The Animatress Pipeline

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Category Archives: Animatress

Pop and Cushion: Eric Goldberg

Pop and Cushion is a technique that was introduced to my class by guest speaker Anthony Wong my senior year of Cal Arts 1997. Up till then, I struggled with even timing. I was so obsessed with drawing the character on model and checking volumes, I shirked the importance of squash and stretch save in the most conservative of efforts.
Then dear, brilliant Andy told us a about pop and cushion which is a technique where the character has either no or an extremely loosely drawn stretched drawing that shows or a subliminal second on the screen countered my a soft settle with like a million in-betweens. The end results being a snapped movement.
Mr. Wong used Eric Goldberg’s animation in Phil’ from Hercules as an example. Mr. Wong was obviously a big fan of Goldberg’s work, for he gushed and gushed through this section of the lecture.
Note: my memory of the exact scene, Mr. Wong used for an example is fuzzy in my memory, but I do remember exactly how the technique worked as I’ve described before:, but to drive it home:

  1. antic
  2.  pop to the extreme poses with or without a smear for the inbetween
  3. and cushion the action with enough inbetweens in the settle to compensate for the lack of inbetweens in the “pop” from the antic to the extreme.

In regards to the scene Mr. Wong used for reference in his lecture, I remember that it was either a medium shot or close up of Phil’. However, when I gleaned my dvd of Hercules for that very scene, I found that pop and cushion was used on Phil’ for his tantrums on a number of occasions so it was a judgement call to single out the exact reference. Furthermore, dvd’s are not as suited for frame by frame slow playback as a VHS, so the extreme that Anthony highlighted is not shown here. I simply could not manipulate VLC  or After Effects to advance frame by frame as closely as an analog source, so use your imagination when you reverse engineer the following screen captures.

You still need an antic between these two poses. Advancing the dvd didn’t display the frames. This shows you how few drawings were used and they were heavily favored so the audience would not notice them. This is the antitheses of the Dover Boys smears.






In Flash, you would still have to produce these drawings by hand. However, for the frames that weren’t captured, there were more inbetweens involved than what is shown, you can use shape tweens, especially on the cushion in which the character is pulled back on model and given very subtle changes as it progresses toward the settle-but you stil have to draw!

Just because actions have different terminology between traditional and digital does not mean they don’t do the same thing, which brings me to my next topic. Terminology between mediums.

In hand drawn character animation, their is a set vocabulary that was develop from animation’s infancy which peaked in the late 60’s that hasn’t changed. The terminology in Preston Blair and the Illusion of Life is as relevant in today as it was when the two books were published by the master writers. However, animation has still been built upon since the 60’s and now that the digital world has infiltrated the animation industry, and adjacent vocabulary has been developed to accommodate the new mediums. Flash, Maya and After Effects have their own terminology for their respective pipelines: Animation/Motion Graphics, CG Animation, and compositing which often involves integrating live-action with animation, therefore live-action terms are part of the compositing vocabulary of After Effects. You will be using all three programs in addition to your hand drawn skills eventually, so be prepared hear two different terms that mean the same thing. Think of it, as being an American conversing with someone from Great Britain. Same language, yet different.

An inbetween in hand drawn is not the same as a tween in Flash despite the face that they perform the same purpose. In hand drawn, you’re brilliant brain and ability to apply proper construction to a character and manipulate the shaped in a unique way using perspective, volume and and any kind of whisky that comes to mind.
Flash can’t do that. It can distort, but never “inbetween” in the same way that you, the human being with magic drawing skills to produce a unique drawing for your action.

Solid drawing, for which I use the mnemonic 40’s construction to evoke Preston Blair of your first and second year level traditional animation course in your minds. His teachings are essential to producing assets and animating them in Flash. Solid drawing, is one of the fundamentals that encompasses the theme of the entire animation curriculum. It should never leave your psyche, it should not be shirked. To do so, is to render your ability to compete in the industry moot. You can’t afford to ignore basic skills in an impacted industry. Impacted, yet growing. Your chances of being hired in the industry is not hopeless–for as neophytes, you’re cheaper than the journeymen, but studios still want you to draw like them. Here’s a list of exactly who you will be competing with in the animation industry in Flash, preproduction ( television) and feature animation.

These graduates are from the AAU, Cal Arts, Sheridan, Otis and Art Center.

Sherrie deLorme

Ryan Lang

Brianne Drouhard

Leif Jeffers

Lauren Faust

Kali Fonteccio

Katie Rice

Kevin Dart

Pascal Campion

Dallas Robinson

Gabe Swarr

No one on this list works without solid drawing in mind and practice. They may work in hand-drawn, Flash or 3D—and the AAU grads on the list work in all three mediums. They are your contemporaries and competition in an impacted industry, so please don’t be content to aim for the bare minimum in your homework or any art that you produce.

I can tell a mile away when solid drawing is not applied to your assets. A head that isn’t properly attached to the spine and the lack of a pelvis is a dead give away. The lack of construction may seem a tempting cheat when the character is merely standing in place, but it will be obvious to all the world that the legs have no proper structure to attach to when it walks, runs, or sits down. Anatomy, character look awfully funny in a bad way with proper attention to it. Even the little white man in the Pink Panther cartoons had a pelvis.

This is a sophomore year course, so Preston Blair is the exemplar for your level. Rubber hose, 40’s, it’s “easier”. You don’t have to draw a feature animation action-adventure character like Hercules to earn an “A” here, but you do have to be functional for hand held game characters and sugary cereal sponsored weekday afternoon cartoons. Both of which have solid construction under their S-curve and D-shape designs.

Disney, Freddie Moore S-curve

Hanna Babara D-Shape
I hope now that everyone is clear on what is expected of them in this class. Good luck with the homework that will prepare you for your upcoming films.

In Pop and Cushion part 2, I’ll attempt to use shape tweens to pop and cushion one of my scenes. It’s a good chance to see if your teacher stumble around a bit 🙂


The Pig Lady Trailer

Hi Eric.
I built a set in Maya for your canned ham trailer. You can either use an adjust for your reel or take artistic license and use a really eerie pan for the reveal. It’s up to you. The set up you have on your most recent daily does the job, but it’s not very cinematic. Push yourself. The shows you will be working will be more sophisticated and will use camera moves. Learn to layout camera moves in school. Not on the job. I still have battle scars of this annoying, dyslexia inducing learning arc of laying scenes out for a moving camera.

Note: the staging on the maya sets aren’t correct. Your staging is fine. 3/4 is one of the tenets of storyboarding. The maya screen captures are for reference; where things are, what is in a trailer and the proximity of everything within the trailer.

BG Layout Part: 02 Tear Drop, Canned Ham and Airstream Trailiers for Eric

Here is some great reference for the closing sequence of you film Eric. I may make a maya model of one of these things, just to give you a clue, but first I need to finish the pelvis tutorial using your characters. Look for screencaps of the model in this post as you final review date draws near.

The Pelvis Tutorial (Completed)

October 10th 2017 HELP! Since so many people find this post helpful, would you please show your appreciation by helping me save my car from possession? Save Madeleine by making a financial contribution at the following link: Save Madeleine



Go Fund Me: Save Madeleine


Thank you, I would really appreciate it!

Sometime in the future the day will come when you will have to do a walk cycle on a more complex character than the light bulb man that is Homer Simpson. You will actually have to draw Batman or some other action-adventure character or a comedic character like Huckleberry Hound who has a D-Shape based design, yet still has 40’s construction. For these characters, you will have to learn to master the PELVIS.

For standard 40’s characters it’s simple: draw a trapezoid and affix the legs to the ends. That’s a good beginning that will help you work up to Ben Washam’s sinewy anatomy on Bugs Bunny, where Washam would really accent where Bugs’ “tibia head” would attach to the acetebulum which is not quite at the bottom of the pelvis which actually called the lashium which we sit on. The area I am talking about is about 3/4 towards the bottom. It may take you a while to gauge the distance. For now, don’t over-think it and just draw yourself a trapezoid. What a lot of people do is draw the “bikini line”. The shape of hip-hugger undies and speedos mimic the shape of the pelvis which is evident under the skin of people who are very toned. Speedos fall right over the structure where the antecebulum attaches. So, the drawing a fleshy trapezoid with a bikini or speedo line may be a good cheat until drawing the pelvis becomes more organic to you.

