Monday, November 3, 2008

The Holy Trinity of Animation Books

While there are a number of fine books on animation, the following three books are absolutely essential to every animator.

The Illusion of Life by Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas.

Cartoon Animation by Preston Blair.

The Animator's Survival Kit by Richard Williams.

Why all three? Isn't at least one of them good enough on its own? Yeah, each one stands well on it its own. I believe owning all three is important because, while there is some overlap, they are dealing primarily with different aspects of animation.

The Illusion of Life
is most notable for its HISTORY and THEORY. You're going to be doing a lot of reading on this one. Preston Blair's book is concerned mainly with DRAWING and CONSTRUCTION. Lastly, Williams' book is about the PROCESS and really dissects actions, particularly walks. It is like they are three galactic lions and together they form Voltron.*

*Technically, he was formed with five lions but the metaphor is still good.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Mr. Poof's Replacement

Picked up a new scanner so here's a real scan of the Preston Blair suspicious dog, in which you can actually read my notes:

Here's another older study from Preston Blair, a bunch of hands:

Lastly, a recent study sketch of Professor Layton all up in your grill:

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mr. Poof

A study from Capcom's Okami Art Book:

I started to scan in some more older stuff I wanted to post, but my scanner died with a loud pop and a puff of smoke. Dammit.

Using my cell phone as a temporary scanning solution, here's a quality image of another Preston Blair study:

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Some Sketches Old and New

From many moons ago, some dog studies from Preston Blair's book Cartoon Animation:

From a couple weeks ago, a study from Jack Hamm's great book Cartooning The Head & Figure:
From a couple months ago I think, I brought together some sketches I made while watching a Ren & Stimpy episode. Love the design of the droopy ghost:
Lastly, from today, some studies from the manual of the video game Professor Layton and the Curious Village:
I am going to make it a habit of not only putting the date on all the things I draw, but keeping track of how long I spent on each drawing. As you can see in the image, I spent 45 minutes on the full body Layton and 20 minutes on the closeup.

The Effects of Drawing Everyday

The saying goes the best way to get better at drawing is to draw everyday. Sounds good in theory but how about some proof? I found a perfect candidate online and, if you play video games, chances are you've heard of him. Mike "Gabe" Krahulik has been the drawing half of the creative team behind the online comic Penny Arcade since its inception in November 1998. I went through their archive and chose a single comic from each year, mostly at random but making sure the choices included the protagonists Gabe and/or Tycho. Presenting them in chronological order really showcases Mike's progression as an artist.











Mike's drawings have come a long way in those ten years. Somewhere around 2003 or so a unique style started to emerge and I think 2005 was really a breakthrough year. He's a real powerhouse of an artist now.

This is what happens when you draw everyday for 10 years.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Thursday, January 17, 2008


The theme for today's daily pose was "satisfied," as in full or the opposite of hungry. There's probably a better word for it, but I can't think of it right now. I used yet another Maya rig I found online. This one is called Sergio and it's a beautiful model with a pretty robust rig. Am I satisfied with this pose? Eh, it's okay, but he seems a tiny bit off balance.

He's contemplating seconds.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Fear Is the Mind Killer

The topic for today's daily pose was "fear." I chose to use another downloaded rig, which is called Generi. The inspiration for the pose is vaguely based off a shot from the original Diabolique film directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot. In a key scene the protagonist clutches her weak heart in absolute terror. I had some trouble manipulating the fingers and couldn't get the hand clutching I was going after. Same thing with the hand on the wall. It doesn't look planted to the wall. I refused to miss my self-imposed deadline and go past midnight, so I left the problems unresolved.

I'm scared... of this terrible lighting.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Itchy Tasty

It's high time I posted something besides the daily poses. This is a (crappy) sketch I made for a project a friend and I are working on in our spare time. I will probably post more sketches of zombies sometime soon. I do like the greenish glow to the eyes. Not sure why he has curly eyebrows. I guess I just wanted to draw squiggles.

Could you tell me which way is the library? I'm looking for a book on BRAINS!

I definitely need to draw more, but this is a start at least.

Trepidation Revisited

I wasn't too thrilled with my first take on the "trepidation" theme, so I ended up creating two more pose variations. The first is somewhat generic, but it gets the idea across I guess.


The second is more inspired. I was sure right up to the end it was going to be unsuccessful, and yet it turned out the strongest of the three, I think. It's a tight, constricted pose, but it has a charm the others lack.

not generic

Monday, January 14, 2008


"Trepidation" was the theme for today's daily pose. I wanted to use Maya this time around, so the character I chose to use is third version of a downloaded rig called IK Joe. I quickly modeled the diving board in Max and then imported it into the Maya scene. There's a subtle bend in the diving board, which turned out nice. I don't think I really hit the theme. To me, it's not screaming trepidation. But I'm out of time and it will have to do.

Here goes nothing.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Cryin' in the Rain

Here's the next addition to the daily pose series. Since the first theme was happiness, it seemed appropriate to have sadness as the second theme. This image was made about a year ago, so it's kind of a cheat, but it fits the theme perfectly. I created and textured this model based on some ultra-obscure video game character. You've probably never heard of him.

The most depressed plumber ever.

The idea was inspired by this classic image from the somethingawful forums:

One sad dude.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

First Post, First Pose

The image below is the first in a series of hopefully daily poses using one of my available rigged characters. The idea is to create one pose every weekday (five per week) with time off for good behavior on the weekends. Each pose will be based of some predetermined action or emotion. I chose "happiness" for the first idea. When I think of happiness, I can't help but think of Gene Kelly's "Singin' in the Rain" dance sequence, so I used that as my inspiration for this pose. This character model is based off a Preston Blair design from his book Cartoon Animation.

Signin' in the Rain (minus the rain)