Wednesday, May 17, 2006

... I've owned a copy of Preston Blair's "Animation 1" for several years and recently acquired a used copy of "Cartoon Animation". I love these books, Blair's style, and, I believe that they need to be in any aspiring animator's reference library. When I discovered these tutorials using the books to teach, I started drawing right along with the lessons. Although I am not sending my work into the professor, I love the idea of using Preston Blair's work to strengthen animation and drawing skills. Like John K., I really believe that (re)learning this "40's style" of drawing and animation could lead to a renewed interest in 2D cartooning. I must admit, however, I don't follow the tutorials to the letter. I mean, I don't superimpose the published image over my drawing in Photoshop to compare and contrast. Instead, I pay attention to the key idea and compare visually, making changes to improve and learn how to do something.
... there's a little dilemna here. I don't want to draw cute little characters that have already been done a million times. I am interested in the fundamental concepts behind the construction of characters though. I think this sentiment is behind some of the bizarre character design I've seen online when I look at other people's work. It appears as if an artist will push to get as far away from those "fluffy little rabbits" and "mischievous chipmunks" as possible. That response all too often compromises the quality of the work. I recently watched something made by a Brazilian animator and his characters lost all appeal when he pushed too hard.
... whenever I go into any version of a "Dollar Store", I can't help but to look at the animation DVD's they offer. The other day I bought one that featured "Superman and other Cartoon Treasures" and had a very modern looking "Man of Steel" on the case. Of course, I was more interested in the "other cartoon treasures", fully aware that the Superman episodes were going to be the Max Fleischer cartoons. I was pleasantly surprised by two Merry Melodies cartoons that will never be seen on television again. The most interesting was titled "Inki and the Minah Bird". Note the spelling of "minah bird". Of course, "Inki" is a (very) black, spear carrying, grass skirt wearing, bone-thru-the-nose, cannibal type character ("politically incorrect and racially insensitive" by today's standards). He lumbers thru the picture in several chase scenes with a hungry lion and a wise guy mynah bird that constantly outsmarts the hungry lion. With the John K./ Preston Blair lessons fresh in my mind, the lion got my attention and I took a screen capture to publish here.
I can clearly see the shapes that form the lion now!