Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Illustration and Cartooning

It's hard to believe how high the standards in popular arts were just a few decades ago.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

More Hair : Asian Girls

My "realistic" drawings are about as bland as bland can be. I'm ready for when Filmation starts up again. My goal is not to learn to draw realistically, but to understand why things look a certain way in general logical terms so I can then simplify and cartoon them.

I gave myself a double problem with these studies. I want to add some hairstyles to my pretty girl palette and am using a Japanese hairstyle magazine. So now I have to figure out how to draw Asian faces on top of having to figure out how hair works.
Yikes, here are some really warped faces below.

A good thing about the magazine I'm working from is that it shows the hairstyles from different angles so it helps me see what the forms are. (Tip: Try squinting your eyes when looking at a form that is made up of lots of distracting details like individual hairs) The most important fact I've discovered so far is that hair has to have a distinct form to look good. ...and that form has to feel like it's really partly made by the shape and position of the head.The drawing on the left stinks to high Heaven. I made her look like a Flounder - but I got something out of it. I tried taking the shapes I struggled to draw realistically and redrew them faster and simplified them into a more cartoony face. That drawing on the right, while not great is less strained than the study. It's a step toward my goal but there is quite a way to go yet.
I find that when I am studying something, I miss important elements. In this one, I made the face too wide. When I see the drawings next to the photo, I realize that the girl has a longer face and that her hair should be wider on the sides compared to the face area.

I share these nasty embarrasing drawings not to teach anybody how to draw realistic girls (which I haven't figured out) but instead to show students that there is a way to methodically force yourself to learn something that doesn't come easy. It's to analyze what you think you see, then to slowly draw it over and over again and see if it starts to make sense and later to try to cartoon it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Larry MacDougall

Here's some excellent "illustrative art" to contrast with all the great cartoony art I admire.
I don't know who this is exactly. I just stumbled on his work through links at commenters' blogs.
I love his compositions, his poses, his design sense - and especially his trees. He has a nice combination of style and observation.
I'd say this is draftsmanship on a much higher level than what most cartoonists aim for. It makes me embarrassed to show my feeble attempts at "realistic drawings" when I see real drawings like these.
I wonder if MacDougall went to an art school that actually teaches fundamentals, or whether he is just a supernatural talent who taught himself. If there was a real art school that could turn out artists with this much skill, I would recommend it to everyone.
Cartoonists as a whole see things very differently than illustrators. We tend to see things in simpler terms - as very general and almost abstract shapes and forms - not based on the details in reality. That's why I think it looks so sloppy when animators are forced to strive for artificially "realistic" styles - like the humans in Disney features. Animators just don't draw as well as illustrators. Everyone loves Milt Kahl, because for an animator he draws better than most - but I think if he had been an illustrator he would have had a tougher job standing out.

Animators try to force complex forms of nature (like human anatomy) into easier to grasp simple shapes, but even our simplified human mannequins are too much for us to control convincingly in motion. In the last 30 years or so we have evolved a handful of animation tricks that allows us to move awkward designs from pose to pose without actually drawing the subtle steps inbetween. The way fully animated characters move now is completely stylized, repetitive and artificial. It's neither real nor cartoony. It's how we get away with moving the clumsy designs that aren't practical for animators. I don't think it's the animators' and cartoonists' fault though. It's a survival gimmick.
For some baffling reason, most animation producers are ashamed to be in the cartoon business. They want so badly to be doing the more respectable business of live action, and so they use our medium as a stepping stone toward their real goal. That's why they force animators to make movies about stiff humans doing what they think are "normal" and "realistic" things - which no one has ever pulled off. I wonder what would happen if they just went out and hired a big crew of actual illustrators and trained them to animate. I mean illustrators like MacDougall, artists who actually can control anatomy and perspective. Could they finally make animated humans move convincingly? I don't know what the point of it would be, but it would be an interesting experiment.

Yes, I know they sometimes hire real illustrators for development and inspiration - like Rowland Wilson and comic book genius Mike Mignola. But then they take what these superior draftsman design and dumb them down into the same old wobbly wimpy animation stock characters.I found the doodles on the side of this storyboard page illuminating. I was struggling to figure out a way to make a frontal face have structure in the spaces between the eyes and nose. Larry made it look easy. He defined the orbitals around the eyes with shadows that helped anchor and link the sensory features together. I'm sure if he read this he would be amused at how something that is probably second nature to him is a mystery to me.

Faeries and elves aren't exactly my sort of subject matter but that's beside the point. I completely admire and envy the talent and skill of someone who can draw and paint like this.


Jim Tyer Likes You

Boy, talk about "Man Cartoonists". Jim Tyer is the definition of one. This guy had the power to shoot his pure funny thoughts straight from his brain through his pencil to hit the paper unfiltered by preconceived rules, model sheets or second-guessing. He just drew what he felt - and he felt that kids deserved fun.
That's kind of how I draw storyboards, but I always intend to "fix" things later in layout. Then something about the translation process from storyboard through animation tends to soften everything. My own latent conservative ideas also fight the purity of the initial cartoon thought and I have to constantly counter those urges. Tyer doesn't seem to have that problem.
I think Jim Tyer should be written up in comic book history as one of the the very top storytellers. His comics are so funny and give kids just what they expect from cartoons.
Jim knew how much every red-blooded kid in short pants longs for a good suicide gag.
Who today has the generosity to animate funny bullets in the head?
Jim was a cartoon Santa.
He knows how much we love teeth and punches. Punching teeth delivers an exponential amount of cartoon nutrition.
Even Jim Tyer has some vanity - just to make sure you knew that he was going out of his way to please you, he added text describing his drawing of "ugly clawed feet", because after all - kids and cartoonists know instinctively which parts of the body are the ugliest-and therefore the most fun to laugh at.

Somehow when funny little human kids grow up, many of them forget this important fact; some of them turn around and become animation executives or go to Cal Arts and then actually go around erasing ugly clawed feet, cracked smelly teeth, stubbly armpits and the like from the drawings that honest and pure cartoonists are itching to give you. Can you imagine the heartlessness of purposely making cartoons uncartoony? I can't.
Aaaaah... another sensless violent assault. Terrytoons allowed Jim to show off the time tested fact, that more bullets are funnier than less. Ever see his animated gunfights? They are cartoon Heaven.
Jim also remembers to mix in a smidgeon of morality into his violent frenzies.
Tyer ends with a lesson on politics: Superheroes can afford to be communists.

Thanks to Chris Lopez for scanning so many great comics and cartoon drawings from lost heroes like Jim Tyer.



Jim Tyer is every kid's best friend...

you'll see.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Trying To Give Back

More stiff caricaturesThese hotties would surely make Disney fans swoon in cartoon form.

That Taylor girl really does have an interesting head, but I haven't quite nabbed it yet. It might be too unique for animation, though.
Since anmated fairytales are in dire need of new designs for the lead romantic characters I thought I'd work on some. I am basing them on live action celebrities with proven hip appeal, because it would be immature to try to make something up out of nothing.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Leftover Treats

In my insatiable search for illustrations for my posts, I often find images that I'm dying to share but haven't yet found room in a particular post for.

Here are some of these magnificent treasures that speak more than words could say...
UNDERWEAR GOD: "I better go arrest that lady for indecent exposure! I don't care if she is the first girl the Lord made. I'M the new God around here!"You can imagine your own captions for the rest of these, I'll bet.
"How about you 'n I know..sneak into the jungle...and...""MMmm.. that sounds heavenly..""Let's get Elton to write us a nice song to celebrate our precious joys to.."P.S. Don't forget to watch the fights tonight! See below...