Thursday, July 15, 2010

Teeth Help People Be Specific

No two people have the same tooth personalities.

I've been noticing how important the shape of peoples' teeth are to their individuality. If you don't get the teeth shape right it can lose the likeness.

Below is my breakdown of a very famous set of chompers. First I figure out what the whole mess looks like as an overall shape - each person's bar of teeth has its own unique shape. Then I break it into sub-sections before drawing the individual teeth.

Here are some more beautiful and unique smiles.

I'm surprised more cartoon characters don't have specific teeth shapes-especially the supposed "realistic" features aimed at tweens. All the real live teen idols have very specific teeth.

This guy refused to show me his teeth but he wasn't too ashamed of his nose.

**BTW, I have resorted to bar teeth myself- especially on cute girl characters, but doing these caricatures is making me rethink things.


RooniMan said...

Never thought teeth could help a characters individuality, but this proves otherwise.

As for the nose guy: Thats Taylor Lounter for you. From what I've seen of him, all he does is stand there looking dumb, even when hes supposed to make an emotion.

Alberto said...

i never really thought about it. i just use regular stock teeth, gapped teeth, and buckteeth and i place it where i see fit and maybe extremely deformed teeth. Another set of teeth that i've seen added (very rarely though) are ones where the canines are more noticeable.

I should know better since i have specific teeth, my two middle teeth on the top the gum contour is noticeably uneven and sometimes there's this weird discoloration on one.

This is a very interesting post, thanks for making me think about.

Paul B said...

Totally agree with you on this one. Every human has a distintic bar tooth and jaw, it's a specific part that separates us from other humans, like a fingerprint.

I think I'm gonna do a study of my teeth, I think that teeth are one of the most identifiable and cartoonists parts of human beings.

You are one of the great cartoonists of all time! :)

Erik said...

i like the robbert pattinson on the right!
the shape of his face works realy good becouse you made it look more distinctive and shows way more character than the one next to it.
i hope you make more like that one.

Trey Brown said...

those undertured mouths still arent as bad as these disgusting cgi remakes of gorgeous characters. did you hear about the upcoming cg incredible mr limpet?

Anonymous said...

Thank you, John! I always noticed how teeth can make a person even more distinct and individual and I was waiting for you to get into that. Big, crooked overbites are my favorite kind of teeth to draw, because it's easiest to make them look funny. In fact, I was doing an exercise at the clinic my dad went to yesterday, but I had trouble not cramping the teeth of the girl I was trying to draw.

Why are the realistic features so afraid to actually apply real observations from life to their characters, like individual teeth, or actually experiment with story structure? They are supposed to be realistic, aren't they? I really think that the animators and the executives on a lot of those films should really study from some of the best live-action movies ever made and apply what they learn to their own work. If more people did that, there would be a lot more variety in the art of the animated feature. Classic Disney made great strides in a lot of their movies, but I think we could go a lot further than what the masters discovered, if we could have the good draftsmanship and motion down first.

kurtwil said...

Very interesting! The better Ren and Stimpys used specific teeth to great effect!

Our animators in Australia specifically avoided drawing specific teeth to cut down line mileage and avoid tooth lines crawling inside the mouth. Oddly, animal characters which had clearly defined teeth (our CROCADOO cast) didn't have many specific teeth to differentiate them from each other (R & S was one inspiration for CROCADOO, btw).

YOU'RE A SAP MR JAP (Popeye short) features great animation from Jim Tyer that nevertheless is full of teeth crawl.

Emily Anthony said...

I couldn't agree more. Teeth are used for post-mortem identification purposes, ya know, as well as spot-on caricatures!
In my live caricature career, the rejects I have gotten are usually tied to the fact that I rendered their teeth, ear size or nose size too accurately....( and it is also usually parents rejecting depictions of small children, so it's not the kids' vanity here).

Isaak said...

When did using a white bar start for showing teeth?

Also, what do you think of Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips in terms of teeth and overall?

thank you

Kristina said...

People can get quite embarrassed by their teeth. I've asked my friends with interesting teeth to let me draw them, but they refuse to give me an open-mouth smile because their teeth aren't straight. So sad! How boring it would be if everyone had teeth like in dental hygiene ads.

Tim L. said...

"When did using a white bar start for showing teeth?"

As early as Snow White.

Esun said...

"People can get quite embarrassed by their teeth. I've asked my friends with interesting teeth to let me draw them, but they refuse to give me an open-mouth smile because their teeth aren't straight. So sad! How boring it would be if everyone had teeth like in dental hygiene ads."

But no one wants to be labeled as ugly, am i right? ;)

In todays cartoons, there are even some characters with distinct teeth. For example Timmy Turner.

But for the most part, the ideal look for a cartoon character today is handsome and symmetric. "Ugly" distinct teeth have no place here.

Kelvin said...

Awesome! Thanks for the advice, it's definitely a good one. ;)

I think even in real life, in commercials like Mentos, any toothpaste, or gum commercials, they should use various of distinct teeth as well. They try to hide the distinctness of the teeth and make every teeth look alike, straight and white.

Elana Pritchard said...

Hierarchy of the mouth.

Exit said...

