Animation Ramble - The Power Of BLOBS

Improve your drawing for animation by unleashing the power of blobs.


Kristi said...

Absolutely. When you are first planning an action, don't draw anything that you can't make yourself chuck out again if it turns out that it doesn't serve the animation. Best way to make sure that you don't fall in love with a particular pose that doesn't fit, is to spend mere seconds per drawing, as Ian says.
My only addition here would be to plug the stick man, or at least to add some of a stick man skeleton to your blobs. Shoulder/hip/head angles are important to represent, (with no more than a line or two,) because when you go back to your first drawing you might not quite remember what you were thinking of when you slapped it down on the page.

Lisa said...

fully agree. most of my better animations stem from treating each frame loosely and with very little serious detail outside of line of action, blob head, and loose arms and legs.

frank said...

Thank Blob for goodness. The 'granny two step' I'm animating is so ghost blobbed and smeared from tweeking. But the granny is finally being revealed with all her intent and determination.

Blobs are goo-d!

frank said...

I need a bit more clarification, if possible, please?

Ian: When I draw like this I am hardly aware of the character design at all, I'm concentrating on movement, arcs, weight, energy and emotion.

Wouldn't the character's design, in someways, dictate the way it moves?

I guess you're saying you are aware of the character design basic shapes in this shorthand phase?

If my shorthand blob looks like a standard biped human (e.g. Jason Ryan's stickman) then its shape is not as limiting for movements as a granny in the bulky fur coat and arthritic hips.

Is it better to nut out the animation with a blob figure that one is used to as the very first step and then add the character design limitations?

Or; is better to break the character design down into basic shapes/ proportions of that design, but as a version of one's own shorthand blob, and then start nutting out the animation?

frank said...

Hey, thanks Lisa and Kristi for your inputs as well!

After some intense remedial classes with Ian on how to draw a blob, I pretty much draw a head with a cross on it, two blobby hands, two blobby feet and a blobby body. It's such a great achievement, I had to tell you about it.

Ian said...

I definitely have my own shorthand style, I would roughly match the proportions of the character so as to make my life easier later on, but that's not the main guiding force behind what movement I create. For that I'm doing my best to get under the characters skin, be the character in my mind.

Its because I'm picturing myself as a super hero leaping through the air or a frail old man trying to bend over to pick up the morning newspaper that I am able to create that style of movement. I'd much rather create a convincing and engaging piece of movement or acting that is way of model, where the volumes are all over the place and its hard to make out detail and then have to spend ages getting it to match the character design than something matching the model clearly and perfectly while lacking emotion. And its a rare animator who can do both, so rare that its foolish for a student to move forward expecting they will be one of them.

The point of the blobs or any shorthand version of the character is to empower you to stop thinking about drawing, or design as much as possible, totally if you can. On your first run at the scene it should be about finding THAT moment, being THAT character, honing in on THAT gesture, capturing THAT emotion, embodying THAT inner conflict. When I'm in that “zone” the world around me becomes a blur and I loose track of time. I'm struggling to articulate exactly what I think about when I'm there, I think the best I manage is energy and emotion or direction and attitude. However you say it, the thing is it fills your head, there isn't room to be worried about anything else.

When I was working at Oska we used to sit around in brainstorming sessions trying to dream up the most elaborate and insane things for our characters to do, I don't ever remember thinking, “oooh maybe that will be too hard.” Some scenes would take a long time and others would come easy, but I'd always just keep plugging away in this frame of mind until it was happening. What was important was that I focussed on this simple thing (ha! Simple), what was the character thinking and where was it energy going. Lisa will a test that I'd clamp my headphones on (a silent office would have been better, but few Australian animators have that luxury) an be “away” for half or a whole day at a time. I would emerge after a spell and say hello to Lisa as if I hadn't seen her all day, even though I was sitting right there next to her the whole time.

This is all making me very nostalgic, its a wonderful, thrilling and exhausting thing to go through. Its probably the main difference between working in the industry and teaching, the pay off's there are different, you get little bursts of exhilaration when you see the penny drop for a student.

Think I'll have to do some animation this weekend :)

frank said...

thanks Ian

The penny is teetering, tottering on the edge. (or is tthat Totoro-ing?)

That explanation will speed things up for me in my major project.

Lisa said...

yes, I agree...You get in that 'zone' and that's are away for hours. Ian used to do it, and I 've done it as well - where you lose yourself IN the motion. You aren't caring that the character 's nose is the wrong shape, or that the pants dont' have a's pure motion and you don't even realise when you enter the 'zone' . Thanks to blobs, entering the 'zone' can happen so much easier.

In the zone, you aren't afraid to chuck a drawing out instantly and do it again, you aren't getting distracted constantly by someone, you aren't caring about details in the drawing - blobs take care of all of that. sheer gesture, and form is all that's needed to sell it. As Ian has said..if it's an old lady , then imagine yourself as an old lady.

I remember hearing a talk by Glen Keane to a group of Cal-ARts students..where he did the keys for an old man getting out of a chair. When he animated the old man - it didn't necessarily look like an old man straight away - but Glen Keane imagined the pain of arthritis in the bones, the sheer difficulty of age trying to get out of that chair,...and it flowed into his drawings.

Lisa said...

btw...I didn't get a chance to fully say hello to everyone but it was lovely to meet a group of you at the last Dead Animators . Can't wait for the next one - hope you can all make it then.

I really wanted to get to talk properly and give some advice, but the Karaoke belting out from the other side of the room made my voice neutralise..and nothing would come out.

Ian said...

Hey Lisa, it was indeed a great night, the best Dead Animators I've been to, and it was great to catch up with you.

Andy deserves a big pat on the back for organising the whole thing :)

Frank - In this case I don't think the penny can really drop until you do it. Or at least thats how it was for me, I remember hearing animators talk about it, and agreeing with the theory, but when you go there it is like another world. An animators special little hide away :)

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