Archive for the ‘design’ Category

Monday, March 24th, 2014

Animation: John Sutherland’s Rhapsody of Steel

John Sutherland Rhapsody of Steel

Today we scanned a read-along storybook adaptation of John Sutherland’s industrial film, Rhapsody of Steel (1959). Sutherland’s studio was very influential in the mid-1950s, employing some of the best designers in the business. This film is no exception. Legendary stylists Eyvind Earle (Sleeping Beauty, Pigs is Pigs) and Maurice Noble (Duck Dodgers, How The Grinch Stole Christmas) collaborated on Rhapsody of Steel, and you can see evidence of both their hands everywhere in these pages. (Earle in the landscapes and textures, Noble in the bold primary and secondary colors…)

Time Magazine said of this film…

Rhapsody of Steel, a 23-minute animated cartoon that cost $300,000, is one of those rare industrial films with enough specific quality and general interest to play the commercial circuits. In the next few months it will be shown as an added attraction in several thousand U.S. movie houses. Made by former Disney Staffer John Sutherland, Rhapsody sets out to tell a sort of child’s history of steel from the first meteor that ever hit the earth to the first manned rocket that leaves it, and most of the time Moviemaker Sutherland proves a slick entertainer and a painless pedagogue. Unhappily, the music of Oscar-Winning Dmitri Tiomkin, who is probably the world’s loudest composer, bangs away on the sound track like a trip hammer. But the picture’s pace is brisk, its tricks of animation are better than cute, and the plug, when the sponsor slips it in on the final frame, is modestly understated: “A presentation of U.S. Steel.”

I have included a Quicktime of Rhapsody of Steel at the bottom of this post, and you can find many other John Sutherland fIlms at Archive.org. This book suffers from little tiny pictures and oceans of white space, so I’ve enlarged a bunch of the pictures so you can see them better.

John Sutherland Rhapsody of Steel
John Sutherland Rhapsody of Steel
John Sutherland Rhapsody of Steel
John Sutherland Rhapsody of Steel
John Sutherland Rhapsody of Steel
John Sutherland Rhapsody of Steel
John Sutherland Rhapsody of Steel
John Sutherland Rhapsody of Steel
John Sutherland Rhapsody of Steel
John Sutherland Rhapsody of Steel
John Sutherland Rhapsody of Steel
John Sutherland Rhapsody of Steel
John Sutherland Rhapsody of Steel
John Sutherland Rhapsody of Steel
John Sutherland Rhapsody of Steel
John Sutherland Rhapsody of Steel
John Sutherland Rhapsody of Steel
John Sutherland Rhapsody of Steel
John Sutherland Rhapsody of Steel
John Sutherland Rhapsody of Steel
John Sutherland Rhapsody of Steel
John Sutherland Rhapsody of Steel

Courtesy of Animation Resources supporter, Kevin Kidney, here
is a video of the film for you to view…

Rhapsody of Steel (Sutherland/1959)
(Quicktime 7 / 22 minutes / 50.5 megs)

Here’s a great post by Michael Sporn on Eyvind Earle.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Animated CartoonsAnimated Cartoons

This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Animation.

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Instruction: Composition- How To Make Pictures

John Kricfalusi recently posted a series of great articles on composition and layout on his blog…

Composition For Layout And Background Artists: Framing
Composition 2: Intersection
Composition 3: Clear Staging
Composition 4: Staging Groups of Characters
Composition 5: Negative vs Positive Space
Composition 6: Asymetricality
Composition 7: Poses Working Together
Composition 8: Form vs. Detail, Lettering, Reference
Composition 9: Study Other Artists
Composition 10: Contrasts
Composition 11: Organic Shapes
Composition 12: Contrasts in Texture and Spacing
Composition 13: Scale
Composition 14: Form Over Detail
Composition 15: Form in Clouds
Composition 16: Flair
Composition 17: Reference and Inspiration
Composition 18: Scene Planning For TV Part One
Compostion 19: Scene Planning For TV Part Two
Compostion 20: More Inspiring BG Layouts

Famous Artists BooksFamous Artists BooksSeeing the fantastic examples by Mary Blair, Milt Gross and Jack Kirby reminded me how UN-designed many animated films and print cartoons are today. Mark Kennedy has a great post on Rhythmic Composition that you’ll want to check out too.

When I went to design school, I don’t remember any real serious analysis of compositional techniques beyond the most basic principles. Compositions were critiqued with “gut reactions”, which might be helpful in identifying a design that isn’t working, but it doesn’t help an artist trying to figure out how to improve and strengthen his work.

I dug through my reference shelves and pulled another invaluable lesson from the Famous Artists Course. This is lesson three from the Illustration Course this time. In methodical fashion, the famed illustrators Albert Dorne, Norman Rockwell, Al Parker, Peter Helck, Austin Briggs, Ben Stahl and Fred Ludekens team up to break down the nuts and bolts of what makes a picture work.