You can worry about nailing that detail when you have to draw a character like Phoebus on Disney Feature’s Hunchback of Notre Dame or a revamp of He-Man.

Male pelvis below

Note the difference in the width of the two pelvi. The female pelvis is wider than the male and it looks like the crest of the male pelvis is slightly higher. No wonder so many body builders look as though they don’t have a waist! Men with longer waists are much easier to draw for me personally because it’s closer the anatomy of the supermodel type characters I draw in my personal work. Here’s a good example of a male model with a nice long, easy to draw waist. Note how there is even a slight curve too, so it’s easy to find the acetebulum. Most men have bodies with no curve in torso. The torso is just straight up and down with no tangible landmarks outside the rig cage. Very tough. I would suggest drawing a guy with a curve to use as an under-drawing, then fill out the curve if you are working with a stockier design. At least the construction will be there, so your character will be solid

Male model, David Raiser

For many artists, the male pelvis is the hardest to draw for animation for its distribution of weight is more subtle that the female–but it’s still there! Women in their nascent stage of animating often have this problem the most with men, because despite the sexual revolution of the 60’s, it is still a social more to NOT look at men below their shoulder girdle. Think of of Beethoven’s bust on Rolf the Dog’s piano. That’s the polite aperture in which a woman is supposed to view a male stranger. It doesn’t leave room for observation does it?
To avoid your grandmother’s spies, go to more sports games or use the perimeter of a soccer field on your daily walk and observe a game. Everyone watches an athlete’s body for he is moving and we want to see how he moves, so study that male pelvis all you want. Your mean old aunt Hera and paranoid auntie Demeter will never notice. Let Aphrodite guide the artist in you so you can figure how men are very similar to women but the shape of their bodies are more subtle. Observe the protocols of how their weight can be shifted. Men put their hands on their hips too, but the Ares edict demands the stance be less exaggerated than a woman. It’s a tough transition, but you’ll get the hang of it. Oh, and record the next Olympics and take screen captures if you have a DVR player that produces discs!

Don’t let these technical drawings intimidate you. Just keep them in mind for future reference for when you have to draw Batman. Also, just anyone can draw the pelvis of a man standing up in the doryphorus stance. The tough part is when the character sits down or is in action. Just try drawing a good sword fight without acknowledging the pelvis! It ain’t happenin’, Again, for 40’s funny character construction, draw a trapezoid to represent the pelvis in your underdrawing. Now here’s another trick: after drawing the pelvis split the body into the following planes in accordance to position in your scene: the Dorsal Plane and the Sagittal Plane.

3/4 front character

Floating girdles in yellow
Dorsal line in red
Sagittal line in blue

The dorsal plane is back to front, think of drawing a line up the spine over the head and through the sternum. The sagittal plane is side to side. This will help maintain your character’s volume as well help in designing clothes for the character if your are the designer. One of my favorite funny character cartoons that pays close attention to clothes is Ed, Edd and Eddy. I love how the character designer included the seams on the jeans and sport shirts, especially on Ed, Edd and Naz.

Another thing to consider is kinesthetics which I get into in further tutorials as needed. For our purposes, it the study the relationship on muscle and skeletal structure and how the body moves, such as the floating girdles with can move just about any old way vs. the limited range of motion of dorsal and sagittal movement. We’ll get into that once I see people drawing broken feet, wrist and arms.

Getting back to clothes, it is important to consider the inseam. When I was at Disney, the lead character designer, as well one of the story artists and myself discussed how to make a tasteful inseam on the female characters in tight pants. The discussion made me think of a John Waters film that took place in the 60’s where women were starting to wear pants. Only the “bad girls” wore tight pants. The Hera mom’s of the neighborhood were so outraged that they called the capris “vasectomy pants”. So, be careful with that inseam. However, for this lecture I would like to talk about being careful about that inseam on male characters. You got real trouble there.

“I’m not touching’ that one”
-Dot Warner

The Inseam (or inside leg in slacks if you’re a fan of Mr. Humphries of Are You Being Served?)
On clothed funny characters especially nowadays, you don’t have to worry about the inseam too much. But when you get to action-adventure you will have no choice but to address the problem. Lucky for us, there have past successful attempts for designing an inseam for animation, just look at Johnny Quest.

