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

Thursday, December 8, 2016

No. 115, The Face in the Animator's Mirror

This week I decided to discard a whole sequence of my film. It is a sequence that I had meticulously storyboarded, and that I liked a lot. I have even featured it in some posts for this blog (Nos. 111, 112, 113), and I had looked forward with pleasant anticipation to animating it.  But I have thrown it out now because I rewrote another sequence that came out longer than before, and I had to cut something.  The total footage for the film is above six minutes, and if there is one thing I have finally learned,  it is to keep the footage under control. If I don't, the whole film is in danger of never being finished at all. (Why have you never heard of me as an independent film maker before? Because I never finished anything, because all my projects became more ambitious than I could manage, and so they never got done.)

Thinking of all the sequences in Carry On, I saw that there was only one that could be let go.  There was only one that, though it would be fun and entertaining, really added little to the development of the plotline. It's elimination would not ruin or make incomprehensible the rest of the story. It was the scene in the men's toilet where he opens his trunk to get out his huge overcoat. Though I am sorry to see it go, the move keeps me on track to finish the film.

While I try to recover from this painful but sensible event, here is a lighthearted post about something amusing that has followed me all of my life as an animator and cartoonist.


Long before the word selfie came into the vocabulary, there have been self-portraits by artists. Rembrandt and Frida Kahlo are just two examples of painters who rendered their own image multiple times.
A Google web search produced this amazing array of Rembrandt self-portraits.

But perhaps no class of artist works with mirrors more than do animators.  We are always mugging at our mirrors, making mouth shapes, contorting our features into simulations of horror, grief, or whatever emotion we are trying to get at in our drawings.  But not just faces.  Also body language involving head tilts, shoulders, and hands and arms are scrutinized in our mirrors.

MGM animator Irv Spence working on a facial expression for Tom.
I have been doing this for all of my life in animation, and even before.  Included in this practice have been a good many images that were actual self-portraits or self-caricatures, of which I have saved quite a lot. Sometimes they were drawn for promotional purposes, as for example to illustrate posts in this blog (the latest of those can be found in post no. 110).  Sometimes they were done for personal friends or party invitations.  Others, just for the hell of it.

Following is a gallery of some of those hand-drawn selfies from over the years.

This is the oldest one I have.  I was about twelve, and the cartooning
style I was emulating here was probably that of Don Martin of Mad Magazine.
Here is one from about 1973. At the time I was trying to be a novelist, and
as you can see, I was still a smoker.
This is a hand-painted animation cel from a self-promotional piece
that was never finished. Note the anatomically precise yet
four-fingered hand. Done circa 1980.

Preliminary sketch for another self-promotional illustration, obviously a precursor
of the painting on the masthead of this blog: the backlight shining
up through the drawing disc illuminates the face. Also about 1980.
On the occasion of getting my first computer games animation job, 1992. Now with contact lenses and moustache.
A few years later.
And later still, I give up contact lenses and go back to eyeglasses.

Detail of an invitation to a party from 2004.
Within the hundred-plus postings to this blog, there must be ten or twelve more examples that cover the period from 2011 until now.  There will be more, I am sure.

All this is just a sort of side-effect of the animator's mirror that is always in my line of vision when I sit down to work.  But it is fun to have a record going back decades of my own perceptions of what I look like.

And while we animators did not invent the selfie, we sometimes cannot resist to capture our own images, again and again through the years.


  1. It's hard for an artist to let go, as it is so dear to us. But it's a critical part of the process itself.

    Great to see all them retro-selfies!

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