Thursday, December 11, 2008

Disney Principles 5 - "Pliable" or "Organic"

Even though these posts are titled "Disney principles" doesn't mean they invented them. Many were already known by artists in other mediums and animators in every studio were discovering the animation specific principles on their own by trial and error.

I'm just titling them this way because I'm using the text from "The Illusion of Life".


Here is an explanation of what they mean by "pliable" and what I term "organic". It isn't listed as a separate principle in the book, but it's sitting there on a page about squash and stretch. The book wasn't layed out too sensibly, but here it is:
I'm surprised there wasn't more interest in my first post on "appeal". It's a difficult subject and I see that there was some misunderstanding in the comments. I'll have to try to articulate some of the ingredients of "appeal" more clearly in further posts. The Dick Williams images are examples of drawings without appeal. Odd stiff proportions, too much detail; very anti-Disney. Designs that fight being animated. Difficult and clumsy for the sake of making it hard to move.

Also by "appeal" I don't simply mean character design. I thought I explained that in the post, but maybe not well enough.

You can have a bland character design like Tom and Jerry or Elmer Fudd, but an artist with natural appeal can apply style and appeal on top of the generic design. More on all this later, if anyone is interested.

Click the label below that says "organic" for examples.

40 comments:

John Young said...

for pete's sake! we're all interested.

LimbClock said...

Seconded. Me want learn draw funnygood

PCUnfunny said...

Of course what I said in my post can apply to anything, organic or not.

FerGil said...

Yeah, I'm interested... if you keep postin' I keep readin'

Dave Jacob Hoffman said...

I'm not very vocal around here, but I've been taking notes here in the back row for a while now. And yes, I'm very interested. You're changing the way I see everything.

Vermaquale said...

I am interested

Very interested indeed

Lluis Sanchez said...

Yeah John, I's interested also!!
these are great posts!!

LampshadeMan said...

I'm interested. Very interesting and useful stuff.

Cody Clarke said...

Definitely interested! I'm just a fan of cartoons and I find these fascinating. They've enhanced my appreciation for cartoons and animation.

Stephen said...

Another regular reader and infrequent commenter votes for further details.

Maybe you could look at the appeal of other generic styles that developed out of Disney or earlier cartoon styles. I'm thinking of Herge's Tintin, Schulz's Peanuts or Goscinny/Uderzo's Asterix: these artists were influenced by early American comic strips. They have fairly generic styles that I'd still consider to be appealing. (Asterix isn't as generic as Tintin or Peanuts, mind you). The fun and appeal of these comics seems to be based more on story than on outstanding, distinct style. One might say the same of the Carl Barks comics, Al Capp and classic DC superhero comics (40s/50s). These contrast with more specific (but also appealing) stylists: Milt Gross, Rod Scribner, Ronald Searle, Saul Steinberg (I'm aware you don't care for him), George Herriman, Basil Wolverton, Don Martin and Jamie Hewlett, among others.

Thanks for all of your hard work, John. I've discussed many of your ideas with art school graduates here in Canada (drawing majors) who have said that very few of these concepts are mentioned, let alone taught. I maintain you're doing the work art schools used to take for granted a century ago.

JKG said...

Having the Illusion of Life for quite a while, I haven't figured out and didn't really understood how to apply these principles. Like you when I bought it and how I heard about it I expected something technical.

All these nuggets are drowned in the pages of "propaganda". And sometimes I could find some great lines in chapters that are absolutely not technical. It's a hard book to read and I'd hate to force myself reading how great Walt was but it worth tracking these nuggets and thank you John for making a great analysis of them.
Usually it is reduced to the classical 12/24 principles page we can find on the web with no further explanation of each of them, as if it was clear enough. I'm still a student, but the more I practice the clearer it gets whether or not it is Disney "principles"... still, a more experience guidance is so helpful.

Lucas Nine said...

Don't cry, we're all interested. About “Appeal”: it's very interesting to enter to the Moore's blog and see how much he has worked on motives related to sexy girls. Many of the sexy features and balance tricks used by Moore in those drawings could be found in, let's say, his Mickeys. Probably there is something intrinsically sexual in the concept of “appeal”. I don't know.
There's not many “pretty girls” artists nowadays...

