Friday, May 12, 2006

Animation School Lesson 2 -Squash and Stretch on heads

OK, here we go kids. If you haven't already drawn all the drawings from lesson 1, then don't proceed to this lesson. You need to already have a firm grasp of solid construction before you can start stretching the crap out of your drawings. Otherwise they will look like mush.

Preston makes an important point in his notes: The top of the head (the cranium) is not as pliable as the bottom half (the jaw, cheeks and mouth).
This is based on reality.
Real living heads are constructed of 2 parts:
1 The cranium.
In real life it stays solid because it is made of bone.
2 The jaw.
It is also solid and made of bone-but it can MOVE. And when it moves, it stretches the skin with it.
Got it?

Take a look at this average typical man.

That's the basic concept you need to understand when you start drawing different expressions on your constructed characters.
When something opens its mouth, 2 things happen:
1) The jawbone lowers, thus stretching the skin.
2) The lip muscles stretch into different shapes according to the expression.

In an old cartoon, a lot of characters don't actually have jaws-like this Preston Blair dog. Instead he has a cartoony stylized version of a jaw. It's just a balloon that stretches when the mouth is open and squashes when the mouth is closed.

It suggests what happens in reality but is not physically the same as having actual bones in your head.

So my point is-even though it's not real-it still has to feel natural in order to have a convincing effect on the audience.

Note how in the drawings at the top of the page, the dog isn't even opening his mouth yet his jaw squashes and stretches anyway.
This is a cartoon invention, based on another thing that happens in reality.

When you smile, your smile pushes your cheeks up towards your eyes and compresses them.

When you frown, your smile lines pull your cheeks down, making your cheeks look longer.

OK, now that you understand the concepts of squash and stretch and why things stretch when they do-remember it's not arbirtary distortion-go ahead and start copying all the drawings on this page.

IMPORTANT EXTRA TIP! When stretching and squashing something, try to maintain the basic VOLUME of what you are distorting. This will help keep your animation drawings looking natural.Remember to use construction when drawing! Don't draw straight ahead!

If you don't know what construction is yet go back and do lesson 1: