Friday, March 21, 2008

"Here's Some Drawin's fo' ya!"

I just noticed that besides the Photoshop stuff, I haven't posted any new art in a long time. So, here's some recent art of mind for you to peruse through. Make sure to click on the pictures to enlarge them. It helps when you wanna look at some of the small stuff.

I know I've said it before, but my favorite thing to see from cartoonists & artists are pages of random sketches & doodles. You see a lot of stuff like that in published artist sketchbooks & in books like John Canemaker's Before the Animation Begins. It kinda shows what's going on in the artist's mind has he/she is drawing.

Here in the city, I go to a local diner called "Cosmos" at least once a day. Two days ago, Rina, one of the girls who work at the register, asked me if I could draw a picture of her cat for her. Before I drew her cat, I decided to warm up by drawing this page while eating. I drew some cute cats, ugly cats, realistic cats, cartoony cats, angular cats, round cats & famous cats like Felix, Stimpy & Choo-Choo. My favorite cats I drew are the ones with the little * next to them.

This page is filled with pictures just of farmyard animals. The mouse, donkey, cow & bull are my worst ones, but I do like the chick in the top right corner & the rooster. & look!... a duck that doesn't look like Steve-O! Hallelujah!

This page was drawn right after the farm one. The depressed baby elephant is kind of a downer to look at. I really like the panther in the middle, it looks a lot like Bagheera. I'm pretty satisfied with this page, except for that damn elephant (just look away folks...look away!)

Here's one of those pages where I draw one little scribble, pull it out of the clipboard & stuff it in the back of the pages. The only picture there was the Steve-O sticking out his tongue. About a day or so later, when I was out of clean paper, I scanned through the lot & decided to fill up the rest of this page.

It's really hard to draw female cartoon characters without them looking like guys in drag. The girl duck resting her head on her desk (named Mona) is THE hardest character to draw right from my stable of characters. It's nearly impossible for me to draw her without making her look like Steve-O with eyelashes. This particular drawing of her is just right, but it's one of those "spur-of-the-moment" sketches where you're not really paying attention to what you're drawing & after you're done you can't remember how you did it. It's a real shame because it's exactly how I want to draw her every time; the eyelashes, hair & bill are exactly right! The bowler dude is one of those, too.

The Steve-O flapping his arms looks a bit too "cutesy-wootsey" with those big pupils, but that look fits Randy like a glove. In my mind, Randy would have eyes like that all the time, unless he does a big take when he's hit, surprised or scared. The proportions on him are correct as well, everything is the exact shape/size it should be.

& speaking of Randy, here's a page just of him! This is what we'd call a "model sheet", where the character is shown from (almost) all sides, with different expressions, poses & sometimes with a guide showing the basic construction of the character.

When I draw my characters, I move/feel/draw in a completely different way for each character. While I prefer to draw Steve-O & Cannibal Chicken pretty quickly to make them look spontaneous, I like to take my time when drawing Randy. Since Randy is a calm, patient character, I like to slow myself down & be relaxed when drawing him. One wrong line & he goes from appealing to appalling.

For some reason, a lot of people I meet like Randy over the other two, preferably the girls. I'm not completely sure why that is... One reason may be because he's round & has a softer edge than the other guys. I guess that's because round, smooth shapes are more appealing to the eye than angular ones, just look at characters like Mickey Mouse or Snoopy, who are either A) Made up mostly of circles/ovals, or B) have no hard edges or sharp points. Besides, everybody likes the plump, chubby characters.

& now for something completely different: Here's a bunch of witchdoctors. Although witchdoctors like these may seem a bit politically incorrect, they're real fun to draw. The one guy on the left is recycled from a character I used to draw a long time ago, named Kanji ("bone" in Aborigine). I especially like the Jafar-looking creep on the right.

Lately, I've been hooked on animation from the 20's. To me, Ub Iwerks is "Animation God". All that rubberhose & elastic motion is so hypnotizing I can't look away for even a second. Here I tried drawing in that early style, studying Fleischer designs & animation from "Barnacle Bill", "Betty Boop's Ker-Choo" & my favorite Fleischer cartoon: "Bimbo's Initiation". Sadly, I couldn't help drawing a page without scribbling a few ducks here & there.

By the way, expect a post about one of my favorite pieces of animation from this era sometime next week.

& finally, here are two recent Rebops I did. They're loads of fun to draw & people love choosing the various parts & seeing the finished animal. These are the only two that I kept (I lost count how many I gave a way).

Well, that's it for now. But here's what I plan to do: From now on, at the beginning of every month, I'll post my best pages from the previous month. Another thing to keep the energy going here.

See ya around sometime, & remember to leave comments!


Mr. Trombley said...

Dear Sir, in unison with his artistic talent was his technical facility. There is a famous story, even reaching my ears, that he designed the first multi-plane camera out of parts from his own car.

I would compare his genius only to Michael Faraday and Leonardo da Vinci. Untutored in math, they used their mastery over figure drawing (and lots of thought-hours) to intuitively design and discover systems that inspire even today.

Robert Heinlein called this kind of knowing "grok", but I prefer "geometric understanding".

Michael J. Ruocco said...

Mr. Trombley, you are absolutely 100% correct. Couldn'tve said it better myself.

He was a technical & creative genius. The thing about Iwerks was that although his drawings were so simple & (dare I say it) "crude", they had such appealing, fluid movement & I've never seen any other human being replicate the things he has done, creatively & technically. Nobody had/has the incredible ability to do what he did. Not only did he animate Plane Crazy all by himself, but he finished the whole film in a matter of a few weeks, doing 750 drawings a day, only working late at night while animating the last few Oswald cartoons, all in complete secrecy. Can you imagine doing 750 DRAWINGS a DAY?! That's unheard of today! Amazing man he was.

I'll be doing a whole Ub appreciation post next week, so look forward to hear more Iwerks praising very soon! Thanks again for sharing your thoughts & comments, Mr. Trombley!

Mr. Trombley said...

Dear Sir, I suppose I should note here that I am a mathematician with an interest in animation, so no I could not even begin to imagine going about drawing 750 drawings a day!

I was reading other posts you wrote and would like to say (about 101 Dalmations) that I recall reading that it was initially pitched as a test out the new redesigned xerography process. I know that most of the Silly Symphonies were designed to test out animation techniques. Anyway I read about it here:

Thanks for recognizing who I was talking about, as I forgot to mention Mr. Iwerks's name at all!

Michael J. Ruocco said...

Right again, Mr. Trombley!

Ub was in fact one of the developers of the Xerox process at Disney's. & besides doing that & creating the multiplane camera back in the 30's, he was also the one who devised how to combine live-action & animation together for films like 'Three Caballeros', 'Song of the South' & 'Mary Poppins'.

In many Disney films, he was credited either under special effects, special processes or as a tecnical director. He even was the photographic advisor on Hitchcock's 'The Birds', where he used the same technique when combining animation & live action for when the birds are chasing & attacking the schoolchildren.

Thanks again for commenting & have a Happy Easter!

Mr. Trombley said...

Dear Sir,

Happy Easter!

Mr. Iwerk's (and Disney's) work with combining live action and animation actually pre-dates Mickey Mouse (and even Oswald the Lucky Rabbit)! The "Alice" Comedies were the third series I am aware of to do this.

Only Koko the Clown and Colonel Heeza Liar pre-date Alice in this respect.