Friday, December 12, 2008

Disney Principles 2b - Bugs' Death 2 - Solid Drawing - adding perspective

Solid drawings are made up partly of construction. Perspective and foreshortening help make the drawings even more convincing - and harder to do. They also afford you more creative choices to tell your stories with.
Note how Bugs' feet are in the same perspective (the same angle) as the grave pit.
Many characters in today's cartoons will be drawn in 3/4 angle, yet their feet are placed on a horizontal line that completely ignores the perspective or angle of the rest of the characters. It hurts my eyes to see that so much. It makes it look like the leg that is farther away from is is longer than the one that is close to us.

We are also looking down on Bugs so his head is much bigger than his feet and his body is foreshortened.

I love the hills and valleys in Bugs' ears. Very subtle and adds even more form.
The way Bugs drags Elmer floating through the air and into the grave is cheated. Even McKimson couldn't figure out how to make that look natural. I bet he was cursing Clampett for this scene. It's full of technical problems to solve - yet the result makes the cartoon even funnier. It's amazingly directed - as someone pointed out in the comments the other day, Elmer is crying to the music. As always, Clampett's actions and gags flow along melodic music like a cartoon ballet.
I can't imagine how they choreographed all these ideas and made them work together so smoothly - and funny. They must have been supermen in the 1940s.


jbiibo said...

It's incredible how effective that scene is. Of the many cartoons I watched as a kid, the shot with Elmer looking up to Bugs as the dirt rains down on him has always stuck in my head. It was funny, but it also creeped me out a little. There's really not a moment in any great Clampett cartoon that isn't unique, different and iconic.

/\/\ikeB said...

On an animation note, I wonder if the hovering into the grave was a gag?

Elmer took about 40 frames ( of those frames, probably less original film frames ) to get into the grave. That's enough time to get yanked in abruptly, and rebound. Would that have been easier as the falling is where a lot of the foreshortening is, plus its faster so fudging it wouldn't be as obvious?

Andy J. Latham said...

A great scene, but I would say that the perspective on Bugs is slightly off when he's in the hole. It feels as if he is at an angle the wouldn't correspond with the side of the hole. It's fine when he's on the surface, but when he descends, we do not get a more top-down view that we should get.

Paulo A. Pereira said...

Hey John-

I'd like to know what you think about this animation,

Whit said...

There's also a major perspective cheat in the ground plane-to-horizon down angle background with the gravestone, but we don't notice it at film speed because McKimson's solid animation makes the thing plausible.

Thom said...

This has always been one of my favorite scenes. Elmer floating through the air doesn't really bother me because it is so funny, I'll accept any cheat. Frankly, I don't think the average moviegoer, even today, would notice. As long as it's funny, no one cares.

Clampett or McKimson apparently thought that the double hand shake was far more important than getting Elmer in there in a natural way (or it was a way to distract the viewer from the cheat). IOW, they didn't let real world physics get in the way of a good performance. It seems that comedy trumps naturalness in Clampett's world, and what a fun world it is!

Plus, as you said, it would have been a b!*&# to animate. With all that perspective to worry about it was hard enough!

So long Methuselah!

trevor thompson said...

You'd never be able to do this today.

Even if it were approved, who could animate it? You'd have to have the animator just in the next room, too, to make corrections.

Sending it to Korea would be a money-wasting move, too.

Why is it that, with almost everything in entertainment, the best stuff is always the early stuff? It certainly seems that way.

Do you think Tom McKimson laid any of this out, or is it likely that Clampett did his usual thing with Bob and just acted it out for him. I ask that only because you point out that his feet are in the same line of perspective as the grave, and to do that, I would assume you'd have to have access to the background to get it right.

Or maybe Bob McKimson is just a genius who's talent we can merely observe.

- trevor.

Hans Flagon said...

If Elmer were dragged to the grave naturally, it would have interupted the gag. Elmer has to be smoothly moved without his noticing to the worse situation for the gag to work.

Much funnier that he is lifted like a crying baby and gently placed in, than if he were kicked in the ass to the grave, I don't care HOW much you like a good ass poke.

There is sense to cartoon physics, and it is to support the comedy. That isn't to argue against the need for characters to have weight and balance and actual connection to the ground, and for laws of natural perspective to be ignored.

The idea is, don't distract. Don't distract with un-natural, or the over natural if it screws with the comic timing. Don't remind people of the impossible at the wrong time.

Payo said...

Well put Hans.

The cartoon physics behind a character smelling something dee-lightful and being pulled, floating through the air, by the vapor from said dee-lightful source would confound Enistein. Except he'd be laughing too hard to care.

pappy d said...

One of the greatest scenes ever animated! It's very broad, but you feel the bond of tenderness beneath the surface of their long, conflicted relationship as it finally comes to a sweet if tragic resolution.

I wish there was more use of perspective nowadays. It's not that hard once you nail solid volumetric drawing. Since traditional animation's been labelled '2D', producers have made a fetish out of flat angular design that's trapped on the picture plane.

HemlockMan said...

Oh, yeah. That is one funny-ass scene. I hadn't recalled until you mentioned it how Bug "floated" Elmer through the air and into the grave. Even when I was a kid that bit made me sit up. "What the heck was that?!"

But, you're right. There was no other way to fit it into the frame.

Raff said...

Bugs is carrying Elmer into the grave by the handshake. That's a Cirque du Soleil move for ya. :)

Niki said...

It was always fun even if that one part was cheated, but I always loved how immediately after this part Bugs begins to bury Elmer as fast as possible.

and I also know what you mean when you talk about the feet being screwed up too. I hated that a lot and that's one reason I gravitated to anime as a kid, cause after they stopped showing looney toons, only a few shows looked right. The feet used to be one of my buttons, now it's the mouths, I think my favorite is in Minnie the Moocher when the executioner ghost is pulling the lever. That's all.

LampshadeMan said...

yeah, Elmer Fudd's perspective changes way too early. But that's like focusing on a slight stutter that a comedian makes while delivering a hilarious joke. Your brain will filter that out.

Oh and I could just see a director today looking at that scene and all he has to say about it is that there is a match action on Bugs after the cut.

Kelly Toon said...

Paulo A. Pereira:

I really enjoyed that weird and interesting cartoon. I thought the drawings were very funny and original. The color palette was nice. The storyline was weird as hell!

I know you asked John, but I thought I'd throw that out there.

Pat said...

Hahaha! Bugs is such an ass! Thanks for sharing.

Elisson said...

That particular cartoon has always been one of my favorites.

The Time Passage sequence, as Elmer is transported into the Far Future, is especially hilarious now. I remember when 1970 seemed like the distant future (as it did to Clampett, et al., when they created this gem). Now, even 2000 is almost a decade gone.

All those years, and this cartoon still holds up. Sheer genius...and beautifully executed. You can nitpick about a few things, but all the gags work - and let's face there anything being made these days that comes close?

Steamer said...

I've enjoyed these posts and I really appreciate John's taking time to keep the flame alive.

Anyone interested in acquiring the skill of solid drawing shouldn't miss the books by Andrew Loomis, particularly, Fun With a Pencil, 3-Dimensional Drawing (reprint of Successful drawing), and Drawing the Head and Hands. They're timeless and without equal! The first and last mentioned above can be downloaded at

Steamer said...

To follow up on my earlier post, Successful Drawing can be viewed at