Saturday, July 07, 2007

Constructing Bugs Bunny

This Bugs Bunny model sheet uses all the classic principles of good drawings together and is appealing too.
Bugs looks simple but is really pretty tricky.

Do you ever wonder why the modern versions of Bugs don't look like the real Bugs from the classic cartoons? Not only does he have mushy construction now, but there are some subtleties in his face that are just really hard to draw. Not even all the original animators could catch them.

We won't start with the subtleties today. Let's just look at the broad forms, two ways.
Same basic construction, less a couple subtle nuances

1) Generic on model 40s Bugs

I thought at first these scenes were by Bob McKimson, but after looking closely, I' don't think so. It's almost on model, but the features seem to be just slightly out of place. Maybe it's Virgil Ross?

Greg Duffel, help me out here!

Anyway, they're still very good, very conservative and conservative on purpose. Clampett contrasted everything in context to help tell his stories better. Conservative against stylish and wild or specific.

Here's McKimson for sure:
Note how almost perfectly solid his construction is.

Clampett cast his animators according to their natural strengths and personalities. He wanted this scene to be Bugs in control and confident - the Bugs the audience was used to, so that when Bugs started to lose to the turtle, he could show you what would happen to a cool confident character when he's no longer in control. Someone used to winning would obviously lose control in a big way, so those scenes he gave to the funnier animators like Scribner.

Clampett told me he hated formula and every time he and his cohorts would discover a formula that worked, everyone would want to just make the same cartoon over and over again and not screw with the formula. This would make Bob want to make fun of the formula in rebellion, which he did in this and other cartoons.

But to make it work, he couldn't just have Bugs be wild and out of control all through the cartoon. He had to set it up so that the audience would see Bugs as they knew him, and then take them on a wild ride out of the formula.

2) Exaggerated fun Scribner 40s Bugs

This Scribner drawing uses the exact same construction and cartoon drawing principles as the other scene, but it has way more contrasts in the shapes. And more imagination in the shapes and expressions and poses.

Here's a flatter, less contrasted design from another cartoon:Everything is even proportions.

Scribner's Bugs in this scene is actually even more solid than the "on-model" Bugs. Scribner was a wizard! he could draw all the classic principles better than any other animator at Warner's, but he was also the most creative animator there. Maybe he was from space or something.

Here's Kali's first tries at the conservative on-model Bugs and my translations of the construction.

Bugs' head in the left drawing is veering off to the upper right and his cheek doesn't seem quite attached to his head, so I roughed in Bugs' basic construction next to it.

Here I tried breaking down the drawing. I need to tilt the head back more to make it closer to the pose in the frame grab. But note how all the details flow along the the larger forms.

Toes are same direction as feet. Fingers fit in direction of hands. Eyes wrap around head, etc.

Now here's a Scribner frame:Look how solid even the ears are. Everything is solid and complex. And sensible. The smaller forms ride along the bigger forms. They obey the same perspective and physics.

Different directors experimented with Bugs' proportions and details, but used the same principles as the 40s Clampett Bugs.

Compare to this modern Bugs. You can tell the artist is being real careful, but even so, a lot of the lines and forms are just floating and don't follow the larger forms they are riding. Like the wrinkle lines above his nose.

There are perfectly straight lines and parallel lines in the drawing too, which instantly kill the volumes.
This one too is much flatter than the original Bugs:

Want to become a better cartoonist? Learn these classic methods and watch your control and results dramatically improve. Try drawing the other frame grabs.

Want more Scribner stories? Wanna know how he upped his style when he went from Avery to Clampett? He actually asked permission from Bob to let him be more creative!