Tuesday, October 30, 2007

L.O. 5: Maintain Guts From SB to Layout pt 3 - Adding Poses

Chapter 3 of Maintaining some Goddamn Guts from Storyboard to Layout.

emotional states change from moment to moment- draw it!
Here are the rest of the pages from the maintaining guts from storyboard to layout manual.


I can't stress enough how important it is to make every pose completely distinct and unambiguous. We should feel the state of mind of each character every step of the way as the story plays out. Cartoon characters should not be stylized graphic images.

They are living pulsating blogs of quivering protoplasm, stuffed to the membranes with engorged emotions of every degree of intensity and subtlety. Don't leave it up to the audience or the animator to figure out what the characters are doing and FEELING. Your pencil needs to show us.

That's why you need to know all your drawing principles first. They are your story telling tools. Without them you are very limited in what you can say visually!

Don't rely on stock expressions you've seen in Disney movies or Spumco cartoons. You need to feel the emotions as you go, and have the chops to be able to draw them as they happen.

Notice that Rip does not merely pinch Chunk. He has feelings about the pinching. Pinching is important to him in very specific Rip like ways.

The pinch itself to a writer would be the end of the gag, but to you the performer, it's not enough. The gag has to be intensified by how the characters feel about the action. These are things that can be drawn and acted.

Break down the actions into States Of Changing Feelings

First Rip aims his pincers at a clear piece of tender flesh, then his eyes and grin widen as he anticipates the sheer pleasure he will derive from Chunk's coming pain.

As Rip tightens the pinch, his face cinches up to show the effort. When lets go, he looks at Chunk so that he can enjoy the reaction.

His face registers not merely happiness, but a proud sort of smug satisfaction, the look of a man who has done his job well. You should have this look when you draw your layouts and present them to the ornery director. Show him how proud you are of your clever mischief. That's why you make cartoons in the first place, right?

The emotions quickly change as the gag is over. Chunk is out for revenge and Rip's face and body attitude portrays "Oh, yeah? What are you gonna do about it, Punk?"- all without having to resort to dialogue to tell us what he feels.


In any creative department, there are so many things you have to plan and think about as you draw that it's very hard to remember everything, especially the functional needs of the scene.

It's very handy to have a checklist that you can refer to when you finish your scenes. You just go down the list and look at your drawings to check for each important point. If you see that you missed something, you can then fix it before you hand it in.

If you are this thorough in your work, your director will love you and the next creative person who has to work from your drawings will not have to solve problems that you didn't address. He has all his own complicated functions to perform and needs completeness from you!

REMEMBER: Your director may want to push you creatively, but he shouldn't have to point out functional problems. If you are a pro, your scenes should function correctly and you won't need to be constantly reminded to say- keep your poses within the TV cutoff...or your silhouette doesn't read clearly, etc.

If you haven't already donated to your cartoon education, this might be good time since it's the end of the month and all the bills are comin' in!

I'll post everyone's names in a couple days.

By the way everybody, my Dad was very happy with all your good wishes yesterday. Thanks a lot! He wants to Indian Leg Wrestle each and every one of you. Especially the girls...


Mitch Leeuwe said...

Great post again :) Thanks for the insight.

"That's why you need to know all your drawing principles first. They are your story telling tools. Without them you are very limited in what you can say visually!"

That's why I wanna learn the principles! Damn, why don't I get this stuff at school...

Kali Fontecchio said...

"He wants to Indian Leg Wrestle each and every one of you. Especially the girls..."


PCUnfunny said...

Great post John. It's a crime you giving so much info for free.

"He wants to Indian Leg Wrestle each and every one of you."

I suddenly came down with a cold.

PCUnfunny said...

I sent another five bones. I would give more but I don't get paid until Friday.

Emmett said...

As a student animator still learning, I have to know....

WHICH drawing priciples are you referring to?

I hear about so many principles, and yet still don't know how most of them apply to animation, storyboarding, or layout.

JohnK said...

Hey Emmett

click the "principles" label at the bottom of the post and a bunch of articles will come up.

They explain it all.

Charlie J. said...

thanks for the great advice!

"Cartoon characters should not be stylized graphic images."

In my summer cartooning "class" they made us read a book about how iconic, bland characters were what to strive for. My teacher also told me to read bland little lulu comics he thought were "good, iconic cartooning".

David Germain said...

I like that one tip about not toning down the storyboard. On the show I'm currently working on, there have been times where I had to tone UP the storyboard. Or at least do something completely different from what the board's picture is. Not so much that I'm almost rewriting the story of course, but just something with more acting than the stuff I'm seeing.

Not only has noone gotten mad about me doing this, but one time I did something that wasn't even in the storyboard at all at the animation director gave me a little note that said "nice".

Rodrigo said...

I just walked out of a CG kids movie, and I'm pissed. I couldn't stomach "Bee Movie." Why are people throwing money at people who can't write cartoons . . . like Jerry Seinfeld!

This post makes me wonder what Dreamwork's and Pixar's storyboards looks like to begin with.

And I know for a fact, that Pixar has employed a funny and inventive cartoonist: Teddy Newton. But his ideas rarely make the final cut. Brad Bird thinks his stuff is too "wild & weird." But Goddammit, it's actually fun and funny! Watch the special feature about Teddy Newton on the Iron Giant DVD and you'll see what I mean.

Anyway, thanks for this post. It really gives me hope that funny cartoons do have a method to their madness.

Emmett said...

Mr. K,

thanks for directing me to those principles posts. I am starting to remember these.

I am too much of a visual thinker, so I have to learn these principles visually, not verbally.

Nico said...

I loooove those Rip expressions. man!

John, I'll be in town next week... Kali and i were wondering about a possible hang-out on Tuesday? Email me if you want to plan somethin'!

bardhol said...

i'm humbly requestin' all you animating type folks to comehere and critique my second and latest pencil test. it was copied from the popeye short "pleased to meet cha". for my third test i'm going to try something easier; i just had to get this one out of my system.

chrisallison said...

Whoa this is like one of my favorite John K posts. Character layout seems to be given no consideration is most modern cartoons. Getting emotions has been hard for me because I guess I think about the broad scene rather than the specific action. But if I punctuate each emotion based on exactly what's going on, I think everything will be more clear and the progression of emotions will be easier to follow.

I love the acting posts. Keep it up!

Also would love a post on your eye theories.

akira said...

thanks for the continued layout lessons.. man i bet the animatics from most of the ripping friends looked better than the final animation! i'd definitely buy a book of layouts for a couple episodes!

lastangelman said...

waiting til pay day to express gratitude for all this.
excellent post.

Annette said...

After reading this post about your Dad and his influence,and then down to the post about Kirk Douglas, I just have to tell you this story! Being a huge Ren & Stimpy fan since I was a kid, I decided to visit your studio 6 or 7 years ago. It was in Glendale, in a room upstairs! I was visiting my cousin in LA and jumped on the opportunity. Your staff let me in, and showed me around, and were surprised that someone came to visit. It was neat to see all the sketches on the board, and some Flash being created. You weren't there-but they let me peek in your office. Lo- a Kirk Douglas picture displayed on your wall! I remember that big closeup he had when Stimpy went to hollywood-and I was soooo geeked!
Now i see the REAL reason behind that photo....