Cartoon Figures: Part 1

Simple Cartoon Figure Drawing

Simple is probably the wrong word. Veteran students might recall the times I’ve shown the work of artists and described their work as deceptively simple. When I say that what I’m getting at is that an artist’s work may seem superficially simple but  there is often a great deal of complexity hidden underneath the image. In order to achieve a simple look and do it really well requires a great deal of skill, technique, and thoughtfulness on the part of the artist.

Anyhow, we’ll discuss those aspects of simplicity more in class. For now, let’s move on:

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Rubber Hose Style Characters from Get a Horse

From the Animation Archive (Broken Link):

To create new model sheets for each of the characters in “Get A Horse!,” Disney Animation hand-drawn artist Eric Goldberg studied early Mickey films.

The Animation Archive website is a treasure trove of animation related artwork: Check it out (Broken Link).

Model Sheets by Eric Larson:

Also see: This post on the a video game under development that nails the look of early to mid 1930s animation style.

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Clear Staging: The Red Flag Scene in Modern Times

Steven Greydanus on the red flag scene in Modern Times:

Witness the subtlety and comic timing of the scene in which the Tramp is arrested for communist agitation. Just released from a psychiatric ward, the Tramp happens to see a flatbed truck with a long load, trailing an obligatory red warning flag at the end. When the flag falls off the back of the load, the Tramp helpfully scoops it up, waving it to try to get the driver’s attention — not realizing that a throng of unemployed workers from his old job has come up behind him, demonstrating in the streets. To the police, of course, the Tramp waving his red flag at the head of the crowd looks like the leader of these agitators; and he is quickly bundled off to jail.

Note how gracefully Chaplin weaves together the demands of (a) his medium (although the film is black and white, we know the flag is red because it comes from the back of the long load on the flatbed), (b) his comedy-of-errors genre (an innocent attempt to help is mistaken for political agitation — just the kind of thing that would happen to the Tramp), (c) the continuity of his story (the demonstration doesn’t simply appear from nowhere for the sake of the gag, but flows naturally and logically from past events), and (d) the social concerns underlying the film (the workers’ plight mirrors real problems — as does that of the Tramp, neither the first nor the last to be wrongly persecuted for the belief that he is a Communist).

From an essay by Steven Greydanus

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Inktober 2017

Inktober 2017 is upon us. For a quick recap, Inktober was created by artist Jake Parker in 2009:

Every October, artists all over the world take on the InkTober drawing challenge by doing one ink drawing a day the entire month.

I created InkTober in 2009 as a challenge to improve my inking skills and develop positive drawing habits. It has since grown into a worldwide endeavor with thousands of artists taking on the challenge every year.

Anyone can do InkTober, just pick up a pen and start drawing.

-Jake Parker on Inktober

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Principles of Animation

Cento Lodigiani on the Principles of Animation:

The 12 basic principles of animation were developed by the ‘old men’ of Walt Disney Studios, amongst them Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, during the 1930s. Of course they weren’t old men at the time, but young men who were at the forefront of exciting discoveries that were contributing to the development of a new art form. These principles came as a result of reflection about their practice and through Disney’s desire to use animation to express character and personality.
This movie is my personal take on those principles, applied to simple shapes. Like a cube.

Buster Keaton in Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928)

This week we will watch Buster Keaton’s 1928 classic silent film, Steamboat Bill Jr. on Thursday and Friday in Cartooning & Animation.

While watching the film we will stop occasionally to take a closer look at how story and characterization can be conveyed without relying on sound/talking.

Live action film had a heavy influence on the early animators; the greatest silent film makers were able to tell a story and express mood and emotion visually with a minimum of dialogue. This was achieved with a focus on clear staging, body language, and facial expression. These three concepts are incredibly important for animation, and even more so for comics.

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