Sunday, December 1, 2013

Learning from Preston Blair

If you want to learn to draw cartoons, get the Walter Foster book by Preston Blair and start cracking!!

Mr. Blair was a wonderfully talented and enormously accomplished animator (check out the entry to Wikipedia).

All the basic information is here... and you can easily see that the Hanna Barbara animators were quite familiar with him.

Here's an example.  In one section titled Skeleton Foundation you'll wind up with this:
See the blue pencil "skeleton" that defines the character?
...that with a little shading becomes this:
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention.  Tom Cat shown above (from Tom & Jerry) is only in the first edition.  Due to copyright issues, the currently available second edition uses only generic characters.

As soon as I found that out I just had to have that first edition.  I found it free online... but you'll have to hunt for it.  Let me say this: it is available.  There's even a combined volume 1 and 2 out there just filled with great Preston Blair animations and characters.  Again, you'll have to be very resourceful and hunt for it.

You'll note that Mr. Blair's style is the rounder, more robust type of character than the minimalistic characters I love so much by Hanna Barbara.  But it seems to me to be well worth the effort to learn the fundamentals of animation and character development this way... and then later drift to a minimalistic approach that will be, by way of comparison, a walk in the park.

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