Draftsmanship of Feature Animation Quality: Developing it Oneself
I've been searching online for some pictures that clearly example the approach to underdrawing taken by the talents of feature animation who have been best known for their draftsmanship - but what I find tends either to be at a later stage in the drawing than would teach me something, or from the table of an animator whose draftsmanship wasn't their chief skill.
Can anyone please post or link me to any good examples? Something from recent Disney (the antlers and faces of the moose in Brother Bear for example were astonishingly accurate in movement) or Milt Kahl? Something as far from finished as possible?
And to improve in the practice oneself, could you suggest anything in addition to 1) drawing from life with the intent of extreme accuracy and realism 2) drawing various invented forms from varying angles and distances 3) extreme-realism sculpture?
I wonder what sort of approaches those artists took in art school, and what sort of practice assignments their instructors put them to, in order to advance so far as they did. But that's a question I'll ask in the appropriate section of the forum.
I realized a lot of my drawing has been making mistakes look nice - or at least not too fake. I've got to tighten it all up, and these sorts of animators seem the best to take as examples to follow. I want to make accuracy of the same sort as theirs my top artistic focus for some time.
I can only guess that they plotted out every single frame like an architectural scheme, with all sorts of instruments and calculations -- that's how little I understand of how such amazingly stable volumes and forms could be maintained.
Both videos are very nice.
I'm afraid that I'm not getting much from the Sinbad video, as it is too far along in the development for me to see the real underdrawings.
As for Keane's, the demonstration is very helpful, though I think I regard his chief talent to be gesture rather than draftsmanship.
That's a blog of feature animation pencil tests, with a mix of roughs and cleaned up sequences.
Feature animators have to be incredibly good draftsmen, even in their roughs they have to show a strong knowledge of form and understanding of movement. I read that most of the time, Milt Kahl's roughs were so well drawn that the clean up artist barely had to do anything besides tracing exactly over his drawing.
Enjoy that blog though, they have a lot of great pencil tests up there.
Thank you, CdeJong. That website has some very nice videos.
Are you saying that there's no more underdrawing involved than what I see in these pencil test videos, which is virtually none?
I would think that there would be lots of construction guides, lines of action, even perspective lines on the key frames - but, as I said, I can find no photographs with evidence of those being employed, though to see how the greats did it is my goal here exactly.
It's becoming increasingly likely that I will have nothing to go on but my guess: that a period of drawing exact realism is the only way to figure out the methods of the process for myself.
i think one of the key things to practice for traditional animation (especially american feature style) is gesture drawing. not so much clean accurate realism (tho of course its great to have those skills).. if u watch rough animation, especially from great animators like glen keane (whose work ive seen is really rough) each frame looks like a gestural life drawing - with emphasis on forcefulness, exaggeraton, weight, clear sillohuettes/staging. Theres nothing wrong with loose drawings, in fact that was encouraged at my school. I think the best way to practice is quick sketches from life, focusing on movement, and essence of the poses u see. drawing from video ref too. glen villppu's drawing books are geared toward animators as is the 'force' drawing book by mike mattesi
in terms of pure draftsmanship, not sure what the intent of this is.. i think draw the way that comes naturally to u, not try and draw a certain way just because its held in a high regard, (after all the neat drawings are what the clean up stage is for..) in this sense it seems like ur seeing good draftmanship as less searching lines as in they hit the right lines without as much effort/planning/construction. i think this comes after many years of practice. draftsmanship to me falls under the animation principle of 'solid drawing'.. which i believe is important to any artist, the better u are at drawing the better ur painting/animation/designs etc will be. Especially in animation, having a strong grasp of form, perspective and the figure. Being able to construct figures from any angle, pose etc. Id say if u can really master drawing boxes, cylinders, spheres in any angle as u mentioned, it will help alot. Essentially the question is u are asking is how can u become better at drawing, which is what the majority of people on these boards are also searching for.
in terms of underdrawings and planning out the perspective of the shots.. wouldnt they rely on the layouts for getting the perspective right so it matches the bg? theres heaps of pencil tests on youtube from milt kahl, john lounsbery, etc. which show their rough animation before clean up. i think thats as rough as it gets from them. they would probably have solved most or all of their issues at thumbnail and so have such a clear idea of what they want that they candraw it so well. ive always thought sergio pablos work was amazing on doppler http://www.vimeo.com/6969163
That's a little video of thumbnail drawings by Milt Kahl... really the keys. If you don't have "The Animator's Survival Kit" by Richard Williams already, you need to get it. It is the animation bible, without a doubt. Nearly everything you need to know is in that book.
