Archive for the ‘instruction’ Category

Wednesday, June 24th, 2020

Instruction: Chad’s Design For Television

Design For TV

Draw Me!Draw Me!Remember those matchbooks that said “Draw Me!” on the front? They advertised a correspondence course called “Famous Artists”. Everyone made fun of “draw Binky the Skunk any size but the same size”; but the truth of the matter was that the Famous Artists Course was no laughing matter- it was one of the best art instructional courses ever created.

Founded by Albert Dorne and Norman Rockwell in the early 1950s, Famous Artists had three courses… Painting, Illustration/Design and Cartooning. Each course consisted of 24 lessons in three oversized binders covering a wide variety of subjects. Each month, a new lesson would arrive in the mail. The student would read the program material, complete the assignment, and mail it back to the school, where a professional artist would critique it and offer suggestions.

FA BindersFA BindersTo design the courses, Dorne brought together the top artists of the day… Stevan Dohanos, Rube Goldberg, Milton Caniff, Al Capp, Willard Mullen, Virgil Partch, and Whitney Darrow Jr, among others. The result was a correspondence course that puts many current university programs to shame.

There were two editions of the Famous Artists Courses. The first was published in the early fifties, and the second was published almost 10 years later. There were differences between the two, especially in the Design/Illustration course. A concluding chapter written by the cartoonist known simply as “Chad” was added in the second edition. It deals with design for television.

Hoppy the Marvel BunnyHoppy the Marvel BunnyChad (last name Grothkopf) was eminently qualified to write this chapter. After leaving the Disney Studios in 1938, he was hired by NBC to create the very first commercials for television. At this time, there were approximately fifty television sets in the entire country! Chad also worked in comic books, most notably in Fawcett’s Funny Animals series, for which he created the character “Hoppy the Marvel Bunny”, a rabbit superhero. He passed away in January of 2005 at the age of 89.

Animation Resources is fortunate to have a complete set of the Famous Artists courses, and we began digitizing them for inclusion in the database today. The first article we scanned was Chad’s introduction to the TV design chapter, and his discussion of the storyboard. These scans are quite large, but the size was necessary to clearly reproduce the text and details in this fascinating article. I hope you find them useful.

Design For TV
Design For TV
Design For TV
Design For TV
Design For TV
Design For TV
Design For TV
Design For TV
Design For TV
Design For TV

"In this ever-growing field of television, the visual language is supreme, and the artist is the king. So far, there are no famous artists in this young medium. Maybe you will be one of them." –Chad (1960)

The Famous Artists school is still in operation. Visit their website at www.famous-artists-school.com.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

INSTRUCTIONINSTRUCTION

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

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Wednesday, June 10th, 2020

Instruction: Wash Painting- In Praise Of Happy Accidents

Wash Painting

Animation Resources supporter, Mike Fontanelli brought by a stack of mid-1930s Colliers magazines for us to digitize. Colliers was the "Rolls Royce" of weekly magazines for many years, employing some of the greatest illustrators in the business. In browsing through page after page of beautiful wash paintings, I was struck by how rare it is to see illustrations like this any more. That’s just plain wrong.

Wash Painting

In our digital age, programs like Photoshop have replaced brush and pen. But Photoshop doesn’t come close to the flexibility and variety of natural textures that water painting can provide. And in the hands of an experienced artist, a brush can knock out a finished painting much faster than with a computer. It just takes advance planning, concentration and an experienced hand.

Wash Painting

Look at the beautiful compositions in these examples. The artists were working from a carefully constructed drawing, and they worked out every detail before paint touched paper. The light source and the value scale are precisely controlled to make the image "mesh" in your eye. There’s no wasted effort or extraneous detail. The paintings themselves were executed very quickly.

Wash Painting

That’s the exact opposite of the way that a digital image is created. Instead of making all the creative decisions up front, the digital artist makes those decisions as he paints. In Photoshop, it’s typical to build up the illustration in layers, stacking up planes that can be shifted around as needed. The composition evolves, created in sections and joined with blurred seams to connect them. This evolutionary process may result in an image that is acceptably complex, but it doesn’t lend itself to creating a strong or unified statement.

Wash PaintingWash PaintingRecently, I saw a cityscape background from an animated feature that had been created by cutting and pasting pieces of images together. The light came from six different directions. The perspective changed from one part of the image to another. If you looked at any one small section, it looked OK, but the whole didn’t work together. The overall impression was cacophony. Worse yet, the image looked terrible if it was reduced in size or resolution. The scale of the overall composition and the degree of detail was uniform across the entire image. When you resized or reduced the resolution, it all turned to mush.

Contrast that with these beautiful wash paintings… The overall composition reads no matter how small you make it, and there’s a lot of variety between sharp details (in the faces and hands) and loose brushwork (in the fabric and backgrounds). This keeps your eye focused on the important part of the composition. But there’s an even bigger difference… Even when enlarged many times, these paintings still look good because of what watercolor painters refer to as the "happy accidents". Any digital anomaly or seam between layers in a Photoshop image will stand out like a sore thumb, but a loose brush stroke, a bit of paper peeking through the dry brush, or a bleeding bit of pigment can look beautiful. The accidents are natural looking.

Wash Painting
Wash Painting
Wash Painting
Wash Painting

All of the images you see here come from two issues of Colliers from 1934. Every week, the staff artists had to quickly produce striking images to accompany the articles. Speed was of the essence. Wash painting was a quick and beautiful solution.

Wash Painting

One week, an artist might be illustrating a romance…

Wash Painting

The next week a Western adventure…

Wash Painting

The technique lent itself to both realistic depiction and cartoony stylization.

Wash Painting

If you haven’t checked them out yet, make sure to take a look at our previous posts on 30s & 40s Colliers illustrations and Wartime Colliers. There’s a wealth of great images in old magazines like this.

Wash Painting

Many thanks to Mike Fontanelli for sharing these with us. He has a stack of Colliers with Earl Oliver Hurst covers that he will be bringing by soon. I can’t wait to see those.

Wash Painting
Wash Painting

If these amazing images have inspired you, and you’d like a project to sharpen your art skills, here’s a lesson from the fabulous Famous Artists Course. Pull out your brushes and some lamp black and give it a try. Have fun!

FAMOUS ARTISTS ON WASH PAINTING PART ONE: The Fundamentals Of Wash Painting

Wash Painting
Wash Painting
Wash Painting
Wash Painting
Wash Painting
Wash Painting

FAMOUS ARTISTS ON WASH PAINTING PART TWO: Step By Step Through Paintings By Dohanos and Whitcomb

Wash Painting
Wash Painting
Wash Painting
Wash Painting
Wash Painting
Wash Painting
Wash Painting
Wash Painting

Let me see what you come up with.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

INSTRUCTIONINSTRUCTION

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

IllustrationIllustration

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit spotlighting Illustration.

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Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020

Instruction: Composition- How To Make Pictures

Mary BlairMary BlairSeeing the fantastic examples by Mary Blair, Milt Gross and Jack Kirby on the internet reminds 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.

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