Sunday, July 04, 2010

Toys VS Humans

Boy, drawing 3 dimensional cartoon toys is enough of a challenge. People ask me all the time whether I think life drawing is useful to cartoonists and animators and my answer is a hesitant - yes. Under certain conditions.

the shapes in real life are so much more intricate than 2 dimensional cartoon characters that the gap between the 2 is immense. It's very hard to bridge the 2 disciplines in practice.

In my 30 years in the business I've only met one cartoonist that has been able to make real applicable connections between cartooning and life drawing and that's Jim Smith. So it's not impossible, just severely rare.

I think if the way life drawing was taught in cartoon schools was modified so that there was a way to apply the very general principles that life and cartoons have in common, then it could be useful. I think you need steps in between cartoons and actual biological organisms. Cartoon toys are a good middle step. Toys wrap simple(r) cartoony shapes around in true 3 dimensional space. They demonstrate form, material and perspective in a way that is more readily applicable (and understandable) to animation.

Chloe is threatening to draw some UFC fighters. I'm sure those will put mine to shame, but I'll show them to you anyway when she does.

16 comments:

Kali Fontecchio said...

You made them look so creepy!

Elana Pritchard said...

Have you ever seen the mini-bub toys? They are made by kidrobot.

They are blank toys you can draw features on yourself. They are helpful for people working on perspective, such as myself.

manuel said...

Those toy drawings are very scientific and unemotional. Good observation.
I found toys always creepy, maybe that`s why I did not draw any.

Arctic Bunny said...

Hey John K- ur work and blog is awesome learnt so much during my MA in animation. Any chance u could check out my final film and give me some comments?
arcticbunnyblog.blogspot.com

Mitch L said...

I really like these drawings! Im trying to do caricatures as well but I can't nail it... Maybe I should just buy a bunch of cartoon toys so I can practice that instead.

Geneva said...

Hi John!
I've been without the internet for like a week, so I'm just now catching up on recent posts.

It's funny that you talk about this, because I checked out an anatomy book and have been doodling from it in lieu of having internet resources.

It's kind of weird, but I actually think having a basic understanding of the skull has sort of been helpful with doing caricatures. Before I never thought much about it, but it seems like a LOT of inexperienced cartoonists (myself included) forget some features like the jaw/teeth coming forth at an angle, and that blasted space between the face and the ears. I wish I had looked at bones forever ago because now less-cartoony human faces is slowly becoming easier to draw spontaneously.

However, all those interior bones and all but a few muscles don't seem very helpful with cartooning knowledge. I can't think of very many instances in which a cartoonist might need to know how to draw a coccyx. Sure is a good word, though.

So while I don't think I'm going to obsessively figure draw for years, I think it is probably a good idea for starting cartoonists to at least know what the heck they're looking at. However, I wish I also had some cute classic toys to draw from, but you can't get those from the library. Ha ha.
Have a good one!

Roberto Severino said...

Happy 4th, John! I like how you capture these sort of gritty qualities in the people you draw and make them look appealing and funny to look at. That must have took years to get a hang of.

Chloe Cumming said...

I will I will! I've been distracted by babies and motown and lord of the rings and ligers. but you've given me motivation to put some effort in now. I'll have to ignore your great Brocks to come up with my own solutions.

MARK CHRISTIANSEN said...

This is somewhat of a tangent, but I think most artists who excel at drawing cartoony characters aren't as adept at drawing the realistic or superhero ones. I believe the reverse to be true also. Of course there are exceptions, but generally speaking, that seems to be the norm.

seanmillsartist said...

I don't know an ounce of what you know, but I always thought the legends all started with traditional drawing.

Like the guy who did the best work in SNOW WHITE, Myron Natwick, he studied in Vienna in the most traditional of schools which taught him about underlying structure and how things move.

Is it really unnecessary to do life drawings?

JohnK said...

Grim Natwick could realy draw, yes. He was an exception.

If they taught actual anatomy and perspective in life drawing classes, that would probably benefit you, but it won't make you a good cartoonist or animator.

Thiago Levy said...

I am starting my career as an animator and I aways looked up to your work. I can't thank you enough for this blog.

MrGoodson2 said...

Great caricatures of fight night.

K. Nacht said...

Frazetta is a common example of not only an adept figurative painter, but a wonderful caricaturist and funny animal cartoonist, to boot.

Frazetta's unfinished portrait of his wife is an amazing meld of his stylistic tendencies and an attempt at working from life. My buddy Sam does wonderful things from living references, mutated by his cartoon, dare I say it, genius...

http://www.samvaughan.com/html/galleries.html

John said...

Hey John,

I see why you think a lot of life drawing might not be time well spent, and in a previous post you mentioned what a waste years of sketchy scribbles are.

I think though, like Geneva says, that learning anatomy and how to see and capture form can only be beneficial. I guess it's like you say, if they taught proper draftsmanship and anatomy that'd be better.

As for sketching, it might not make me better at construction and specific cartooning skills, but just the act of observing has gotta be good for ones personal repertoire of life's little nuances, right?

RooniMan said...

And what a rarity someone like Jim Smith is.