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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: educational, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 113
1. The Evolution of TV Cartoon Characters

To the average cartoon viewer, SpongeBob is SpongeBob and Bart Simpson is Bart Simpson, but cartoon connoisseurs recognize that characters evolve over the years, not just personality-wise but graphically.

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2. Learn How Satoshi Kon Edited Space and Time

In his four features and one TV series, the late anime director Satoshi Kon developed a unique style of cutting and editing, says Tony Zhou in a new video essay.

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3. Earn Big Money At Last! Learn Animation!

If you can draw a circle, we can teach you animated cartooning.

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4. Know Your Feature Animation Cliches: The Dead Mother

On a couple occasions throughout the years, people have asked me, Why do so many animated films have dead mothers in them?

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5. WILD and WONDERFUL


WILD and WONDERFUL Series
7 Rhyming Picture Books about Animals from
the US and Australia.
FUN as well as educational!

About ten years ago I had this series published in eBook format by Writers Exchange. This was an Australian publisher. CEO Sandy Cummins was wonderful to work with - helpful, supportive and open to suggestions. However, at that time eBooks were a novelty, and the eReaders of today were still a glint in their designers' eyes. The series received terrific reviews, but sales were dismal.  

Now, thanks to Sandy allowing me to offer the series to Guardian Angel Publishing, a publisher that specializes in child friendly and educational picture books, my Wild and Wonderful series is being published in soft cover, and will be available on Amazon and other sites:  Guardian Angel Publishing, + my websiteYEA!!!


 I am absolutely THRILLED that my Wild and Wonderful series is finally being published in soft cover.  It has been a long wait, but well worth the time and the effort.



                                                                 Already in soft cover and on sale are:




Now at the printers and available soon:

Never Say BOO to a Frilly: 

  Includes -   Never Say BOO - Rainbow Birds - Tasmanian Devil Dance


Coming Next:


Prairie Dog's Play Day:
  Includes - Prairie Dogs - Bald Eagle Rules - The Stinker (skunk)

                           
Last 3 Books -  Coming SOON: 

*Don's Eat Platypus Stew -3 individual stories
*Squirrels Can't Help Being Nuts - 3 individual stories
*Humdinger Hummers - 1 story


Link to illustrations and news about my DREAMTIME MAN picture book.



 ***************************


 Books fpr Kids - Skype Author Visits
Manuscript Critiques



***************************** 




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6. This Week on Cartoon Brew-ED

Cartoon Brew-ED is our new educational initiative that is edited by veteran animator and teacher Colin Giles. This new forum offers helpful animation tips, links to learning resources, and original educational content.

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7. Rainy Days

It's May already and I forgot about the blog, I gave up on a new portfolio site for now and on Tumblr. I have been working a lot though, so hopefully this is a good excuse!
This is an old drawing, maybe some of you will remember it. It started as a watercolour and traditional collage and was then forgotten on my old external hard drive. I found it and heavily reworked it in Photoshop. The original never really met my expectations, but now she's quite a character. Maybe, she has a story to tell. For now we're both enjoying the rain, hoping spring will last a little longer... Read the rest of this post

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8. Anne of Green Gables


After illustrating "Tartarin de Tarascon" for Eli Readers, this past November the publisher called me again. This time to work on "Anne of Green Gables." The cover was my favourite piece, but here is also a small selection of the interior pages.
I worked on the illustrations in a slightly different way. The lines you see on the characters are the actual pencil lines of my roughs. I wanted to use a stronger graphite rendering, but time was against me. Hopefully on the next book!





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9. Fred Moore and the Moving Silhouette

Among the most important things an animator must keep in mind when animating is making sure that drawings read clearly to the viewer. By using strong keys, solid staging, and clear silhouettes, the audience can understand the actions that a character performs onscreen.

Legendary Disney animator Fred Moore, known for his broad yet overwhelmingly appealing drawings, took that idea one step further in his animation. Not only did he have strong silhouettes in his keys, but he ensured that his animation had strong silhouettes throughout a scene. The clarity of his silhouettes remained even in the breakdowns and inbetweens.

In this scene from Pluto’s Judgement Day, Moore animates Mickey struggling to regain order after Pluto, covered in mud, chases a kitten into his house and wrecks havoc:

Despite how frantically Mickey is moving around in this shot, as well as being obscured by Pluto and the mud effects, his action is still clear because Moore kept the silhouettes intact from drawing to drawing for most of the scene. The negative space between Mickey’s limbs, head and ears as well as the kitten’s paws, ears and tail help bring out the poses. Further, he exaggerates his poses for readability, especially during anticipations. Moore also uses strong arcs, both in Mickey’s torso and his arms, to visually guide the viewer where the actions is going next.

I went over the whole scene and blacked out Mickey and the kitten to show their silhouettes more clearly:

Disney story artist Mark Kennedy talks about silhouettes in greater detail on his blog.

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10. One Smart Pig!

