Saturday, May 12, 2007

Color Theory 15 - Follow Up To An Important Concept


Maximum Awesome is the winner of this little quiz.

He said:


"I'm guessing:

Neutral or Natural Colours
NEUTRAL COLORS FOR RICHNESS

Different answers might also be right, but I'd say the frames were non-garish BG heavy.
As for explaining the concept: keeping BGs mostly rich, warm, neutral earth tones and subtle mixes of colours so that spots of bright, intense colour "pop" more. Using colour schemes based on nature, not self-cannibalising cartoons and "video box covers"."

I was also pleased that lots of people noticed other good things about images in this post.



It's hard to write about artistic concepts, I'm never 100% sure whether I get what I'm trying to say across.This is a follow up post to a series of articles I did a while back. These pics illustrate a concept I'm somewhat obsessed about.
I'd love to know whether anyone can tell just by looking at these what particular post and concept these frames help illustrate.
I'd also be curious to know if anyone could explain the concept back to me.
That way, I'd have some inkling whether I am able to explain in words the concepts I love and try to share with other folks who may no have thought about them before.
So do me a favor if you're interested and let me know what concept is shared by all these pics, and maybe what previous post went into it in detail...












52 comments:

Peter Welsiack said...

Hi John!

Could it perhaps be that "Classic Cartoons Evolved, so Why Don't Today's?"

Your #1 Fan,
Peter Welsiack

JohnK said...

Nope, but that would apply too!

DrewSmith42 said...

Is this about nature being drawn with elements of the 'real' while still ramaining cartoony and fun?

Or perhaps about things lookign chunky and tangable, as all those wooden objects certainly do!

Ted said...

Framing, reading, asymmetry...

Serge said...

I think its about backgrounds...color, composition,characters that read. Two of the pictures where the same thing but with different colors that give you a different message. And i think the one with woody sleeping is an example about the character and background not competing for attention. I think it could be about other stuff to but thats what the images made me remember first.

Serge said...

maybe its just about trees...

cemenTIMental said...

Dali-esque holes in things.

Adam said...

Perhaps its that you can have backgrounds that are lively, appealing and entertaining without them being painted all in primary colors, or colors that are fully saturated?

Josh Lieberman said...

I'd say, framing, clear-posing/silhouette, and line of action.
is what sticks out the most.

Art F. said...

John, i don't know if this is right or not but here's what i see:

it seems to me that the older Woody,(Woody #1),cartoon has more appeal in every aspect compared to the newer one,(Woody #2). first off, the two Woody #1 poses are more dynamic and cartoony than the eight poses of Woody #2. you can tell right off the bat that Woody #1 has a screwy, wacky, and entertaining PERSONALITY, while Woody #2 looks pretty bland and asymmetrical to boot. his design and poses are boring. not fun to look at. i can't wait to see what Woody #1 will do next, probably something really cartoony and FUN, whereas woody #2 would probably have to explain to me how funny he is trying to be.

second, it seems that the backgrounds of Woody #1's cartoon have more depth and tone to their color pallette than Woody #2's primary-colored ones.

third, Woody #2's expressions are really generic, while Woody #1 has some craziness and nutiness on his face.

i just think that Woody #1 is designed better to get the message across that the cartoon you will be watching will be FUN and ENTERTAINING, exactly what a cartoon should be. Woody #2 might as well be the mascot for some fast food restaurant with his boring design and missing personality.

well, that's what i see anyway.

Serge said...

Its about beautiful backgrounds that dont compete with the characters.Backgrounds that serve a purpose wich isnt making the background artist look cool but to help tell a story.Convey a mood,and most of them are about great composition, like the ones with woodys house and the cabin on the lake, and the third image reminds me of an example you made with a similar background with two trees and the character in the middle.

Rogelio T. said...

All the pictures have some sort of organic shape or design in them. In the backgrounds some of the trees and branches are pointing in slightly different angles. The beaver in the fridge's ice cubes aren't stacked in a neat pile. The inside of Woody's tree isn't in the shape of a circle but there is a organic variation to the shape. The line of action where Woody's looking at the cake is curved in a non-symetrical shape. In the first title screen the tree is slightly slanted and the sign isn't a perfect square. In the second title screen the holes Woody has made in the wood aren't all the same size and they're all slightly varied in shape.

This stuff dosen't just pop out at me yet. I had to look at the pictures for a couple of minutes to get to my conclusion so I could very easily be wrong.

Maximum Awesome said...

I'm guessing:

Neutral or Natural Colours
http://johnkstuff.blogspot.com/2006/10/color-theory-neutral-or-natural-colors.html

Different answers might also be right, but I'd say the frames were non-garish BG heavy.

