Monday, July 23, 2007

Lou! New Yorker!

They used to have a word for it...they would say, you'd "arrived"...

Congrats, Lou.. you have arrived.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Man at Arms

An attempt at digital painting, which I am really just starting to figure out. Also something I don't do very often, working directly from a photo. This stuff is hard!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Character design Workshop

Catching up with some posting that was meant to happen sooner than this but it's still relevant.

Here's the first:

As mentioned previously, I was invited to speak at the Kalalmazoo Animation Festival (KAFI) earlier this year in may, where over the weekend I did a couple workshops that dealt with Character Design. Now i'm not the best character designer in the world, but not the worst either and can certainly saw some things about the process. But given that it was geared toward games and gaming made it a bit out side my ken. I was joined in this by Cris Boyer, from Detroit and between the two of us we managed to provide some insight into the subject. There was alot of demo drawing, and it was all about the basics, which apply no matter what you're designing for.

The group was a cross section of people of all ages and backgrounds.

Here were some of my opening topics.

In creating any chareacter, the first important thing is using those visual aids that will communicate an idea to the viewer. So with a simple character, i draw a shape that consists of just a body and a head, legs and arms, but by adding the single diagonal line at the waist, he becomes warrior, because we all see it as a sword. The body silhouette seems to imply a long hemmed tunic, so: samurai warrior. Same with a magician or sorceror, then a king or some person of great rank: the crown says it all.

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Wide shoulders, narrow waist, anatomy clear like he 's wearing spandex; back straight, legs apart, chin forward - it's a hero!

Same with a robot, get that silhouette , no doubt what it is. Keep the details in view.

Now more complex; a human character in an action pose, but the first one's not so good because of overlapping- the second one is better, except that in attempting to include a piece of environment , I made that weird crucifix like thingy.

Here I was having fun trying to create a typical video game character. Crazy hair, big sword. I added the long pointy toes last- and it doesn't work because the ends of the toes are in line with the tips of the sword- it makes a box: uninteresting silhouette. NEGATIVE space can do that,too.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Il Etait Une Fois...Disney!

Finally made it up to see the Disney show in Montreal. Couldn't fit it around a weekend, so i just flew up there on an early morning flight from Toronto, saw the show and flew back.

And Just getting around to posting about it now.

Worth it certainly, but it was a deeper experience than that .

First of all, I had seen alot of the artwork before, either in books or reproductions or the times I went into the Disney ARL to look at stuff. And the thesis that Disney was influenced by contemporary, and fine art, is no news to anyone who's been in the biz for any amount of time. Finch covers this in his initial book. Robin Muller did lectures and there was a show about this back in the early 90s. So while it was great to see the work, it wasn't the shock of the new that I felt, as i certainly had when I saw all this stuff as a lad, but a deeper thrill, that comes with the passage of time and the experience of many peaks and valleys. Having been through most of a career and all that that entails, there was a joy of rediscovery for me. We tend to forget how we felt at the beginning of a long journey, compared to the end. The bittersweet feeling of meeting an old friend.

That said, there was alot that was new and I was happy to see it.

I didn't pick up the catalogue as it was too damned expensive and will certainly be remaindered in days to come, but did some sketches on the spot. More for the memory than the accuracy. Glad I did as alot of what i drew wasn't in the catalogue.

I don't know whether these things have been reproduced elsewhere, but i 'm happy to share the them here in a reduced form.

If anyone else did the same , I would LOVE to see your drawings.

Originals by Arthur Rackham, Hienrich Kley, Bauer, Arnold Bocklin! Bow down on your knees! great, all to die for! Such good draughtsmanship! We just do not draw as well today. Mary Blair is great, but for all over sheer artistic brilliance and drop dead drawing, these guys take the prize in my books. Always have, always will. The Kley originals were in large part pieces from the collection that Disney owns that came out of storage back in 1996, when the company put on a 1 day, 3 hour show of it in the feature Animation building. Tons of work by Kley that hadn't seen the light of day in probably 50 years! But that's another story...

