Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Critique For Kelly Toon



Kelly has bravely asked for a critique of a drawing. She is starting to use some classic principles which is good. Here are some tips to get them to work together.
from Kelly: Here are a couple of concept drawings I did to bid for a children's book illustration job. Take a Look. I tried very hard to keep my negative spaces interesting, asymmetrical, and to use balance in my designs, and make it all very appealing. I am proud of the results, though I can see where they need adjusting. A certain redheaded bombshell gave me some excellent feedback and that helped a lot! I am sharing these images, just to say thank you again for this wealth of easily-digestible information you provide every week. Hopefully these do not make you want to shoot yourself, if you decide to take a look. Of course I'd be delighted to get any critique.



I hope that is a bit helpful. My sketches are a bit generic just to make the points clear.

43 comments:

trevor thompson said...

I didn't know we could do that.

I've got stuff that needs critiquing. Can I send it to you?

- trevor.

Dobie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
M. R Darbyshire said...

You've opened a tin can, and in it is worms.

The Butcher said...

I won't ask you to critique anything that's currently on my blog, as I'm sure they're not your kind of thing, and you'd probably be appalled by the clutter and lack of principles, however I am working on some stuff where I try to utilize some principles and when I'm done with them, I'll ask for your critique.

クMAコUジ said...

I dunno how I feel about this.

I've admired your work for ages John, and I generally on a subjective level empathise with a lot of the qualms you have with animation today. But individual critiques of people's work where you say "this head isn't round enough" or "these eyes aren't circular enough"; It makes me think of painting by numbers or of old school rote training -- It strips people's drawings of an essential personal creativity IMHO.

People coming to this blog and seeing how you would do things, seeing what you admire, and perhaps applying elements of it to their own work is one thing, but to have you "correct" their work? I don't know.

I believe that as an artist, you need to find your own feet. Sure, you take your inspiration from other artists, but don't hand your pen to them and have them draw for you. If your art lacks enough personality and substance for you to say with confidence "this is mine, this is exactly what I intended and this is an expression of me in its entirity" then you need to go back to the drawing board -- your work isn't finished.

I hope this doesn't come across as an attack because it's not, no at all. I think it's really cool that you're willing to spend your time helping people, I just personally wouldn't do what you're doing.

Hans Flagon said...

I had a thought- what if the art director doesn't have any taste, and wants style over substance?

Nicol3 said...

Sniff sniff? Steaming hot critiques you say?

Should I be overzealous or afraid? :0

Kelly Toon said...

omgoodness, I didn't think I'd get much comment, and certainly not an entire blog post about my drawings!!! John, Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. I see how my poses could be more solid and also more fluid. The bigger skull on the characters is definitely better! When you say the space is cramped, did you mean in those circled areas, the foot and the head?

Again, I really appreciated the feedback. I will do my best to make all 32 illustrations as appealing and well-constructed as I possibly can!

BTW, folks looking for critique, there is a new blog called http://cartooncritique.blogspot.com where a number of people have been posting and sharing some helpful insights. We need more contributers, so if you want something put on the blog, email it to Elana at: cartooncritique AT gmail DOT com.

JohnK said...

"When you say the space is cramped, did you mean in those circled areas, the foot and the head?"

Yeah, each element is too close to the next element which makes the whole shape hard to read.

You need spaces next to fills. Eyes shouldn't fill the head, etc.

Bob Probst said...

Kelly, please let us know if you get the job and share the finished product!

Roberto González said...

>>You've opened a tin can, and in it is worms.<<

Ha, ha! I was actually considering to ask you for some criticism about character design in some previous post, but eventually I thought it could be asking too much.

I designed most of my characters long time ago (before this blog) and frankly I'm not planning to change them a lot, but I'd consider to make some subtles changes to the construction if there were some good advice. My comic strip appear in a local diary so I'm not going to change the characters dramatically. But it would be very interesting to hear expert opinion since it's difficult to find.

I try to apply some principles, especially lines of action and some construction, but I admit I don't usually think about composition or negatives spaces. And I'm extremely lazy with backgrounds in general.

J.R. Spumkin said...

I'm excited and frightened at the same time.

I need new underwear now.

Niki said...

I just read Mr. John's numerous posts on Composition, and it comes into play here! the negative space under his arm is really weird, but nothing is ever something that can't be fixed!

johnmike said...

Mr. john k
you are the best. el ka-bong

Pete Emslie said...

With all due respect to クMAコUジ, I believe that the constructive criticism that John has offered up here is entirely valid, as it has nothing to do with an individual's style or as you put it, "essential personal creativity". John's been trying to show the distinction between "style" and "drawing principles" for quite some time on this blog and I'm sorry that you haven't been able to see that distinction being made here.

