I talked about the importance of silhouettes in making your poses read clearly.
Here are some great scenes from an old Terrytoon.
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.
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!
Or better yet, be a volunteer and help them archive all this great stuff.