Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Appeal 1-starting with cuteness as the 1st element





From The Illusion Of Life

A live performer has charisma. An animated character has appeal. Appealing animation does not mean just being cute and cuddly. All characters have to have appeal whether they are heroic, villainous, comic or cute. Appeal, as you will use it, includes an easy to read design, clear drawing, and personality development that will capture and involve the audience's interest. Early cartoons were basically a series of gags strung together on a main theme. Over the years, the artists have learned that to produce a feature there was a need for story continuity, character development and a higher quality of artwork throughout the entire production. Like all forms of story telling, the feature has to appeal to the mind as well as to the eye.


I agree with all the 12 principles of animation that Frank and Ollie present in The Illusion Of Life. I believe them even more than they do. Their number 12 principle is "Appeal". I might put that as number 1.


The main element that separates a cartoon from other forms of art is its simple appeal. It is all the tastiest parts of visuals paired down to the essential elements that bring instant pleasure.



Without appeal to draw you into the cartoon, you might not find out what else the cartoon has to offer. (I know the philosophy is different now, but that was what cartoons meant when they were invented-visual fun. The fun parts without the boring and ugly details of life.)


But what exactly is appeal? It's a hard concept to define. It starts with cuteness as its basic atom. Cuteness in a simplistic definition is usually "attributes of children and young animals". Big heads, big eyes. Smooth soft finish. The attraction to those proportions is genetically programmed in us. We have to learn more about ugly old men before we decide to like them, but most of us automatically like puppies, kittens and kids....and once upon a time....REAL cartoons.


Not everyone can draw cute or appealing though, even if they know the basic technical formula. Some people just have a knack for it. These cartoonists make the best designers.


I like to add a pinch of retardation to my cute drawings sometimes to make fun of appeal.

Mickey Mouse is sort of the standard for simple cuteness, although not every animator draws him cute. Freddie Moore sure does.


Disney made cartoons for Moms and infants.
Buy the color Mickey DVD if you have little kids or cartoon historians running around the house and you want to calm them down!

Here's a cartoon from 1947 that stars Mickey, yet Mickey is not very cute in it. The differences between cute and nasty Mickey are very subtle. Mickey is actually a really hard character to draw. If you get any feature off just a couple micro increments, the cuteness disappears.


Pluto's Party

In the 50s Freddie Moore came back to Mickey and gave him an updated more modern angular design. He also restored his cute appeal.

Strangely, they didn't bother to update Pluto. They left him as bland and unappealing as ever.

Moore took the fifties design a little further. I love the way Mickey looks in this cartoon. Note how the backgrounds don't match the updated modernistic style of Mickey. Someone was not paying attention.

Of all the Warners directors Clampett had the cutest most eye catching appealing style.

It's ironic since you don't usually equate crazy edgy stuff with being cute, but that's what made Clampett's edginess so engaging. It's like a bunch of cute innocent looking characters getting away with the nasty stuff we all think about. A great combination!

Clampett aimed his cartoons at the general public. Little kids love them because they are cute and funny and really energetic.

Older kids like 'em 'cause they are twisted, edgy and surreal.

Clampett inspired Virgil Ross to draw in a cartoony and appealing style.

Scribner had the cutest most natural, unaffected style of all the animators at Warners-while at the same time being the most exaggerated animator. My biggest drawing inspiration!
Clampett got McKimson to do the most appealing drawings of his career.Adults like them because they address their most important concerns.

A cartoon drawing should have appeal, but appeal sure isn't an easy ingredient to describe or define.

It starts with 'cuteness". But the word "cute" has lost its meaning.

McKimson not cute or "appealing"
Mckimson was a great animator and really good director, but his cartoons had a less innocent, not at all "cute" style to them. It was more of a cynical middle aged man cartoon style. He drew everyone kinda dumpy and pissed off, like most of my (male) friends!All his characters had tiny pig-like eyes and big fat jowls.Here's Jordan arguing with Ralph. McKimson made cartoons for Dads. They love this stuff! Me too.

Funny as Hell but not cute...

Sometimes Scribner could get away with doing cute stuff for McKimson. Scribner was the king of combining cute with sick.
Look at the giant pupils! An instant cute symbol.

Chuck Jones Faux Cute Style

Jones purposely cultivated a cute style. He developed a caricature of cuteness.

His early cartoons aimed at little kids and Moms.

His "middle period" was a lot funnier as he aimed at more general audiences. His style got less cute, more handsome I guess-a grown up cartoon style. It's still great drawing, though.

At the end of his Warners career he reverted to very cute, only this time aimed at critics, rather than kids.

Eventually he turned even the stock WB characters all into cutesy characters.

Friz not very appealing

Not Appealing

In the next installment of Appeal, I'll talk about how to draw gross and "pretend-ugly" stuff in an appealing way! Don Martin and Basil Wolverton will assist.