Saturday, June 03, 2006

There's More to Appeal

So I posted last night about appeal...and I felt unsatisfied that I didn't really articulate exactly everything that I wanted to. Appeal is such a nebulous subject and hard to express that I wanted to add some more. It's a very personal matter of taste as well. So scroll down and read that first post first! Then this one. No cheating!

Of course it’s an over-simplification to say that simplicity is the only thing that makes for an appealing drawing (see previous post below). I’m just saying that it’s
good insurance: if you feel like your drawing isn’t quite appealing enough, try simplifying and see if that helps. As far as drawing for storyboarding (my main focus here) it's a good rule of thumb to leave out what you don't need to aid in communication - the whole point of any storyboard drawing.

As I’ve said before I think proportion and rhythm are two other keys to appeal.

Proportion is a very subtle and important element in drawing. I can’t think of a better example than Mickey Mouse. Mickey is an extremely simple design but very challenging to make him look consistently appealing. It’s because his proportions are tricky. The relationship of how close his eyes are to his nose and how high his forehead is (and every other relationship on his figure) are very hard to keep just right. Floyd Gottfredson drew super appealing Mickeys. His proportions were always superb. He managed to even draw Horace Horsecollar and Clara Cowbell (or whatever their names are) with appeal and they are really dicey characters! Their designs are pretty weird. But he gave them proportions that I find very appealing.

Very few people can draw Mickey as well as Floyd. Just search around on the internet and I'm sure you'll see the difference after looking at a few other Mickeys!

Proportions are so subtle that a little difference can have a big effect. We’ve all traced over a drawing we like and then when we look at our tracing, it’s just not as good as the original. Making small mistakes in the proportions (as well as making the elements not relate to each other as well) is usually what makes our drawing appear not as good.

Floyd gave them a great rhythm too. This keeps them appealing as well. Check out all the great rhythms on this page (click to enlage)!

I think that’s what I don’t really like about Jack Davis (see previous post below). His sense of proportion, frankly, doesn’t appeal to me. I don’t really like his sense of rhythm too. Just my taste, I guess. It’s like me saying I prefer the Beatles to Eric Clapton or something. We all tend to like what we like.

Another thing I find really makes for appealing drawings (and great design) is to use a good variety of small, medium and large shapes. Large shapes give the eye a chance to rest. Small shapes draw the eye so put them where you want the viewer to focus his attention (usually the face and/or hands). Using a good variety of the three kinds of shape give good variety and appeal to a drawing.

Here's a design by Milt Kahl with a great variety of S, M and L shapes (click to see bigger). Great rhythm too.

And sometimes Jack Davis seems to get involved with drawing lots and lots of small shapes. I just don’t find that too appealing. That’s just me though!


professeurcheveux said...

wow! where do you find that milt kahl sketch?
do you have some more?

Derk Venneman said...

Thanks so much for what you're doing Mark. Always a joy to read your blog!

mark kennedy said...

hey prof - I got a big stack of Milt K xeroxes from Mike Gabriel who got them from Milt himself. I will post more someday.

Derk - glad you like it. Thanks for letting me know you like it! It makes it worthwhile.

edhead said...

Mmm- more Mivlt stuff - yes please Mark! ASAP! Cheers!

Marcos Gp said...

Hello from Spain

keep on the good work , your efford for spreading and sharing all the animation wisdom is appreciated.

By the way...reading your Ice age 2 review , i feel a few less alone in the universe...

Best wishes

OV! said...

personally i feel "APPEAL" is in the eye of the beholder.
i also believe that design should always serve the story. its true that some drawings draw the eye and are more "appealing" than others from a stand alone POV. for example id much rather look at a design from "Snow White" than one from "beavis & butthead". just from a design stand point, but i dont think Beavis & butthead would have been what it is if it were designed by freddy moore. so again, its all about serving the story.

all the design "rules" and "principles" we know of that tell us what makes an appealing design go right out the window once story, content and mood are introduced. batman would suck if drawn by Floyd, just as Mickey would suck if drawn by Kevin Nowlan.

in general i agree simplicity adds appeal to designs but not always. it always back to serving the story.


Rocco said...

Thanks for another thought provoking thread, Mark.

Regarding proportion and rhythm, etc.; I believe it's true that the ingredients you list do help to make a drawing more appealing, but I think you also need a bit of hoodoo magic to complete the recipe.

The differences between an appealing drawing and an unappealing one can be so subtle, yet definitely obvious when you see them. It's interesting to see that two drawings can follow the same model, and both be on model, same proportions, etc. and yet one will be appealing and the other not, like you were saying about Mickey being drawn by different artists.

Even more odd is when you see or do a rough that looks great, and then you clean it up and it loses its appeal. I think part of the reason for this has to do with the flowing line quality of a rough.

Often, the most appealing drawings I see are rough storyboards that are banged out at the speed of thought, almost like handwriting. They tend to follow the simplicity rule, getting right to the point of the shot, and the line of action, and rhythym of the lines are spontaneous and flowing.

There is an example of what I consider to be some of the most appealing animation drawings ever done on Jenny's Blackwing Diaries Blog. She's posted some of Fred Moore's sketches from "All the Cats Join In" and everything about those drawings is appealing, and they follow all the rules you've outlined. They also have that spontaneaous feel that I like.

Thanks again for keeping up this fount of inspiration, (and sorry for being so long-winded again!).

donnachada said...

Hey Mark, really love visiting your blog. Enjoying all the insightful commentary and all the images and notes. Really appreciate what you're putting together.