Just playing with my pencil (yes, I found it!), photoshop and a wacom tablet. It needs a rework or a different technique, but I’m trying to get used to this painting idea. I suspect that it is a lot like drawing. You have to get those 100,000 bad paintings out of your system before you get to the good ones (you can click on the image to view a larger version).







50% off sale!

We are discontinuing all of our training material at the end of September. Until that time (or until supplies run out) you can purchase any of our existing training for 50% off the regular price!

Lost Pencil has decided to (1) focus more on character animation for clients and (2) focus our training by implementing a one-on-one training program. For more information see our website.

On Character Design

I’m not a character designer by training, but I am trying to pick up on techniques and principles to help me further my character designing skills. There are some character designs that work wonderfully. For example, consider Bugs Bunny. He has a good silhouette and can be recognized from a distance. Up close you know who he is. His facial expressions are clear and his anatomy, though caricatured, is clear. His design seems to work from just about any distance, at just about any angle. He is made up of interesting shapes, is often drawn with opposing curves and straights against curves. He has good proportion. Some aspects of his anatomy are exagerated over others, but not too much. When all is said and done, his character design is appealing, easy to read and simple. There really isn’t anything confusing about his design.

On the other hand, even though I enjoy the ‘Over the Hedge’ comic strip (most of the time), I find one of the lead character designs confusing. Consider Verne, the turtle (see image above). I think the design of the shell and legs kind of works. I mean, you can tell he’s a turtle (most of the time), but what confuses me the most about this design is his head/nose area.

If you look at the right image of Verne and if this is the first time you are seeing this character, it’s easy to mistake that ‘nostril curl’ (right under his eye in the left and right image) as his mouth (as if he is smiling). We don’t usually, anatomically, place the nostril right under the eye (if anything it’s the cheek that is found there, pressed up under the eye when someone is smiling – and hence the confusion that it looks like a mouth). It just doesn’t make sense as a nostril.

If you look at the left image there are so many confusing lines where his mouth is supposed to be it makes you wonder what expression he has on his face (I think he’s supposed to look sad there). There is a shell line, above that is a neck line, above that is a bit of a curve which is supposed to be his down turned mouth and then up under the eye are his nostrils. Quite confusing if you ask me. His face reads much better in the mirror image. There we clearly see the delineation of the nose and mouth. But alas, that pose is not his default. His default pose is confusing.

I like the overall idea of Verne, but I think something was missed in the execution of the design. Comic strips are very small and so they require, above all else, simplicity and clarity. It takes a bit out of the punch line if you can’t discern the expression on a character’s face.

The moral of the story? Don’t forget the medium you are creating your character design for. Keep things simple and clear and make sure you don’t confuse your viewers. It’s much easier said, than done.

Personal Blog

So I’ve decided that there are some things I want to talk about that you may or may not be interested in… as a result I don’t want to add a lot of ‘noise’ to this blog and I’ll only be posting art/animation/technology relevant posts here. In order to post on other subjects that I’m interested in I have started a personal blog. Come by for a visit. The comments are open.

Update: I just haven’t had time to keep both blogs up to date so I shut it down for now.

Animation From Pencils to Pixels

This new book by Tony White just arrived the other day and it looks like a winner. The full title is “Animation from Pencils to Pixels, Classical Techniques for Digital Animators“. I just started looking at it, but it’s chock full of useful sections (and the CD has additional movie clips and a ‘making of’ “Endangered Species” – a short film by Tony White about the decline of 2d animation, which was fun to watch, by the way). The book uses this short film for many of its examples when talking about techniques and principles. My preliminary analysis is that this book is much better than “Thinking Animation, Bridging the Gap Between 2D and CG“. “Thinking Animation”, in my estimation, is much weaker (for example, 1/4 of the book is basically an appendix with semi-useful information, a lot of which can be found on the net). Anyway, I certainly look forward to reading through the entire Tony White book!

Fun to Animate

Earlier this year the folks over at the Fantasy Lab had me animate their Rhinork to demo their new game engine (and what a game engine this will be). You can view the animation of the Rhinork on their game engine page. He was a lot of fun to animate.



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