Thursday, November 12, 2009

Toy Drawing 8: Don't Forget The Space Behind the Face

A lot of cartoonists tend not to see space. We see fills or positive spaces. Areas of interest to us are eyes, mouths, ears, arms, fingers, but we sometimes neglect the big spaces between the fills. And those negative spaces are needed.
I've noticed when students are copying drawings from Preston Blair or old cartoons, or even life drawing there is a tendency to shrink the open spaces.
On a 3/4 angle, you see more space behind the eye that's close to you than the one that's farther away.
Chuck Jones is a master of balancing fills with space. And of using contrasting shapes.
He doesn't pile balls on balls, yet he uses all the classic 40s animation principles.
In this earlier model sheet of the bird you can tell the WB artists are just trying to get the basic principles down and it looks more like balls on balls. Chuck's more interesting individual style developed after he got confident of his principles. Then he stopped piling up balls.
Many cartoonists today (including me, when I'm not thinking about it) draw the whole face filling the head shape, with no space around it. This makes the image cramped and unfocused. It also leaves no room for the features to move if the character needs to raise his eyebrows or open his mouth wide.

And it's wrong. Characters have craniums and you see a lot of brain space behind the face. Or you should. Your face is well in front of your head.Below, I have exaggerated the space and perspective in Elroy's face.Even in an extreme close up where perspective is distorted you can see that the face doesn't take up a lot of space within the whole head. - and that there are spaces between the features. The aren't all crammed together.

Drawing these toys and trying to capture the construction, perspective and spaces oughta make it sink in.

19 comments:

Amanda H. said...

*makes a note of it* :)

Trevor Thompson said...

What I would give to be a fly on the wall when Chuck drew these.

John said...

This took me ages to figure out (and even now I still forget!)

New Kaspar stuff

Clean3d said...

Thanks for another informative post, John! I'll keep this in mind when doing more Preston Blair studies.

Speaking of which... ;)
http://clean3d.wordpress.com

Fata Morgana said...

Oh my God, cutest drawing of Kaspar ever.

Thanks for the tips about space. It's something I need to work on.

Trevor G. said...

what a good lesson~

Paul B said...

WHAT A COOL POPEYE HEAD!!

I LOVE IT!!

Elana Pritchard said...

Once again toys teach us the life lessons we need to learn...

Weirdo said...

Thanks again for the helpful tips. These do come in handy when drawing.

The Artist Aficionado said...

Its interesting that you combine Chuck Jones and Clampetts as expamples. Its good because Jones principles provide sophistication and top design while Clampett provides rich lifelike animated poses.

The interesting thing however is that while you admire the two guys. From what I've heard the two grew to dislike each other in real life because of creative disputes. Jones was so furious about his experience with Clampett he refused to bring in him up in an his Autobiography Chuck Amuck when recounting his days at Warner Bros.

Both talented nonetheless just kind of weird when you talk about the behind the scenes relationship aspect of it.

patrick said...

I'd draw that Popeye toy, but I'd feel so naughty. Actually I'm gonna draw it anyway!

GoldDarkShadow said...

Thanks for telling us about space around the face, lol. I notice it lot when i was drawing my pics and they were all crammed together and i did not have any space what so ever, I think it was that i made my eyes way 2 big and i could not even put my other features in like eyebrows, etc, and i had little space for my cheeks. Thank you so much for this advice and i will adjust my drawings and will think of space when i draw, Mr. K

Bob Lilly said...

Thanks for another instructive post, John. Living out in the boonies as I do, I am entirely self taught in the art of cartooning. Your posts are helpful and encouraging to me.
Actually my greatest "Aha" moment was when I realized that I would not be able to look over every readers shoulder and explain the cartoon. It also helps to do cartoons with a specific person in mind as your target audience. Do you ever think about a target audience in your work?

drawingtherightway said...

Cool Popeye toy! In that profile view of Popeye, it kinda goes against the rule of space behind the face because Popeye's mouth is right next to his ear!

Matt Greenwood said...

This really drills it home! Thanks John K

384Sprites said...

I really dig these posts. I've recently starting going back in time to appreciate older cartoon productions.

Gabriele_Gabba said...

I remember when i first started drawing this was a big problem for me.

When i started using shapes to draw it really helped, but mostly its been life drawing that made me realise that there is much less space allocated to features and the rest is skull.

/\/\ikeB said...

I still forget that when I do life drawing.
I think the key is viewing things as a form, not as 'space' between key objects.

LeoBro said...

Those two Popeyes. Drawing these toys is really helpful.