Monday, April 26, 2010

Realistic? Not Really...

I rarely try to draw anything realistic - that is - with chiaroscuro shading and a nose that more than one line.  However, I noticed a great artist Bum Joon-Kim, owner of draws a lot of things that are really realistic with an anime flair.  And although he might not admit - are actually quite excellent.

So I toyed around with shadin and came out with this in around 7-10 minutes in class one day during a critique.

That's just horrific.  Look at those eyes.  Also, the scanner was too high contrast to pick up all the details.

Today, I was in class and drew one of my own characters, Amy Muranaka.  Eyes aren't asian enough, but I do actually like how this came out.  Except the lips - and the neck.  Still too stylized, but it's GETTING there!

Eva Character Sketches

Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of my favourite anime shows - and I honestly can't say why.  There's something nostalgic and beautiful about it.  Even though the main character is completely worthless and the story is bizarre at its most sane points.

Regardless, I drew the characters in my own style - what would be the point of drawing them on-model!?

Top left is just a sketch.  Then it goes Rei and Shinji, and on the bottom row are Asuka, Rei, and another Rei.
  Center doesn't capture Rei's blasé personality though - as that's more expressive than almost everything she does in the entire series.  Rei expresses two emotions.  Blank, and Pain.  One time she cried, and I think there might have been a 48 frame smile somewhere in the series' run.

 You can see that Rei from the last drawing in the top left here.  This was the next page in the sketchbook.  Eh.  I like the top middle and bottom right.  Others were just done too quickly, or never panned out.

Kid Rocker

For a project, I have to develop a character out of a kid playing a guitar.  Here you can see what I came up with.  From Left to Right I go from my personal style (the 2009 standard which is a hybridization of my older anime style, and my 2007 western style)  The middle has its realism toned down a bit, and the right one if full cartoon-esque.

The bottom two are sort of a mix between the Middle and Right designs - though I like them all for different reasons.

Here are some designs for some crazy animals.  I've seen them all before in other works - nothing too new here.  But still fun to draw.

In Japan, they use Top Pegs...

Anime or (アニメ) as they say in Japan, is a great way to get people interested in East Asian Studies - but as an art form, it is hard to be unique.  Go to right now and type in ANIME and scroll down.  Your screen will look different, but here's what I found...

 Here's a test, based on what I see, I'd say all of these are from artists with roughly the same amount of skills.  That being said, can you tell one artist from another?  What makes Top Right's picture better than Top Left ?  or Bottom Middle?  Nothing.  Because other than costume, you cannot bring a unique style to your art when drawing anime.  There are minor variations on the eyes, but other than that, it is all the same.  Formulaic, redundant, and nothing to make it yours.

Now, who drew THIS?  

You might not be able to name the specific artist (It was animation master Jim Smith, btw) but if you grew up in the mid-90s you can probably guess that it came from the Spumco Studio (Ren and Stimpy, Ripping Friends).  This is unique.

I say this, not as an outsider, however.  But as someone who has drawn in the anime style for years.  In fact from 2000-2007, that's pretty much all I drew.  There are a few reasons for this, but a BIG one is that anime is easy.  Follow the steps and you'll be drawing like a pro (anime-artist) in a few months of practice.  But all your stuff will look just like everyone elses.  Story is a big part of anything, but without unique visuals, it is enough to separate you from the pack?

 Look, I drew this in less than a minute.  But Keep scrolling on deviantArt, you'll find it's mostly on par.

That being said, because it's so easy if you can't draw anything at all...  why not start with anime?

Here's some old drawings...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Feeling Disneyesque

Not really.  Well not TECHNICALLY.  The first thing you probably notice about Renaissance-era disney works are the eyes.  They're very large - on par with anime proportions.  However unlike anime they are composed of a closed unit, rather than a two-stroke system and filled with white.

Compare the top right with bottom center - the top of the eye does not connect to the bottom - a staple of manga-style art.

Another Gargiulo, with random characters around.  Top right has an interesting expression.

And another Melanie.  On paper she was drawn last - why not be surrounded by all of the other random and failed horrors of the sketch?

Also - this melanie has a nose - which is not technically accurate, but whatever.  She has to smell the danger!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's Four-Twenty somewhere...

To quote meatwad.  This is a belated post.  I drew these characters in my sketchbook a couple days ago to celebrate.  At first they were unrelated, but I think they go well together.

She works at a local diner, and he likes to smoke across the street from it.  And every day he watches her through his glassy and bloodshot eyes as she rollerskates burgers and fries out to cars.  Eventually he asks her out, but she can't get involved with a stoner... or can she!?

Sketchbook Insanity - International Incident

Tommy the Tea Party Turkey.  He hates taxes, foreigners, and any several minorities.  He wears his flag proud, stained with the sweat from many a hard day's work guarding his porch from immigrants and larger mosquitoes.  He's out protesting today because he heard on the radio that the government was coming to take his guns away.

Meanwhile Lixue can't get her message of Anti-Communism across!

This insanely bemuscled warthog was done for someone else as part of a keyword project.  Her words were Blue, Cheetah, and Dan.  The story is that Dan the cheetah always made fun of warthogs for being slow and fast, until he met this one.

I love the Power Boar.  He's so bad.

