Friday, March 24, 2006

The drafting table...

... I finally got a drafting table! Years ago, when I lived in a large old house on the old west side, I found an nice drafting table hidden under a pile of junk and a layer of dust in the basement. I cleaned that table and set it up, using it to create my artwork. When I moved out of that house, however, the table stayed there and I've missed it ever since. Over the past few years, I've searched the second hand stores and "Freebies and Bargains" section of the local newspaper for a table but always came up shorthanded. The tables I found were either way overpriced, in poor condition, or, already sold. Persistance pays off however, and this week I found a bargain that makes me incredibly happy!
... this table was listed on Craig's List, available locally, and seemed to be perfect for me. I sent off an e-mail, got a response from the seller, and made an appointment to go see the merchandise. I met the seller at her house and inspected the table. She had provided a picture but the table top was cloaked with a tablecloth that barely showed the frame. It was adjustable, she reassured me, adding that she hated to part with the table because it made such a nice computer station and that it was once her fathers'. While the table is adjustable, it doesn't tilt, a feature that would be nice, but isn't essential. The top, the drawing surface, concerned me more because a thick coat of white latex paint had been applied to it. There were some dark red stains on the paint, appearing as if someone had spilled strawberry ice cream and not cleaned up properly. Deciding to take it, I made a mental note to remove the paint and refinish the top if necessary. It loaded into the back of my truck easily, along with a nice chair, and I brought it home.
... someday, when time permits, I'll strip the frame of all the chipped white paint, apply a primer, and paint the frame a nice semi-gloss black and it will look brand new. It's fine for the time being however. As I set the table up, I saw bubbles that had formed on the drawing surface and cautiously began to peel away the blistering paint. To my amazement, there was a perfect lucite surface beneath the paint and a sharp, new razor blade quickly removed the white latex. The paint, it seems, had been wisely applied to protect the table! I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning and setting up my studio area again.
... it's nice to have everything in one organized area and handy again. All my pencils, pens, inks, paints, brushes, and papers are right there, ready to be used . The best part is that my computer desk is, convienently, right next to the drafting table, making the studio ready for producing internet quality work.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Imagination 2

... when we were little kids, everyone in the neighborhood would gather under the big tree in Mr. Miller's yard to play. One day the tree would be the parking structure and the central point of an imaginary city and we would drive our tiny Matchbox cars around it. The next day the very same tree would be a jail where evil desparados were incarcerated. Later, it would become a spaceship, taking everyone to the furtherest realms of the galaxy. The games we played depended on who was there. Seeing kids playing in the shadow of that large oak was a common sight and no one paid much attention to us unless we were tormenting Cousin Lenny and he began to cry. Occasionally, however, someone, usually one of the local parents, came to check up on us. When the adult appeared, the play stopped and we responded to the questions or commands. As soon as the adult departed, the fantasy play would begin again, exactly where it had ended. This is the amazing power of imagination!
... last sumer, at the lake, I watched a young family romping playfully in the shallow water. At one point, the youngest son "became" a "superhero" and enticed his older siblings to form a Junior League of Justice. Brother and Sister assumed their roles as fellow crimefighters and began combatting evil. Amazingly, even Dad assumed his role as the villian, picking up the kids, one by one, and tossing them a few yards away into the water as they attacked. They joyfully bobbed to the surface and returned to attack again and again.
... several things enthralled me about the whole scene. First, it was the youngest son who initiated the game and it had characters, a plot, and a moral. Second, the kid engaged his siblings to play along and, although it took them a minute or two to join in, they did begin to play along with their younger brother's fantasy. Soon, they were as caught up in the fun as the younger one. The third thing that enthralled me was that an adult, Dad, suspended his grip on reality too, becoming the villian and a part of the whole scenario.
... Why does this excite me? The answer is simple. That whole scene proves to me that we don't lose our imagination as we grow older. The part of our brain, our personalities, that allows us to use our imagination stays with us forever. It is a resource to be tapped into whenever we need or choose to. The important point here is that our imagination is there for us to use when the occasion and opportunity arises.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Imagination 1

... over the past few days, the postman delivered several reference books that I bought. As I read, and re-read, these books, I'm absorbing the information they contain. The books make wonderful additions to my growing reference library and it's certain that I will be frequently looking to them for direction in the future. Likewise, the number of links to webpages saved in my Favorites folder is growing too. These books and webpages are great for the technical stuff, the "how to" information of animation, but they've also inspired another line of thought for me - IMAGINATION.
... any character one cares to draw, whether it is a frog, a fish, a deer, woodpecker, ghost, or a mouse, already exists, sometimes in several different forms. All one needs to do is to pop a copy of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" into the DVD player and a plethora of familiar characters grace the screen in every scene. We recognize Donald and Daffy, the WB frog, the dancing hippos, even the octopus bartender. And now, we recognize both Roger and Jessica Rabbit.
... there are a lot of technical components involved in animation. In virtually every reference book I own, The 12 Principles of Animation are repeated and stressed. These are the mechanics of animation, providing the foundation for bringing a character to life and for making that character move realistically. The "bouncing ball action" uses the principles of 1.) arcs 2.) squash and stretch and in the book Animation 1, Preston Blair demonstrates this action by showing a frog jumping. This is a basic action that every aspiring animator should learn to master and duplicate early on. Simply drawing a frog jumping, however, is rather mechanical and boring. It needs a healthy dose of imagination. The frog needs a scene, or a story, in which it can jump. This is where the technical and mechanical aspects merge with the creative and imaginative realm of possiblity.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Rambling on

... Sunrise: 7:04 a.m. Sunset: 6:29 p.m. Hours of visible light: 12 hours and 21 minutes Tomorrow, the length of day will increase by 2 minutes and 50 seconds.

... March is igniting "spring fever" already and the days grow longer and brighter. The bitter cold is gone until next winter and, with any luck, so is the snow. It's funny to think of 40 degrees as "nice weather", proving that all things are relative. I'm looking forward to the days when I can once again go outside to film and photograph.
... I've been working with my Wacom Graphire Tablet, an essential tool for any of the digital paint programs I use. It takes practice to develop the eye/hand coordination necessary to produce nice lines, strokes, and shapes on the screen, as opposed to paper, and to use the digitalized pen rather than a traditional pencil. I'm seeing improvement and that is encouraging.
... this week the UPS man is bringing me a book that I bought off of Amazon. The book is about, of course, cartooning and cost a whopping $1.75. It'll make a nice reference book for my growing library! Basically, I wanted it to learn a little more about "storyboarding". Speaking of books, I used a "30% off " coupon from Borders that my blogging buddy, Dave, over at Suds and Soliloquies so kindly provided. The book, again, an art instruction book about drawing "hip hop style". It interested me after seeing the numerous animated Ipod advertisements, especially the one featuring Eminem and could prove useful. Next up on my "to do" list - learning to read. Just kidding!
... I'm considering a possible field trip over to North Campus early this week. I would love to go visit the art school and check out the student work on display there. It's been a while since I've done this but it is always inspiring to do. At the same time, I would love to check out Property Disposition for a drawing table.