The enigmatic Wayne C Spencer said...

Yeah, I'm personally really interested in further discussion on appeal.

It seemed like you were having a bit of trouble picking a direction to take with the talk in the initial post, but I'm curious to see where it goes and it's a dialogue worth having for cartoonists/animators, so let's have it.


Every Damned Day

Frank Forte said...

John,

Great lessons as always. Any chance of getting a preview to THE ART OF SPUMCO book?

craigp said...

these two posts are some of my favorites i just didn't have anything that seemed worth contributing.

Caleb said...

Frequent commenter states obvious: "More!"

If you don't, then who will? I don't want to live in that world, John.

El Chongo said...

INTERESTED!

Josh "Just What the Doctor Ordered" Heisie said...

Of course I'm interested. You're cracking the secrets of the cartoon world!

Sorry, John. I'm always interested in your posts and what you have to say, but I usually don't comment because I don't have anything constructive to add.

I thought you probably get sick of reading "I agree! Thanks John!" type comments.

Thanks for putting all the work into this blog, I hope it pays off! I'm reading this blog every day and working on my lessons whenever I get a chance.

Josh Heisie

PQ! said...

i'm interested too!!!

Cliff G. said...

Yeah, this is great stuff John -- keep going. I've gotta tell ya, I'm learning volumes here. These lessons of yours are really starting to effect my thinking when I'm drawing and the way I look at every single cartoon I watch. I'm pretty sure I always knew a bad cartoon from a good one, but I understand why it's bad or good -- it's less subconscious. I can see the difference in the mechanics of good or bad animation and character design.

Paul B said...

yeah, keep posting john!

fabiopower said...

Hey John! do not be so! ...
You just imagine what complicated for someone who does not speak or write in English ...
There are many people who read your blog, but not all necessarily write a post.
With all the difficulties, we try to follow and discuss the issue with other cartoonists. I speak for Spanish speakers ...
You're great! and the number of comments does not mean the level of interest, friend

donald said...

Hello Mr.K

You might not read this, but my name is Donald and I have recently found your blog. I'm a painter but I've been studying animation for the past year on my own. I feel slightly relieved to hear from you what you think of the animation schools in our era.

I've been reading Richard William, Preston Blair and your blog as source material.

I'm fairly confident in my drawing skills, but I know there is a lot to relearn and learn in order for me to draw as well as the old masters.

I've been eagerly learning, and I want to tell you that one day I am going to work for you.

Donald.
donald.kh.chan@gmail.com

Geneva said...

I'm quite interested, sir!

Wilde said...

I don't always post a comment, but I am always interested in your lessons and comments.

Niki said...

Well there was at least interest in appeal, if there is more about it I want to know.

matter of fact, maybe Scooby Doo had appeal and that's why it survived so long. huh? Huh? Doesn't that make your ears burn?

BadIdeaSociety said...

I think the problem with "appeal" is that the Disney author's point was completely off base. The witch from Sleeping Beauty and the chefs from Lady and The Tramp maybe be interesting designs, but none of the three make a visual impression on the viewer.

That Richard Williams cover from the previous article is fantastic. If I flashed that image at a child and then asked them to describe what they just saw, I would assume the best you would get was girl with cleavage and a bunch of other characters. I am not even certain why the author wanted such an unappealing image to draw the reader's attention to animation.

I would also add that while Elmer Fudd lacks visual appeal, Tom and Jerry are appealing in spite their stylistic genericness.

FleaCircusDirector said...

The article on appeal was an informative rather than argumentative article hence there was not much to comment on.

Also if I'd tried to make a point then I'd have had to go back and re-read the whole thing to ensure that it was not already covered in your analysis otherwise would have looked a bit stupid.

I think that the quality of the comments here is a reflection on the quality of the articles.

A big thumbs up from me.

Matt J said...

You betcha we're interested! Keep up these posts on drawing appeal Mr.K!

A.M.Zart said...

Of course, we're interested. This is like art school, but educational and engaging.

