Tuesday, March 25, 2014

H-B Design: Heavyset Male Human Characters

I've collected a lot of images of pencil "roughs," paper and pencil sequences submitted to the ink and paint departments.  These pencil roughs are the sort of thing being sold by the thousands on Ebay... I wish I was a billionaire I'd buy every single one.

Here's what I propose to do: first, I try drawing the character.  Thus, by the time you see it it's already undergone one phase of "translation" in my effort to capture the character.  Then I post my drawing plus some analysis of its elements in our search for commonalities.

Anyway, here's a generic cowboy, one of many heavyset male characters created at HB Studios.  I'm not sure what cartoon this came from, maybe an episode from Quick Draw McGraw:
Your basic, heavyset cowboy.  Or sheriff, by the look of him.
HB wasn't kind to us men-folk.  According to them we've got big guts, round little heads, skinny legs, big feet, we look sorta stupid.... etc.  But we also look pretty dang funny!

Let's start by analyzing the overall proportions:
That is a pretty tall 10 gallon hat!
The character is pretty evenly divided into quarters (not including the hat).  Half the character consists of torso.

Because we draw with shapes let's have a look at the basic shapes to this character:
Really, it's basically 2 ovals.  Easy enough.

Limited animation involved one static cell (an inked and painted acetate or mylar sheet ready for filming) for many frames while superimposing specific action over it.  For instance, the shape of the head might be the same drawing for 10 seconds of film with animated mouth drawings superimposed over it.  That's what gave HB product that blocky look.

One thing HB would do in the interests of limited animation would be to divide or segment the areas receiving superimposed action with something.  For instance, many animal characters wore collars or bow ties.  Their faces were drawn with distinct muzzles... remember the 5:00 shadow to Fred Flintstone and his pal Barney Rubble?  This was so animators could direct their efforts at the specific area needing superimposing... due to the lines of the muzzle and boundaries of the collar there wasn't much chance for overlap.

In our character, look at the size of the kerchief.  Cuts right across the intersection of the 2 ovals and thus eliminates a lot of potential issues regarding movement of the neck.  In fact, at HB necks on heavyset male human characters were a rarity.  Heads tended to blend into the body.  Think again of Fred and Barney on the Flintstones.  Their heads grew out of their bearskins (or whatever those things were supposed to be) like a couple of mountains.  Sort of like our character here.

The head shape is something you'll see again and again on HB human characters: the head "indents" right at the nose area.  Unfortunately, there isn't an easy formula for getting this indent right... it requires a lot of practice.  Well, it requires me to practice a lot, you'll probably do a lot better.  That indented head, though, is a hallmark of HB male human characters.

Observations thus far:
  • Body divided into quarters: the head is one quarter, the legs and feet comprise a quarter, the torso - including that ample stomach - constitute one half the character.  The hat's a freebie.
  • The basic body shape is an oval... a rather large oval.
  • The head merges with the body... no neck that we can see.  Often the HB technique was to mask the neck with a collar of some sort.
  •  The head is "indented" at the nose.  The jaw and lower face comprise the larger oval, the upper head and eyes the smaller oval.  It's a great look but it requires some practice to get it right.

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