Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Successful Silhouettes, Shapes and Action Lines

You've learned about including a Dominant (large) shape, Subordinate (medium) sized shapes and an Accent (small) shape in your character designs, which together can create a form which is pleasing to the eye. Similarly, we are all drawn to forms that have a fair number of straight areas that play against curved areas. Think of a very fit woman or man; a shapely woman turned to the side has all sorts of straights playing opposite curves, and man's flexed bicep is curved on top and is straighter across the underside of his arm .People who are out of shape are mostly curves against curves, while very thin people are mostly straights against straights. Look at the photos below. The woman's torso, nearly in silhouette, has very dramatic straights that play against equally dramatic curves. As pure design, the photo works well also as the figure is the dominant shape, the negative space on the right hand side is subordinate (medium) and the negative space on the left is smaller (accent), and each of these shapes is interesting and varied on it's own. Now look at the two horses. Even in the animal kingdom within the same species we're drawn more to the form of an animal with a greater degree of straights against curves. Which horse has a silhouette that is more pleasing to the eye? You would likely say that the horse on the bottom is the more beautiful of the two; he has more dynamic straights against curves than the draft horse above him (click on any of the images below to enlarge them):

Action Lines are the dominant line of action within a figure. The torso above has a sweeping arc of an action line that curves from the upper left hand corner of the photo to the center-right at the bottom. Action lines can help you to convey attitude, motion, and personality. Let SpongeBob and his friends explain, below (from notes by Sherm Cohen):

Now lets put these all together to create strong silhouettes with great design and action lines that tell a story:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Welcome Terryl Whitlatch!

AAU Creature Design Instructor Terryl Whitlatch will now be a co-author of this blog. It seems only natural to pair supplemental information for creature design along with character design since there is a fair amount of overlap between the two. I highly recommend Terryl's courses for those of you who are focusing on CG animation, game design, graphic novels and illustration.

Terryl Whitlatch is an accomplished scientifically and academically trained illustrator who extensively studied vertebrate zoology and animal anatomy. She has worked for various zoos and museums in the US and the World Wildlife Fund and has served as senior consultant for wildlife art and animal anatomy in many venues.
For over seven years, Terryl worked for Lucasfilm, LTD., Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) and George Lucas?s JAK Films and is considered to be one of the leading creature designers in the world. Her unique combination of illustration skills and widespread knowledge of animal anatomy and movement are essential components in the design, anatomy, and physical animation aspects of creature creation.
She worked directly with writer/director George Lucas on the recent Star Wars Trilogy, Episodes 1 and 2, designing countless creatures for the films and related products. Chronicle Books published a collection of her work for Lucasfilm, The Wildlife of Star Wars, in 2001, which gained critical acclaim and popular success.
Terryl has also designed for many electronic and interactive games (including Steven Spielberg's The Dig) and Entertainment Arts. She has worked with many major studios and effects houses as a creature, character, and concept designer. In addition to her work on Star Wars, her films include Jumanji, The Indian in the Cupboard, Brother Bear, Dragonheart, Men in Black, Frankenstein, The Princess of Mars, The Polar Express, Zafari, Jancroon, and Beowulf. Other clients include Pixar, LeapFrog, and the Gnomon Workshop.
Terryl is also the author and illustrator of The Katurran Odyssey, the first volume of a trilogy, as well as the soon to be released Animals Real and Imagined: the fantasy of what is and what might be. In addition to her continuing work on The Katurran Odyssey series, Terryl is illustrating her book, The Animals of the Bible, as well as creatures and characters for Helpful Bear Productions, Inc.
She resides in Alameda, California, and works as a freelance Concept Artist, and she is also teaching Animal Anatomy, Wildlife Illustration, and Creature Design for the Animation and Illustration Schools at the Academy of Art University.

As for her philosophy on creature design, Terryl says "in order to draw imaginary creatures well, and with credibility, and even to stylize them down to iconic images (such as Yogi Bear), one needs to know and understand and appreciate real animals, and to love them, and to prefer painting,sculpting, and drawing them even more than the imaginary ones. That is what, in my opinion, it takes to be a good creature designer. Real animals always take priority over the imaginary. They are the ones that give you wings."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hand Reference, Part Two

This selection of reference hands comes from Andrew Loomis, Milt Kahl, Jeff Smith, and Jim Macauley. The bottom sample, from Jeff Smith's epic graphic novel series "Bone", shows how a hand can add greatly to the body language and expression of a character. Note how Thorn, the young woman, goes from nonchalant to focused, baffled, curious and quizzical and how her hand helps to project those emotions. I've known Smith for many years and can recognize his wife Vijaya's hand gestures in this series. When drawing your character, think of a friend or famous actor that has a similar personality, then observe how they use their hands to express themselves. The more realistic and natural your hand poses are, the more convincing your character's emotions and gestures will be.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bobby Chiu: Intensely Creative

"Don't think. Just draw. Think later. Draw now."

"How will you ever know what's truly possible if you don't put in 100% effort? Let's go everybody!! Ahhhhh!!!! Intensity!!!"

"Starting off my day by thinking about what I can do to get closer to my ultimate goals"

These are just a few Tweets from the wildly creative and driven character designer Bobby Chiu.

Chiu is a highly sought after independent artist from Toronto, Canada. He started his career at the age of 17 designing officially licensed toys for companies such as Disney and Pixar. Today, he runs Imaginism Studios and has many clients within the film industry, publishing and web media. He also teaches digital arts and has written many tutorials and articles on the subject. Bobby Chiu’s work is known worldwide and he is recognized as one of the most talented digital artists and character designers working in the field today. You can see more of his work at: http://www.imaginismstudios.com