As I am one who is in the business of teaching Character Design in the Sheridan Animation program, I can attest to the fact that John is merely pointing out structural and staging flaws in Kelly's samples and not attempting to impose his own "style" on her as it were. I find myself making precisely the same types of corrections on post-it notes to student assignments, especially in regard to the cranium making sense. It's astounding to me how many drawings I see where the eyes are positioned below the cranial sphere!

I would hope that John has not indeed opened up a can of worms here, as it would not be fair to deluge him with tons of drawings for critiquing. Instead, learn from what he has posted here and in many of the other threads over the last couple of months that deal with construction and appeal. Frankly, my hat's off to you, John - I think you've been providing a valuable service on here of late and your readers should be grateful for your generosity.

JohnK said...

Thanks Pete!

Niki said...

I just noticed something, when the boy is sitting. In between his head and knee, that doesn't create a negative space? I think it would, wouldn't it?

Kali Fontecchio said...

( > * ~* )> ------- <( #___# < )

Sven Hoek said...

I would love to see the corrected drawings. I just love watching progress.

Any new George drawings John?

クMAコUジ said...

"John's been trying to show the distinction between "style" and "drawing principles" for quite some time on this blog and I'm sorry that you haven't been able to see that distinction being made here."

I don't believe there is such a thing as universal drawing principles. I don't believe drawing principles can neatly be seperated from an artist's indivdidual style, they're the same thing to me. That's just my view.

If someone was to say to you "I want a photographic, ultra-realistic interpretation of the human body in motion", then of course, there are universal principles to work by.

If someone is creating a cartoon, those universal principles go out the window -- you get to make your own rules. To what degree your principles coincide with established norms is a matter for the artist to decide upon.

" It's astounding to me how many drawings I see where the eyes are positioned below the cranial sphere!"

You're assuming that the eyes being positioned below the cranial sphere is a result of lack of drawing ability and not a stylistic preference. The judges of the Salon de Paris rejected Cezanne's work because it didn't correspond to what they assumed were the "universal principles" of good art. Picasso even painted a woman with a mouth on the side of her face...

I'm sure there are lots of people who want their cartoons to follow exactly the same drawing principles that John endorses. And I'm sure there are lots of artists who would more than happily take on any and all alterations John makes to their creations. If you're one of those people, these critiques are for you.

Personally, I would encourage artists not to hand over so much of their individual creation to someone else, at least not to the stage where they're actually showing you how to draw your own cartoons by drawing over them. That to me is devoid of creativity.

These are your creations. Don't relinquish your individuality to such a high degree. freedom to express difference is what makes cartoons and all art such a pleasure.

JohnK said...

With that kind of reasoning, we should all make up our own languages.


No one should ever learn from anyone else. We should make up physics and astronomy from scratch over and over again and never progress.


You should not use wheels, because they were invented by someone else. Create your own individual way of transportation.

Do not use any kind of tools at all, because that's cheating.


Principles are tools, not barriers to your precious creativity.

Anyway, why read this blog at all if you don't want to learn anything?

Just do everything from scratch through rial and error and sheer inspiration.

M. R Darbyshire said...

Requesting the opinion of someone you admire is not relinquishing individuality.

People should have principles pounded into them, almost fascistically. The students that birth their own style afterward have the real talent.

Picasso had principles. Only toddlers have style without principles. And that's because they have underdeveloped motor function and hand-eye coordination.

JohnK said...

Style is born of function. Without knowledge, skill and principle tools, we have only ignorant anarchy.

M. R Darbyshire said...

A thousand pardons, I meant to go back and put in "ignorant style" in the remark about toddlers.

Ignorant Anarchy is what I meant, basically. Obviously a toddler hasn't developed a style, good or not.

Elana Pritchard said...

yes if anyone needs their work critiqued (I'm sure John would love to critique everybody's work but I'm assuming he's really busy and can't do that) please visit
www.cartooncritique.blogspot.com
It's edu-fun-tastical!

クMAコUジ said...

"With that kind of reasoning, we should all make up our own languages."

Lots of people do, and they do it through art. language might seem like the most logical, direct form of communication but it's frought with boundaries. Have you ever heard of the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis? It basically states that not only does language reflect thought, but it shapes it.

Art can be used as a way of breaking free of these repetitive thought patterns, and used as a tool to express the more complex abstract aspects of existance that are hard to put into words. Break free of the cliches.

"You should not use wheels, because they were invented by someone else. Create your own individual way of transportation."

You're being extremely absolutist. Just because someone created the wheel doesnt mean we shouldnt use it anymore, but just because the wheel has been invented doesn't mean we can't deviate either. Infact, I encourage deviation. if it wasnt for deviation, the wheel would have never been invented in the first place!

