Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Caricatures pt 2

Gee, I started waffling on a bit in that last post.

First up here's a couple of relics. This first one was done back when I was in college. Obviously "Terminator 2" was the big movie of the year. This particular guy, I think his name was Mike Burns, was just this poor bugger that we all loved to caricature for some reason above everyone else and he popped up in all manner of scenarios. This was my "movie poster" one. I must have had some fun doing the shading. This little epic was done at one of my first jobs out of college (in a copy centre -animation was hard to come by in Perth). Both this and the one above were done from memory, or the person at least close at hand. The ones I did in high school also were done from memory, it's only later that I've become slack and used photo's. The benefit of doing them from memory is that you create more of an impression of the person, what's striking about them at first glance, rather than a more or less accurate representation.

The two older guys here who ran the business were fun and easy targets being older men. The women were tough tho' and from memory, I did some of the work on them discreetly at work. I also went a bit crazy with all of the machinery and details.
Here's a more recent one. This time of my wife's grandfather. This one was done from a photo, again, not the one supplied below -I notice his glasses have changed. I recall that for this one it was quite a good photo. The benefit of using a photo (generally I prefer to have a couple, so you can see what a different angle looks like) is that you can be a bit more accurate, plus not have to worry about freaking the person out by staring at them. Here, at least knowing the person or being familiar with them as well, you can remember the overall impression you get from them and apply that to your drawing too. That's where working from a photo can be a trap, because you are pretty much limited to the angle in the photo, and you mightn't be able to get the right sense of the person from that angle. For example, if someone has a big nose, a front-on photo isn't going to show that like a 3/4 will and your caricature won't capture their best asset.

This probably also explains why these family caricatures are a little "safe". With a public figure, be it a politician or celebrity, they are more easily identified and therefore you can be more extreme in your exaggeration of their features. They're also not going to come back at you and say "Who and what the hell is this?"
Here's the real Neil for comparison.
To look at a completely different approach, check out the work of one of my former Disney colleagues Andries Maritz. I'll also post one of his pics of me in the next post.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Pixar Exhibition

Last night, I went and saw the Pixar-20 years of Animation exhibition that's on at ACMI in Melbourne at the moment. In a nutshell, it was awesome. I'll definitely be going again before it's finished. Basically, they've got on show a lot of the concept art and visual development material from their films. Lots of character concepts, colour keys, background concepts, and sculpted models of the characters. It was great to see the different materials used and scribbled drawing on scraps of paper- drawings that looked like they'd been worked on and not polished pieces of finished art. To see the actual pieces that I've seen in books was a huge treat. In particular I found the Zoetrope that was on display amazing.
I'm also developing quite an appreciation of colour keys.
If you are in Melbourne or can get to Melbourne, I'd highly recommend paying a visit.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Caricatures pt 1

Here's my two cents on Caricatures. I'm gonna spread this one out over about four posts.
I don't them these too often nowadays, generally just when people ask for one, no particular reason, 'cos they're fun, I just don't get around to it. I first got into doing them, back when I was in high school- they were good for a laugh at the teachers or friends and I got a bit of a knack for them and was doing them quite regularly. As far as inspiration goes for a particular style, I can't really name anyone in particular. Mort Drucker from the "Mad" magazine certainly would have been one, but primarily I s'pose it would have been the political cartoonists appearing in the daily paper. I remember my grandparents at one time brought home some caricatures done by a cartoonist they knew to show me, but I don't remember who it was. I imagine there were also a few how-to guides that I looked at as well.
The main gist I gathered from all of these was to exaggerate some prominent feature or features, nail the basic shape of the person's head and keep it to as few lines as possible (it was after all a cartoon and cartoons weren't loaded with linework), and the finishing touch- keep the head big on a little body. Oh, and it was generally a good idea in the end to be able to recognise the person.
The first look you get at a person, something will generally catch your eye- you try and emphasize that. It's their essence. Getting their head shape right is especially helpful with capturing the thing that makes them "them"- it also follows one of the prime animation rules, silhouette value. Line work is a necessity for capturing the person, but I feel that too many lines can make a person look old. It works if that person is old, but it's what I find makes doing caricatures of women especially hard. With women I generally stick to linework for just the main features- eyes, eyebrows, mouth, and bit of a nose. If I add too much more, they start looking old. So those lines have to be very carefully placed.
I've pretty much stuck with these rules and as a rule of thumb, generally don't do super-exaggerated caricatures. People with REALLY big noses, generally don't like having fun made of the fact that they have a really big nose. It all depends on the person and the circumstance. I tend to be fairly kind. It keeps the peace especially when you do them of family members, and of course they'll eventually ask for one.
I'm not going thru the archive to dig up ones from way back just yet but for starters here's one of my parents-in-law that a did a few years back. I'd done one a couple of years before that of my wife's Aunty and she'd loved it. After seeing it, my mother-in-law asked for one, eventually I agreed. This was done from a couple of photos(not the ones below), as we were living in Sydney at the time and they were down in Melbourne. I knew them well enough to be able to more-or-less use the photo's as a guide and not be restricted by the photo angle. Getting the right pose also helps too. This now has a pride of position in their house. The pics below are to show what they really look like, it's just a drawing if you don't know who it's of.

More to follow...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Still more....

I must admit, I have been starting to get a creative block coming up with new characters for this game, and it keeps evolving too, so I have to keep coming up with more stuff. Thankfully production is ramping up and things are having to get signed off.
This critter below had an interesting start. The initial design looked nothing like this, and I was stuck for a new idea. Then this new guy started and drew up some designs and well... I let a few others decide that he wasn't up to scratch. So, this is my reworking of one of his designs. If you can't tell, I had a bit of fun colouring it up in the end. Another critter...

I'll post something else next.

Friday, August 10, 2007


Wow, that was quite an effort. I've been storyboarding on a new animated TV series, as well as doing my day job at the games company and feeling the strain of doing two jobs. I'm obviously not as young as I used to be, and the full days and long nights spent at the computer and drawing desk without much of a break were starting to build up on me- that must be what burnout feels like. I'd said yes to the storyboarding work months ago, before I started at the games company, and due to production delays it was put off and off. Finally it came about and they said do you still want to do it, sure I said, bit of extra cash will come in handy. Hah hah hah. My wife was starting to think I was a stranger, and my daughter was learning what "daddy going to work" meant and not liking it. It's a strange circumstance pushing yourself to meet a deadline and having a three year old pulling at your arm and wanting you to play with her.
I'm having a rest now, for a couple of weeks. Gotta tend to some other stuff- baby due in ten weeks. I've dug myself a good hole though, the company I've done the boards for love my work and want me to do two more. I did the last one digitally and whilst there was some initial teething problems it worked out quite well and should make the next couple of boards pass through with less stress. Thanks David and Toby for your advice on digital drawing programs.
Here's some more work from "the game", something different at first- a prop, which was a nice change from all of the character work.