Friday, April 27, 2007

Animation School Lesson 5 - Line of Action, Silhouettes - Part One

Here are the exercises from the Preston Blair book (I will post the Tinkerbell, Wart, and a Clampett drawing from John K's site later, since I haven't scanned them yet). As I mentioned in my last post, this was my introduction to line of action. I'd read somewhere that animators used a red pencil for line of action and blue pencil for the construction, so I used the red pencil for the first couple and ended up dropping it since it was too distracting and covered up facial details.

Incidentally, I got a nice comment from Jack Ruttan when I was halfway through this lesson. He suggested that my lines could be livelier, and after I thought about it for a while, I think I understood what he was saying. I had been trying to carefully trace my construction lines so I didn't mess up my drawings, but artists' lines are usually done quickly and have more flow to them. I have been trying to do that, and as he says, it will come with more practice. Thanks, Jack.

ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive: Meta: The $100,000 Animation Drawing Course- Lesson 5

Animation School Lesson 5 - Understanding the Line of Action

One thing I've noticed about Preston Blair's book is that it's big on illustrative examples, but is weak when it comes to details about why something is done. John K and Stephen Worth usually provide a bit more details, but I still like to look around to get other perspectives. I don't mean any disrespect, but I think they sometimes forget that some members of their audience are not professional animators.

I'd never worked with Line of Action before, and all I got from John K's lesson was that it helps your poses "read" by making them clear and understandable, and gives them a distinct non-ambiguous direction. They can be obvious and exaggerated, and details follow the line of action and don't go in opposite directions.

Well, that's fine, but again, this was my first introduction to line of action. Nothing I found online could tell me exactly how to draw one. I gather from the examples that it usually follows the character's body, and you can infer from some of the details in the examples where it's supposed to go, but should it follow the head? The hands? Can a pose have more than one line of action? I'm thinking specifically of the second Clampett drawing and the drawing of Wart. Does the line of action on the cat with the lightbulb above his head go through his head or his hand?

Hoping to find some insight, I found some good information on the always-great Temple of the Seven Camels and Animation Apprentice.

From Temple of the Seven Camels, "More on Line of Action":
"A good Line of Action... helps organize what you're trying to say into one thought. Any drawing should only try to say one thing."
"Always keep the line-of-action simple. I think a gesture, in order to have any kind of punch to it, needs to be based on either a straight line, a curve, or an "S" curve. Those three types of lines have direction and force to them. Anything else, like a zigzag or a more complicated series of curves, loses its ability to convey an action or direction."
"If you push a line of action too far, or in the wrong way, you can sacrifice the structure of what's underneath and you're left with something that feels like it's made out of jelly with no skeleton - that's not good."

From Animation Apprentice, "Learning Line of Action":
"You have a very strong forward slanting LoA (line of action), and you know the character is really determined and single minded. You have a strongly backward slanting LoA, or better yet a curve, and you know the character is probably desperately trying to get away from whatever is in front of it. And the S-Curve line of action is even more fun - it can show two different intents, pulling the character in different directions."

Temple of the Seven Golden Camels also has a really great example from the book "The Complete Guide to Drawing, Illustration, Cartooning and Painting" by Willard Mullins. The baseball player page provides several examples where the line of action is really easy to see, even for a rookie like me.

In Temple of the Seven Golden Camels' "Simplicity, Appeal, Line of Action, a lot of blabbity blah and Jordi Bernet", Mark gives some examples from the artist Jordi Bernet. "Directional drawing is easier when you draw SIMPLY. One of the keys to really directional drawing is to make EVERY line on the figure 'point' the way you want it to. Nothing on the figure fights the directional line." I really appreciated seeing how the lines in the character's details, from facial lines to clothing lines to the direction of the character's gaze, can be used to enhance and support the line of action.

I didn't intend for this to be a rant, and again, I mean no disrespect to Preston Blair, John K or Stephen Worth. Blair shows us what line of action means in the form of illustrations, John K explains why it should be done, but I was still left wondering how it can be done when you're not just copying from Blair's book. I think I understand it better now, but if anyone out there has any insights, I would really appreciate it if you'd leave them in the comments.

I'll post my drawings in another post and will shut up now.

ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive: Meta: The $100,000 Animation Drawing Course- Lesson 5

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Animation School Lesson 4 - 2 legged characters-full body

Here is lesson four from Preston Blair's book (Why did John K choose to skip "Body Built from Rounded or Circular Forms" and "The Skeleton Foundation"? I guess I'll have to go back and do them myself, because Tom and Jerry are my favorites).

This lesson was an extension of what we learned in the first two lessons - that basic forms and construction lines need to be drawn first, followed by basic forms and then details that should wrap around the form to give it a three-dimensional feel.

I hope you like these. I haven't done the Photoshop comparison because I don't have Photoshop on my computer, but I think they're pretty close, so I'm happy with them.

Please let me know if there are any areas I should improve upon!

ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive: Meta: The $100,000 Animation Drawing Course- Lesson 4

Friday, April 20, 2007

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain - Portrait - Isabella Brant

I loved this drawing, "Isabella Brant" (1621), by Peter Paul Rubens from the first time I saw it, so I thought I'd give it a try. I'm fairly happy with how it came out, although I see some problems in the left side of the drawing, and I wish I was better at shading. That's ok, because that's the next chapter of the book. I also seem to have problems with mouths, so maybe after I'm done with this book I'll focus on them for a while. We'll see.

I welcome any feedback anyone might have about how I might improve my drawings. Am I getting any better?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain - Portrait

For my first head-on portrait for my "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" exercise, I chose my old favorite, Boris Karloff. Hey, he's got a great face! As with all the others, I'm happy with this, although the size of that ear on the left side keeps bothering me. I might have to correct it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Animation School Lesson 2 - Squash and Stretch on heads

This lesson was kind of fun, because it was interesting to learn about squash and stretch. It's one of those things you grow up watching in cartoons, but only after you find out about how the Disney animators pioneered the technique that you can appreciate it.

ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive Project Blog: Meta: The $100,000 Animation Drawing Course- Lesson 2

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain - 3/4 Profiles Part 2

Continuing my profile exercises from "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain", here are two works based on the works of old masters. The first one I'm really happy with - it's based again on a Hans Holbein the Younger drawing, "Portrait of Sir Richard Southwell" c. 1537.

I'm not as happy with the second one, based on Jean Clouet's "Portrait of a Young Woman". The biggest problem is that the drawing I had to base it on is only about 1 1/2" high, and my drawing is 9 or 10 inches high, so there wasn't much detail to follow. I guess I got the proportions mostly correct, so the exercise wasn't a complete failure.

Animation School Lesson 1 - Various Heads

Here are the last of the heads from Lesson 1 of John K's animation school.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain - 3/4 Profile

I've always thought that William S. Burroughs had an interesting face, especially when he got really old, so I decided to make him the subject of my 3/4 profile portrait. Although this is really a middle aged William S. Burroughs, he's still got enough lines and sags in his face to make it fun to draw. I drew this one during my lunch break earlier this week and did some fixing of it today. I learned a valuable lesson, since I didn't follow all of the rules of measuring explained in the book. Originally, the right side of Mr. Burroughs' head was too large, and it bothered me until I fixed it today, being careful to measure the distance that his ear should be from his eye. I think it's much better now, although I'm still not entirely happy with it.