Hello again. A few weekends ago I went to Madman Anime fest in Melbourne. The con had a lot of interesting moments hearing from voice actors and anime producers. I think a memorable moment was seeing a pencil animation test from Ufotables’ Demon Slayer. I just froth at the mouth anytime I get to see an animation test without the final colors, just cause it strips back the layers and you can really focus just on the drawings dancing on the screen. I’m genuinely thankful to be alive in an era with anime. ;;__;;;;
This leads into me wanting to discuss some harsh facts about what it takes to really see improvement in art. I’ll mention the most core element first, which is if you don’t connect with that fiery feeling I just mentioned of how beautiful art(animation) can be, you will probably struggle to improve at all.
My second tip for improvement is to critically question the way you are thinking/talking about drawing. Often someone will tell me they feel their ‘proportions’ or ‘anatomy’ are wrong in comparison to mine. Instead of this, a bunch of other ways you could talk/think about drawing is; ‘do I really understand the form of this exact part of this persons body before I put down a line? How does this mass relate to the torso/head/rest of the body as it balances, what sort of balance is going on? Is the silhouette clear? What is the best way to caricature this persons nose? Is that a thumb or a forefinger because I’m having to squint at the model to see it properly? Ah just make it up” My point is…good art is never just one element of drawing. I would encourage artists to not stubbornly reject or obsess over a single idea. Having an open, honest critical eye is the only way I’ve been able to grow. No magical wisdom gives us an advantage. Perspective, anatomy, balance, solid form, are all elements of draftsmanship that need to be faced head-first.
Another thing I want people to know is many storyboarding jobs have become like 2D animation, but I just speak on behalf of my experience making episodic animatics. It involves many drawings yes, but whatever amount you may be envisioning, imagine way more, and heaps of unseen drawings tossed out because they didn’t serve the exact vision your directors had in mind. The concept of heaps of dispensable drawings is something that breaks a lot of artists apparently. Mustering the enthusiasm to embrace every new drawing as a chance for improvement is an attitude you either have or you don’t. A still drawing is just a drawing, but with storyboarding/animation your drawing ability must be so automatic that you are focusing on flow of acting, moving characters in believable way.
Another thing is understanding good animation isn’t always about fluidity. Animation should be about creating some intensity of motion/emotion with the timing of whatever you are drawing. I wish people reacted to my animations with more than ‘smooth’ but sigh…internet right? You can see whether animation is strong of weak even with bouncing balls. With newbies you’ll often see just a plain simple circle floatily moving up and down. To the viewer, this says nothing. You need to think way harder about the acting, physicality, everything!-before you even start to animate.
I feel like the element that matters more than drawing skill is always a love of art. Specifically, I don’t think you can teach a love of characters. This interest blossoms in childhood for most of us and the skill just comes from never giving up. This is where my draftmanship argument falls apart. I can’t explain to people the wonder I felt watching Inuyasha as a kid. I had seen it advertised on Adult Swim back in a year as far back as when MSN was still a thing. Because my parents mildly disproved of me watching ‘violent cartoons’ I tried to watch it online. Enduring the buffering on whatever internet we had at the time felt like a cruel test of devotion. That’s just one of countless anecdotes for what has spurred me on with art. You will always improve if you’re drawing from a pure place instead of frustration etc. I’m trying to make wordpress a place I can constructively talk about art, so I hope it doesn’t upset anyone’s inbox. Alright I’m done ranting for now! Thanks for sticking around.