Joel Bryan said...

I think it's about asymmetrical compositions being more organic and dynamic than symetrical ones.

Even though neither word I can spell.

Maximum Awesome said...

As for explaining the concept: keeping BGs mostly rich, warm, neutral earth tones and subtle mixes of colours so that spots of bright, intense colour "pop" more. Using colour schemes based on nature, not self-cannibalising cartoons and "video box covers".

Horrrst said...

Good/poor use of negative space...?

Jorge Garrido said...

I love these contests.

Natural colours. The trees are very richly coloured.

OR

Mixing "cute" "sick" "beautiful" and "ugly" (contrasts)

OR framing

Josh Lieberman said...

oh! and funny drawings... of course.

Betahuman said...

This is clearly about the efficient reuse of backgrounds.

What do I win?

Cayen said...

the last couple of frames from the newer woody woodpecker cartoons looks like someone vomited primary colors onto the frame and called it good.

The backgrounds in the first cartoon are excellent. They show more technique and skill, with a better organic feel. they have enough detail to make them interesting without demanding attention. The backgrounds are in harmony colors, and are nice eye candy without competing with the cartoon character. This Woody's colors may be primary (with the exception of his legs) they aren't screaming red and blue. Each pose is unique and looks very fun to draw.

While the second one is much more mechanical, even inside a wooden tree. Woody's color is all primary. His design is very sterilized and boring compared to the first version. The poses are stiff and cold. The backgrounds are complex, but in their own way compete for attention.

Colin Kahn said...

Does it have to do with the "Character Painting" style? Like from the "Disney and other cool Character Painting" post?

Robert Hume said...

Staging, Framming, and Use of Natural colors and Earth tones.

If we were just going with a single concept though I'd say Framing. There's a lot of great examples of that going on here.

Mr. Semaj said...

The only ones I could think of are:

-Lines of action
-Poses/Expressions
-Background Coloring

Spencer said...

separate forms being composed of unique substances?

Sean Worsham said...

Good Design, Rich Colors, Total use of the Cartoon Artform with use of exaggerated cartoons. Untampered by video touch ups done by big budget studios. Nice well-painted backgrounds, good character designs. Although cartoons of the past were proud of being cartoons and made full use of the medium, why cant the cartoons of today do so? Soupy Sales and his puppet is more cartoony and animated than any cartoon today.

Am I warm John?

Pedro Vargas said...

I'm not too sure, but the first frames of cartoony Woody seem to have good composition and easily readable shots while the other cutesie Woody frames are all cluttered and messy without any good composition.

Maybe that whole "having more of something looks good so let's add a bunch of shit in the cartoon to make it look good and forget everything about great artistic/cartoony principles" kind of thing?

Some of those "cute" Woody pictures are sort of hard to look at for all its details. I hate dumb and senseless deatails.

Daecha said...

To me the point to be made is that modern cartoons just dont stick anything interesting in their mouths, its always cake or pizza and the consistancy is always basically air, where as here the character sticks squirrels and what are possibly icecubes into his maw. It seems modern cartoons exagerate eating to make it easier to draw or they do an underture of it and dont even try to convey the masses involved. While this cartoon conveys eating realistically enhancing the performance.

juvenile_cyle said...

I'm thinking it's backgrounds and how brown is a great color to mix in to backgrounds. I could also see a change in the line of action as the cartoons got newer, the line of action seemed to kind of shut down.

Ecto said...

damn, didn't read anyone elses comments. a lot of those pics relate back to composition: of characters within the frame, setting, environment. no?

Max Ward said...

I can see good composition, very deep, lush colors, well consturcted characters and a few custom tailored expressions.

Roberto González said...

Like some other people here I think it's about framing and composition like those other posts you made about Jones' backgrounds.

I really like the whole drawing in the 13th pictures. The character poses are dynamic and the whole thing has a nice composition to it.

Since some people is commenting on that, my fave Woody design is the one from Banquet Busters. I am not really in love with the first design and the later one is probably a little too generic and overly "cute". But anyway, I don't think that's the concept you are talking about here.

For some reason I have never cared about backgrounds and I still don't, I guess I should, it would probably help me to make better compositions. I know some of those drawings you posted are beautifully drawn, but when I watch a cartoon I only look at the characters and when I draw I only want to draw the characters and then I add the bgs' cause it's an obligation. Somebody else feels like that?

Mike said...

I think there's a number of your concepts swirling into these grabs.

