Monday, May 19, 2008

Graphic, but based on the real

Harvey Eisenberg is a great conservative layout man. He can draw any object from any angle and compose a scene so that everything reads perfectly. Note that his BG elements do not at all look mechanical. Every shingle and brick is organic, yet fits within the patterns and forms that they sit on.
I would love to find a couple BG artists who could draw this well. Vincent Waller can and he drew great layouts in my cartoons and comics. He's of course in great demand even at wonky studios.

Milt Gross studies the real world. He has knowledge of many types of furniture, not just one stock chair or couch or cabinet.

He puts the appropriate types of furniture in the houses he draws, depending upon whether it's a mansion, or a regular middle class house. He cartoons them just enough to make them fun and he draws the rooms from really interesting angles.

He plays with the perspective just enough to goof things up and make 'em fun and wacky without being "wonky".

"Wonky" is when the window shapes are completely different shapes than the houses they sit on. Or everything in an image is on a different angle. Each house is on a crazy angle and nothing on the house actually follow the same angle. You see it all the time in modern cartoons. It's when the smaller shapes do not fit within the larger ones and the whole image of the scene is a chaotic jumble instead of an instantly understandable whole.

Here's a great down shot of a bedroom that reads perfectly, even though the perspective is very slightly off.

Obviously Gross really does understand perspective, and can make it form the most fun visual statements:
Gross is a master of composition. His BGs don't compete with the characters. They compose around them and give the scene specific flavor.

Here are some panels from my comics where we tried to make our BGs somewhat cartoony, while still using them to compose well with the characters:Of course, they aren't on the same level as Gross, Eisenberg or Ketcham and I'm not looking for an artist to imitate the "Spumco style". I just want to try to show the general goals I have for framing my stories and characters in atmospheres and environments.

I'm looking for an earthy down-home feel to the BGS. Not looking for high-style modern hipster style. I want the environments to feel like what real life feels like , only through a funny artist's perspective.

I need cartoonists who remember odd details and unique weird elements of growing up. This scene above is inspired by my own youth.

My Dad (like many Ottawa Dads in the 60s) was always building stuff to add to the house. This was an unfinished bathroom we had downstairs in the basement that must have stayed unfinished for years. It was dark and dingy and the walls were never completed. It had a funny smell , unique to moldy basements. I need BGs that evoke the actual smells of the different environments my artists have experienced.

I don't want every scene treated in the same hipster-impress the executive-flat, wonky style. If you are a cartoonist with a love for cartooning real life and environments and want to get our audience to feel the atmospheres and odd nooks and crannies that impressed your life (and you can draw perspective and have a wide knowledge of what things look like), then I want to bring your ideas and experiences to the world.

Jim Smith drew lots of great scenes in my cartoons and comics and is likely to do many more on the George Liquor Show. He could use some help. We all want to sit around and laugh about weird things that happened to us and sketch out the feelings of the environments they happened in..and try to draw them in styles that evoke the smells the best, not just draw every scene in the same house style.

COMPOSITIONS AND ANGLES TO REVEAL THE CHARACTERS Gordon is great at designing his scenes with atmosphere. Atmosphere generated by the point of view of the characters. Look at all the great angles in his panels, and the motivated characters that are moving from scene to scene. It's all designed and framed to make you feel like you are part of the story.

Gordon invites you in and you become one of his dog gang and experience the world from their point of view.

In my George Liquor Show, I am going to tell stories from different points of view, Each character sees the world at different angles and in a different atmosphere of his own impressions and emotions.

George's POV is conservative and stable, Jimmy's is more cockeyed. The animals see everything from low angles and with a different understanding of how life works. Sody sees everything as fun and innocent with a touch of filth. The bad Catholic girls see the world for what it is: dirty low down, grimy, unfair, get what you can while it's available and confess later.


flashcartoons said...

need an inexperienced inbetweener? maybe one day ill get to work with a great animator like you john, tis my dream

Anonymous said...

