Wednesday, January 1, 2014

T.U.F.F. crowd; Things You Learn on YouTube

I'm taking a little break from the Preston Blair exercises but I will be coming back to them.  For now I've been watching some contemporary cartoons.  Less dynamic than the Preston Blair era but, at least to me, every bit as entertaining.

I really like Butch Hartman product.  I love the colors, the actions, the non-stop jokes.  I like it because, to me, it's Hanna Barbera on steroids.  If only they'd had the technology back then... ah well.

But that's what I think when I watch Fairly Odd Parents, or old episodes of Danny Phantom, or Chalk Zone (which I thought was a particularly clever idea), or my current favorite, T.U.F.F. Puppy.

At this point let's segue to another topic:

I had always been convinced... convinced, I tell ya!... that drawing on paper did you absolutely no good if your output was digital.  Sure, you could scan your paper drawings into a digital file but they'd be so stiff, so non-malleable.  There they'd sit on a layer, one immoveable mass.  You couldn't put layers underneath to build up colors or textures because you wouldn't be able to see them; they'd be covered by the scanned layer consisting of a full sheet of paper.  And if you put layers above the scan, well, you were still stuck with a friggin' drawing on paper!

So I believed.

But this gentleman taught me differently: SketchBook Pro Tutorial: Blend Modes

The trick is to import your pencil sketch scan to a layer and then set that layer to "Multiply."  That particular blend mode emphasizes black and eliminates white.  Why is this useful?

Consider: the Multiply blend mode makes your white paper surface essentially disappear but your pencil lines remain.  You can build colors underneath the drawing.

Can you transform your pencil sketch on the scan layer?  Absolutely.  Just like any other digital layer you can selectively stretch, shrink, enlarge, widen, shorten... etc.  You can select one part and subtly change its angle.  In short, you can manipulate the scanned pencil lines just as you can manipulate digitally created lines.

The only shortcoming is you can't use the "preserve transparency" tool.  The scan, after all, is a full sheet of paper.  If you attempt to change the color of your lines you'll discover there is no transparency... the sheet of paper fills every pixel in the layer.

The value of this, though, is that you are essentially freed from the computer when you want to draw (and as we all know, we amateur cartoonists feel like drawing all the time!)  So ride your bike to park and pencil a drawing or two, ride home, drink a bottle of water, and now feed your drawings into a Photoshop or SketchBook Pro file.  No nagging feeling of wasting time while enjoying the park... you're drawing!!

Doodle while watching T.V.  That's not time wasted... it's drawing!!

I've already created my sketchbook for pencil drawing.  It's simplicity in itself.  I have a padded folder... one of those semi-portfolio type of things... that I think my wife got on a business trip.  It had a letter sized yellow tablet and a flap on the other side for storing papers.  I took the cardboard backing to the yellow tab and bulldog clipped on some copy paper.  There's my sketchpad.  When I finish a drawing, I slide it under the flap.  Very handy, very simple, and best of all... it's free!

This afternoon I enjoyed the warm San Diego weather and sat at our outdoor table and drew some characters from Butch Hartman's T.U.F.F. Puppy.  On paper, no less.  With a pencil.

Then I scanned them.  (Note: my scanner is really old and there's no longer any software to run it.  I got this horrible freeware but the scans are terrible... plus the freeware plasters these "watermarks" all over the place.  I had to patiently erase them... I have to get a new scanner.  Dang!)

Anyways, here's the scans... terrible as they are:
See what I mean about the quality and the watermarks?  Also, I made a note to myself that Tuff's head is too small.

Hartman scored a homerun with Kitty Katswell.  Fans love her.  But once again the proportions are a bit off.  Plus, she's looking a little bow-legged.

I scanned each of these into SketchBook Pro.  First I erased those damn watermarks.  Then I set each layer to Multiply and starting arranging my characters who were now fully transparent.  I made some adjustments to each character... just as I would with digitally drawn characters... and - in spite of the crudeness of the scans - put them together into a composition.
Can you see the differences between these and the original scans?  I mean, besides the absence of those damned watermarks?  Tuff has been shortened, his head enlarged.  Kitty is less bow legged and I changed the angle of her face a bit.
I should mention that these particular poses come from a promo poster that also includes a "camera" character stretching over this trio with its lens pressed up on the Chief.  He's so small (he's a flea) he is standing on Tuff's outstretched hand.  I didn't copy the camera or the Chief for the sake of time and because this is an experiment in using scans.

The next step, I suppose, is to digitally trace this trio onto a separate layer.  The T.U.F.F. Puppy animated look, after all, consists of line art.  Then add colors  I may or may not do that... I might just move onto another project.  That, of course, is AFTER I get another scanner!


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