Friday, June 29, 2007

Bill Tytla - Terrytoons - mouse slaps lion's face


Developing a Character - Combining Proportions with Distinct Shapes

From Andre 7,000:

This character was already designed, but Joe Horn asked me to do some wacky versions of her for a music video.

A character is like a theme. You start with a general idea (which was already provided to us) and then you try variations.

This character was given to us by Joe Horn to do variations on.

Katie starts normal and cute to get used to the character.
I caricature her pose, by exagerrating the contrasts in her drawing. I also upped the wall-eyed Mary Blair effect.
Now Katie starts to break out and experiment with individual details and proportions.This drawing is chock full of distinct shapes and unusual- unusual means distinct by definition - proportions.

We use the term "Character design" pretty freely. The word design suggests that there are distinctions in the design even though much animation design is vague and indistinct. Animation has a tendency to be very conservative and to reuse shapes over and over again and in the same proportions.

This character came to us with the stock Preston Blair baby shapes and proportions-a big ball for a cranium and smaller pair of balls for cheeks and a pear for a body.

That left us with only the proportions and the details on the balls to play with.

Anyway when designing characters an artist who is truly a designer

1) searches for pleasing individual forms and shapes that look original and then

2) combines them in interesting proportions to try to make the design seem individual.

A designer should also be a caricaturist. A caricaturist looks for distinct shapes in real people and ditinct proportions and then makes them even more distinct than nature did.

You have to ignore your habits to be a good caricaturist. Instead of already knowing what things are supposed to look like, you open your eyes and really look, then put it down.

Marlo loves the myriad of individual shapes nature provides her with.

Katie Makes a Bumblebee Girl Shape:
And it inspires me to try some variations.

Adventurous types like to see how far they can go with distinctness, but of course this business is run by the vague-est most indistinct people on the planet and they always pull our stuff waaaaaay back until the characters are as vague and indistinct as the last 15 years worth of characters.

An interesting phemenon of all this is the concept of "Development Artist".
You know all those "Art Of" books the big companies put out? Filled with development sketches that the company never in a million years had any intention of actually using?

Why the heck do they spend so much money on developing interesting art to then throw it away and go back to the usual vagueness? That's a subject for another post, but lately they have figured out a use for it-to sell you the expensive books and make you wonder why the film didn't look like that.


Here's my "Fatty" version

Of course in a cartoon today, no one can actually be fat. They can only be slightly plump. If that!

Everything in cartoons today is just "slightly". Except for fur and hairs and pores.

Today's producers are real generous with gross surface details.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bill Tytla - Terrytoons - cute animation, is it such a bad thing to have appeal?

I think this is Tytla but whoever it is animated a super cute Mighty Mouse.


Big eyes and big pupils is a quick formula for appeal.

A little round tummy for a cute drunkard.

Cute is hard to define, but you can see the contrast between Tytla's drawings and the animator who did the next scene in the same cartoon.





How do you define cute and appealing in the first place? It's especially hard to now, because the whole concept has fallen out of style. Most artistic efforts are purposely unpleasant now, whether visual or audio.

The most general and obvious traits that make us think "cute" are big heads and big eyes.

Babies, kids, kittens, puppies are all cute to us because we are wired to want to protect the helpless.

These babies are generic cute. They say only the obvious.

This Chuck Jones kitten has the obvious traits too, but also is a very specific design which makes it even more cute because it appears more real.

Bugs Bunny can be bland, cute, funny or ugly, or some combination of everything, depending on who is drawing him and when he drew him.
Friz tends to draw him non-descript.

Jones draws him many ways. Here he is not exactly cute, but handsome. Taller proportions, but well designed shapes and good balance.He's a bit cuter and more stylish here.

McKimson is not known for cute. He has a tendency to draw his characters with tiny craniums and big jowls. His cartoons are hilarious, but I think he sometimes gets a bad rep for drawing the characters too "adult".

McKimson drew Porky with a huge head here, but still it doesn't add up to cute. See how hard it is to define what actually makes something appealing?

This is REALLY supposed to be cute. I love McKimson even though he has a tough time with cuteness. He is the Man's cartoonist.

This McKimson title card is more appealing than many of his drawings. I think it's a Scribner pose and Scribner has a natural appeal and cuteness in all his drawings-even when he tries to draw ugly.
Jones has an appeal in his characters when he doesn't get too cutesy.
This character is supposed to be ugly but is drawn with much appeal.

Cute and Weird is good too
FUNNY WEIRD AND CUTEClampett strikes an amazing balance of all at the same time.
Big pupils adds to the big eye effect. Clampett drew the biggest eyes of any animator in the 40s.

McKimson drew a lot cuter when he drew for Clampett.

Scribner too. The combination of him and Clampett makes for the ultimate cute weirdness.

Some pure cuteness is too much for me (like Disney babies), but when you add in other spices, like weirdness and twists it makes for a cute but sick combination and that's what I like best.

Rex Hackelberg is a perfect combination of cute, weird and great imagination.

Rex is one of the last few men who still have an eye for visual appeal. The last efforts to keep cute alive seem to be coming mostly from a handful of girls. You know who they are.

Young guys love ugly today-in all things, cartoons, music, pants, unshaven faces, you name it. They think it's not "cool" to have taste and pleasure. Thank God that girls have more sensitivity to pleasure and the finer things in life. Maybe they can save us from ugly coolness.

You can even draw ugly with cuteness and appeal, as Basil Wolverton proved.

Appeal and cuteness comes partly from the baby traits, but there's more to it. A real designer has a way with shapes and balance and those attributes are much harder to explain. I'll work on it.

It's especially hard to explain today, since the last 40 years have largely abandoned the concept of visual appeal so no one even knows what it is. I wonder when ugly girls will come into style?

Will CG animation EVER achieve appeal?

I'm curious, which of these do you think of as cute or appealing?