Tuesday, July 15, 2008

layout breakdowns

What I'm calling the layout "keys" are the drawings that match the storyboard expressions. These drawings, as I explained in my last post, are tricky to do and are just translations of the previous artists' storyboard poses.

I have a main rule in my cartoons and that is for each successive stage of the production to build on the previous stage.

The storyboard artist tells the points of the story outline....then pluses them...but he doesn't ignore the points or tone them down, or rewrite the story. He tells the main points, then adds details, gags and dialogue - all in context of the storyline.

The layout artist then takes the storyboard artists' key poses and stages and makes them stronger (but doesn't throw them all out and start from scratch).
Then he adds more poses and expressions to color the scenes and make the story points, gags and acting stronger.

In most studios, each of the creative stages of a cartoon tones down the previous stage until the final film is a very bland literal conception of the written story, that doesn't even make the story points clear, let alone emphasize them.

To me, the story is just the beginning of the fun, but it is important and everyone working on the film must understand what it's about and what each successive point and gag means.

You need to believe the story and the characters and know the hierarchy of ideas and what to stress in order to make the audience understand and enjoy the story.

I've worked at studios where the artists didn't know the story at all, and didn't even have a complete copy of the storyboard to work from. They never knew the meanings of their scenes or the context of them within the overall story. They had no idea what to stress and were told not to stress anything anyway. Just trace the model sheets and don't worry about the performance. Crazy. But that explains a lot of modern cartoons.

My layout artists have to do more drawings than the storyboard poses. I don't want them to throw out or tone down the SB poses, but that's not where the creative part for the pose artist comes in. The fun part is creating the extra poses that link the main ones, or accent them, or color the overall scene.

The sb keys are the jumping off point for the layout artists, but there is plenty of room left to be creative in between the main poses.

these are connecting links between the main expressions and poses. This scene only had a couple of breakdown poses. I'm showing you a simple scene to get the idea across.

Next post, I'll show you breakdowns using dialogue mouths and expressions that really help act and color the scenes.

Dialogue does not just happen in your mouth. But mouth shapes are a big part of acting. You'll see.


Gabriele_Gabba said...

Oh man, i'm loving these! Finally a guide on keys from SBs! A lot of SBs i see nowadays have this horrid lack of continuity. I like to read comics because they are so similar in terms of telling a story from one pose to another. Some artists are better than others however. You mention some lip sync work coming up, and that really interests me because so many books and teachers fail at giving good thorough explanations of what works and doesn't.

Fuzzhound Lluis said...

Hey John these are great !!!!I'm learing so much!!! I have never done animation in my life but I'm hooked on the damn thing!!! I'm trying stuff out...just for fun, & it ain't easy but just to see those buggers move!!! hehehe makes me laugh!!! thanks a lot for all the advice and teachings. maybe in a couple of decades I'll have something worth looking at!

trevor said...

How do you cast a scene to your layout artists? Does one person do one scene, or all scenes? How do you decide who does what?

- trevor.

Shakespere said...

Hi. I enjoyed your blog. It is very interesting.

thiago said...

Hi John, thank you so much for all this info on cartoons production, your blog is awesome.

Deemo said...

Hey John how are you
I posted a bunch of new stuff on my blog, i stayed up late last night trying to turn out some good layout poses. So if you could please critiq them that would be great. You can say whatever and do wahtever with them as you wish. You have my permission. Are you still hiring?

Thanks alot Demetrius

Deemo said...

Thanks alot for the feedback ill work on every thing you said and ill post some more drawings tommorow.

No im not working yet, but it would be nice to find a job.

Im really trying to get my foot in the door, and it would be great to work on the George Liquor project. Well thanks again for the feedback, back to drawing for me.

Mad Taylor said...

Hey John you heading down to Comic-Con next week?

Timefishblue said...

It's great to be able to see the process! AND those new george liquor drawings. *drool*

Sven Hoek said...

So anxious to see these animated, I'm in a hurry all-over. And that fez is the funniest F#@$ing fez I've ever seen.



Gabriel said...

this is very enlightening. I didn't know that part was the layout artist's duty. Two questions:

-Do you always work pose to pose, or do you do 'straight ahead' animation as well?

-What fun is left for the animator? Does he just take the poses and inbetween them?

trevor said...

Hey John:

Is it true that Chuck, McKimson and Friz were the begining of the directors doing the layout poses exclusively?

I've heard that Tom McKimson did a lot of Clampett's layout poses... is this true?

- trevor.

Wes Riojas said...

What you're teaching gold. Thanks a million for all the time you spend posting. I'm drawing George from your storyboards and learning about layout. I greatly appreciate what you're doing.

Deemo said...

Hey John I posted some more layout poses on my blog. Can your you check them out and critiq them for me.

Deemo said...

My time is good I stay on top of things that way I dont fall behind in school or anything.

I only have class on Tues and Wed so the rest of the week is open for me to work on my own projects and what not.

Thats sounds awesome I would work very hard and do wahtever it takes.

Yes im in school. Ok ill look over your drwings, and again thanks alot, this is very helpful

Deemo said...

Hey John

I posted some more layout poses again on my blog, and i took a shot at drawing some inbetweens.
If you can critiq them again that would be great.


Deemo said...

Ok ill work on what you said and continue to look over your drawings.

Sounds good just let me know what you want me to do and ill get it done.

Yes I do animate, but I am still learning.

Are you going to post anymore layouts?