This sounds like it's going to be great. It's about time the world gets to see the George Liquor world the way it's alway been meant to be.

I'm definitely looking forward to seeing more of the bad Catholic Girls, and for the love of God, please introduce us to George's wife! We've only seen her mounted butt!

If you're drawing inspiration for Sody and the Catholic Girls from real life, then you must be hiding some shameful lusty secrets...

Good luck Mr. K

Mitch L said...

Hee John,

Are there any good books about how to draw backgrounds/perspectives?

RubyMoon_21 said...

I am a HUGE fan of your work from when I first watched Ren & Stimpy in the early 90's when I was but a wee lass of 6. Yeah my parents were cool enough to let me watch your show at that young an age. You have been an inspiration for me to strive to be original and the best I could possibly be. Your blog has especially helped me a lot when it comes to drawing original and appealing characters.

I am 21 now, I am going to school and will graduate with my B.S. in Animation in July. I hope to one day get my dream job of being a character designer for TV, movies, or video games whatever that will let me do what I love to do for a living. I know I still have a long way to go before I can boast about how great I am as my generation tends to do. I however want to get better badly and I know that if I keep drawing and be a little firecracker when it comes to competition; I will achieve my goals in life.

That is my deviant art site, it doesn't have a whole lot in there since it was only recenlty (yeah two months before I graduate) that I decided I wanted to be a character designer. Feel free to check it out and be brutal and honest about my style and work.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know the positive influence you have had on me and I am sure many other people in the world. I look forward to seeing your George Liqour project develop in the future. Good luck with everything you plan to do in the coming years. Thank you again for giving the world all those great cartoons to watch over and over again.

Best wishes,

Esperanza Gomez

B Beach said...

Hey John,
Thanks for your response on my blog! I appreciate the time you take to respond to others and counsel with us and help us all improve.

I always love looking at your blog and all the examples you post and admire your attempts to help others improve and grow in the animation industry.

I can definitely see what you're after and that my style is not really what you're looking for. I figured it was worth a shot. I will continue to work on things and try to improve, perhaps I can take your direction and create some art that is closer to what you're looking for in the future.

Good luck finding the right artists for the right jobs. I will continue to read your blog and learn!
Thanks again,

Colter said...

Those images of George and Jimmy with partial faces is creeping me out.

Elana said...

you are an amazing teacher!

John Young said...

God bless you John Kricfalusi. I'm sure there are people out there who would argue the opposite but i'm convinced that working for you would be the ideal job. No sleeping or partying but ideal none the less.

Rudy Tenebre said...

The bird! Give me the bird!

John Ward said...

Hey John,

How 'cartoony' are you wanting these backgrounds to be? Are you looking for the very finished backgrounds that you see in a Tom and Jerry cartoon or the more stylized stuff that you see in the Dan Gordon images that you have spoken about at various times on this blog? Thanks.

John Ward

JohnK said...

anything inbetween

cartoony but solid with depth

D Gill said...

Hi John K., I made a post on my blog just for this occasion,
shameless self promotion
Please have a look, I even included proof I take inspiration from my life, as you mentioned,
D. Gill

Memo Angeles said...

Hi there! Here's an attempt to draw Jimmy and Sody! Please take a look at it. Could I work in your comic? Inking, coloring.. whatever. Thanks!!!

Sody & Jimmy illustration.

J.T. Blevins said...

That would be a great job, less the sleep, as John Young said. Here is a link to my comics:

3 Witches

Fuzzhound Lluis said...

G'day John

This is agreat post, the examples are awsome! it has cleared up alot what you are looking for... I feel there is a lot to learn here... so I'm gonna keep chugging away!

Thank you
All the best

simon said...


gimme some feedback and i'll paint you a house..

Fuzzhound Lluis said...

G'day John

here are some more sketches I've been trying to apply what you said in this post, I hope you like them, I still need to work heaps.
I'll give some restaurants a try tomorrow.

See ya!