Most people before have mentioned them, but here they are again.
-The rule of thirds,
-Poses complementing eachother ( where there's more than one character you can tell the situation, like the little bird with a suitcase talking to Woody.)
-Woody is composed of very different colors ( bright blue, bright, yellow, bright red ) Whereas the BGs are very subdued, lots of grey mixed into all the colors. This helps Woody stand out from the BG.

-They all have humor to them.
Even the first few grabs show the results of a busy woodpecker - FUNNY!
Woody woodpecker's home - how absurd is that? Its funny! What about that floating house in that pond? Its stupid - and FUNNY!
Even as bad as the last grab looks, its kind of funny! A woodpeckers beak never look like that! Its funny that way!

R.A. MacNeil said...

painting wood textures maybe?

-Ryan

Kali Fontecchio said...

I KNOW, I KNOW!

NEUTRAL COLORS!

Tibby said...

Color, life, vibrance, multiple layers of depth in a 2D contruct.

Woody doesn't have a set model thru-out his cartoons. He tends to vary in design depending on the artist/artists that drew that 1 episode. He evolves thru many iterations. So did Bugs btw.

Woody #1 is crazier than Woody #2. Which one is ealier? Woody is simple, it's a very simple concept - but it is a character and a series that has continued to withhold the test of time. I can guarentee you if you sat a group of kids in front 2 cartoons. Say Fosters Friends and some old Woodywoodpecker cartoons. The kids would choose the old Woody Woodpecker cartoons probably 98.9% of the time. They are more colorful, they are fun, Woody's signature "laugh" is infectious, to kids and adults alike.

There are a whole lot of things going on in those examples. Woody's level of detail is complex, in both examples. He's got wrinkles and feathers and fluid movement lines. And so does his supporting cast. You don't know how many times I've been told to simplify my complex cartoons because "They are too difficult to animate". But my style is similar to everything in say ... those Woodpecker cartoons so - wtf?

I know it's hard to express something that is so subjective. But - we know what we like and dislike. And so do kids - kids aren't as dumb as today's Cartoon Execs think..er, are.

Randy said...

Yeah, I'm thinking it's the thing about composing the background around the character. Framing.

peldma3 said...

Framing ,staging , use of color, how the characters interact together- how their forms move in harmony with each other .

These really are some beautiful grabs.

creating a world you can get into.

When do the woody woodpeckers come out on dvd ?

I'd like to see an episode on dvd besides pantry panic.

Max Ward said...

You said in this post you are never sure if you are getting your point across, and you have mentioned before you like to hear feedback.

Well I am having a hard time grasping the concept of hierarchy of forms. I understand the concept of hierarchy, but I have a hard time seeing it in drawing forms.

Ryan G. said...

Its got to be about the non conflicting color scheme. The background helps the character pop out up front. Also, framing.

Semicolon said...

I think everyone's being too specific, I think John is thinking of somethng much bigger than just most of the principles mentioned, I think it's about cartoons being truly beautiful things, cartoons as art (got the idea from the first capture which is reminiscent of Salvador Dalí). A cartoon isn't suppoed to be a bad drawing, you don't take something from real life and just mess it up and silly-ize it, you make it beautifully true to life, and bring out what's funny about life, and then put a piece of yourself into it too. "It's funny because it's true" is usually what people say or think when they hear a comedian say something really funny, and truth is beauty, beauty truth.

Or maybe it's just about the abstract concept of texture and "tangibility"......

Semicolon said...

I think everyone's being too specific, I think John is thinking of somethng much bigger than just most of the principles mentioned, I think it's about cartoons being truly beautiful things, cartoons as art (got the idea from the first capture which is reminiscent of Salvador Dalí). A cartoon isn't suppoed to be a bad drawing, you don't take something from real life and just mess it up and silly-ize it, you make it beautifully true to life, and bring out what's funny about life, and then put a piece of yourself into it too. "It's funny because it's true" is usually what people say or think when they hear a comedian say something really funny, and truth is beauty, beauty truth.

Or maybe it's just about the abstract concept of texture and "tangibility"......

Okapi Figment William said...

The Back grounds are pretty consistant?

Danny said...

Something i noticed about the first frames is how the background reflects the character and his engagement in his world, meaning you are bringing the personality of the character across without actually having to explain everything through action.

And then acting - woody has a truly gentle and sincere expression and the one greeting the bird, also when sleeping soundly. Both stills have nothing generic on them.

Then true amazement and not just craziness when having the squirrel in the mouth (a lot of people would forget about the human quality in such an expression and just go for the craze).

The one closing the window: startled, worried and a bit anxious. Not just in the eyes, but face and pose as well, ignoring line of action (at least a sleek line of action) for a pose really confused, with the neck pulled in, the hands unsure. Again not generic at all.

