Saturday, September 02, 2006

Tie Down: Refining your acting, drawings, and the technical side

Phewwwwwwww! Have been SOOOO busy between preparing to teach 2nd year at CalArts, (for which i am VERY excited about!), working on a project that could spawn into something cool if it actually takes off, and a bunch of other life stuff! So, i thought about posting something completely non related to animation but declined after i thought about what people expect from the blog.
So, where to start. Tie down is just like roughing out a shot, it's up to your disgression about how you want to tie down a shot. I think you have to examine who you are before you decide on a method- and it's totally cool to switch methods up. I do to a degree. but i thought for starters i'd show a bunch of different examples of tied down drawings and talk about them a bit.
First up is Glen Keane. Glen is a good place i think to start when talking about tie down-- He's very individual, which is something i admire greatly. He's draws loosely, but everythings there. Actually i think his rep for drawing really rough is a bit over-stated. Some of his drawings are actually rather direct, that thick line can make them look rougher than they really are. But the main point to draw (no pun intended) from someone like Glen is the best type of tie down for you to do is one that you do naturally. This is the way glen draws... so let him draw that way! I've spent waaaaaaay too much time in my artistic life trying to draw like someone else. Be you! That's what makes these guys stand out, is that they are being themselves to the ultimate capacity. what if everyone drew like Milt, that would be soooooo boring! If you follow that path you'll only ever be a medocre copy of another mans genious. Something else i find interesting is that sometimes we do things that mean something to us that others view as "pointless" because no one will ever see it. Glen shades his drawing, no one will ever see that stuff but if that is what he needs to do to make a drawing come alive then he HAS to do it! Obviously the downfall of tying a drawing down this way is that it can be difficult to follow by an assistant. but, if your assistant actually knows how to draw you should be alright.

Next up is Andreas Deja. Everyone knows he's a Milt fanatic, just like most of us although i think he's taken fandom to a new level with his HUGE collection of animation art. I think Andreas is another great example of being yourself but still having an influence. It's really quite obvious that Andreas loves Milt, but it doesn't look exactly like a Milt drawing. There's a flare to his drawings that are completely his own, and that's what makes them so beautiful! Andreas is also no where near as anal as Milt was in terms of tying down a drawing. You will see what is important to an animator by the way he ties down his drawings-- I think Andreas is a bit more technical minded that Glen is but they are both overwhelmingly emotional. Which is not a bad place to be!

Ahh- one last example here of a tie down drawing although there are infinite examples in my opinion. James' drawings are just like his animation, delicate, precise, and clear. You'll note his line quality-- it's a sort of etchy kind of line. The first person i can think of that really used this was Ronald Serle, and Milt loved Searle and used it a little bit, Fucile loved both those guys and implimented it into his drawings and James and Tony (from what i've heard) are good friends and have had an influence i'm sure on each other. Now personally, I prefer this method of tying down. I feel this-- whatever gets up on screen should be 100 percent your doing, whether it's good or bad. This way of working is a bit on the practical side in terms that your animation moves through clean-up WAY faster than a rough scene does (assuming it's on model and everything). But even more than that it offers a reallyu great amount of control to the animator. Sometimes when your lines get mushy and thick it can be tough to do subtler stuff with the eyes because your pencil is too thick and the spacing get's lost. Once i switched to this method my acting got called out on the carpet. I couldn't hide behind loose drawings anymore-- this is not to claim that Andreas and Glen hide, it's actually quite the opposite. what i mean is more the irresponsible type of draftsmenship where you leave WAY too much to clean-up. That's not Glen or Andreas-- what i am getting at is that it's important to me to be in control of what i do. This is the perfect method FOR ME. Maybe not for you--

I guess the key to this particular post is to experiment and be you to your fullest capacity! I feel very strongly that when you are comfortable in being you then your art will really take on a life of it's own. Yes, influences are important to the development of an artist, mine are probably pretty obvious, but staying there is artistically stunting. Be curious, branch out, take risks--

The next post will start to cover the refining process of tie down in hand drawn animation- putting things on model, turning the character, refining spacing, and most importantly refining your performance: adding eye darts, taking eye darts out, meaningful blinks, ect... thanks for your patience everyone. Life doesn't seem to want to stop for my blog!