Sketchbook Melanie(s)

Bored and in class and mind wandered to work.  Melanie in some action poses, including a cross-leged "Matrix" and a flying jump.  Wow!


PCSB Stuff 3

A year later, I wanted to make the characters have a more solid base, so I quickly worked up this model sheet for a generic success kid.  All of them follow this, except the heads might be a bit smaller in the final versions.

And some more early sketches.  I always had a clear idea of the kids in the airplane "soaring to success" since I came up with the concept in 2008.  These were some of the first sketches I did once I was back in my office.
Speaking of which...

My office!  That tiny computer had a Pentium 3 processor and 512 MB of memory.  And this was 2008!  Needless to say, it was taxed to the limit running flash.  I finally got a new one in October of that year, a couple weeks before I had to deliver the animation.

PCSB Stuff 2 - Soaring to Success

At the end of 2009 I returned to STS (School Technology Services) at Polk County Public Schools to begin work on the design for their 2010 Directed Implementation Project which, for the fourth year in a row, would feature the Success Kids.  No video was ordered this time, only a few images to be used in various print media.  This year's theme was Soaring to Success.  If I am comissioned to make an animation again, these will be the character designs used.  The main difference between these and 2008's versions are that now Jake has a backpack, and Melanie has a hairband.

In addition to their standard designs I also made these airport themed designs.  The one of Jake I drew in a van on the way to a school.  The other two were done in my office.

A problem with Melanie occurred to me after I had finished drawing and coloring her.  While she is the same height as the two other characters, her proportions make her much taller.  I tried to cover by enlarging the head to the oversized proportions of the other kids, and then squishing her body slightly - At a glance you might not be able to tell - but I see it every time.

PCSB Stuff 1

The Success Kids were initially created for Polk County Public Schools to illustrate classroom technology integration. In 2008 I was comissioned to create a short animation starring these kids. However, since the original versions (who were called Compass Kids) weren't proprietary, I needed to create entirely new designs. I started with Jake, only because I had the clearest idea for what I wanted him to look like. And I would be providing the voice.

These were the first drawings - done entirely in flash. Chronologically they go from top left, bottom center, and end at top right. The two on the top right were ALMOST what the final version would be.
Here is how he ended up. The final model needed a distinctive 'M' shape at the center of his haircut. This style was scaled back a LOT for the final animation though - mainly due to time constraints, and a lack of staff devoted to the project - (it was just me).

* * *

After Jake I went on to Melanie - the second lead character. Going in an entirely new direction from the original, Melanie was going to be a"Successful" stylization of Alexandria Hart™ from my Allied Worlds universe. Her face was eseentially the same as Happy Friday Face, but with the Alexandria hairstyle. Which is why - in the design phase at least, she was Friday's daughter.

Her shirt was going to have a heart on it but that was dropped in the final animation, simply so I wouldn't have to animate a turn for it. Pretty lazy - but that was Flash MX2004 and shape tweens were unforgiving.

Melanie developed a wandering hairband. In some designs (mostly the promotional ones done for print media before the show) she has it, and in others she has a shine. In the final animation she had neither! Today's Melanie has both.

This image with all three of the kids was done before their final designs were locked in. The third character, Gary, was supposed to be the rich, awkward, and slightly obnoxious friend. When he went to the colorist (, he suddenly became African American - which forced a re-design of the hair. Clothes stayed the same though.
Raihan Duzan, the person who colored these and the person who built the original non-proprietary puppets, had some interesting ideas about the character design. She's the one who gave Jake blonde hair and made Melanie have a distinctly Asian skin colour. I don't know what's up with the black heart though.

These two were done as a backdrop for the program itinerary. Something was off about Jake's legs, so I changed them while I was coloring. People jump to throw a football sometimes right!? These represent the best designs I did for these kids that year.

* * *

The original characters were cardboard cutouts glued together and then held up with popscicle sticks. And no, I'm not making that up. When I wrote that first script (in 2007) I named the teacher Miss Flatley - as an homage to her dimensional discrepancy. When I redesigned her, I wasn't sure what I wanted. Her implied curled hair from the original made her look a little too old when drawn, So I desided to go for a more frizzled look. How did I do that? By making it spiky.

The one in the center with the poofy hair is was my first attempt, the two at the very top were my second and third respectively, note the Sora style hair.

Taking the best of the first designs, I made these. The top left and bottom right were combined to make the final version of this character. When I made her name-tag I named her Tracy. Since now she's... you know... drawn.

* * *

The coach was the hardest character for me to design. I simply could NOT find a design I liked. In the end I went with the simple one, a face inside a hat.

Top middle was the final design, the one with the half shut eyes. The coach is actually the one character who I liked the version in the final animation better than the one in the designs. Partly because since he didn't move that much I was able to make him more complex. I just called him "Coach" for the longest time, when it came time to give him a name, I went with Willis. After Dave Willis!


Hello. I am Alex Harris and this is is my Amazing Cartoon Blog. This is where you can see sketches, artwork, and other things created by myself, Alex Harris.

This character that you see here is Melanie, it was on the first page of my Sketchbook for Animation 721 - Storyboarding and Previsualization. Menalie was originally designed, in this iteration at least, in 2007 while I was working on a video for School Technology Services at Polk County Public Schools. Melanie is one of three kids who highlight the video. The others being Jake and Gary.