sequence of a movie full of great LOA examples?

I'm a student at AnimationMentor.com, where we get taught by the people working on these expensive modern cartoons, and pretty much the first thing we learn is Line of Action. True, it isn't *always* used, or used well, but most of the time it is.

Muppet said...

I've just recently discovered your blog, even though I've always been a big fan of your work. So much knowledge accumulated in these posts, keeps me amazed. As a 2D animator it's truly inspiring to find lessons so incredibly clear and well illustrated as yours. Can't thank you enough, best wishes from Brazil.

JohnK said...

Hi Benjamin

I scoured tons of frame grabs from those movies and there is a lot less of every classic animation principle than older cartoons.

I picked obvious frames to contrast against the old drawings on purpose.

I'm sure you're right about the animators being capable of doing it. It's probably the executives who lean everyone towards what they think is more "realistic" which makes it harder to do what animators instinctively do.

I adjusted my comments in the post to take yours into consideration.

JohnK said...

I looked for frame grabs with line of action here:

http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.disney-dreams.net/gallery/hunchback.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.disney-dreams.net/gallery.php&h=156&w=230&sz=19&hl=en&start=4&tbnid=JLKckzGMYsboaM:&tbnh=73&tbnw=108&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dhunchback%2Bdisney%26svnum%3D10%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DG

I had a real tough time finding good ones.

JohnK said...

http://www.disney-dreams.net/gallery.php

SugarPete said...

Aw come on John!! You keep using the exact same Samurai Jack/FOP framegrabs as bad examples to support your arguments. There's good examples to be found. Do the research, instead of using the first bad google images you find.

Besides...if one were to be look through Ren and Stimpy with a fine tooth comb, I'm pretty sure there'd be tons of bad examples that could be posted as well.

Just asking for a little fairness.

Mebbo said...

Oh god, I can't stop looking at Esmeralda's screen right arm in the drawing... it's AWFUL!!! *sob*

the plummer said...

"I think old school clear staging whether in cartoons or illustrations is more effective than modern stiff awkward stuff."

agreed.

anyone else good besides frazetta? i'm out of the illustration loop anymore.

Hodges! said...

Although i very much agree with your point, disneys Tarzan (and not the second garbage one) has amazing animation in it, and if you screen cap the scene of Tarzan surfing thought the trees then youll see how obvious and amazing it is, samurai jack on the other hand is a much more stylized approach and compared to fairly odd parents, its genius.

the plummer said...

also, there's a lot of disney movie frame grabs here:

http://animationarchive.net/Screen%20Caps/index.php

Johnny Gonzo said...

the blog you have going is great, i am looking, taking notes and will apply them to my own blog.....a perfect example of the bad design you speak of orginates here in vancouver.....using flash as excuse for bad design....draw bad cause flash can't handle it is something i have heard many times.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

>>I love that Terrytoons cartoon! That skinny guy has such a cool design- kind of reminds me of Chuck Jones for some reason.

Kali,
Perhaps it's because of it's similarity to Dan Backslide from the Jones cartoon "The Dover Boys", which was created a few years before the Terrytoon cartoon. Both cartoons are parodies of 19th century melodramas, with thin, overly histrionic villians.

Nick said...

I love Lady and the Tramp, it's one of my favorite Disney movies.

They have some of the best looking pooches out there.

Stephen Worth said...

anyone else good besides frazetta? i'm out of the illustration loop anymore.

I just did a Post On N. C. Wyeth at the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive. Wyeth has been unfairly criticized for his "melodramatic posing", when in truth he is actually just applying all the principles John's talking about to make his images strong and read clearly.

See ya
Steve

abwinegar said...

I've been working on trying to get decent construction, I've forgotten all about Line of Action.

Gosh, so much to remember when drawing these things. I see how it helps tell the story in your post. I'll have to work harder to get it right.

Thanks John.

Charles said...

Where can I get some of these old Terrytoons?

Jeff Read said...

I've drawn comics where I've been dissatisfied with the actual poses, which looked stiff and awkward. Then I thought, WWJKD? When I redrew the pose by placing a solid line of action first, the pose "worked" (well, as much as my current skill level permits it to work).

LOA is so incredibly vitally important that one wonders how animators go without it. Probably the extensive use of computarmachienes to make things shiny doesn't help; my father, an engineer and draftsman, reports that back in the old days you always started a drawing for a part with your center lines, and these days with AutoCAD doing all the work no one knows how to do center lines.

Benjamin De Schrijver said...

"I scoured tons of frame grabs from those movies and there is a lot less of every classic animation principle than older cartoons."

Definitly can't argue with that. I don't think it's really a conscious executive thing though. Most feature productions tend to lean towards realism more than in the past, and I think many animators just forget to consider how useful a tool it can be, as opposed to not putting it in because "that's more realistic". Often it's clear (when I actually know the animators of certain shots), that the supervising animators in the Disney 2d features have more experience and put LOA and other principles to use more than the other animators and assistants.
And I highly doubt that type of executives would even recognize LOA... even if it weren't realistic, I bet it'd just fool them if done right.

Cheers for editing your post!

Jack Ruttan said...

I'm not an animator, but certainly they can't have a perfect silhouette in every frame of the character. Don't their arms have to pass in front of their face in the in-betweens sometimes?

Roberto González said...

I actually think Tarzan has a line of action in that picture. The monkey doesn't have any and I pretty much dislike its design and poses.

Roberto González said...

http://s31.photobucket.com/albums/c387/tarzan_gallery/?action=view¤t=tarzan_997.jpg

I think this picture could be a good example, cause it's a scene that could have been drawn with a more clear line of action, considering they're fighting and it's a dynamic moment.

NateBear said...

I just went thru 10 pages of those Hunchback screen grabs, and couldn't find any poses
angled more than slightly past 90 degrees. No wait, actually on guy had his arms stretch out completely horizonatally. That counts right?

Andreas said...

>>Haha old bike!

I really like how he struggles slips around before he makes it onto the bike ( I think there's a special name for that kind of bike ).<<

I like the whole slip and struggle to get on the bike too.

Yes, the bike is called a penny-farthing (also known as an ordinary bicycle). There is a nice write up about them in Wikipedia. A bicycle with two same size wheels, like we have today was called a safety bicycle. I saw a race a few years back where they were riding penny-fathings. It was awesome to watch.

As far as that clip, there seems to be hardly any frames without a clear silhouette or line of action. Beautiful example of what could be.

AtomicTiki said...

I'm a hobby pin-up artist, this article just blew my mind and explains why my work looks so rigid and dumb!

Thanks Big Man!