Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Lil' Color Theory...

Very little, because it's a subject of which I know next to nothing.  But I think I can recognize tasteful use of color versus garish use of color.

I've never taken an art lesson but in Junior High School I did take an art appreciation class.  I slept through most of it but I remember the instructor telling us, "You can remember every color in the rainbow.  In order, no less!  And it's easy: Roy G. Biv!"

Roy G. Biv of course is an acronym for the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo (?), violet.  I think the indigo is there just to give the last name a vowel.

Anyway it would look like this:
The nice thing is that the primaries, red yellow and blue, nicely sandwich the secondaries, orange green and violet (again, I'm not sure what indigo is doing in there).

Okay, so what.  Well, I know nothing about color design but I do know this: when folks make a cartoon there has to be an effective "read" of the animated cell paintings against the background painting.  That is, the characters or the focus of your action should be relatively easy to see.  And probably the best way to insure that is use opposing colors.

That brings us to this scene from The Man Called Flintstone:
What do you suppose prompted the animators to make the desk blue?  How many blue desks have you ever seen?

Well, my guess is that the blue is the best read again the predominantly orange background.  Consider, a brown desk runs the risk of "blending into" the background:
I used Photoshop to "re-color" the desk.  But notice the brown desk, although IMHO very tasteful, isn't as obvious as the blue.  That is: in theory it doesn't "read" as well as the blue desk (I actually like the desk being brown).

Also consider our color wheel, good ol' Roy.  It might be a little hard to see but blue pretty much is the opposite of the main background color (which I feel is orange).  From a color theory standpoint, I suppose, blue is the color most opposite to orange.

There are other choices, to be sure, but see if you think they work as effectively as blue.
Green works but... ugh!  Garish.
Interesting.  A little busy, maybe.
Red is a little too close to orange, I think.  Not terribly effective.

I'll be honest with you, I'm perfectly fine with the brown desk.  I think it works and I think it contrasts enough to be effective.  But that's just me.

The pros decided a blue desk worked best and who am I to argue?  The lesson is obvious enough: use opposing colors to emphasize "read."

Monday, July 7, 2014

The "Modern" Stone Age

I tried my hand at one of those backgrounds from The Man Called Flintstone.  I chose the one featuring "Bedrock Hospital."  I likes the color scheme... I like all that orange... I liked the contrast, and overall I like the composition.  Very sedate but at the same time it grabs your attention.

Here's my attempt:
I didn't bother with the brontosaurus wearing a whiskey keg a la a St. Bernard that you see in the original.  I think the melodramatic background featuring those bleak mountains is interesting enough.

This was all painted with Cel-Vinyl but, as with most digital artwork, it was built up in layers.  Thus the process was: draw an element, paint, scan, clean up, place in a layer.

I went a little nuts with some things, especially that tree to the right.  I didn't paint it that dark and grey, I painted it with actual colors but then I added shading and I think I overdid it.

I spent all Saturday morning trying to capture the chiseled look of the lettering to the words Bedrock Hospital and Emergency Entrance but I couldn't get it.  Finally I settled for what you see; this lettering was done digitally and a "shadow" put to it.  Meh.  I think if I tried it again I could get it right.

Once all the elements were painted and fitted together I put a tiny bit of lens blur to it in Photoshop and highlighted the orange overall coloring.  The color contrast is nice: orange accented by bright green.  And orange and purple mountains against a light green sky.

As for the Cel-Vinyl, I got it to behave with the addition of a little Blick's Matte Acrylic Extender.  Now it behaves more like a controllable medium rather than drying virtually the instant you put it on paper.  When I called Cartoon Color the other day looking for some of their transparent base, I was told it was out of stock and they wouldn't be getting any more.

I asked if they could recommend something and someone told me polyurethane should work.  Well, the problem with polyurethane is the overpowering smell.  I got a little can but between the smell and the glossing agent (even though I got the "satin" finish) I didn't like it.

I much prefer the extender.  Now it feels like real paint and, similar to what I had read, it behaves similarly to gouache.  Dollar for dollar Cel-Vinyl is actually cheaper than quality gouache so that's something to think about.  I got their "sampler" ... 11 colors and black and white... in the 8 oz squeeze bottles.  Trust me, that's a lot of paint.

Since I have a ton of gouache, though, I think that'll be the medium for the next project.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Man Called Flintstone

Released in 1966, the movie The Man Called Flintstone demonstrates a level of production excellence that we weren't used to seeing in HB TV product.  The animation was very, very good and the backgrounds, well... they were magnificent!

The story was fairly straight forward... Fred Flintstone is a dead ringer for Secret Agent Rock Slag.  When Rock gets injured Fred is persuaded to act as a stand in.

The Pebbles and Bamm Bamm angle really didn't add anything to the story and their silly songs slowed it down.  But the TV audience had grown to love Peb' and Bamm and so it was obligatory the film devote some time to them.

Composite of the aerial view of prehistoric Paris.
I admit I wasn't aware of this movie in 1966... the year I turned 14.  I only saw it recently and I was amazed.  When I watched the opening credits I was pretty sure Maurice Noble had overseen the layouts... but no, this was pure Hanna Barbera.

Hmmm... miles instead of kilometers.  Well, the times were prehistoric, after all.
The blue desk (gotta luv it!), the DJ in the fedora, probably even those crazy microphones were on separate cells superimposed over that lovely primary orange and brown background.  There's a real lesson in color here.  Blue and orange wouldn't seem to be compatible colors but this shot isn't garish in the least.

The overall quality of the cell art and especially the backgrounds is superb.  Now this is interesting...
... Bill Perez oversaw the seasoned veterans.  Perez had an extensive biography and as the movie demonstrates he maintained standards of design excellence.  So I guess it makes sense.  Plus, Bickenbach, Takamoto, Eisenberg, Singer, et al must have been extremely busy with all the TV shows they had going every Saturday morning.

Could Bill & Joe possibly have envisioned that within 10 years starting their own studio... within 10 years of pitching Ruff 'n Ready to TV stations... they would be overseeing a project demonstrating this level of quality?

Quintessential HB, this is how they should be remembered.