Monday, January 18, 2010

Animation School 15: Review: Drawing With All The Animation Drawing Principles Only

Here're some very early comics drawn by great cartoon technician Harvey Eisenberg. He hasn't developed his own unique style yet and that makes this very educational to study if you are a learning cartoonist.
These are drawings made up entirely of 40s animation principles. Starting with very strong construction. All the characters are made of simple sphere, pear and tube shapes. I say simple, but that doesn't mean it's easy to put them together so well.

Note that every character is the same design as Tom and Jerry and only superficial details that define the characters' species are differentiated. The chicken has feather and a comb. The dog has jowls. The pig has a snout and pig ears, etc...but everything else about them is exactly the same, just like Tom and Jerry. It made sense as animators were learning all the difficulties and principles of movement that they kept the characters fairly simple to draw - and solid, so they could easily turn them around in all dimensions. Many early characters hadn't evolved individual character designs yet. But they had everything else important to animating and clarity.
Line Of Action

The one stylistic statement that is consistent in this comic is that all the perspective in the backgrounds is rounded. Round streets, round fences and houses etc. This was a standard early 30s cartoon style and you don't see it in many 40s cartoons.

This Eisenberg comic is pure Tom and Jerry style. By the 1940s, most of the advanced studios had gone past this pure, rounded spheres and pears approach and were starting to vary their character designs, background designs and some directors' styles were becoming very individual. Bill and Joe hung on to this basic early 40s style longer than anybody. Joe himself was reluctant to change as long as his cartoons were popular and winning Academy Awards. He didn't start creating individual characters with their own unique designs until forced into television. Then he hired Ed Benedict who gave the Hanna Barbera studio a style and a cast of individual characters on the cheap.

Harvey Eisenberg continued drawing the HB comic books and strips and his style gradually became more individual
and he mixed it with Ed's later.
That was goodbye to pure pears and spheres (Preston Blair) and hello to more complex shapes, curves and angles, but it was not goodbye to good solid drawing principles. Not yet.

His solid cartoon foundation that led to so many other styles later is really evident in this comic book:

The point of this article: Learn Your Principles First,

and then style will come.

Hey and lots of thanks to all the students and fans who contributed to the cartoon lessons. If you folks do any of the lessons, remind me and I will give you some tips:


Iron maiden said...

thanks john this is very intresting stuff,hey I was wondering who camed up with the whole flat curve style that we seen in cartoons like total drama island
I was thinking some one was Imitading ed benedict do you know who started this fad?

Sherm said...

Thanks for the high-octane's so helpful to see all the principles work together like it makes it easier to chase down all those past blog links!

I didn't know that Eisenberg had drawn some Yogi comics...I'ma gonna have to find me some.

Trevor Thompson said...

How much drawing did Joe and Bill actually do at MGM? Were their duties as directors the same as Tex and the WB directors?

SoleilSmile said...

What do you think of the MGM Tex Avery cartoons, John? I love King Size Canary, Bad Luck Blackie and Swing Shift Cinderella:)

JohnK said...

I love them too. If the were out on DVD I would do posts about them.

JohnK said...


Joe generally drew lots of the storyboards - and they look pose for pose almost like the finished films.

Bill was not an artist, but he was a trained musician. He wrote the timing on musical bar sheets and then transferred that to exposure sheets for the animators.

Anonymous said...

I'm currently working on some more inks (and some other goodies.)

Have a good one.

From an aspiring animator/ cartoonist.

Rita said...

Hi John, thanks for the comment on my lessons, just noticed it now! I just cleaned up my blog so it's easier now to see the progress.. here! Thanks. Rita

Michael said...

The first "Animation School 15" link here is a great article and references all the following links below it. I downloaded a plug-in called Copy URL's for the Firefox browsers to generate this list. Which brings me a major usability issue that I hope John K is able to solve.

How does a reader / artist keep track of all this and make some progress? I realized I'm spending too much time reading and not enough time doing.

Maybe when the Apple Tablet comes out John's incredible effort could be perfect for managing this medium.


John K Stuff: Animation School 15: Review: Drawing With All The Animation Drawing Principles Only

John K Stuff: Disney Principles 6c - Staging 3 - Make your poses read well

John K Stuff: Composition 7 - compose your poses together - also very important!

Composition28.jpg (JPEG Image, 719x899 pixels)

badDayTitle.jpg (image)

2.jpg (image)

John K Stuff: Eisenberg Subtleties Studies

Petey Pinfeathers: Red Rabbit Comics #7 1948 > Harvey Eisenberg «

peteypinfeathers_002.jpg (JPEG Image, 952x1356 pixels) - Scaled (72%)

JohnKCurriculum: Preston Blair Lessons: Fundamentals of Animation Drawing


altruists_03h.jpg (JPEG Image, 704x480 pixels)

John V. said...

You notice that (storyboard drawing? layout?) of Tom and Spike is signed by Dick Bickenbach, right?

JohnK said...

Yes. He's great!
I did a post on him with the whole scene.

Brandon Lyon said...

John, do you know if Eisenberg did these comics through the 50s? I have some comics dated in the mid-50s but with no signature. I've posted some scans here