Yes you need to do lots and lots and lots of figure drawing, with a focus on gesture drawing. Seetsy recommended Vilppu, which is a great idea. Get his drawing books, he taught figure drawing at Cal Arts for many years, and is considered one of the top figure drawing instructors for animators.
It will take me some time to properly evaluate your suggestions and links, but for now I'd just to like to say that I do indeed have Vilppu's books and videos.
I'd also like to clarify what I meant by "precise draftsmanship," so that I can paint a clearer picture of what it is specifically I'm trying to improve:
Watch the scene that introduces the moose brothers in "Brother Bear." Note the solidity of the forms and stability of the planes on their (the moose's) faces, as well as the perfect reproduction on a frame-by-frame basis of the structure of their antlers.
Now compare that to, say, Gruesome Twosome, or some other Warner Brothers cartoon from 1940-1950 -- excellent animation there too, of course, but even without watching it frame-by-frame you can see that there is much less consistency even in the "solid" forms, such as craniums; these vary noticeably in their planes from frame to frame, so that the aesthetic impression is characterized by far less solidity than the animation in the Brother Bear film.
One could also make an example of Vilppu, comparing him against Hogarth - the former being very loose and gestural and the latter being precise, with complex systems of planes.
I'd like both methods to be within the scope of my abilities, though I find myself making progress only towards Vilppu's and very little towards Hogarth's - hence this thread.
I'm sorry for my trouble expressing the idea clearly. Maybe you see what I'm after?
I've learnt the anatomy of the head, for example, and can draw it in one pose - but if I were asked to draw it rotating in space as the distance and perspective of the viewer changes, I just don't think I'd have any idea at all of what to do unless I meticulously simplified every element into a cube and then laboriously "whittled down". Even then, in the end, it might just be trial and error.
So - if you're saying that it's all just a matter of becoming so used to drawing that it's all second nature, with no recourse to lots of methodology, then I guess the thread is pretty pointless and I need to just keep doing what I've been doing. But I just wanted to ask and see what others thought on the subject.
It does come down to drawing and knowing how to draw the same character in every conceivable pose and angle. Being not exact can sometimes give expression to the character, but you need to know the character inside out to get away with it. One pose is definitely not enough to even begin to animate.
"Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
animation is about imparting an illusion of life in a character, if u ask me this is what u need to be focusing on.. animating and thinking about the forces and the movement, rather than the forms and being the best draftsman. this is the important stuff in terms of animation and creating movement. if you're worrying too much about making pretty individual drawings, chances are they will end of looking lifeless and stiff. milt kahl's animation is great because he was a great animator first, and also a great draftsmen. yep i think the best animators are both. the beauty in animation lies in how the character moves and acts.
having said that, the better you are at drawing, the easier it will be to learn animation, after all in traditional animation, drawing is the tool you use to communicate ur ideas thru animation. The better u are at drawing the less hinderance u will have on exploring, the more freely u can concentrate on the acting, movement and learning how to animate. So to improve drawing u just have to draw all the time, for character animation a focus on gesture and movement, form, perspective, anatomy.
remember its the illusion of 3d space on a 2d plane. i read somewhere recently:
2dimensional shapes, design, composition -staging,
3dimensional shapes, perspective, volume - solid drawing/draftsmenship
u can think of the other animation principles as the next dimension on top of this squashstretch, timing, spacing, etc.
So - if you're saying that it's all just a matter of becoming so used to drawing that it's all second nature, with no recourse to lots of methodology, then I guess the thread is pretty pointless and I need to just keep doing what I've been doing.
i personally think that is the right awnser, yes.
You should definately check out "The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation" and these:
Just wanted to clarify that when I said the thread had proven to be pointless that I meant it was pointless of me to have started it, asking the questions that I did -- it wasn't pointless at all to have had the benefit of your opinions, which I'm grateful for.