"Requesting the opinion of someone you admire is not relinquishing individuality."

It kinda is when someone redraws your cartoons and you take onboard those alterations as how it's "supposed to look".

"People should have principles pounded into them, almost fascistically. The students that birth their own style afterward have the real talent."

People used to think like you, and that's why we had almost 400 years of identical looking "academic" art here in Europe. Then Modernism and Postmodernism came along and shook all that up.

I honestly don't wanna offend anybody. I'm just expressing a contrary opinion, that's what blogs are for - to share ideas and thoughts.

I personally don't like the idea of people taking their individual work and saying "hey mr professional animator, draw my own art how it's supposed to look please". It doesnt sit well with me. If people did that, everyones work would look samey.

Just my subjective opinion.

JohnK said...

Actually, everyone's work today does look "samey", precisely because people copy decadent styles rather than learn principles and from there use their ability and heightened senses to make their own observations from life.

Ignorance doesn't promote individuality - and doesn't impress most people.

Guy said...

クMAコUジ: So I suppose you support the executive method of finding talent for cartoons?

You know, where they take a kid who can't draw and put him in charge of real cartoonists (whose skills, of course, don't actually exist and are only a matter of opinion) and let him carry out his "unique" "vision"?

Newsflash: There's nothing personal in what a beginner puts onto paper when he first draws. All it is is a regurgitation of the cliches he's absorbed over the years. It's art vomit.

Giving artists the skills to do anything is what produces truly individual artists.

Guy said...

People used to think like you, and that's why we had almost 400 years of identical looking "academic" art here in Europe. Then Modernism and Postmodernism came along and shook all that up.

And you think that was an improvement?

Personally, I prefer fine art from when it was more than a way for its creators, fans, and especially critics to feel very intelligent and had more substance than silly little scavenger hunts.

Vucaroš said...

Well, クMAコUジ, I don't know have you attended some art class, but this is the way it works, you paint, you draw, and professor (in this case: JohnK) remarks your work with experienced suggestions. Because, those are just suggestions, not orders, and you are free to chose to accept it or not. Nobody forces you. But those are tools for your self development.

Let me put it this way, either you are stubborn according to your effort and energy you have put in your work, and you believe in your talent and accomplishments, so you are not asking for advise - or you are open to new approaches and eager to learn and develop your skills using some experienced advises, knowing that talent is just not enough. This two approaches doesn't necessarily controverts each other. You, as an artist, should be opened to every possible way for self development - your work and your talent demands for it.

Picasso and Cezanne are two artists who worked a lot and were influenced by outside sources. Tremendous amount of work is visible in their masterpieces, and that's why they are so great. Not just because they are different. IMHO.

Take a look at this drawing, maybe you'll figure out what I am saying.

Keunemeun said...

Cool post John! If only you could split up in a thousand smaller John K's, so you could correct every beginning animator.

クMAコUジ: indeed, picasso put the eyes and the mouths all across the canvas. and cezanne was sort af the founding father of cubism. But you forget two things: those are painters, not animators: there work doesn't need to move so they don't really need structure in there figures. And second: they were masters of compositions, principles, color and draftmanship. Picasso could paint as realistic as Rubens when he was 12 years old, and tried to paint like a child for the rest of his life. It is the skill and the knowledge that has to come first, then your precious individuality.

M. R Darbyshire said...

It kinda is when someone redraws your cartoons and you take onboard those alterations as how it's "supposed to look".

You assume Kelly Toon will follow John's instructions blindly. She understands why he corrected parts of her drawings, and when she goes back to her drawing she'll use the thinking skills we've evolved to add or subtract the things she wants, some happen to be influenced by John. There's nothing wrong with considering someone else's opinion, which is all she has done.

People used to think like you, and that's why we had almost 400 years of identical looking "academic" art here in Europe. Then Modernism and Postmodernism came along and shook all that up.

400 years is a stretch, but thank you for proving my point. Today, people have a bunch of anti-art movements confused with art movements, and now we have crappy, lazy artists who don't give an inch about trying to better themselves (even in their own view of what is 'better'.)

Deniseletter said...

J R Spumkin I agree with you,That's the feeling!
BTW Relating the affirmation"You've opened a tin can, and in it is worms" I would change it for:You've opened a tin can, and in it is full of clues for you and us for learning.There is still more doubts and cases of how to do all the principles in a correct way.

