Saturday, February 10, 2007

Let's Put Some Life Into Animation Again!

Characters used to look like they knew they were performing and loved it.

Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston wrote a book called "The Illusion Of Life" to show you how to fake the appearance of life in animation even if you are not a particularly lively person.

The most "lively" cartoons of that period though were made by individual directors and animators...and still cartoonists
who just were lively exciting people.

I don't know if liveliness can be taught, but it seems to have largely gone out of fashion.
I know some people will post "John, there are lots of drawing styles! They don't all have to be fun!" And I'll agree. There can be lots of ways to draw stiff and bland and there are lots of ways to draw in a way that celebrates the gift of being alive. Would rather be young and full of energy or old and decrepit? Many drawing styles in cartoons are of the old and decrepit variety, like these.
What would you rather do, work at the post office? Or eat ice cream and be surrounded by pretty girls at the office all day?

To me that's the difference between drawing fun cartoons and drawing stiff bland tedious cartoons.

It doesn't look like much fun to come into work every day and have todraw like this. I used to do it at Filmation and Hanna Barbera. Most of us were really depressed! The whole drawing style is depressing.

Frank and Ollie explain the ingredients of drawing life very well. Line of action gives a character's body a direction, exaggeration nails the point of the attitude, clear silhouettes make the pose read, expressions define the character and his emotion.

Try to find any of those ingredients in these drawings from Disney cartoons!
Boy does this character ever jump off the screen!

Here are some lively cartoon images that I hope will inspire you to wake up your cartoon characters and make them spring to their stories with verve and inner spirit.

Even in repose, Bugs seems to be alive and ready to pull some antics.

Characters can look like they really mean what they are feeling.

Wouldn't it be fun to come into work every day and do fun, funny and lively drawings?

Animators were proud of their heterosexuality in the 1940s!

for more great cartoon stills go here!