There were other shows like G.I. Joe and Bruce Timms work, but these show are animated overseas so you really can’t determine the original design because the assistant work is so badly rushed. There are a few key episodes. Look for the espisodes featuring Roland Daggett and Clayface. The crew really outdid themselves some of those episodes.There is one episode in particular that shows off suits well. I’ll post it when I find it. Also due to time constraints and split crews, there isn’t much room for on the spot life drawing either , so, Johnny Quest it is. There is Filmmation’s Archies and and He Man as well, but I would rather use a live-action reference just bring some new ideas into animation world. I can’t help it. It’s the character designer in me.

Make over your man is a great resource for menswear. It covers both casual and formal wear and nails that sticky problem of inseams.

It appears the fashion designers have had their challenges with this issue as well, for there are several types of designs for concealing a man’s testes. I wonder if men have a protocol in regards to clothes that either accentuate of subdue attention to that region that way women do with high and low cut blouses and tops? I think so, for why the variety in inseams? Is there a male version of the jealous Hera would loathes any woman that is prettier or greater endowed that she is for they may catch the attention of her philandering husband? I’m sure there is. Guys don’t hate pretty boys who get all the girls for nothing. The Dionysus, pretty boy rock star is the target of hatred of so very many men. Perhaps the male equivalent are Hera’s two loser sons Ares and Hephaestus.

I’m using Olympian archetypes ala Jean Shinoda Bolen to illustrate types of people that inhabit stories everywhere. We just call them by different names now: hero, shadow, mentor, threshold guardian etc and use our personal experiences like our friends and enemies to flesh out the personalities. The archetypes are still there, but more varied in details. People are alike but not exactly alike. This digression all bolls down to story, which should be in the back of your mind whenever you create anything in film or sequential art.

Men’s clothing for the most part is derived from military uniforms, so think of how a soldier would want to protect that most vulnerable part of himself to in order to be effective in battle. He would also want to be respectful of the chain of command. It’s a military custom to dress inoffensively.

Here’s a design by industry director, Mike Milo. Eve’s pelvis is really easy to find. Adam, not so much, his legs appear to be attached to his rib cage. However, don’t let that fool you. Look closer. Mike Milo left just enough space for waist/space between rib cage and iliac crest. You can’t count on human proportions in funny cartoons design, where the object is to exaggerate and vary shapes. Mr. Milo’s design the pelvis so very short and small on Adam that it will take a bit of skill to eke it out. Give yourself and assignment and make an under-drawing of this design. Find the pelvis and draw the character sitting down. You’ll be glad you tried this now, before getting stuck on a studio test or drawing against a deadline on the job!

Alternative design. Today there is a sketchbook trend in animation. Think of Adventure Time. You really won’t have to worry about how the floating girdles roll like Ben Washam (?) did when he animated Drip Along Daffy chasing after the cheering crowd that scooped up his comedy relief as a hero. However, you should always be prepared for it. Challenge yourself on how you would draw a character without a pelvis siting down. He may run conventionally, but how would you draw the opening scene of Porco Rosso using Mike Milo’s design pictured here instead of Miyazaki’s Rocco, who very much has a pelvis. Don’t be surprised if you get a storyboard with an action that requires the pelvis to act as a ballast for the body. Be prepared!

Observe. For you the sake of your career observe. Just about all animated characters today are male, so it can’t be avoided. For women artists out there, don’t be afraid to look down in appropriate surroundings. Being women in a patriarchal society we have to be subtle. However, if you dare to let Aphrodite take over your senses like in the following example, don’t blame me, your on your own:

The Wire

Assistant State Attorney, Rhonda Pearlman and the lieutenant police commissioner Cedric Danieis discuss the Barksdale case and Daniels’ sudden separation from his wife. While sitting in her desk chair she looks up at her studly male lieutenant standing above her and says:
“I see you dress left.”


