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

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

No. 119, Maquette, Part 3

The Character Maquette Realized

Finally tore myself away from feverish storyboarding on Carry On to finish this maquette.

Somewhat imperfect in its fine details, it is completely usable now for its purpose--to show me any angle I desire of this character.

It has been baked (275°f for 1/2 hour) so now instead of having clay-like malleability, it is hard like a soft stone and can be sanded or carved.  I may do some sanding just to smooth it out, but as it is only a drawing aid and not for public display, it is basically finished.

I could also paint it if I wanted to, preferably using flat acrylics, but I doubt that I will go that far.

I can now even see that one extreme angle that got me started, looking up at him from below his chin.

To see earlier stages of the sculpting, see post No. 118.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

No. 118, How I Got It Right--and How I Got It Wrong: Maquette, Part 2

Off and on I have slowly been working on my Sculpey maquette, which I began soon after publishing post no. 116 in which I declared that I needed to do that for one of the characters.

First, let's review the front and side view drawings that I made.

Working directly from the drawings, I built a basic armature on a block of wood. An armature is an inner support like a skeleton that bears the weight of a clay or other plastic (i.e. malleable) sculpture and holds it in place.  I neglected to photograph the naked armature, but here I got a shot before it was completely covered up. It consists of a length of heavy gauge steel wire stapled to the wooden block and then bent and shaped upward around a 3" (8 cm) screw that I had driven firmly into the block. The screw is the basic neck support. The upper end of the wire was then coiled around to support the skull space. The exact size front and side images were carefully studied to make certain that the wire would not extend outside the volume of the head. I then wrapped the wire and screw in aluminum foil; this saves on Sculpey material both in weight and volume, and a hollow layer of Sculpey will cure easier than a big solid lump.

Working still quite closely with the drawings, trying to get the linear dimensions and contours of the model to exactly match them, I began adding the modeling clay a little at a time. This is a painstaking process, and at first it doesn't look like much.

You have to work hard to keep the sculpture symmetrical, repeatedly examining it from every angle. Now it is beginning to come together.

And now with the eyes in place, it begins to look like what it is supposed to be.

Well, so far, so good. It is on the way to being a good match for both the front and side views, right? We just need the ears and hair and a few other details, right?

But wait. What of that 3/4 view that I also drew? If it was a well-done inbetween, it ought to be looking good also--right? Let's take a look.

Well, part of it looks accurate, but the head shape is wrong. Note how close to the eye I have shown the side hair to be. Why would that have happened?

The answer is that cartoonists and cartoon animators are used to working with character heads that are basically spheres. But Kevin's head is not a sphere.  Here is a view of it from the top looking down.

The head is actually longer front to back than side to side, a shape
that hat makers call "long oval".
So, the maquette is proving useful already. Here is a new drawing of a 3/4 view based on observation of my unfinished maquette.

Check back here soon where I will do a post showing the finished Kevin maquette.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

No. 117, A Chuck Jones Wireframe from 1947--or is it?

No, it isn't what computer modelers call a wireframe, but it does employ the same idea of a grid of lines to define the contours of a shape.

In Chuck Jones case, it is just some detail found on a model sheet of Porky Pig. There were no personal computers, and this side of sculpting a maquette [see post no. 116], this was the best way in its time to make sure that he was understood. Jones, who had more formal art training than most of his contemporaries in animation at the time, wanted to make sure his animators grasped something subtle about Porky's jowls.  He created what in an art school is called a contour drawing--imagining a series of parallel lines that follow a surface and thus define that surface in space.
Unlike a wireframe rendering, Chuck Jones' contour drawings have lines going in only one direction,
but the intent of precise understanding of a shape is the same.
In art schools, this was a common exercise to encourage precise observation in drawing students.
We were told to draw a leg or a torso or some inanimate object by this method, thus defining the subtleties of its surface without resorting to tonal (shaded) technique.

In the cel animation world of linear drawing, this was an ingenious yet simple way of conveying his instruction.