COMPOSITION: How To Make Pictures

Composition
Composition
Composition
Composition
Composition

THE FOUR MAIN ELEMENTS OF COMPOSITION

Composition
Composition

1.) PICTURE AREA

Composition
Composition
Composition
Composition
Composition
Composition

2.) DEPTH

Composition
Composition
Composition
Composition

3.) LINE

Composition
Composition
Composition
Composition

4.) VALUE

Composition
Composition
Composition

Famous Artists BooksFamous Artists BooksThe Famous Artists Course was created in the mid-1950s by Norman Rockwell, Rube Goldberg and Albert Dorne, among others. The correspondence lessons and educational materials are still available at www.famous-artists-school.com. Books from the three courses: Painting, Illustration/Design and Cartooning turn up on eBay as well. I highly recommend these great resources to students.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

INSTRUCTIONINSTRUCTION

This posting is part of an online series of articles dealing with Instruction.

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Exhibit: Grim Natwick On Animation Design

Les Clark Hands

Mickey Mouse Hand Model Sheet by Les Clark ca. 1932

Grim Natwick was a remarkable artist. His career as an animator spanned the entire history of animation, from silent Mutt & Jeff cartoons all the way through Richard Williams’ The Thief and the Cobbler. I don’t know of anyone more qualified to answer the age-old question…

Who invented the three fingered hand?

Grim studied art in Vienna under Gustav Klimt soon after the end of World War I. Included with this article are scans of Grim’s anatomy studies from a little after his studies there. Some of you may see a similarity with Bridgeman’s wonderful books on constructive anatomy. Grim was in New York when Bridgeman was teaching there, so it’s entirely possible that these drawings were done studying under Bridgeman himself.

Natwick Anatomy Studies

DESIGN FOR ANIMATION
By Grim Natwick

Who invented the three-fingered hand? Someone way back in the dark ages of animation got tired of drawing hands with four fingers and simply left one off, and cartoon hands have been much easier to animate ever since. It was a stroke of genius. The four fingered hand disappeared from animation until "Snow White" (1937). Somehow a pretty girl didn’t look right with only three fingers. But the Seven Dwarfs still had three fingered hands.

Natwick Anatomy Studies

Characters and drawing styles changed as animation became a popular form of entertainment. Straight lines were changed to curved lines- square shapes became round shapes. Curved figures moved better on the screen and eliminated what we used to call "strobe".

Natwick Anatomy Studies

Mickey Mouse was a good example of a character designed to eliminate the early problems of animation. His head was a ball with a rounded lump for a nose, a few circles for eyes, and two frisbees for ears. His body was shaped like a pear or gourd. Four pieces of garden hose were used for arms and legs. His hands were just two bunches of peeled bananas. Four old-fashioned donuts served as cuffs and anklets. He had a hair snake for a tail, and his shoes were two boxing gloves with the thumbs cut off. He animated perfectly. Mickey has changed through the years, but the formula is still the same.

Natwick Anatomy Studies

By 1930, special artists were assigned the job of designing characters for animation. Cartoon stories had become more sophisticated and so had the viewing audience. The characters became individuals- stars- a part of Hollywood. A whole galaxy of heros and heroines have become famous in distant corners of the globe. At a recent animation festival in Zagreb, Yugoslavia, several Chinese animators appeared wearing Betty Boop buttons. Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker and the Flintstones are as well known in Paris, London and even Gnosjo, Sweden, as they are in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. They have become world classics, and good design and good drawing have made them so.

Natwick Anatomy Studies

The great animators were almost always good draughtsmen. Milt Kahl, Marc Davis, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, John Lounsbery, Ward Kimball- These men drew exceptionally well. Among the animators who preceded them, those who could stay in the saddle when the wind was blowing were talents like Dick Huemer, Bill Tytla and the enigmatic Art Babbitt. Babbitt always said that he hated to draw, yet he animated the "most beautiful of all Queens" in Disney’s "Snow White". He drew the complicated Mushroom Dance in Fantasia, an animation masterpiece that required the mind of a ballet dancer and the patience of a Saint, which Babbitt is not. One could name a host of beautifully drawn characters that Art Babbitt "hated to draw".

Natwick Anatomy Studies

How vital a part does drawing play in animation? Is it more important than a dramatic sense, a delicate feeling for humor, spacing and timing?

While an animator may borrow craftsmanship from an actor, he is faced every day with playing a new role, acting out a new scene, breathing life into a new character. His tools are ordinary sheets of paper, and an ordinary lead pencil. If his drawings lack magic, a scene will be a failure.

Natwick Anatomy Studies

Can one compare animation with the more dignified art of easel painting? Is a Ward Kimball any less talented than Seurat? Or is Bill Tytla less gifted than Raol Dufy? If we transpose the question to a more familiar area of the culinary arts- the Art of Cookery- one could say that one chef prepares a meal of barbecued spare ribs with Spanish sauce and chilled beer; while the other serves wild pheasant under glass with Rhone River wine and truffles. Either meal could taste best at a chosen time and a chosen place.

Natwick Anatomy Studies

If Claude Monet had tried to draw a Mickey Mouse, the result would probably have been a real gnocchi- a dodo! On the other hand, if you had asked a Les Clark or a Freddie Moore to paint purple haystacks or pointillistic water-lillies, the result might have been equally disappointing. They are two different art forms.

Natwick Anatomy Studies

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

TheoryTheory

This posting is part of an online exhibit entitled Grim Natwick’s Scrapbook.
Animated CartoonsAnimated Cartoons

This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Animation.