Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Design Dilemmas

You'll often hear animation people criticize character design.

Most of the time this is code for an aesthetic axe grinding.  A UPA fetishist might laud the bold lines of a Cartoon Network show while a Disney acolyte bemoans the character construction at the same time a Tex Avery lunatic cracks at it lack of expression.

In truth, limiting character design to a single art direction is like expecting all films to be shot by the same cameraman using the same actors.

Some criticism speaks to the ease of animating.  This is something to consider.

In drawn animation, the traditional forms animate "better".   The round constructions developed in 30's and 40's are quickly reproducible, the graphics of the 50s typically require fewer drawings and generally take less pencil mileage.

These styles aren't always the right look for a film.  But others, such as Leah Tinari's paintings for "The Private Lives of Pippa Lee" can be almost impossible to replicate under the same schedule and budget conditions applied to Bugs Bunny or Gerald McBoing Boing.

Doug Compton animated this sequence.  These are his drawings.  I've left out the inbetweens.  Some of these are C/Ds so he only drew part of the image.

Drawing 1

Drawing 3

Drawing 7

Drawing 13

Drawing 16

Drawing 18

Drawing 19

Drawing 20

Drawing 21

Drawing 22

Drawing 26

Drawing 30

Drawing 34

You see the tendency of even a great animator and a great draftsman to give a character classical form, even if the design resists it.
It then becomes a production job of clean up and assistants to retain the animation while moving the look into the proper design.  This, of course, takes a lot of time and a lot of skilled artists.


doug said...

doug is just so freakin' good. i remember shooting his drawings for lyon lamb tests at sporn's back in the 80's and was amazed then too.

roconnor said...

Brian says he first had Doug fill in for him on project while at Noyes and Laybourne.

When he got back and saw the animation he thought, "Man this guy is too good, he's gonna make me look bad in comparison."