Sunday, May 06, 2007

Rex Learns To Storyboard

Rex is a young cartoonist in Canada (a dirty Canadian!) who doesn’t actually have the Canadian cartoon style. He has a blog that many of you folks probably frequent. His style is loose and really cartoony and appealing. He posts tons of fun doodles on his blog and must fill up a whole sketch book every day! I’ve sort of taken him under my stinky wing and he is progressing, so I asked him if I could share his learning curve with many of the young cartoonists who come here to learn how to make cartoons. He bravely assented.

That’s very nice of him to share and maybe even be a little embarrased, so I hope you will tell him you appreciate him sharing.

Awhile ago I asked him if he had done any functional art yet in any cartoon department-

whether it was storyboards, layouts, animation, background painting etc. –Anything that has rules. He said no, not yet but wanted to.
He admitted doing functional art was a lot harder than just free-styling neat cartoon drawings floating on sketch book pages and asked me for some tips.

I suggested he try storyboards, because you don’t need to draw tight on-model drawings on a storyboard, and I guessed his free wacky style would be great inspiration to do animation poses from. Rex asked if he could try boarding one of my George Liquor stories and I said sure.

He picked one out and started drawing straight ahead and filled pages full of fun doodles but no direction or continuity, so I suggested I could help him out step by step.

1) Get used to drawing the characters

Every function has a process and the first step of any cartoon job is to learn to draw the characters. Especially if you want to write for them.

Here are Rex’s first sketches of George.

2) Do Setups
I put up a manual on setups to help him out and told him to read it then draw his setups.

Here’s what he came up with:

I realized he didn’t quite get what the purpose of setups was so I explained it more carefully in an IM. These 3 drawings above are almost the same angles, not enough difference to make it worthwhile to do all the extra backgrounds. So he started over.

I asked Rex to draw a master shot of where the scene takes place.
And after that to draw the same scene from different angles and with the camera at different distances from the characters.

Not at random either. All these decisions are made by reading the story and deciding from what angles and distances the gags will best be presented.

3) Start the Continuity

Once you’ve got some working setups, you can start the continuity. Rex is about to now, and I hope he will let me share those with you too.

Here is my conversation with Rex today.

Rex Setups and tips from John

Rex (10:24:33 AM): Wussth up?
John (10:24:52 AM): hi
Rex (10:25:06 AM): did you see the stuff i sent you?
John (10:25:14 AM): new stuff?
Rex (10:25:17 AM): yeah
John (10:25:25 AM): hang on
Rex (10:25:27 AM): from a couple days ago
John (10:26:56 AM): downloading
Rex (10:27:27 AM): i hope it's not a let down
John (10:28:46 AM): much better

Setups are different angles and different camera distances

John (10:28:59 AM): but you might not need so many wide shots
Rex (10:29:00 AM): yiiiiipppeeeeeeee
Rex (10:29:28 AM): just one of the couch and the rest close ups?
John (10:29:49 AM): well they're all good
John (10:30:02 AM): so keep em handy if you need em
Rex (10:30:08 AM): ok

John (10:30:14 AM): but like when you stage the gags
John (10:30:43 AM): stage them so the gags read. Pick your angle and CAMERA DISTANCE where it best shows the gag

John (10:30:59 AM): like that spray can won't read from so far away
John (10:31:26 AM): but it's good you drew all those angles
John (10:31:42 AM): because now you know where everyone is

Rex (10:31:47 AM): couldn't i have a close up of george with the spray can and then go to a shot where he's spraying them on the couch?
John (10:31:53 AM): and it will be easier for you to do the continuity
John (10:32:05 AM): yes
Rex (10:32:08 AM): yeah, this set-up stuff helps a lot
John (10:32:12 AM): now....
John (10:32:20 AM): next thing to think about

Know your characters' motivations and personal quirks

John (10:32:26 AM): their personalities
John (10:32:33 AM): esp George
Rex (10:32:45 AM): uh huh
John (10:33:06 AM): you should watch all the clips and read all the stories so that you get a feel for his motivations and quirks
Rex (10:33:13 AM): ok

