Tuesday, March 25, 2014

About Modelsheets

Back in the days of 2D animation, the modelsheet was a way of showing what the character looked like, so that every animator would know how to draw it "On Model". There are a variety of modelsheets to choose from, everything from Construction, Turnarounds, Body poses, Expressions, Size comparisons, etc. Below are examples of these different formats.


Construction Modelsheets: Show how the character is built from simple shapes and how many heads tall it is as a form of measurement. The famous Fleischer characters below shows this, but also combine facial expressions and slight turnaround poses.
I think the Popeye modelsheet below was done later since his head is measured differently making him only 5 heads tall, rather than the above showing him at 6 1/2 heads tall.
The above images came from Leslie Cabarga's great book " The Fleischer Story". It has a lot of nice artwork from the golden age of animation and tells the history of the Fleischer Studios.

Here's some more Construction modelsheets from Animaniacs, with both front and back views. You can see exactly what shapes are used to build up these characters, making it easier to learn how to draw them correctly.

Do you notice anything missing from the above models of the characters? I'll give you a hint, something is missing from Yakko and Wakko's faces in these designs. Can you guess what it is?

Here's a construction model of one of my favorite characters, Slappy Squirrel.

Construction Modelsheets also should contain written instructions or notes to help draw all the design's details. Here's a side view of SpongeBob Squarepants...

One of my first scenes to animate was from a Slappy Squirrel episode where Slappy was in court and being confronted by a lawyer named Stephen Wolf. In this case, the character was only used in one episode and we were given only one modelsheet. The Lead Animator had to figure out how the character was drawn, so the Assistant Animators would know the correct way how to draw the character . Below is the original turnaround modelsheet of this character.

Here's a construction model and the easiest way to draw it...
There are a few notes explaining how to draw this character. The Lead Animator treated the character as a "skinny guy in a big suit". Here is a construction drawing of a rough turnaround of the Wolf's head...

Expression Modelsheets are used when showing how the character should look in different emotional states or poses. These can be made from actual scenes in production when the character design has been established, can be either full body poses or facial expressions. Here are a variety of expression modelsheets...

Comparison Modelsheets are used for comparing the sizes of different characters in a cast.


And so, did you ever figure out what facial feature was missing from the Animaniac Construction modelsheet?

Yakko and Wacko started off clean shaven with smooth faces and in a very interesting blog by Rob Lammle, you'll learn why they were given whiskers on their cheeks. It was to avoid any confusion to a very, well known mouse who lives down the street from Warner Bros. 
Another good source for model sheets and background art is Living Lines Library. If you know of any others, please let me know.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Keeping it Rough and Loose

Beginning animation students are always so worried about making the drawings look good and making sure that all the details are there to see. Their animation drawings may be well drawn, however they move very stiffly and without any life. This is because they never rough out their animation, but go straight into Clean Up drawings first.

When you first animate a scene, you need to rough out a series of drawings to figure out the action, the staging and other elements that the scene requires. These should be done as small quick, rough drawings known as Thumbnails. These are rough thoughts like quick sketches in figure drawing and allow you to see the various shots or actions as well as how everything fits together.These rough drawings tell your story which you can enlarge using a scanner or xerox machine to fit in a field size you like to work in. These roughs can be clean up and used as Layout or Key poses.

In "Drawing with the Right side of the Brain" by Betty Edwards explains how to use the right side your brain when drawing. Drawing rough drawings is where you are trying to work out a pose onto paper, thinking and drawing. However, Clean Up drawings are using your Left, making sure all the details are there and the lines are drawn correct based on the rough drawing underneath.

Working rough is your blueprint or foundation which the clean up will be built on top of. Every building needs a blueprint, otherwise it might not be put together properly and could fall down. So, I encourage students to work as rough and loose as possible and to have fun with their drawings and work quickly.

There is a book called "Animation from Script to Screen" by Shamus Culhane and on page 39 is a very interesting exercise where you have one hour to draw 60 drawings. You have to work quickly and no erasing is allowed. Its a good way to work rough and improve your drawing speed over time and practice.

Taking a figure drawing class or a non-instructional workshop is a great way build up your drawing skills and speed. I finally found a place which features costume models to draw. Here is John Tucker, one of the more well known costume models and my attempts to draw him in Cowboy attire...

The first drawings where quick 1 minute gesture drawings, followed by 5 minute poses. With all the details, you really have to draw fast. I try to get rough in the main body pose first, trying to find where the weight of the body is. Sometimes I forget about scale and upon view these drawings later I can see my mistakes. But in the heat of battle and time, I try to rough in the pose first, then add shadow placement and add the details as best I can.

At the end of this session, I was really tired because I was really trying to work as loose as possible at the beginning and then add the details later. I walked around to see what other people had drawn. Several had been in better practice than me and others had used the model as a foundation and added their own style on top of it. Instead of a realistic drawing of a cowboy, they had a same pose but replaced the human as a cowboy cat or a caricature cowboy type. Using the model as a foundation to add the details onto.

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