All kidding aside, NEVER tell a director you can’t draw men. Instead, try to isolate your problem drawing man and keep it to yourself until you master them. My challenge was the pelvis and I didn’t know it until years after I lost several opportunities to work for Bruce Timm, be the character stylist for the animated show Clerks and hold my position at Spumco. If you are having trouble drawing men, try mastering the pelvis. It may be your problem. Or it could be something else. Regardless, keep your mouth shut as you find solution. Admitting this shortcoming openly may hurt you. Furthermore, if you look over the shoulders of your peers and even your superiors, you’ll find that they have weaknesses they are desperate to conceal as well.
Good luck!


Animation: Solid Drawing for Eric

“Yes, I know this is a rough, but still…”

Drawing. Since we’re going into tying down animation, I would like to talk about drawing. Your film is of the rubber hose style and I know your hero is John K. so I thought I would highlight one of John’s favorite projects: the Fliescher Bros. Popeye series.

The Fleischers are the kings of rubber house animation. Disney was was great, Warner Bros. was still struggling in the 30’s, but the Fleischer’s ruled this style. One of the reasons why is the inking and the advancement of the medium while retaining this style, unlike the Disney studios that decided to advance anatomy along with their filmmaking.

Lucky for us, we have the Fleischer’s example to remind us to do our best no matter how simple the style is.

Now look at the drawing in these shots. It’s TERRIFIC! Sure there are no rhomboids and trapezei, but those characters sure are solid. One thing is for sure, the all important pelvis isn’t missing, which is an area in anatomy that many green artists forget to master. How it the character supposed to sit down? How does the character distribute his weight? How do you spit the body in the dorsal plane without giving your character a booty? How can Popeye and Bluto beat each other up properly without the animator knowing his way around the shoulder girdle? Sure it’s easier to draw the arms raised about the head on a rubber hose character, but the animator still needs to know how far to extend Popeye’s arms. The elbows do not past the top of the head–that is unless you are animating Olive Oyl.

Look at Poop Deck Pappy. Notice the balance of kinesthetics. We have loose anatomy for the sake of movement and anatomy for the sake of design. It’s wonderful. Flexion and contraction at it’s rubber hose finest.

Inking. The clean up line of part of what sells this style. I am using it myself of my own film it’s great for covering up mistakes. Don’t use inking as a crutch though. The more soiid the rough, the better the clean up.

BG’s. Art direction. Though not as important as story. Don’t even think for a second that it does not sell the film.

Here’s your kitchen!

Tint Tone and Shade–and Fade for depth of field!


So, as we spend the next month on animation, let’s fortify the drawings. This is your FILM! With the pressures of the 96 hour work week industry and family, it will be a long time before you make another one. So let’s know Eye Ball and Bowling Pin some love.

…and don’t think I won’t make your life hell if you try to avoid doing so. What kind of teacher would I be if I didn’t?


Prop and Transportation Design for Eric

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

Curtis Bewildered

Anti-Seaplane Pirate Pilot

Engine Trouble

Death Dream

Pilot Heaven

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.

3pt Perspective Grid

Alright, Eric.
It looks like your short is going to look like a Pink Panther cartoon. However, I want your film to have a bit more discipline. Western animation has to compete with anime nowadays, and the audience’s taste has migrated to story and design in favor of Disney Physics. In fact you’ll find that that the animation laity considers animation shot on 4’s or Batman Beyond besides all of it’s violation to animation physics like fluctuating volumes and lack of anticipation, settles and eye direction, great animation—because they’re drooling over the design! Full animation is still appreciated, but only by an esoteric group. Like 2D hand-drawn, full animation in this same medium had become a fine art. The distinction between limited animation and full is only accessible to some.

Pink Breakfast. I think your layouts could be better than this. Push yourself.

While you have time as a student, I would still peruse animation excellence, but to win over your future employers who are playing the design game with audiences, you’d better put some discipline in your layouts. There’s noting like wonky perspective to ruin a design. Animation layout style of the 70’s constantly bent this rule, and although your colleagues will find it appealing for those were old master who intuitively bent the rules, as a student, you need show the studios what you can do with classic training and bend the rules later after you’ve earned some clout, otherwise, you won’t even be honored with a studio test, much less hired.

The Best Layouts of the Pink Panther cartoons.

Most of these cartoon are very charming in their doodley nature. However you’ll hear many a layman say: “Couldn’t they draw back then?”

You can dodge this criticism with more 101 Dalmatians in your BG’s and less 6th grade perspective class effort.