John (10:33:30 AM): look at the acting in the comics too
John (10:33:40 AM): you can really see how he thinks
Rex (10:33:42 AM): yeah
Rex (10:33:48 AM): i love the fishing one

John (10:33:49 AM): he's not mean
John (10:34:06 AM): but he explodes when he has no rational way to resolve something
John (10:34:18 AM): he likes to be in control and thinks he's doing you a favor

John (10:34:27 AM): he distrusts women
John (10:34:41 AM): he thinks they are satan's spawn, out to corrupt men

John (10:34:57 AM): he loves Jimmy and is very protective of him
John (10:35:06 AM): he talks slow to him, like he's talking to a baby
John (10:35:18 AM): except when he is
John (10:35:20 AM): hang on
John (10:36:27 AM): can i post your DRAWINGS AND THIS IM?
John (10:36:31 AM): whoops
Rex (10:36:46 AM): yeah, i guess
John (10:37:02 AM): no?
John (10:37:09 AM): it would be helpful to others
Rex (10:37:10 AM): yeah you can
John (10:37:14 AM): cool
Rex (10:38:09 AM): aren't the drawings a bit too shitty, though?
John (10:38:30 AM): no, they're fun
Rex (10:38:46 AM): ok
John (10:39:02 AM): they are perfect storyboard drawings
John (10:39:10 AM): loose and lively
Rex (10:39:16 AM): alright, cool

John (10:39:37 AM): back to George's personality...
John (10:40:00 AM): he wouldn't gleefully do anything to punish the kids
John (10:40:14 AM): he does it because he has to (in his mind)
John (10:40:47 AM): although he does like discipline and is proud of scaring people into good behavior

John (10:41:05 AM): he likes Sody, but thinks she is up to no good
John (10:41:35 AM): because she is inherently a seducer of innocents
John (10:41:38 AM): like all women

John (10:42:05 AM): when you draw Sody and Jimmy's reactions, treat them differently
Rex (10:42:20 AM): sure

John (10:42:26 AM): she is not an inactive particpant in the story
Rex (10:42:41 AM): i know
John (10:42:45 AM): she loves George and sort of plays with him
John (10:42:53 AM): she loves his discipline

John (10:43:14 AM): but when he explodes abruptly will definitely get scared
John (10:44:01 AM): she thinks his old fashioned ways are funny and sort of plays with him

John (10:44:33 AM): when he lectures her, there is great concern on his face
John (10:45:48 AM): like he's trying to hold back a full explosion because he likes her, but fornication is a very serious matter, so you have to see his face struggling with the emotions and seriousness
Rex (10:46:06 AM): haha, ok

John (10:46:07 AM): I hope I'm not putting you to sleep
Rex (10:46:15 AM): nope

John (10:46:17 AM): Jimmy is just an idiot
Rex (10:46:22 AM): does he lecture jimmy, too?
John (10:46:35 AM): who tries to have the right emotions and expressions but really doesn't know what's going on
John (10:48:06 AM): he is just basic urges and fears
Rex (10:49:33 AM): does he only lecture sody, or is jimmy there too? because in the outline i think it says he's thrown in his room.

John (10:49:44 AM): so yeah, look at how George acts and reacts with Jimmy in the comics
Rex (10:49:52 AM): ok
John (10:50:18 AM): maybe George packs him up and puts him in his box
Rex (10:50:33 AM): haha
Rex (10:50:33 AM): ok

John (10:50:42 AM): his sin-free protective box
John (10:50:54 AM): it has a little window for his eyes
Rex (10:51:22 AM): haha
Rex (10:51:29 AM): just a cardboard box?
John (10:52:11 AM): his eyes peer out now and then during the lecture

Rex (10:52:36 AM): ok, i guess I'll need to make a set-up for that
John (10:52:49 AM): if george says anything about dirty stuff, Jimmy's ear sticks out of the box
Rex (10:53:04 AM): haha
John (10:53:12 AM): and then an eye peeks out the earhole
John (10:53:21 AM): and sweats
Rex (10:53:29 AM): incredible

John (10:54:22 AM): make Sody pretend to be real concerned about everything George says
Rex (10:54:30 AM): alright
John (10:54:54 AM): like she understands the seriousness of remaining pure for at least 5 years after wedlock