Kelly Toon said...

y'all are assuming I am going to now change my drawings to look how John drew them. Sorry, but that's not the case! I agree that the body could be much more solidly positioned, but I am keeping his shirt baggy and long as well as his pants, because these are NOT animation drawings they are illustrations, so they can afford to be more designy and complicated. I might make the dogs head a bit bigger but probably not that big, just because dogs don't tend to have very round craniums. John mentioned that these were just basic, general suggestions, anyway, not the Word of God on High.

mr. ?MA?U?

Thank you for defending the individual's need for original expression free from restraint and etc etc. However, I think that instruction from those more expert than you is not a bad thing, as long as one has the fortitude to reject that which they don't agree with. I mean, infants are taught how to speak, ice-skaters are taught how to jump and land gracefully, intelligent dog owners will go to a professional or at least read some respected books if they want to train their pooch in manners or tricks. As to the latter, (which I am very interested in), there are many trainers out there who have ideas that I admire and accept as correct, while the same trainer may have ideas that I can't stand.

A good example is Cesar Millan (the Dog Whisperer). While I do agree that many dogs are terribly under-exercised, and that physical stimulation leads to a less hyperactive/destructive dog, I feel he leaves out the even more important exercise of positive, rewards-based training, which exercises the brain. I think the way he jerks dogs on a leash is terrible and will result in an edgy, unhappy dog. That doesn't mean I will toss his ideas about exercise.

Well that's enough rambling. This certainly sparked some interesting conversation! Hope to see some of y'all at cartooncritique.blogspot.com :)

JPilot said...

"Sans la technique, l'art n'est qu'une sale manie."
(Without technique, art is just a filthy habit)
It's okay to break the rules once you know them and breaking them helps carry your message through.
Throwing every rule out the window and saying "yeah, I meant to do that"
isn't creative, it's executive.

クMAコUジ said...

"There's nothing personal in what a beginner puts onto paper when he first draws. All it is is a regurgitation of the cliches he's absorbed over the years. It's art vomit."

You could argue the same about "experts" who reguritate what they learnt by rote.

this isn't an all or nothing affair, stop acting like that's what i'm saying. I'm saying, if indidvual critiques of people's work (read: corrections) are gonna be a regular feature on this blog, people should take it all with a large pinch of salt.

"And you think that (modernism & postmodernism) was an improvement?
"


To quote Cezanne, the father of Modernism, "And this thing which is commonly appreciated so much is merely the effect of craftsmanship and renders all work resulting from it inartisttic and common".

"Picasso and Cezanne are two artists who worked a lot and were influenced by outside sources. Tremendous amount of work is visible in their masterpieces, and that's why they are so great. Not just because they are different. IMHO."

My point is, We wouldn't consider them master painters if it wasn't for the fact they pushed the boundaries and established their own standards by which to express their art.

"But you forget two things: those are painters, not animators: there work doesn't need to move so they don't really need structure in there figures."

Your animations can move however you choose. Its your choice as an artist.

"And second: they were masters of compositions, principles, color and draftmanship."

By todays standards they're considered masters. Before they questioned the establishment and questioned the status quo they faced a lot of people telling them they were "doing it wrong". It's all relative.

"Today, people have a bunch of anti-art movements confused with art movements, and now we have crappy, lazy artists who don't give an inch about trying to better themselves"

The Stuckists would be completely up your alley...

Zorrilla said...

Wow, actually I thought John was very kind and respectful in his critique.

And don't forget that the artist asked John for his comments, and received very good insights.

I also agree with a previous comment that his advices were about universal technical concepts like construction, design and silhouettes.

I think the worst comment you can receive is a pat on the back, like many artists do when you ask for an opinion. That doesn't help you to improve.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Nice Post!!!!!!!

gypsyhips said...

Whenever I check your blog, I always see a plethora of negative things about today's animation industry, and very few positive (At least, aside from the repeated pimping of select individuals (which is fine, but I'm already following their own blogs so I tend to scroll past here)).

Have you ever made an entire post about the opposite? It'd be nice to see something optimistic going into the new year, rather than the usual what-not-to. I'd love to know your opinion of what animated films and shows are well done, and held their own against the monsoon of blah~

LETS TALK CARTOONS said...

dear john some people just cant get it .Id call them cartoon nazis

Chris E. said...

I would ask for critique, but I wouldn't know how to contact you so you would know. I've been so discouraged about my own work lately.

Aaron said...

Just cuz all the fundamentals are done perfectly doesn't make the peice perfect fundamentals are something that can be critiqued and Mr. K shouldn't have to tip toe and begin each sentence with "in my opinion." Art is sort of subjective but not completely subjective and there are lots of good great artists who don't break rules, but just follow them really well. With modernism and post modernism most of these artists were overlooked and many are cartoonists -- in my opinion.

Mitch L said...

Thanks, this is super helpfull!