Dick Ung, Corny and et al. would produce a mixed bag of quality in their BG’s granted some of the layouts were created for television where there is little time to think much less create a spectacular BG layout, but when it came to the theatrical shorts they showed a bit love in their work—for they had more time and you’re supposed to up your game for theatrical projects anyway.

I’ve screen captured a few images that shows discipline mixed with doodle as well as a few BG layouts that were obvious rush jobs that resulted in sloppy character layout for the horizon line was barely established. Which brings to my next point: make sure you’re never the weak link in the chain. Solidify your perspective skills before you leave school.

Here is an example for your fence

Learn something from Corny Cole’s palette in the examples below. This is a nice, simple minimalist style for when you finally get around to rendering your BG’s.

Dick Ung’s Pink Plasma for your closing scene when the pig lady storms through the alcove and into the kitchen.



Not only is this very nice by both sides of the layout crew, but the tones and shadows add much to the piece.


Now for your down shot. I’ve included a 3 pt perspective grid. This grid is used by industrial designers to show orthographic views of a product. There is no visible horizon line on an down shot like a top orthographic view so this grid helps take out the guess work on where vanishing points should converge in their respective infinity and give the proper angles for your object’s contour line.

What I’ve done is take a screen capture of a kitchen that I previously created in maya. Hopefully this will prevent further headaches. It may be cheating, but in this world of ” We Want it Yesterday” it’s a good cheat. What you do is drop the grid and the screen capture in Illustrator and render the vanishing points and draw the reander the image.

More on this later after I draw an example for you. Hold tight, I should be finished by tomorrow 09/29/11


Detailed Layouts for Eric

Hello Eric, I know you’re a fan of the 70’s style, but let’s start with the Disney bellwether of the 70’s style: 101 Dalmatians.

This is the first Disney film where you see more of the animators drawings as opposed to the ink and paint team. Walt hated the look, but it stuck. The longevity of this style must have been some comfort to Walt’s berating of Ken Anderson the the film’s production designer.


I included the credits to show you how animation artists move around.


Dick Ung will go on to be the chief BG layout artist of the Pink Panther cartoons.


Enri Nordli is the second Chuck Jones layout giant after Maurice Noble.


The opening of 101 Dalmatians has always been my favorite part of the film. I never understood why as a kid for Cruella is certainly the most entertaining character. Today I think I like it for it’s subtlety. 101 Dalmatian’s opening is the only calm part of the film where you get to observe the characters as a voyeur.


I like Roger’s messy bachelor pad and the items in it. He may be cluttered, but he isn’t a worthless slob. Note his awards and certifications. Roger may not be an alpha male, but he’s not loser either! The establishment of Roger as an accomplished person in an admirable respect helps you forgive him later on in the film when he is unable to protect his furry, spotted family members as Man of the House against Cruella’s henchmen.
This is a compromise, for the story is about the dogs and it’s the main protagonist job to solve his own problems not the supporting characters.



The lead protagonist, the “hero” of this story is the dashing Pongo. Grey line used as depth of field. More on that later.


It is possible to have both dark and light clean up lines in a layout. Note the dark line in the foreground and grey cleanup lines in the background. They work together because the grey gives the illusion of depth of field; meaning objects fade in definition when they’re in the distance.


A grey clean up line for the BG also helps make the foreground character pop.


Depth of field for the grey-lined outdoors versus the intimacy of the dark-lined foreground.

Staging. Pongo stands out despite the clutter.


The eye draws you to the area of the layout that is rendered in planes in lieu of line.


Disney doesn’t cheat on the dishes and even the clock has a personality in this universe of realism.


The wallpaper is subdued to planes so as not to compete with Roger.


Nice palette. Pink and Purple needn’t be the basis of the female world, so says John K.


BG tells a story: Roger’s bachelor clutter is now confined to his study in the attic.


The conflict of the set up: enter the villiainess!

Cruella is ENORMOUS in the door, but note how there’s plenty of room left for her head to “breathe” in the layout.

