Search For Treasures

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Frank Bellamy: The Good Doctor Artist

This is the work of Frank Bellamy, a British illustrator/comic book artist. He worked in the pages of TV Century 21. He is best known for his work on comics and illustrations for properties such as Doctor Who, Thunderbirds, as well as Dan Dare and the newspaper comic strip Garth.

Excellent page layouts, quite easy to read, and fantastic use of color. Obviously the British had a bit more respect for the medium than we Yanks.

For more information about Frank Bellamy as well as to see more artwork, please visit the site below:

Happy Trails

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Character Design and Its Role in Animation.

Today boys and girls, we venture into the role of character design in animation. It is a part of animation that is largely neglected in modern work (at least in major studios).

John Kricfalusi, a man whom I respect, even if I don't always agree with him, has a few good points about character design.

His five points of character design:

1.) Functional - Understandable logical form
Simple sensible forms
Can be moved easily

2.) Aesthetic - Pleasing Balance of shapes

3.) Recognizeable - Distinct from other characters

4.) Personality - Allowing the viewer to know a character's personality simply by the way they

5.) Original - Not a knock-off of a previous character

Fore more of this post go to:

Now, I would like to add a sixth part to that list. It's one that I've been thinking about for awhile.

6.) Believable - Allowing the viewer to believe in the story you're telling or the world your
characters reside in.

Let me explain what I mean. I mean that some designs are better suited for different styles of story. Wouldn't characters looking like these...

would look very strange in a more film noir-like cartoon, wouldn't you say?

On the other hand, animation is all about caricature, and if we lose that element, animation is no longer exciting and it becomes a pale imitation of live-action. It would be a vast and grueling undertaking for animators to try and move character that looked like this

or like these

The question then arises: "What is that right level of caricature where the characters are believable in their environment, but are still fun to animate?"

A great example would be the character designs of the characters in Ralph Bakshi's "Hey Good Lookin'". Each of the characters, even minor characters, has a distinct look to them, different to every other person, just like real people, but they still have a cartoony feel, much like what Jack Davis or Mort Drucker do, a MAD Magazine feeling.

Vinnie (above) looks nothing like Crazy Shapiro (below)

If you want to see what I'm talking, go over to YouTube and watch the movie. You'll see what I mean.

Many of the side characters were designed by the late and wonderfully talented artist Louise Zingarelli. The main characters were done by David Jonas. I wish there was more "Hey Good Lookin'" artwork in the Bakshi book.

Another good idea would be to look at some of the old adventure strips like "Dick Tracy". Chester Gould was a great storyteller, but was also, as he described himself, a "big-foot cartoonist that got side-tracked."

I know that character design is only one step in the animation process, but it should be given careful consideration. From there we can build upon it and make a great film. However, this is only my opinion. I gladly await to hear yours.

Happy Trails

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Great Animation: What Is It?

Hello again dear readers. I know I've been gone awhile, but not that many people read my blog, and why should people since there are so many others that much more knowledgeable about the subjects I talk about out there.

Okay, sorry about the self-pity. Now onto today's subject.

Ever since I decided to become an animator and working towards that goal, I have looked over many animation blogs (just look at the side of this page to see how many I look over), and reading over their articles, a thought keeps popping back into my mind...

What, in fact, does make great animation?

I've heard one argument after another by many different sources, such as Michael Barrier, Bob Jaques, John Kricfalusi, and Michael Sporn.

Michael Barrier, when discussing Milt Kahl and his work, had this to say:

"Those characters, and others that Kahl designed and animated later, have what seems to me not real warmth but a calculated appeal whose artificiality Kahl's beautiful drawings can't quite conceal."

"Ironically, it is "sincerity," that Disney shibboleth, that is most conspicuously lacking in Kahl's work."

What exactly is "sincerity"? Does it exactly equal good animation. Isn't good draftsmanship enough. Can an animator be a horrible draftsman, but if he/she has "sincerity", can they make great animation. I have actually heard that said about legendary animators Art Babbitt and Ed Love, although I can't remember where.

He also had an interesting statement he wrote about Don Bluth animation-style, which happened to appear in his review of the 2002 Disney flick Treasure Planet:

"It is the kind of animation that results when animators try to achieve the vaunted Disney "sincerity"—that is, animation in which the characters really seem to believe in what they're doing—by having the characters behave as if they know that they're appearing in a film.

What's involved is not mere staginess, the usual mugging or playing to the audience. In Bluth animation, the characters are not entertaining hams, or, even less, ironically self-aware; instead, they are as painfully awkward as adolescents on a first date. The characters' insistent self-awareness is what makes Bluth animation so uncomfortably distinctive."

These criticisms leave me wondering how one would leap to that conclusion. Those are pretty harsh words for Mr. Bluth and his disciples. I guess that these criticisms are the result of how one feels while watching it.

Here's a quote from Max Fleischer about how he thinks animation should be: “If it can be done in real life, it’s not animation”.

If that's the case, then the work of his studio would reign supreme, seeing as how everything in their films could never be done in real life. Have you ever seen a woman with a phallic nose transform into a frying pan , complete with two eggs. Or how about a chicken coop morphing into a demonic face while chasing a chicken thief.

John Kricfalusi and Thad Komorowski have similar ideas. While they do differ about specifics (and the fact that they hate each other guts), they both believe in animation that is fun and entertaining, such as the work of Irv Spence in the Tom and Jerry series or Rod Scribner's work for Clampett.

Animation director Michael Sporn has this to say about great animation:

"My preference will always go to the flawed yet emotional animation."

The layfolk often see that quality animation means smooth full animation, like one would get from a feature film.

I guess the ultimate answer to this question is it's open to interpretation. I guess great animation is what you want it to be. My personal preference is animation that has specific facial and body expressions. This allows you to know what the character is all about. I would like to read what you readers have to say about this. Drop a line in the comments.

Until then, Happy Trails.