I’m not much of an animator if I’m honest. I made two animations while I was at uni and both were made over two years ago. We were specifically told to avoid walk/run cycles because they would be too difficult to animate and extremely labour intensive. They were right. To be fair it didn’t take me as long as I thought it might – I thought about 12 hours, but it took about 6 – but it’s also not as smooth as I’d like, however the jerkyness (not a word) seems to work for the character. I could go back in and add more frames, but this is only a test for what is gonna be a bigger project.
Going forward I’ll be doing more background art and potentially animating some more scenes. I genuinely enjoyed making this, but it’s going to take a fair while to master the basics, I do however own “Drawn to Life” which is a book of all Walt Stanchfield’s teachings on animating that was compiled while he worked at Disney.
This is the finished version of one of the previous concepts I updated on the blog a couple days ago. I’ve been trying to work out what I want this project to be and also what the overarching style and colour scheme for the background art will look like.
Before deciding on style and colour I did a fair bit of research on Pinterest (I’ll link my Pinterest board at the end and you can look at what stuff I tend to save). I’m still fairly on the mid-century cartoon aesthetic so I tend to take a lot of my inspiration away from the old Hanna-Barbera shows. Samurai Jack’s background painter, Scott Wills, is very much in this wheelhouse as are some of the Cartoon Network animations from from 90’s, like Dexter’s Lab and The Power Puff Girls. I’ve also been looking at some the old Looney Tunes backgrounds by Maurice Noble, though more for interiors than anything else.
The main inspiration, however, came from the backgrounds of the Disney classic 101 Dalmatians. I liked the way the colours were really washed out, imprecise and offset, as well as how they used inked linework to draw everything. I think for that era Disney was making the shift towards braver art styles and the backgrounds for the film will have been somewhat avant-garde, though to look at them now they incredible conservative.
As to what I’ll do with the project… well, wait and see!
With these pieces I’m simultaneously trying to create a believable world (well, as believable as a world can be with sentient woodland creatures) and build up my background painting portfolio for animation (I will be adding colour at some point as well).
The top piece is a zoomed in version of a pervious concept that has be rendered a little more thoroughly. I literally cut and pasted from the older concept as it was worth using same dimensions and angles, plus it saved me a bunch of time in having to redraw.
The bottom concept gives you a more complete idea of what the mouse’s house will look like. I’m going to fill this with more props to give it a more lived-in feel as it is little more than a shell of an idea at the moment.
A slight expansion on the farm house concept. As I mentioned in the previous blog post I felt like the house didn’t look abandoned enough and that I would rectify that and I think this goes at least part of the way to doing that. It was also a good exercise in drawing an object from different points of view and you realise house three-dimensional (both literally and figuratively) world building can be. I did a quick sketch this morning how the building might look from this view-point and even added a dormer as part of the roof, but figured less is more. I added the broken-down truck (based on my friends C10 Chevy that he’s restoring) to add that classic American rural vibe to the world. I’ll tackle some more of the project tomorrow, maybe another angle or maybe some more character designs.
This is the first pass at some world building for the new project. Simply put, it is the location where the story takes place; an old abandoned farm house with an acorn tree at it’s rear. The acorn tree is primarily the home of a field mouse and a squirrel. As to what the story will be I have a vague idea, but mostly this will be an exercise in placing characters in interesting environments.
I’m not sure if the house looks abandoned or just poorly maintained, so I’ll probably make a few changes so it’s more apparent that no one lives there. I’ll also add a few pieces so you know it’s a farm house, such as a barn and old farming equipment.
A couple of very Disney-esq character designs. These were done mostly as a response to watching the Disney classic “Basil the Great Mouse Detective” which is still a great film, but looks really roughly animated when you compare it to some of its polished modern counterparts. The character designs seem basic, there’s less thought about peripheral characters (mostly they all look the same), the backgrounds are less interesting etc… These issues are mostly due to time constraints and the fact that Disney was still growing and learning. When you watch the modern animations, like Zootropolis, you really see how far things have come! Every piece of dialog has meaning, the environments are immersive and have hidden easter eggs for the eagled eyed viewer, the main characters are thoroughly work-shopped and designed, and the background characters all have a look and personality of their own too.
It’s a melancholy feeling watching those old animations because you love them so much, but you know Disney has moved on from hand-drawn animation and are unlikely to ever return to them, and that’s really sad. There’s something amazing about those hand-drawn films; maybe it’s nostalgia (in fact I’m positive it is) or maybe it’s like when you see a Rembrandt or a Van Gogh painting in the flesh instead of a print. Or maybe it’s the fact that there’s something sacred about knowing it’s all hand-drawn; the most fundamental way of drawing, the way everyone starts, the way the cavemen did it. Maybe it’s that.
Final spread (unless a publisher wants to approach me for a full book… hint, hint). To be honest all these pages have been very rough and the character design pretty elementary. There’s a definite Disney aesthetic to all the pages which wasn’t initially intentional, but certainly was in the last two spreads.
So what next? I think the background work in this one has been pretty weak, so I might attempt something with a greater emphasis on the environment that the characters live in…
I find myself talking about my process quite a lot in this blog, but there really is no substitute for a good old visual. So below is how I typically approach things. I’ll annotate as I go to fill in any gaps.
And that’s pretty much it! Hopefully that gives you some insight in to how I do things.
This isn’t really a character sheet… well it is because of how it looks here, but it’s actually a movement cycle for a double page spread that I’ll hopefully have done tomorrow. I should actually work on character sheets more I think if I want to work for Disney/Pixar/Dreamworks/Netflix as a character designer, so expect more of these! I’m pretty happy with this except for the face of the first figure (far left). I’ve been looking at the way a lot of the Disney (and similar studios) character artists work over the last couple of days, especially the likes of Annette Marnat https://annettemarnat.ultra-book.com/portfolio, Kevin Roualland https://rouaroua.tumblr.com/, and Brittany Myers https://rouaroua.tumblr.com/, check out their work!