How do you make a machine look like a machine in a cartoon of simple design? Look at what everyone else has done–in addition to your own observations of course.
A good animated film to watch is Porco Rosso for the vehicles in that film were more fully animated than the characters. Miyazaki san loves flight, so I think his first love was the airplanes. Don’t get me wrong, the story is good, and there is some great animation. But I am talking about which designs were able to be handled shooting on ones and twos: the airplanes.
Someone had to design these planes so they wouldn’t have so much line mileage lest they exhaust the animator, but a enough detail to read as non-organic without the rivets, erosion and Fresnel that one would expect of a vehicle. Take note of how Miyazaki and his team handled their machines and apply whatever appeals to you to your own design.
Fio Passenger Pit
Fio in the Lagoon
Curtis’ Dock Seaplane
Curtis in Cockpit
Anti-Seaplane Pirate Pilot
Another artist who’s good to look at is Akira Toriyama. I know I am naming all Japanese artist, but I can’t help it–they’re GOOD. I have the feeling that in Japan, industrial designers moonlight as prop designers on animation projects so Miyazaki and his colleagues benefit from the best of both worlds.
I’m in the process of buying a new scanner, so I will upload Toriyama’s work later Until then, go to Kinokuniya and flip through the World Special which is an art monograph of Toriyama’s work.
I used a combination of Miyazaki, Toriyama and Floro Dery of G1 Transformers fame for the mecha in my comic:
Lastly, I will recommend someone who is near to you: Hideki Masuda. He is the assistant dean of the AAU IDS department and is a phenomenal artist. He has a BGA in fine art and an MFA in industrial design and the combination is DYNAMITE. Make an appointment with either he or Tom Matano to view a scale print of a painting of a red car with the detail of a dashboard Masuda sensei’s in his office. Be respectful. Hideki is a no nonsense instructor, but to view his work will be more beneficial than a visit to any Bay Area museum in terms of industrial design. Believe me, I looked. The only thing close to impressive IDS work is the Precisionist era piece by Charles Sheeler at SFMOMA. I’ll save you the tuition fee be including it here.
Anyhoo, go visit Hideki. While you’re there, see Tom or someone as reference a trailer. We’l be needing that soon.
Happy field work!
Oh and because she’s fabulous. More of Sophia Loren in her Rolls.