Character layout with the use the camera work created in the storybook take over. Cruella roams the house like she owns the place. The animator’s job was no walk in the park with the crazy timing either. However, as a former character layout artist, I know this scene was a pill. Camera moves are not fun to learn. I ever thought of myself as dyslexic until I had to do camera moves on Futurama, which being a space show, had camera moves a plenty. Also, there is the issue of perspective with Cruella moving throughout the house. The storyboard artist may establish the horizon line, but it’s the layout artist who has to tie everything down to final stage. The BG color people have they share of challenges too. In short, this sequence was very difficult and I applaud the Ken Anderson and crew for pulling it off.

Here’s a cheat on the pole growing out of the head rule. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but note how the layout artist keeps Roger moving toward the nice safe negative space between the timbers.


Down shot; very high offscreen horizon line. 3 point perspective. It’s not hard once you figure our your aesthetic.




This scene was obviously referenced, but I like how the animator included the tilt of the head toward the Roger on the other side of the ceiling. Using reference is an art in itself. You have to know what to abstract from the rotoscope. Otherwise you get Gulliver’s Travels and Bakshi’s Lord of the Rind (and arguable Pocahontas. Why bother making a character animated film if you’re not going to include your own acting?

Dangerously tricky BG. Note the wall detail growing out of the foreground character’s head. The layout team keeps her moving though.

A gasp of air in a wild scene. No characters.

Cruella blows out the door the same way she blew in.

The villainess is gone but her impression lingers on. The antagonist is established!

Art Opening Parallax

First of all, shame on me for not using a slate. Vince would surely slap my hand. I was so exhausted from all the rendering so I could see the results that I simply forgot. One day I will have a computer powerful enough to generate a decent RAM preview. Yet, despite the scene being a bit wonky, you can see where I am going to with this opening. Despite the need for corrections on the Maloni and the Beaumonde layers in the background which should not be moving so much, this scene pretty much turned out the way I wanted it to.
Parallax is a funny thing. It’s keeps your dolly’s and pans from looking mechanical, but the effort to create it is tricky.
The method is simple but there are trip ups. When creating a parallax in After Effects you position the layers in the top orthographic view so that they are spread apart in a distance respective to one another. Then you rescale the layers back up to full size again. Doing so should create a perfect funnel shape for the camera to move through, but that didn’t happen here.
I figure perhaps it’s because the layouts were not cropped perfectly to 1080p, but that can’t be it because the elements in my teacher’s tutorial were different sizes. I composited the scenes in Photoshop just like I always do when preparing layouts for Illustrator so everything is hooked up, but still the Maloni and Beaumonda layers are still mis-sized for the aspect ratio. I’ll figure it out. The worse that can happen is that I’ll have to shoot the scene in Flash instead.
I am really excited to use to the cast of HipChick Comics in this film. I just have to remember to use a Fleischer line on them instead of my personal ink line. I’ve been sort of doing that with them in the vector promos of the cast, but Fleischer’s style is still different. How would the Fleischer’s design Nami and the other Asian character’s eyes? I think will leave them the same shape but be sure to include the pie pan irises. We’ll see. Regardless, this scene is going to be a lot of fun to clean up 🙂

Art Opening Layout

“Detour” is underway. I plan to complete all of the hand-drawn scenes by the end of the 2011-12 school year.
One of the weird things about laying out this film is that I am using 4:3 paper for a 16:9 film. Old supplies, waste not want not. However, conversion is really tricky. Thank goodness for Photoshop.
1920x1080p is 26.667×15 in inches. The paper I have is not that long. In fact it isn’t even made. Animation artist create their films digitally now. yet, I just love paper, and I have it, so I am using it. Call me old fashioned. So, what I’ve done is reduced the ratio by half (13.333×7.5) and tweak everything else in Photoshop.
I came across a few snags in After Effects though. The characters are not hooking up with the BG very well, which sucks after all the time I spent on scale and perspective. I don’t believe the time is wasted, though, because foot placement is nailed thanks to those funny little lines that race towards their respective vanishing points.
There are other problems with the BG as well, but it’s an easy fixed, which had already been fixed. This BG is a combination of two galleries: The Diego Rivera and the Walter McBean galleries on the campus of the SFAI. The camera is going to run into the wall as it weaves through the crowd, so I am knocking down that wall that leads to the L-shape annex. No, it does not exist in reality, but filmmakers are allowed poetic license.

More about the installation at the end of the week when I layout the crowd.