Thursday, November 28, 2013

Pick a character... any character!...

... and learn to draw him/her/it until you can do it with your eyes closed.  I'm nowhere close to that with Hokey Wolf but I'm leaning.

Here's the HB (now Cartoon Network) model sheet:
The other night I had some fun with it drawing different poses and whatnot:
Then I analyzed a little bit and derived my "ratios":
Hokey is classic HB at 4 heads high.  Slightly less than 1 head width.  His big feet are approximately .75 head.

His legs are short, about .75 head.  It's easy to make his legs too long... but then he doesn't look like Hokey.  One thing I find myself doing is erasing and making his legs shorter.

Pay special attention to his snout.  From a side view a horizontal center line would run just behind the eye.  It's equa-distant from that centerpoint to either the back of the head or the tip of the snout.

I don't know what to say about that hat... it occasionally changes sizes.  Eyeball it to make sure it isn't too big or too small.  Remember: the hat imparts no utility except to emphasize his coolness, his savior-fair, his Machiavelli-ism.  Hokey is a slippery character.

Just now I used my ratios to draw this pose from the model sheet:
I think that's starting to look more like Hokey.  Ratios are a wonderful thing, no?

And again...
Even though I tried sticking to the ratios, in my opinion the legs came out a little too long.
And like so...

It would be easy to draw him lopsided and out-of-proportion and say, "Hey, that's just my style.  Don't fence me in!"  But in young and aspiring animators the studios would look for people who can draw to spec, or "on-model."  They don't need 20 different interpretations; they need the bulk of the drawings to represent a specific character.

Well, I can't draw him with my eyes closed but I know more about Hokey now than I did 2 nights ago.  Onward.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Character Sequence

It's interesting to tear apart cartoons... so to speak... to observe all the nuanced drawings that describe a character: such as what he or she is thinking, doing, feeling, trying to do... etc. etc. etc.

Here are 5 poses from a sequence where Hokey is trying to convince a witch that he mistook her for a glamorous movie starlet:
See if you can imagine what he's saying.

This sequence is from "Which Witch is Which?" featuring Hokey Wolf, his little pal Ding-A-Ling, and of course the Witch.  With a cameo appearance by Hansel and Gretel, who Hokey helpfully directs to the highway, "Follow it for a quarter mile and you're in town.  Nice kids."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hand drawn fire...

... is just dandy! 

One of the reasons I was disappointed in my last piece is I didn't learn anything... and I was so afraid hand-drawing the little fire that I resorted to Photoshop trick which depicted a mighty fine fire, no doubt, but was a bit of cop-out.

Other than learning a little more about Photoshop I didn't learn anything from the last piece.

I put this picture up once before; it's Drake Brodahl's contribution to the Eaton Gallery tribute to Hanna-Barbera:
I love the colors and the shading.  i love the textures.  This is the product of an extremely experienced artist.  I'm very jealous, quite frankly.

But one thing I really love is that fireplace.  So I decided to isolate the fireplace and just draw it, nothing else, including hand-drawing the fire.  This is what I came up with:
Such simple shapes.  And such great colors and textures.

This was a lot of fun to draw and although it looks very simple, getting the textures to look something like Brodahl's was a lot of work.

All drawn in Photoshop except for the fire which I drew in ArtRage that, when it really comes down to it, wasn't entirely necessary... Photoshop has brushes with a chalk texture... but it's fun to switch between programs.

Lesson for today: you draw with shapes.  Once your shapes are committed that's when you go nuts with the colors and textures.

Shapes.  And the simpler the shapes, it seems, the better.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Project Firelight: final rendering

Well, if the object was to produce one of those artistically simple but gawd-that's-awesome! compositions... I didn't even budge the needle.
It's the same thing I always do... overblown, overwrought, too much hoping the complexity will cover for essentially a blah design.

But it is Hokey and Ding roasting marshmallows... at least give me that.

Too much reliance on Photoshop wound up with highlighting in illogical places.  But...

Friday, November 8, 2013

Project Firelight: a better idea for the background

Here I've added the foreground foliage, top and bottom:
... and if you ask me, this makes the scene a little friendlier.  A little less likely for Druids to appear coercing a virgin for sacrifice and instead, a nicer place to kick back and roast some marshmallows.

I added a few bore holes in the trunk... woodpeckers, probably... and highlighted the overhanging foliage a bit as if they were capturing the firelight.  Unfortunately Venus, Jupitar and Mars got obscured a bit, hanging low by the horizon as they were.

