Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Rise of Fall 2011: Animal Drawing

Man, I really am bad at keeping a regularly updated blog, aren't I? I've got nobody to blame but myself regarding these long stretches of inactivity, but at least I was doing some really productive things at school in the meantime!

My most recent semester at LCAD was an unusually breezy one; I rarely found myself on the breaking point of an anxiety attack unlike with some previous semesters, and the projects that were assigned across my various classes were all fairly easy to handle for the most part.

I have to say, though, I never suspected that my Animal Drawing class would have had as much of an impact on me as it ended up having. Little of the artistic growth I experienced as a result of my professor's teachings in there had to do with studying animal anatomy or figuring out how the muscles are arranged in a big cat's hind legs, though it still did play an important role in my learning how to draw non-anthropomorphic animals with confidence. What really contributed to this growth were my professor's lectures and demonstrations on classic draftsmanship. Having a sense of solidity in one's drawings lends even the most unbelievable subjects a sense of believability, therefore making having strong draftsmanship skills one of the highest priorities for traditional animators.

The final project for the class was pretty free-form. We were allowed to do whatever we wanted as long as it related to one or more of the major concepts that were taught in the class. Being the incorrigible dork that I am, I chose to redesign a trio of my Updown Town characters to look more like their respective species while taking some artistic inspiration from Team Fortress 2, Blacksad, and the work of Milt Kahl.

Frankie was the first up to plate (he is my avatar on the intertubes, after all), and I think he ended up with the most successful redesign of the bunch. He definitely looks much more stoaty than he used to, and a lot of his little accessories have helped sell more people on the whole "demolitions weasel" angle he's got.

He may not have changed too much from his original design, but I still think that the villainous Dr. Stunkov looks more like, well, a skunk now than he did before. Unlike with Frankie, Stunkov's real-life animal counterpart doesn't really have much in the way of physical features to exaggerate beyond the large, bushy tail, pink nose, and fur pattern. In the end, I decided to play up all three of those some more and make him a bit stouter for good measure.

The final candidate set for a redesign was Suko, a character who a lot of friends and family had mistaken for a fox for some reason or another. Raccoons have a very distinctive football shape to their heads, and I've found that giving him one has helped many more people correctly identify his species. Suko's role as the Updown Patrol's resident gadgetry expert and tech guru has also been made more clear through some of the changes in his costume accessories and that handy copter contraption.

These redesigns have done a whole lot to endear more people to my work and whatnot, but as far as I'm concerned, there are two versions of each character in my mind now: these new, redesigned versions, and the more human-proportioned versions that you've come to know me for.

I've still got plenty of room for improvement, but I can say with certainty that my spending those hours drawing nothing but cubes and cylinders has had plenty of positive results on my artistic output.

Be sure to stay tuned for some more posts regarding my thoughts on the semester! They'll be accompanied by more work than you can shake a stick at.

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