For People Crazy About 2D Animation!

Acme Punched! is for people crazy about 2D animation. It may be enjoyed by beginners and others, but it is aimed at animators who know already something about the process of animation and the basics of character animation. In large part, it will attempt to provide a deep look into the problem solving that goes on in my head as I work out a scene, often in step-by-step posts that I will sometimes enter in "real time", without knowing in advance what the outcome will be. Mistakes and false starts will not only be included but emphasized, so that the creative process of animation will be portrayed realistically. And, while my own bias is for 2D drawn animation, many of the effects and principles discussed here can apply to CGI 3D animation as well. I hope the blog will prove useful and instructive for all.

-Jim Bradrick

Monday, December 28, 2015

No. 85, An Exercise in Character Design, Part 3: Within a Single Sheet of Paper

Undo or Erase

As I work on all the phases of animation production, I like to think about what goes on in the animator's head while working--in this case, my own head.

As I have discovered over the past few years in writing this blog, many things are easy to document and demonstrate in my blog posts because the proof of the process exists on paper or in the computer in easily accessed snapshots, including many changes that are made from beginning concept to finished artwork.

But what about those still finer changes that disappear from the world and even from one's memory once they are done?  These are the things we erase either with the undo or delete button on the computer, or, on paper, with a rubber or plastic eraser.  These things are gone forever, aren't they?

Eraser on the legendary Blackwing 602 pencil; "half the pressure, twice the speed."

Perhaps this need not always be so.  A few days ago, while working on a character design for my film, as I drew in pencil, it occurred to me that I could record the things I was about to erase by shooting them with my smartphone camera.  I could photograph an entire sequence of the minute progression of my own creative thought as I drew and erased, drew and erased and drew again.

Certainly this is not something I intend to do very much.  It is a lot of trouble, and it is disruptive in itself of the creative process. (One might imagine an automatic system, a surveillance camera looking  over the artist's shoulder, that would snap a picture every time the artist picked up his eraser.)

But this one time, I did do it, and for whatever it is worth, here is the result.

The first drawings.

The right hand is changed.

The right hand is drawn from the front.  Plus, a new arm is drawn
at the side, experimenting with a different look.

Masking off his right side, I try drawing in the structure
of the new arm on the character's left side.
But I do not like the way this looks; I don't like the hand being hidden by the leg.  Time to try something else...

Here I have designed a new front view hand, at right, and changed
the character's right hand to the same design.
Of course now the side view hand is
out of agreement with the front view, so...
...I redraw that to match in a turnaround.
Next I add a 3/4 view to see how it works with the others.
Looks good!

This was sufficient design for me to begin storyboards. But in the storyboard stage, I tried still other angles and continued to analyze the character design for style and functionality, and I made mental notes for more refinement.  Eventually I sat back down with this same sheet of paper on my board and did my revisions.
The "final" model sheet.  Since I am still in my storyboard phase, other changes are still possible.
Here you will see that I have added facial expressions and more angles of the head.  Also, I decided that he should look a bit more elegant, with a nice if slightly ill-fitting suit.  The jacket is longer, and the limbs are smoother.

The changes I have made here might have been done differently, with new copies of the drawing that incorporated the modifications rather than erasure and redrawing.  Many of these things could easily have been done in the computer, with the multiple stages being preserved in save as copies. But here is how a design can evolve as the artist's conception evolves, all within a single sheet of paper.


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1 comment:

  1. The idea you had of recording all the little changes is quite interesting to understand a little better what's going on, and your comments fill the gap on why.