Saturday, January 26, 2013

Preston Blair And His Amazing Animation Book

I recently got Preston Blair's seminal book on animation. John K, creator of Ren and Stimpy, swears by this book. Here's a post on his blog about how important this book was to him as a kid. So I bought it for myself and it's been pretty freaking useful.

However, while I do want to learn to animate, I mainly plan only to draw static cartoons. Blair's instructions about character construction are still extremely useful for this, but now I have to teach myself how to reconcile these techniques with my current drawing style, combining them to make characters that are specifically suited for what I want to accomplish with my cartoons.

Blair's techniques are meant for groups of animators to be able to reproduce characters from various angles with very little room for error. This means that the characters are fairly simple, and follow certain formulas that make them relatively easy to reproduce over and over again, at a fast pace.

That's why cartooning for animation and cartooning for comics are two different disciplines. They certainly overlap a lot, and people can switch between the two, but when you're drawing a static character, you don't need such simplicity.

Some of the features I like drawing most in my cartoons wouldn't work for animation, but I want to hold onto them. So now I have to absorb all the knowledge of this book, reading it multiple times and doing the practice drawings it prescribes until I have it all down. This is a big deal for me because I practice drawing pretty infrequently, and even on the days when I do practice, I don't do it for long. After I've done this, I'll make sure the book influences and improves my drawing technique without completely supplanting it.