Hernan said...

since i reached this blog, i've been breakfast with it everyday.

thanks

Mitch L said...

These posts are awesome. I read every letter of it.

trevor thompson said...

I'm open-minded, and based on my last comment you can correctly assume I'm interested.

But, still confused. Also, I don't understand the whole anti-Dick Williams thing. I know what you're saying, but I've never seen any of his animation move awkwardly.

If you're a hell of an animator ( like Ken Harris ), surely a complicated design or design without appeal could be moved fluidly and believably?

Again, I'm not understanding this as well as I feel I should, but I'm open-minded, pen-poised and ready to learn.

- trevor.

Whit said...

Dick Williams might have gotten caught in his own 'define the rules, then bust them' ethos. He happens to be able to draw anything and loves to choose designs that are deliberately impossible to animate, perhaps to prove (to himself and the world) he can do it. There's a streak of that in classic Disney, too, except Disney at its best didn't leave behind appeal.

Raff said...

>> I've never seen any of his animation move awkwardly.<<

I've never seen any of his animation (particularly his commercials) not look really gross. Just oiling and sliming along on ones.

On another topic, yes, discuss appeal more!

pappy d said...

Sorry to go off-topic. Richard Williams is a hero of mine, but in the words of Omar Sharif, he is not....perfect!

That drawing of the ghost of Christmas past is presumably by Abe Levitow, (who was a damn good animator). Ken harris & art Babbit worked on this project, too. The drawing is neckless, the torch hand looks like a package of weiners & the "ooh" mouth is a formless ideogram that only suggests the idea of "ooh". Part of the reason is that it was drawn directly on cel with a grease pencil without ruffing out the construction. A lot of time & money has to be spent on keeping the hatching & chest-hair texture from boiling in a distracting way. Was it worth it? Overall, Williams' A Christmas Carol works for me. Sure, there are trade-offs in the drawing & movement of the characters, but you can't use the same Moore-inspired Tom & Jerry formula of look & subject matter for all animation. It's well-suited to mass-production as opposed to a boutique studio like William's. It's an efficient type of industrial design in terms of potential entertainment per mile of line-mileage, but it's been overdone to the point of being nauseating. That's why there's a Dick Williams & Dick Williams is why there's an animation industry in London. When you think about it, isn't it amazing what HASN'T been done in animation?

Sodapop said...

I'm interested. I'm just exhibiting my typical student-learning-style--sit in the back and absorb everything without comment. I keep forgetting that doesn't work on the internet...appeal and identifying solid drawings both are something I feel I've got only a tenuous grasp on understanding, so I'm waiting eagerly to hear more.

Putty CAD said...

I'm interested too, I didn't have anything interesting myself to post but I'd hate for you to think we don't appreciate you sharing all this stuff with us!

I think I understood what you meant in the first post anyway but I would find it hard to put into words!

Great stuff, I'm off to look at your new post now!

pappy d said...

I think your term, 'organic' makes more sense than 'pliable' in the modern context. A lot of kids are learning to animate in CGI. I'm proud that my career path started in a sunny field drawing naked hippie girls. You just don't see that sort of discipline any more.

Forms within the body don't stack straight up on top of each other. They're offset so that in a standing pose, the upper leg is in front of the lower leg, the chest is centered behind the abdomen & the head cantilevers forward. You never seem to see that kind of rhythm in CG rigs. They're made up of poles stacked end to end directly on top of each other & connected by ball & socket joints. This is connected to a tinfoil shell of zero thickness with deformers weighted to the influence of the joints. It's pliable in a mechanical sense, but not supple in a functional sense. You can't create an organic-looking jaw with ball & sockets & you can't rig a workable shoulder blade with less than 5 joints. Even then, it's a pain in the ass to pose.

JKG:

This is America, buddy. We don't do propaganda. We call it public relations.

Niki said...

I actually like Richard's cartoons. It doesn't seem any bit oily or gross to me. Honestly Mr.John, I think that some of the guys here may only like or dislike something because of how you feel.

Also if you look and the Work print for the "Thief and the Cobbler" then you'll see he has the structure in his work, and that's all that I think matters over all