I’ve been thinking more about the different ways artists working for animation studios put their ideas forward and went looking for some concept art for my favourite Disney film, Treasure Planet, a steampunk space opera adaptation of the classic Treasure Island. I found the work of Michael Spooner on blogspot, who also worked on other successful Disney films such as The Emperor’s New Groove and Lilo and Stitch. I always wondered how Treasure Planet never did as well commercially as other films that came out around the same time, since the art, animation, story and musical score are beautiful. Looking at the concept art I was impressed by how the artist went from such a sketchy way of drawing Montressor, the mining planet which the central character Jim Hawkins lives on –
– to the detailed closer view –
It’s incredible to see how much of the of atmosphere can be captured with so little colour, and it’s very inspiring to look at. This website also included interesting concept art of the characters, including minor villains.
I am also an avid reader of ImagineFX, a magazine that focuses on the digital arts, and when they released a summer issue on animation I bought it without too much interest in the idea. However, upon looking more closely into the art of animation in class, I’ve felt very inspired to look at it again and found that in the sketchbook feature for this issue the concept art from How to Train Your Dragon 2 was featured in there. While I don’t currently have access to a scanner I do feel the desire to scan in the images at a later date because it’s stunning how sketchy and loose the drawings are but they can still add so much character to a simple design, and it really makes me inspired to carry on drawing digitally.
Today we were introduced to the animation side of our course, and we looked at different concept artists and character designers for well acclaimed films such as Alice in Wonderland and How to Train Your Dragon. I wasn’t unfamiliar to concept sketches but I was surprised that many of the character designs and concept art were done in different media – for example, Teddy Newton created collages to project his ideas of the character designs for The Incredibles and Mary Blair created concept art for Alice in Wonderland using beautiful paintings. We then watched a Looney Toons short (“What’s Opera, Doc?”) and were told to solely focus on the backgrounds. What I gathered from watching it was that for the first time I really noticed that the background artists for older cartoons were still very knowledgeable of colour theory and the abstract way of presenting ordinary objects such as clouds created a very child-like mood. The illustrations for the hills and mountains were very detailed and we later learned that it was this short in particular that revolutionized the level of detail used in the backgrounds for animated episodes, which inspired the winding roads in The Roadrunner cartoon among many others.
We began to sketch characters from scribbles and it helped show us how the positioning of characters in cartoons and animation look much better when exaggerated. Next we took turns drawing caricatures of ourselves and people around us, first in five minutes and then in ten seconds. It taught us how to draw a person respectfully – by exaggerating their most prominent personality traits as opposed to whether their nose is particularly big or not.
We then looked at the idea of shapes forming notable cartoon characters – the circle, square and triangle – and what attributes these shapes added to the character’s personality. It was interesting to see how friendly characters tended to be circular, square-based characters tended to be strong and reliable, and how characters with sharp triangular shapes tended to represent danger and evil. We then designed three characters based on each shape type and also looked at famous animated characters following the guidelines of the shapes, including Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc. and Jafar from Aladdin.
Finally we returned to the idea of caricatures and how they have represented people and characters disrespectfully in the past – an old Bugs Bunny cartoon from the 1940s portrayed a black character in an extremely racist and unjust manner, making fun of his posture, his facial expression, his physical appearance, his way of speaking and his intelligence. We learned that Looney Toons had been racist in a similar manner towards Japanese people in some early cartoons, such as “Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips”, following their alliance with Nazi Germany during World War II.
Many aspects of animation are extremely interesting to me as I did my EPQ in year 11 on controversy and offensive stereotypes in animated features, so I enjoyed the introduction to animation and am looking forward to continue to learn about it.
My name is Hannah Nutting and I am a year 12 student at BOA. I enjoy both areas of broadcast but I want to explore them more before deciding which path I would prefer to take. However, currently I am more invested in the radio side of the course. I would like to work on scripts, for either television or radio, as I have practiced before when I took GCSE Film Studies and enjoyed the format it was written in. I would personally enjoy working in the area of radio dramas since the idea of being able to create a similarly enthralling experience without the need of a visual guide is extremely impressive to me. In particular famous web podcasts such as “Welcome to Night Vale” have inspired me and I think that our generation could really enjoy radio dramas and podcasts in our day to day lives since thanks to phones and iPods we can listen to audio virtually anywhere. I feel that since radio dramas have started coming back into fashion it is a great turning point for a person such as myself, who enjoys the scripting and audio production aspects of broadcast, to pursue.
At secondary school I studied BTEC Level 2 Media Studies and during the course our class did a project on radio production, wherein we planned our own radio broadcast that lasted for approximately 25 minutes. I produced and then presented the broadcast with a classmate and our teacher was impressed by our efforts. For my year 10 work experience I worked in Wolverhampton City Radio Station and our group of ten created pre-made news bulletins every day for the 1:00pm and 5:00pm broadcasts. We found the news articles ourselves, scripted, presented and then edited the audio with minimal help from staff. Our superiors were also appreciative of our efforts.
This stemmed my passion for broadcast and I hope that by completing this course I will fully understand the way the industry works and where I plan on taking my experience.