While I do agree that teeth are a really important part of what makes gives a character individuality, it's a little bit unfair to criticize mainstream animated films for not making caricatures of teeth for their characters. These films have to get done withtin a certain amount of time and adding details like that, which probably won't be appreciated, is stupid waste of money and time. Besides, the films you pointed out as "realistic" were doing their job correctly. I don't think you can describe your caricatures as the same kind of "realistic" as these films are going for; you are doing grotesque exaggeration, they are doing stylish simplification.

However, I feel I should point out that some CG films have taken to the tooth thing, since you just have to put one set of teeth in one model, not redraw them thousands of times. During the production of Brad Bird's "The Incredibles", pictures were taken of the studio staff's teeth to help with character design of Syndrome.

JohnK said...

Maybe they could take the money they spend on airbrushing featureless characters and put it into the design.

murrayb said...

Chuck's "the grinch" teeth are pretty specific.

I like the trick of the held cel clenched teeth behind the fluid animated lips.The only other time I saw that was in cats don't dance with the gorilla.
there's that gag in emperor's new groove where it zooms to a close up of something stuck in the old crone's teeth, they should of totally ripped you off with a gross out painting, but it's a horribly pixelated pencil cleanup. (that's much more disgusting to me.)

I have a pet peeve when the top teeth move in lip sync, because they are attached to the skull!
(unless it's done for cartoon hilarity)
its funny with digital tools things like teeth could be caricatured in a pleasing way, but we still have the one big white tooth hoop.
I theorize teeth remind us of our own mortality, because they are exposed bone. Nobody wants to think about them.

Elana Pritchard said...

oooo, snap!

Kirk said...

Ever leave your teeth at the bar?

I got a friend who keeps his hair in a pompadour, and is the only person I know who has had someone take a swing at him while he was riding a bicycle.

allen mez said...

Unless the character is British, then there's the stereotypical mangled chops. So lame. No, I'm not British.

Anonymous said...

John!!!!!! You have got to see these incredible Scott Wills BG paintings. It's for a new show that Genndy's making for CN.

Check it out

Please do a post on this, I beg of you! Maybe it will wake Cartoon Network up and make them realize that kids don't wanna watch any of that insipid live-action fake reality TV show crap on a cartoon channel.

kurtwil said...

Exit, if initial drawings are good and the artist rides herd on the software, "classic" specific teeth can be CGI-assisted animated without having to draw those teeth for every frame.

However, said artist has to make sure the keys and inbetween timing work for, not against, the personality animation bringing the specific teeth to life.
Hardest will be perspective, 3D-ish drawing sequences.

Ironically, true Live action CGI ala AVATAR, LOTH, etc. take specific teeth very seriously!

thomas said...

Has there ever been an episode on any current animated show where all the main characters go and get veneers?

Maybe there should be.

Ryan Cole said...

These are really inspirational, it had never dawned on me to draw teeth in segments. This is definitely going into my sketches from now on.

L said...

I think a lot of the films have just bar teeth because otherwise it would take a lot longer to animate, drawing in every individual tooth. However that doesn't mean they couldn't have some different overall shapes. I have actually seen that in some cartoons, though recalling which would be difficult.

martinus said...

Regarding that new Genndy show; the backgrounds look interesting, in a decor magazine type way, but certainly not cartoony. I'll definitely check it out, but it hardly looks like the kind of fun cartoon I'm craving.
The robot thing, and the cheezy half anime people are very very boring.

It's weird how Genndy would go from a cartoony cartoon like Dexter, to Samurai Jack, which is quite a bit more serious, but still really fun, to something that looks like a serious drama.

I have been watching Tin Pan Alley Cats over and over for weeks now, and I get so depressed thinking that that kind of insane, brilliant fun is nowhere to be found in a cartoon today.

Martin Juneau said...

I'm maybe the minority, but i'm more or less amazed by the new Gendy Tartakosvki cartoon. How many times i seen a TV show with a great premise but faded out to crap after one episode?

Me too i have the bad tedency to draw bar teeths a lot of times but i did some experiments with drawing different teeths one time for a scene. Such very inspiring!

Archie said...

you could have good fun with british teeth.

Pokey said...

John K.said...:
"All the real live teen idols have very specific teeth. "

Gasp! You mean you're in love with Justin Bieber?

Your Pony Pal Pokey, too.
[BTW you should see Gumby in the 1956 shorts "Even Steven" and the "Zoops". Oddly, proto-"claymation" characters from that show don't have teeth.

MistahB said...

I'd never would of guessed, Thanks for the tip!

Tim said...

I agree with this. I mean look at the characters in The Iron Giant, Hogarth Hughes has unique tooth shapes, and it makes him seem more human.

Shannon said...

Hey John
Thanks for posting this up! My character designs (even some of the cartoony ones!) have detailed mouths but drawing teeth is a bit difficult for me.

These look like good tips though, I will try them out!

Anonymous said...

I would design characters for some companies and do illustrations for magazines that had people, particularly kids with some unique dentures.

However, every single company said the characters looked to "homely" and they preferred something Disney or cuter... Despite the original concepts being liked by the target audience

Aaron said...

Dispicable Me had some good teeth, huh?