At the top of this page is a sketch I made of the arrangement of the art on the wall; it was curious group. Layout drawing from Pinochio (street scene and exterior of Geppetto workshop), film frames from Metropolis, and two smaller environment sketches of the cottage in the woods from Snow White. Relationship?

I felt the show missed some points; the main thesis was the inspration drawn by Disney from 19th and early 20th century art and illustration. But many of the examples on the wall were clearly from later on in the disney oevre and more influenced by illustration and design from the 40s and 50s; the cinderalla set up for example, in the background , thje fashion design of the dress is more from Cosmopolitan or Sears Roebuck 1953 than anything else. Similarly, all the wall space devoted to Sleeping Beauty but not not one example of "early Italian and Florentine painters, despite the wall panels describing Eyvind Earle's influence by such art.

For me, the best things in the show were the maquettes. Again, I'd seen some of them on display in the Archives on the Disney lot, but there were more here. The Monstro was especially amazing for its' size and almost geometric shape.

The absolute showstopper was this sculpture by Thomas Theodore Heine titled "The Devil". It is at once of it's own time and yet could be something you'd see at Comicon for sale. It looked modern! Except it was infinitely better and done in 1902! The thing had a raw power and was actually scary. Like something Goya might have done. The drawing doesn't do it justice; The knowledge of the anatomy, the pose, the weight of the body , the swing in the arms were perfect.

Th other sketch was is of panels on the wall, devoted to Joe grant and to Albert Hurter, tlaking abou thier contribution, in both English and french ( this is la belle ville Montreal after all) except the english panel for Joe had disappeared.

I couldn't figure out some of the display decor: alot tof the art was displayed in these big glass cases with a surround of sparkly gold plastic, with a large circumference curve, like a piece of Toontown or some other bit of the worst of Disneyland. Very tacky.

There were several setups with two large screens side by side showing clips of Disney work on the one, and then contemporary live action film on the other. ie, Evil Queen from Snow White/Stepmother from Cinderella/Maleficent against clips of Joan Crawford/Gloria Swanson/Judith Anderson as Miss Danvers in Rebecca.

The above sketch is of something that's a fond memory; in the Feature Animation Library that was housed in the Imagineering building on Flower St. were all the reference books that the studio had acquired going back to the very beginnings of the studio. I spent many hours and lunch hours poring through the stacks, looking at all these great old, some truly rare, books. And they all had these sign out cards. A great number of these books had been signed out in the past by the superstars of Disney aniamtion. Quite a few of them had the autographs of Ward Kimball, Sam McKim, John Hench, Marc Davis, et al. And a few actaully had the that signature of the man himself , with that unmistakable circle over the "i". I couldn't believe that the souvenir hunters hadn't scooped them all up. They're all gone now; the ibrary overhauled the system back in 2000 and got rid of them. It was a real thrill signing out a book from there that hadn't been signed out in 25 or 30 years, carefully writing your name in the narrow space below that of Eyvind earle, for example.

This was from a large (about 12x18) model sheet made up of several sketches pasted onto one large sheet. Lovely to see the slightly non-PC snse of humour allowed to come through. This is what a show like this should do: let people see that disney artists were people too! Capable of drawing nipples and putting out a healthy bawdy joke.

One of the artists who I wasn't familiar with was Carl von Stuck; there were two large paintings and some sculpture, all astounding. Made quick sketches of the paintings; "The Hunt", and "Battling Fauns". The light in the latter was simply unbelievable, hot afternoon sunlight, reflected light everywhere. And just weird fascinating subject matter. Where he got the fauns to pose for it is anyone's guess...

Then there were these fauns , for the pastoral sequence in Fantasia. Alot of Classical Greek influence; I remember Rowland Wilson doing something similar for the vis dev of Hercules....

Overall great show. Hope it comes somewhere close to you.