Firelight in the forest can be incredibly scary or warm and inviting.  Just depends on your perspective.

More to come.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Project Firelight: One idea for the background

Well, somehow the "cartoony-ness" always seems to evade me.  Anyway, here's one possibility as to the background.

The fire is a trick I learned in Photoshop.  Later we'll compare the pros and cons of Photoshop flames versus painted flames... I could very well be wrong about this decision.

Compare to the blue pencil layout.  Some changes have been made, no doubt, but overall it's still the same composition.

Only thing is... what I've got here isn't spooky.  It's downright horrifying.  It looks like some type of sacrificial ritual is about to be performed in this little copse of trees.

Because the flames look as if they're being blown around in the wind this picture isn't saying "Summer" to me.  It's saying: cold and crisp, as in late Fall.  One of those clear, freezing nights of the sort you get in the mountains.  So as I say, I could very well be making a mistake with the Photoshop flames.

Also, I didn't include the foreground foliage... neither the weeds from the ground level or leaves from above... because that type of cutsi-wootsiness doesn't seem to suit the background.  Again, I could be wrong about that.  But forground foliage would serve to miniaturize the scene making it safe and cartooney.  So maybe that would be a good thing.

We shall see.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Project Firelight: first blue pencil

Here's how I visualize the basic layout:

Hokey to the left: Ding to the right.  Kickin' back and roasting marshmallows. 

A few thoughts:

  1. The thin line across the midpoint suggests where the "foliage" will stop and the night sky will begin.  There's not enough room for a lot of detail... like a full moon partially covered by clouds (that'd be great!)... so I'm thinking midnight blue highlighted by some bright stars.  A clear night... maybe no moon to explain the brightness of the stars (gotta think of this stuff).
  2. The sky is always lightest at the horizon and gets progressively deeper in color the further up you go.  Since the horizon in our picture is obscured by foliage, the gradient representing the darkening sky will be in fairly advanced mode where we see it at the midpoint.
  3. There will be foreground foliage both from the ground level (weeds) and above (leaves)... just as in Arriaga's picture.  Things too close to the camera appear out of focus.  So, too, will our foreground foliage appear softened.
  4. The furthest foliage points between the tree trunks will be absolutely jet black.  Our guys aren't camping at 6:00 in the evening... it's gettin' on midnight!  The sky by contrast will be a very deep... and I visualize, a very satisfying... indigo blue.  Stars will be so bright as to be almost be white.
  5. Light cast by the fire will of course greatly highlight our guys, the rocks (with sharply contrasting shadows) and the nearest tree trunk.  The trunks further away, though, will have their lower areas illuminated by fading orange light that can't climb very high.  Firelight is very bright in proximity, very faint as you get further away.
  6. The nearest highlights will be accented by bright, bright, edges.  That again is the nature of firelight.  Intense in proximity, very soft and faint at a distance.
 I want the light to say, "late Spring, early Summer... where the air holds the warmth and there is little to no haze in the distance.  Good night for a fire because you can kick back; warmth isn't an issue.  Don't huddle around the fire; lay back and lose yourself to your thoughts."

Friday, November 1, 2013

Project Firelight

Quite frankly I'm disappointed in those last 2 posts.  Ignore them.

Here's what we're gonna do.  I really enjoy the pictures from this blog: Daniel Arriaga.  This guy works for Disney and he really knows his stuff.

I like all his pictures but I love the lighting to this one:

 I'll be honest with you, though, not too crazy about the rabbit and the owl.  I'm sure I could learn to love these characters if I got familiar with them... but I don't see that happening soon.

So I got to thinking: I love the contrast and the lighting to this picture; I'd like to see it done with other characters.  But who... who would be a better casting choice?

And then it occurred to me... it's so obvious.  Why, none other than Hokey Wolf and his lil' buddy Ding-a-ling, of course:

Right? Right??!! I mean, riiiiiiiighhhhhtttt!!!!???? Hokey and Ding-a-ling oughta be nice and comfortable around that fire cooking marshmallows.

Well, OK, at least that's what I think.

So here's the game plan:
  1. We draw and paint the background, including the fire.
  2. We draw, paint and insert the 2 characters.
  3. We then shade and highlight to capture the mood of a fire in the dark woods.
This is a mood exercise, people.  We're after that dark, spooky, but fun vibe of camping out in the woods and enjoying a fire and one another's company.  The fun keeps the strange sounds at bay.  Don't even think about bears, or mountain lions, or wolves.... wait a minute!
Stay tuned for Phase 1.