Most poses don't look like concepts of a pose translated on paper but as if the artist was feeling the pose sensing the pose and emotion while drawing, the drawing as an extension of acting in and hands.


on the side:

I am not that found of the choice of colors and the grade of details though.

The picture with woody in bed for example - the picture is interesting and makes curious, though givin it's a short and the frame wouldn't get to rest. I don't see how one would be able to appreciate the grade of details and the curiosity in allows. The door (and the forest behind), the bed and the holes in the wall compete with each other, the red in the mushrooms compete with woody’s feathers and looking at it from far away i can't really read it clearly. The same later with the blue squirrel, sky and doormat - seems a bit confusing to me.
The one with the nuts is beautiful in how all action folows one line though, especially from right to left!

But wait - looking at the later pictures i do like the choice of colors then - they, though realistic, still capture the feel of the weather and mood, contrast outside and inside etc.

crolyss said...

WOW, the quality in these images is unbelievable. I cant stop looking. The colour is lovely, you can only get this great look when it all done by hand and shot on film. id love to see the original copy you have of this. the colours must burn beautifully. all the images are interesting, from the title card all the way through. like with the previous captures of woody the effects colouring and painting is interesting to see too...

you are doing a really good job explaining the lost mysterious magic missing from peoples visual encyclopedias. if you feel your words arent getting enough across, simply give more visual examples, say of the same genre, just to make sure people see how obvious something is. no one can explain this stuff in words alone, so dont try.

Adele K Thomas said...

Im not even going to try and sound deep...cos me no good at expression in words.
So I think it is about either:
-Background Layout and composition with characters (staging)
-Colour design in backgrounds
OR
-Re-using backgrounds (which I remember from the post which John used his Yogi Bear take off as an example)

good luck my peeps

Adele K Thomas said...

Yes, natural colours! This is a HUGE application to remember for us background and environment colourists...something I often have to remind myself about because I colour alot of different styles of backgrounds and its often easy to do bold colours especailly with the computers being so saturated in colour. When you use flash as well, its so rich in colour being vector, that you have to really find that de-saturated colour! So vastly different from traditional painting or photoshop even. Im often asking for feedback on my artwork and usually start off with 'I know I have to de-saturate this image but...' So I know that de-saturating and natural colours are so important, allowing little bits of saturated colours to pop out as either lighting, glows, light reflection, eye direction, focus on character etc...I said I wouldnt write a thesis, Ironically I wrote a thesis last year on 'How can colour contribute to commercial animation narrative'...I guess I can write a bit deep sometimes ;P

Trevour said...

I'm just seeing fun, bright colors used in the animation of the cels, which greatly contrast the character/object from the duller (yet still appealing) neutral background colors of the forest and trees. Woody really stands out and adds to his appeal - his color palette is just so fun to look at.

Evan said...

i didn't read all of what everyone else commented, but personally, my understanding off the theory is like this: nature is already full of beautiful colors, and you're a lot better off to actually look at the color of grass and the sky, or a sunset or what have you, to find good colors. instead of presuming: the sky is 100% cyan, grass is 100% green, etc.

i know that isn't the entire lesson to be learned, but thats what sticks with me especially.

Eric said...

Who did that beach scene painting up at the top of the post? The colors are awesome.

Maximum Awesome said...

Sweet, I win. Though a couple people said the same thing, later.

Thanks for doing this blog, John -- you've earned a huge market share in my artistic opinions.

william wray said...

One of the best living painters Richard Schmid claims there are no neutral colors. His point is that any color no matter how grey or "neutral" either leans cool or warm. Frustrating concept as neutral colors is such a handy term for grays. I've come to realize that the most important idea for achieving a great panting is balance. It's the most important term in the world really. If every lived life in balance, there would be no war, fat people, drug addiction, crime or mental illness. Simplistic yes, but the irony in life is simplicity is the hardest thing in the world to achieve, as the whole world believes complexity is the answer for everything good. It in fact leads to chaos in world affairs. love and in art. In politics complexity hides evil deeds and in art complexity leads to visual conflict.
Achieving balance and color harmony in painting in my opinion is best served by painting in complements and thinking as simple as possible. Maybe the term Neutral painting is better than neutral colors. What I mean is the overall effect of the whole painting is a balance or neutrality of all the colors in total. My Chinese painting instructor called this "Wholeness" I'm down with that. I think he means more that color harmony, it where everything is working in balance. I've never heard of the term natural colors. Maybe you mean earth tones?

Per said...

all those background provide a stage for the action and what "details" there are are well thought out to not steal the thunder of the animation...
i guess.