Monday, January 19, 2009

Use Line Of Action To Maintain Guts Of Pose

Finally someone sent me a study he didn't trace! The construction is about 70% understood here, but that isn't my point today. (One point: Tom's nose/muzzle has been squashed against his head. It should be sticking out, as I said in my post about how to construct his head)
Let's look at the pose of the character - the line of action.

It looks to me like Darby forgot to do step 1 in copying the drawing of Tom. He didn't draw a line of action - or if he did, he severely toned it down.
Tom's body doesn't really have a line of action. The top of the curve is the same as the bottom of the curve, In effect, it means his body position is straight up and down. It has no direction.
You can see the difference in Tom's position when you overlay Darby's with the original. The original pose has a direction - Tom is leaning backwards - because he is being punched in the head. His head is behind the top of his body, which in turn is behind the bottom of his body.
This is a very important point for anyone working in animation - TO NOT TONE DOWN THE DRAWINGS YOU ARE WORKING FROM!

Animation is usually done on a production line by specialists. (That's the theory anyway)

1) Someone comes up with a story idea or premise
2) A story artist draws the storyboard
3) A Layout Artist draws the finished key poses - inspired by the poses on the storyboard
4) An animator copies the layout poses and adds more keys and breakdown poses
5) An assistant animator traces the animator's drawings and adds inbetweens
6) An inker traces all the drawings, evens them out by taking out the remaining small contrasts - adds lumps to the silhouette, fills in all the negative spaces and then there is no pose left at all

Each one of these steps has the danger of toning down the previous step and it happens all the time - which drives me nuts!

One of the main tools you can use to avoid this is to be able to analyze the line of action in the drawing you are copying - and then to exaggerate it. Make it stronger. Whatever you do, don't make it weaker!

What happens in animation is by the time the final drawings hit the screen, they have no life in them. The poses have been completely straightened out and everyone is standing in perpendicular neutral poses. You go back and look at the storyboard and it might be dynamic and lively, but the final film doesn't reflect that.

This post is to help understand how it happens and how to avoid it.
When you analyze a drawing, you put into words what you are looking at. This helps you to consciously understand it.
Then you can put the concept into practice. You aren't copying blindly anymore. You have an understandable goal and aim.
This is a bit advanced but a good concept to be aware of.
Construction is still # 1. This seems to be the thing most people have trouble grasping. That the details have to fit on the forms and go in the same directions as the forms.