John (10:55:19 AM): her normal behavior is like in the Raketu commercial
Rex (10:55:24 AM): she just wants to get through the lecture
John (10:55:30 AM): like a teenage girl, bubbly and wacky
Rex (10:55:50 AM): i get ya

John (10:56:03 AM): but she feigns maturity during the lecture
John (10:56:14 AM): maybe this is all too much information!
John (10:56:22 AM): so I'll shut up now
Rex (10:56:42 AM): no, it's great

Rex (10:57:51 AM): do you have any of the dialogue for the cartoon?
John (10:58:28 AM): there isn't any in the little outline?
Rex (10:58:39 AM): just about the 5 year thing
John (10:59:12 AM): why not get started and send me continuity as you do it and we'll build it up as we go
Rex (10:59:20 AM): sure thing
John (10:59:24 AM): cause there ain't no dirty script!
Rex (10:59:39 AM): ok
Rex (10:59:55 AM): it's better that way
John (11:00:00 AM): ok, let me prepare the post
Rex (11:00:07 AM): alright
John (11:00:08 AM): talk to ya later!
Rex (11:00:12 AM): seeya, john
John (11:00:13 AM): funny drawings!
Rex (11:00:15 AM): thanks
John (11:00:19 AM): you too

I sent Rex a little more detailed breakdown in the form of an outline of a couple scenes:

Sody in “Daughter Of Satan”
George In Stuffing Room
George is in his favorite room in the house-his stuffing room.
It’s a workshop for taxidermy.
There are tools on the walls.
Animals half stuffed.

George is stuffing an elephant seal head.
The head skin is on a steel stand on a thick wood table in front of him.
He’s standing on a stool, whistling happily.
He wipes his brow and greets the audience.
“There’s nothing like hangin’ out on a Sunday afternoon with good friends!
Meet Earl here! I bagged him up the arctic last week! (He pulls the seal’s limp face apart to make him smile at camera)
I’m taking out everything God put in there and replacin’ it with man-made innards!”

George points to a wheelbarrow filled with guts and looks up.
“There ya go, God! You can have all the wet stuff back!

God’s a recycler!”

Pheromones Stinking Up The House
A waft of hormones enters the room through the front door.
George’s nose scrinches up.
“Yegads!! I smell the fumes of filth!!”
He rushes out the door with guts in one hand and the face in the other.
He is facing the kids on the couch but we don’t see them yet.
He does a shocked take at what he sees and drops the guts.

George Catches Kids Making Out
George’s POV
We see Sody and Jimmy on the couch making out.
They are kissing and petting.

George hops up on the coffee table in front of them.
He smacks Jimmy with the seal face.
Sody looks scared.
Her chest is covered with red blotches-lust hives.

Spray Can
George whips out a can of

Lust Killer

Makes Your Crotch Smell Like a Moose Snout!

And sprays their laps.
Jimmy’s boner inverts. Sody’s hives smooth out and fade.
George points an enraged shaking finger in Sody’s face.
“Daughter of Satan!”

Retard Box
George is about to lash out at Sody, but glances at Jimmy who is baffled and scared.
George packs him up and tosses him into his retard box.
The box has a small openeing in front where Jimmy’s eyes can watch in wonder at the workings of the world.

You kids today have no morals!
“Him, he’s an idiot. He doesn’t know what’s right and watch’s wrong!
But yoooouuuu…
You spoiler of innocence!
You spawn of the Devil!
You know exactly what’s goin’ on!!

You know, you kids today don’t know right from wrong!
You got no moral fiber!
In our day we didn’t partake in hanky panky until after we got married!...

George pauses a split second as he thinks about it.
“In fact, 5 years years after for me and Mable!”

And we always apologized to each other after!”

Sody promises to be good
Gosh, Mr. Liquor, you’re right!
I’m so ashamed of my needs!
(George nodding his head in agreement)
What would we do without you to guide us??
I don’t want you bringin’ him home all knocked up!
George: I’ll tell you what you’d do! You’d bring home that young lad all knocked up one night!
And then you’ll be doin’ a stretch in the big house! They’re comin’ down down hard on unwed mothers these days!

He’s a Minor! Sin Proof Suit