Ryan Bullard said...

Hello, you've got a great blog here! A lot of interesting ideas and opinions, great stuff. Keep it up!

Jamaal Bradley said...

it was weird to see that James Baxter draws that way after seeing his pencil tests. My office mate at Sony has an autographed drawing from James ...I was like.."whoa...he draws with little lines.." Like you said ..his method works and you cant deny that. I think that is why in recent years I have been really attracted to James and Sergio Pablos. There line work is tight within there animation and allows you to see there execution and process. The Ends Justify the Means..keep grinding!

Graham Ross said...

More! More!

Young Vo said...

Cool, makes me want to do a 2d short next. Very inspiring.

AkinYaman said...

l realy like glen keane style for me he is the greatest couse his soul sparks out from loose sketches and its so powerful.

Jason C said...

Awesome post Matt. I love the way you presented these as options.. and that there's no hard and fast absolute rule to it... Many times I've had people tell me that this or that way was the way and only way to go for animation drawing. But animation by it's nature is a very personal expression.. So it never seemed right to me to draw or animate a certain way if it felt really uncomfortable to me.. even if i did end up with cleaner more on model drawings at the end..

I'm still searching for how I tie my animation down. It's a tough struggle for me. I'll find it someday.. and I know it'll be based on what feel natural to me. Whatever that ends up being.. ;)

keep up the inspirational posting!!

Ali said...

Andreas's drawings remind me of Ollie Johnston's. They are really delicate and loose.

Great stuff, as always.

Bobby Pontillas said...

Man, these are all pretty fantastic.

Glen's drawing style has a striking energy with lines so fluid he makes it look easily executed, which of course was probably not.

Look at that Andreas drawing though, a stroke here, a longer stroke there, it's almost like he's drawing with a brush pen.

And I've always marveled at how James Baxter can demonstrate such precision without sacrificing the fluidity and energy of the gesture.

Matt Williames said...

Ryan: thanks man, please come back!
Jamaal: Yeah, i d't care for didn't care for that line either when i first saw it, but it grew on me, now i love it!
graham: i know man, i'm working on it! thanks for stopping by!
young blood: you SHOULD do some hand drawn again. i remember really liking your film 1st year! some funny acting on the clown!
Akinya: yep, Glen's one of a kind- very soulful indeed!
Jason: yeah, i know what you mean. many times i have found the people that believe there is one way to do something (pertaining to art at least) work in factory studios. They need to get stuff out fast, so they have a formula to follow. Nothing drains the life out of you quicker! Keep searching, it sounds like you are on the right path. Just be you!
Vic: you caught me red handed! haha, your right though- my influence is obvious but i try not to copy, just employ a method i like and can communicate with.
Ali: Yeah, Andreas do have that "kiss the paper" mentality, which i LOVE. thanks for dropping in, and happy birthday!
Bobby: wow! great analyisis man! you should havewritten this post instead of me! i think an interesting point you mde about james line was that his drawings still have flow to them. It's easy using that method to get stilted drawings, but if one does it loosely you can keep the flow.
thanks for everyones wonderful comments!

Ron said...

Great wisdom for everyone!

Jesse Soto said...


Awesome tutorial! I really liked how you emphasized that as an animator you remain as yourself, draw and animate in your own way, while allowing your drawing to explore and branch off into different directions.

I'm still working on the Thumper test and I did notice the same problem when I started tying down a frame, in my case the main poses. Within the tie down, the clarity of acting and pose is a must, otherwise while tying down, I would stop and have a what-the-heck moment and just stop me completly. If anything I was forced to redo the scene with more clear acting choices.

I understand a little bit more now why you had us work with tie down so early, in order for us to get the most out of acting within each assignment. You class assignments have remained impressive, from the design of the character used to fit the animation principles right down to the emphasis on tying down your scene.

Great Job Matt!
"All your notes are belong to me!"
Time to read more!

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Marc said...

l realy like glen keane style for me he is the greatest couse his soul sparks out from loose sketches and its so powerful.

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