Friday, August 17, 2007

12 posts on CONSTRUCTION for Ben Forbes and Chet

This is your most important cartoon-drawing principle. Get this down and everything else will be a lot easier!

Read the page from the bottom post 1st and then work your way up.


Brad said...

I'm kind of new to your blog John but I got the Preston Blair book two weeks ago and have been pretty diligently going through the course from last year. Its amazing in just two days what construction knowledge does! I think my whole brain was restructured and I have been looking at the world differently, and its honestly better than life drawing classes I've taken (I don't know if that says more about P. Blair or the life drawing I took).

Maybe I'll post a few examples on my newborn blog, it needs some nourishment.

Drifta39 said...

Those guys are even more skillful than I thought. The construction looks so natural as well... I don't know how to explain it...

Kelly Toon said...


I have a question about construction.

Is it always necessary to use guidelines to indicate volume before adding details? if it is a character or form you are familiar with, and can give the illusion of depth without the 'dimension lines,' I mean?

here is a page of cartoon raccoons I was trying to make them look solid and well-put-together. Have I succeeded? am I on the right track?

Thanks for your input!


Ben Forbes said...

Thanks! I was looking at some of these earlier today :)

Tibby said...

These are the most important steps to drawing - just about anything.

I love you and I hate you at the same time sometimes. I joined my local Seattle ASIFA group recently. And I am looking forward to an upcoming meeting. And I might soon be getting a cartooning job real soon. Not animation - just cartooning, making those icons and posters for Pull Tab games. But it's a cool ass cartooning job none-the-less.

I just thought I'd tell you. I'm still sort of mad at you - but so are a lot of ppl it seems.

Always start with your motion lines, skeletons and shapes! It is vitaly important to everything.

Thunderrobot(aka Chet) said...

thanks John, please do more original construction posts.

JohnK said...

Hi Kelly

your best bet is to copy Preston's drawings step by step, rather than just jumping ahead to designing your own character.

Yes you need to put the center lines in-but before you add the eyes and mouth, etc. Not after the drawing is finished and it's too late.

You use the center lines to help aim the features so they end up in the right place.

It's a matter of logic.

Copy Preston's drawings and when you get comfortable that you are understanding the why of constructing characters, then copy some of the model sheets I post from old cartoons. Tom and Jerry, etc.

Then copy freeze frames from old cartoons, so you start to understand posing.

One step at a time!

iF.. igeneia said...

its great..

angello ///// said...


Preston's drawings is the best school!

thanks you


san said...

I know it's been discussed to death everywhere, but regarding that contrast between the style of Disney or Preston Blair vs the still art of anime, I have to admit I favor the latter. I find that a still watercolor matte backdrop gives more eye-candy than the animating component. In which case, what's the best book for doing the matte backdrops and watercolors, as well for seamlessly compositing stuff? How should color-selection be done to ensure that the animating components integrate seamlessly with the still backdrops?

PCUnfunny said...

"your best bet is to copy Preston's drawings step by step, rather than just jumping ahead to designing your own character."

I am guilty of that but I don't think my drawings turned out that bad.

PCUnfunny said...

I was influenced by Preston Blair's construction techniques just to clarify. I do use shapes and line of action.

JohnK said...


want some honest advice?

PCUnfunny said...


Pete Emslie said...

"Yes you need to put the center lines in-but before you add the eyes and mouth, etc. Not after the drawing is finished and it's too late."

Hah! I get that all the time on student assignments and I always call them on it. It's pretty funny looking at a clean pencil line drawing with the light blue construction and guidelines added hastily after the fact. It's a giveaway when the sphere of the cranium is too small and floating around within the head shape, not corresponding at all to the outline. Likewise, facial features that are drifting either side of the centre line. Sadly, by trying to pull one over on me, they're only cheating themselves out of properly understanding the construction process. The irony is that it really takes so little extra time and effort to do it correctly, too!

Tony said...

I like this post a lot as it led me to the older posts on building forms and such.

Here are my first attempts at the squirrel.
Could you do a post on hands/eyes too?

PCUnfunny said...

John, what did you want to say to me ?

Chris said...

Hey John,

I've been going through the Preston Blair book for a while now and it's been pretty fun and my drawings have really gotten more solid. I'm also relearning Maya this summer and started thinking that many of these principles about solid construction, form, volumes, line of action, etc. would be pretty easy to translate to a 3D package like Maya. I'd wager that constructing and posing a character correctly could be done pretty quickly on a computer if the person working it had a good handle on these first principles.

I was thinking as a possible project to go back and start the Preston Blair book from scratch (along with all of your supplemental exercises), but this time do it all on the computer in 3D. I'd like to get your opinion on this. Would 3D Preston Blair be a viable exercise or just an exercise in futility. I've always wondered if 3D cartoons could become just as good as the classics and if their overall lack of goodness was due to a lack of knowledge on the artist's part or a constriction based on the medium.

Thanks for keeping the art of classic cartooning alive in modern times!


JohnK said...

Hi Chris

I'd be interested in seeing that.

I have my doubts though that computer animation will ever catch up to the technologically superior human with a pencil.

he said said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ben Forbes said...

Hello John,

I'm making it through your construction posts pretty well but I was wondering if you could just take a peak at the sketches on my blog and tell me if there's anything specific that I should be working on to become a better artist.


Andrew Mortlock said...

John, I gave these wolf heads a shot, applying the principles to different poses. I'm keen to have the John K critical treatment ladled onto them.

Also here I applied the wolf construction principles to create my own character.