Monday, February 18, 2013

A French Poet Moment: Part 3

Character Design

This is probably the area most people have the most fun. It sure is one of my favorite parts. There is a lot to go into character design but here are a few tips:

  • Keep it simple
  • Believability
  • Appeal

Keep it simple: Because you will be drawing this character over and over in a variety of poses so you'll want to keep it simple. Create your character using simple shapes. Using simple shapes will allow you to draw your character quickly.

Believability: Your character needs to be believable. That means your character has to look like they are in proportion and that their movement looks real. Okay, so I am going to let you in on my secret of creating believability. If you are unaware artists measure characters by heads. An average person is 7 1/2 heads high. Not everyone you draw has to be 7 1/2 heads high. Your character can be 3, 4, 5, 6, and up heads high. Now for my secret. No matter what size you draw your character at, the important thing to remember is that you draw your character's elbows just above the waist and hands fall mid thigh. If you keep the elbow and hands proportion correct your character will always be believable. 

Appeal: Whether a hero, sidekick, or villain your character has to appeal. You want your audience to feel for the character. You want the audience to be rooting for, crying, laughing or feeling hatred for the character. This is done in a few ways including facial features, body type, costuming, and color. Think about the type of character you want to create then take some time to research some characters similar to yours. For example if you want to create a superhero look at characters like Superman, Green Lantern, or Spiderman. What makes them visually appealing? Well, they all have broad shoulders, muscles, and wear a brightly colored costume. It doesn't matter what style you are drawing in, if you draw a large muscled guy in a brightly colored costume you have just drawn a superhero. Research and reference is a must before you start any drawing. 

Also, never go with your first choice. Draw, draw, and draw some more. Once you finally have your character the way you want, the next step is to create a model sheet. A model sheet is a collection of your character in a turnaround. A turnaround are illustrations of your character in a front view, 3/4 view, profile, and back view. These sheets are used as reference to know how your character looks from any angle. There are also expression sheets, which shows what your character's regular facial expressions look like. Finally, we have pose sheets which shows how your character looks in their regular poses.

I haven't had a chance to draw out the French Poet's model sheet yet so I went online and downloaded a few model sheets to demonstrate how they look. You will notice on these model sheets there are lines on the model sheet at specific places which we use to make sure all body parts line up in any position. Also, feel free to add notes to your model sheet incase you are not the only working on your character so other artists know what they need to know. Take your time to review these model sheets which I found on the internet. I think they are great examples of what I am talking about.

I hope you all learned something today. I will post my model sheet soon. Just remember to practice and continue to observe all around you. Characters come from everywhere. You can get inspired anywhere from a family member, classmate, a person in a store, coffee house, or on the train. So keep your drawing pad with you at all times. Until next time, keep your pencils sharp and your head in the clouds.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A French Poet Moment: Part 2

Today's discussion will be about scripting your story.

Depending what kind of story you are working will dictate the method of your script format. Since this is an animation, I will write this in a television/film format. There is a rule in film and television that one page of script is equal to one minute of film. Some animation writers follow that format however, there are those in animation who follow the rule that every two pages of script is equal to one minute of animation. For me, I don't always follow either. I could spend a lot of time on a description of an animated take. Note: When you write a script don't put a bunch of detail in it. Just put in enough to tell the story. Its the storyboard artist's job to create what's going on in the scene, but for the sake of this project I am wearing all the hats. So, when I write a story that is just for me and not a client, I just write the story then figure out the timing when I go to the storyboard stage. Since it is my story I can make it as long or as short as I want. In the last post I think I mentioned that I was planning a 10-15 second animation on this project. After writing the script, I am estimating a 35 second to 50 second animation. I haven't done the storyboards yet, so that could still change.

Before you begin the script you will need to understand what a script is and what goes into it. Below is a video I show to my students when I teach scripting. In this video you hear them mention outlining your story and creating a treatment. I haven't discussed that, but probably will in a future story. For something as short as my current story I didn't feel I needed to do either. If I was to write a film, I would use a treatment. Outlining is always a good idea no matter the size of the story. When I outline a story, I usually use bullet points for every important part of the story. For example, I will write the title of the story, then write Scene One, and finally underneath that I write the bullet points of importance. Then I move to the next scene. Everyone writes different and outlines different. I am explaining my methods. You should experiment and see what works best for you.

Here is a piece of my script for the story. I am not showing everything as I do not want to spoil the ending for you. Just click on it to enlarge it.

Well, that's it for now. I'll be back soon with some art work to show. Next time we'll discuss character design and model sheets. Until then, keep your pencils sharp and your head in the clouds.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A French Poet Moment: Part 1

Okay, so here is what's going on. Ever since I was a child I have loved cartoons and devoted my life learning the craft. I was lucky enough to have my first job back in 1994 as a character designer and animator for a small gaming company. Since then I have done lots of jobs but no job is more fun for me than when I am creating animations. I love the entire process from concept to completion.

The picture above is of a character I created back in 1994 when I was eighteen. He is designed like a stereotypical french man from the old cartoons and movies. The idea of the character is that he  would try to write poetry and then get distracted by something. Usually a woman who he would then hit on in a cheesy way. I also planned on doing the voice giving him a bad french accent. Why a bad accent? Easy, because I can't do a good one. Also, I thought it would add to the humor.

Anyway, I never got around to animating him. The years passed and I thought about him here and there but for the most part he was forgotten. Well, the other day I was thinking about him and I haven't really animated in a while (my work has been primarily in education and illustration lately), so I sketched out the above drawing.

I have been wanting to do an educational blog for a while now using it as a place where I can share my knowledge. Thus Toon-Lore was born. This blog is dedicated to educating about the art of illustration and animation. I decided to start with the French Poet as my first project. I will document my process as I work on this.

Today's post is about getting your idea. The idea is key. Ideas can come from anywhere. Sometimes a picture like the one above inspires an idea or it come from something you've read or observed. The best ideas come form not limiting yourself. Read whatever you can get your hands on. Watch everything. Observe the world. Step outside of your comfort zone. Let your imagination soar. When it comes to something like comics and animation you are only limited by your imagination and skill with a pencil or computer program. Most importantly, TAKE NOTES! I always keep some kind of pad with me so I can write or doodle. You never know when an idea will strike. It can be while you are at the gym or standing in line for a cup of coffee. If you have that pad you wont lose your great idea. 

There is an old saying, write what you know. Does that mean when I write about this guy I know about about hitting on women in a cheesy way? Well...let say I know what I need to. The important thing to remember is that a story must have conflict. The French Poet's conflict is that he gets distracted. I think that is something I know all too well and something I can write about easily. 

So what are my next steps? I'm going to need a script, character and background designs, storyboards, then comes the animation, and finally the editing. 

Well, I got the idea, so next time I'll see you with a script. Until then, keep your pencils sharp and your head in the clouds.