Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cats 'n' girls (4)

"The following occurs to me as a method of procedure:

Take the most recent pictures - minutely analyze all the business, action, and results, using the better pieces of animation as examples going thru the picture with these questions in mind:

1. What was the idea to be presented?
2. How was the idea presented?
3. What result was achieved?
4. After seeing this result - what could have been done to the picture from this point on, to improve it?

This is a small section from a memo that Walt Disney wrote to Don Graham on dec 23th 1935.

When I read this letter today, this section in particular made sense to me. I thought it answered some of my questions that I was having concerning the 'pushing' of my own work.

How can I push my one-story-drawings to the next level?

If from now on I consciously keep the above questions in mind when making a one-story-drawing, I think it will give me insight in how I can push that drawing to the next level. If you apply the answers from the 4th question to the next drawing you make of the same story, it will be a push!

I also think that it will be good for not to answer the 4 questions in my head, but to write them down, so they exist.

So, let's put it into practice. See if it works?

Here's a one-story-drawing.

1. What was the idea to be presented? ( I think this means what's the story you want to tell?)

A girl get's a small kitten for her birthday. Surprise!

2. How was the idea presented? (I think this is about how the story is staged.)

I see a girl that looks at a young cat in a basket. It's probably a present, seeing flags, and a birthday hat and wrapping paper. She's happy, she is smiling, and surprised, looking at her eyes. Her face is turned away from the cat, so she just might have been a little bit afraid of what was inside of the present.

3. What result was achieved? (I think this means what is the story you read from the drawing as it is now?)

She's kinda happy with her present, not ecstatic. It's a bit of a weird looking cat; a little bit big maybe for a kitten. But the basic ingredients are there, a girl and a cat. And it's a party, probably a birthday, decorations, hat, giftpaper.

4. After seeing this result - what could have been done to the picture from this point on, to improve it? "

Maybe the girl could be really really happy in her emotion when unpacking her present. So study happy emotions.

The cat can be cuter, more like small kittens are. Fuzzy and cute and likeable. Study kittens.

How the present looks can be improved, more a box maybe with a lit that's pulled of or something like that. Design the present that holds the kitten.

Instead of making these studies, I drew this as my next drawing for the same story ...

Not exactly improving the previous sketch I think now. There's a few steps and desicions missing. I guess they took place inside my head really fast, and as a result I thought I needed to make this drawing.

Why did I make this then?

It now feels more like creating a whole new world where you can ask the same 4 questions again.
Do I really need more characters and envorinment to tell the story of a girl and a cat?

I don't claim this is the way to push your work, but I think it will help me to understand better why and how I make my decisions while making a one-story-drawing, and how I can improve myself, and become more effective in telling a story. That is also what this blog is for. To get an insight for myself in how I work, and how I can improve and develop myself as an artist.

ps. Saw TS3 yesterday. Loved it, I think pixar takes you on a nice emotional rollercoaster with a film about toys. Impressive.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cats 'n' girls (3)

I liked these sketches because there's more story in them than the first sketch. Still it left me with some questions, so there's still a lot of things that I'm leaving to the interpetation of the viewer.

* The cat is a present obviously. Probably because it's her birthday. But why is she so happy with a kitten?
*Who is or are the person(s) giving her the present? Her boyfriend, grandma, neighbour or did she give it to herself?
*When and where is she getting this present? Can I choose a location or event to push my story?

So I did two sketches as an answer to my questions.

Personally I had the strongest emotional response to the second sketch.
It brought back a memory from when I was young, and you would get all excited when it's your birthday almost.
I would always get my presents in bed from my parents and sister. They would come in my bedroom silently in the morning, really early, when I was still sleeping, singing, and they would have secretly decorated my bed at night. You would be awake instantly!(usually you would be pretending to be asleep of course, too much excitement, you already were awake and waiting for an hour or so for them to come in!)
And then I would get my birthday present. Everyone would still be in their pyjama's, sitting on your bed. It was the start of a special day, your birthday! Surprise!
What would be the greatest gift to a young girl totally crazy about cats, then a young kitten for her birthday.

So I decided to give the second sketch a push.

Right now I like it. I think it tells a nice story, but there's still room for pushing it to the next level.
I'll have a fresh look tomorrow and probably have a few new questions to push it again. It feels like I'm getting there...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cats 'n' girls (2)

In the drawing of the girl with the cat there are a few things that are not clear to me.

* Why is she holding the cat up?
* Is it a cat she is holding up?, or is it a dog?
* Where is she, what is the location? Inside or outside?
* What time of day is it?
* What is her emotion? Is she afraid of the animal, or is she happy?
* What is the emotion of the animal?

The answers to these questions will probably be very different when I ask different people to answer them. So to improve my story I will have to fix these questions in my drawing first.

So here is my attempt at solving some of the story issues of the girl and the cat. In other words pushing my STORY to the next level.

Now comes the hard part of deciding which sketch tells the story the best.
So far these two are my favourite. I think they tell the story the best for now.

Let's see if I can even push these ones to the next level.

I believe that in every drawing/skribble/doodle you make is a great story, you just need to find it and then try your best to push it to the next level.

So something to keep in mind is that the first and most important thing to test your drawing for is STORY.
It is not about how good you can draw or paint, well it helps, but how good you are at telling a story.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cats 'n' girls

Here's another piece where I tried to preserve my sketchlines. It's a fun excercise, and it works if the sketches were really good...meaning the story they tell. Adding color and some sort of lighting to your sketch doesn't mean that the story your image tells will improve, if there are still story issues in the original sketch. I always tried to fix my story while painting but I found out that that doesn't work.

For instance in this image, story wise, it is not clear what the girl and the creature are doing and why. Why is she holding this little creature? Has she found him? Has he done something bad?, or is he the one that she chose to take home from the petstore?

And there is my next excercise: Before adding color, search for the perfect sketch that tells the story I want to tell the best.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cats 'n' fish

Again an excercise to stick with my drawing and translate that in color. Not adding stuff, just paint what I drew.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Cats 'n' bugs

Here's a piece where I really focused to follow my sketch during the painting proces, and not add and change all kinds of details to my painting that don't exist in the original sketch. This way I hope to keep more of the original 'feel' of the sketch to be present in the final painting.