Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Appealing or Unappealing?

Thanks everyone for the meaty comments! Some things I expected and a few surprises. I wrote my own theories below each style for you to argue with.

Here's your reward for participating in the subjectivity quiz.

1 Kookie

I think this is very appealing. Instantly caught my eye.
It's great drawing on every level.
It's designed and stylish all the way from the composition down to the details.
It has the kind of proportions that usually look bad in cartoons, yet the artist makes it work.

2 Jackson Heads
This is beyond retarded and to this day I can't believe that anyone in charge of a TV network, or a studio could approve any of it. How did the Jacksons approve it? They actually have considerable talent themselves.

Badly drawn vague "realistic" bland heads that are too big on tiny badly drawn bodies.

Wonky background adds to the unplanned accidental look of it.

3 Fur Blobs

This is beyond me too. Neither character has a distinct overall form. They are just shapeless blobs. Then the overall blobs are broken down into lesser indistinct blobs. The proportions are Godawfully unbalanced.

The little messy faced guy's features are too small, indistinct and too crowded together which makes it hard to see what you are looking at, and makes it hard for the animator to make expressions.

These remind me of Sheridan college student designs from the 1970s. Back when young animators had just discovered construction models from the 1940s and assumed from them that cartoon designs had to made up of lumps piled up on top of each other.

I have always hated that lumpy brow theory. The 2 poo shaped blobs above the eyes that appeared in so many Nelvana cartoons from the 70s and 80s.

4 Beautiful
Do I need to say anything?

5 Tyer

I have mixed feelings about Jim Tyer. I actually have this comic and I used this particular story as model sheets for the Bakshi Mighty Mouse Show in 1987.

When I first discovered his work I thought it was sloppy, but it grew on me. It's based on 40s general animation style, but is full of his own personal funny quirks. It's definitely funny, which is the number 1 most important visual element of a cartoon.

Tyer obviously has strong drawing ability but is full of impulsive wanderings from what he knows to be the "correct" way to do things. It's light hearted rebellion.

It reminds me of foods that take some getting used to, like pickles, mushrooms, spicy salami and the like. It isn't white bread and American cheese like Disney and other merely appealing styles.


6 Messmer

Instantly appealing and the essence of cartooning. Big eyes, frivolously fun happy style. Very clear staging. All the shapes are fun to look at -even the background shapes.


7 American Anime

This is a style I don't comprehend. It's less obviously ugly than 80s human proportioned shows like HeMan or Thundercrap. It takes those unanimateable proportions and simplifies the details, while glueing big Bambi cartoon eyes onto them - I guess to try to get some instant appeal. Putting big sparkly eyes on male characters makes them look pretty gay, and I don't understand the appeal of that.

The girl's forehead is too short - she should be a Fox News anchor.

The arbitrary pointy lumps all over the characters are irritating and distracting.

None of the faces show a shred of individuality. They are all the same bland human with cow eyes.

8 McBoing Boing

This is appealing to other designers. Big eyes, all the shapes are distinct; lots of contrasts in the sizes and shapes, good composition, happy looking. In theory this is very professional and appealing, but I can't see it appealing to kids, because it looks too simple and it's not entertaining. A kid might think "Heck, I can draw that good." and the designs don't indicate that the characters have any personality-they are well designed graphic symbols.

They should have had Dr. Seuss design the cartoon, instead of just write it.

9 Bambi

I'm surprised at all the negative reaction in the comments to this cute picture of Bambi and his friends.

The actual animators' drawings of the characters are more perfectly balanced as designs and that's Disney's goal in design - perfect cute balance of shapes. They don't always achieve it, but came as close as possible in the original Bambi and Song of the South.

The artist of this coloring book cover got some of the shapes and sizes a bit out of balance - which actually makes it seem more fun to me than the animation. A little imbalance is a lot more natural and "human" in designs.

10 Jones Cute

The drawings on this Jones model sheet are technically amazing. Solid construction, good balance of empty space VS filled spaces.

It's a cynical caricature of sappy cuteness. Everything about Jones -even at his best - comes off as cynical to me, like he doesn't have any love or respect of life or humanity. He is super skilled, but needs to be surrounded by other more light hearted cartoonists to influence him to be less cynical.

11 Live Action Cartoons

Holy flying crap. How can this even exist? A big human head with tiny human hands and a ball shaped body. To me there is nothing uglier than real humans trying to be cartoons. These movies are like freak shows. I can't understand why Hollywood pumps so much of this stuff out. Why not just do a real Dr. Seuss or Flintstone movie?
12 Furries
I don't know if modern-day furries even realize it, but this whole movement grew out of Disney fan art from the 1970s. Nerdy kids who loved Lady and the Tramp and Bambi and wished they could draw as well as Disney animators. They took the squirrel-mask face style, drew it poorly and stuck it on top of human proportioned bodies and then had nasty things happen.

Who ever thought this would grow into a full blown cult?

In the last 15 years or so, furry style has in turn influenced mainstream "decent" animation.

14 Pretend Cartoons
This looks like it was drawn by an 80s Saturday Morning cartoon artist with a gun to his head. Superficially trying to look like classic cartoons, it confuses 30s rubber-hose style with 40s pear and sphere style and gets every aspect of both styles wrong.

No clear distinct shapes in the design or poses. Everything is cluttered. The clothes don't follow the forms underneath - they bulge out in awkward wrong directions. It's not visually funny or well designed or remotely human. It's completely contrived, awkward and insincere. It screams "lie".

Here's a whole design category of its own:
I'll discuss this style in its own post.