In Animal Helpers: Sanctuaries you meet Lisa the pig, a 700 pound loveable animal that just got too big to stay with her owners. Sanctuary One’s newest resident pig Jigsaw is just as loveable and very smart. Just watch how well mannered this pig is:

 

 

Sanctuary One provides the community with a place to connect with nature and meet animals that children or adults may not have the opportunity to meet otherwise. They are very passionate and we hope you enjoy the video, and meeting them in the book Animal Helpers: Sanctuaries.
The Animal Helpers series by Jennifer Keats Cutis is a great way to introduce children to the challenges and rewards that a career helping animals entails. Each book in the series features work of special organizations and caretakers like Sanctuary One. These organizations are able to use the book as a fundraiser; it is expensive, and requires a lot of work to care for a farm of formerly homeless animals.
We at Sylvan Dell are happy to feature the great work of not only Sanctuary One, but also the other Animal Helpers. If you, or your children are interested in caring for animals there are organizations all across the country that need support and volunteers!


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11. A Ducky Rescue

Today started out as a typical day in the office, but by mid-morning we were in rescue mode.

On Wednesday mamma mallard and ten baby ducklings were wandering around the grass outside the Sylvan Dell office building. With a small pond nearby and a downpour of rain the day before it is not uncommon to see waterfowl outside our windows on occasion.  Baby ducklings however, were too cute in a line behind their mother that we couldn’t help but watch as they waddled around.

When our editor and Buddy the office dog went outside this morning, she found  that mamma duck was no longer with her babies and there were only four still quacking, six were no longer living. Stuck in the landscaping, and unable to get out of the well around a tree, the staff decided to help.

Mamma duck was quacking away in the nearby pond and so we tried a ramp, but they were afraid and the ramp was steep. Next we worked together to herd the babies into a box so that we could deliver them to safety. After several tries and many strategies the three of us were able to get three of the babies into the box and one baby was actually able to make it out of the well and ran all the way to the pond to quickly jump in. Mom swam over to her ducklings as they all hopped into the water.

It was a successful reuniting, and we were very happy to bring the family back together. We must  thank Jennifer Keats Curtis for writing the books Baby Owl’s Rescue, and Animal Helpers: Wildlife Rehabilitators, she gave us the inspiration and knowledge to save these babies from harm.

 


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12. A Summer of Sharks!

When heading to the beach, the last thing I want to hear about is a shark close by, but it seems like sharks are taking over aquariums, the big screen, and bookshelves all across the country. Even in our office, we have all fallen in love with our newly released spring title Shark Baby by Ann Downer, illustrated by Shennen Bersani.SharkBaby_128

Shark Baby follows one little shark as he embarks on his ocean-wide journey to find out what kind of shark he is. This book includes other fun sea inhabitants such as various shark species, sea lions, an octopus, and a “mermaid?” Shark Baby will melt the heart of any reader regardless of their original feelings about sharks.

SB page 1SB page 13

An article from the Wall Street Journal recently reported the new trend in aquarium attractions, diving with sharks! Aquariums all across the globe are beginning their own diving programs including  Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Thailand, Singapore, and South Korea. There are even a few aquariums in the United States where shark diving is offered such as Cleveland and Denver. The Georgia Aquarium offers divers a chance to swim with the biggest fish species in the world, the whale shark. This up close and personal encounter with sharks does have a few perks. The environment is more controlled, thus sharks are well-fed and used to the presence of divers. Also, it cuts down on the logistics of traveling to distant dive sites and guarantees a face to face meeting with these creatures. Although this seems like an exciting adventure, I don’t think I will be including it on my bucket list any time soon. You can read the full article by following this link:

http://blogs.wsj.com/scene/2013/06/05/swimming-safely-with-sharks/

If diving with sharks is too much for you, select cities are showing theIMAX 3D film Great White Shark, released May 24. The film supports conservation efforts for the Great White Shark and hopes to tell the “true” story about this often misunderstood creature. This film was three years in the making and takes viewers all over the world to different Great White hot spots including: Los Angeles, New Zealand, South Africa, and Guadalupe Island. Filmmakers hope to show their audiences that the Great White Shark is becoming an  endangered species, and that they are not monsters, rather they are just trying to fulfill their position at the top of the Ocean’s food chain. You can check out the trailer for the film using the following link:

http://greatwhiteshark3d.com/trailer/

shark

After looking at the shark craze that is taking over the summer, I still hope I don’t come face to face with a shark anytime soon. Shark Baby‘s illustrations are the closest I want to be to a shark. For the more courageous individuals, I definitely recommend checking out your nearest aquariums for shark exhibits, Great White Shark showings, or dives! Other suggested titles on this topic from Sylvan Dell Publishing: The Most Dangerous and Ocean Hide and Seek.

*Author: Ann Downer and Illustrator: Shennen Bersani just finished two book presentations and signings this past weekend in Cambridge, MA at Porter Square Books and in Mystic, CT at the Mystic Aquarium. Bersani will have another signing June 29 from 11-1pm in Center Harbor, NH at Bayswater Book Company.


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13. Watch 9 Famous Animation Directors Talk About Their Careers

If you were unable to attend the SIGGRAPH Keynote panel on Monday, featuring nine distinguished animation directors, you’re in luck because the 92-minute discussion is posted below.

The panel, entitled “Giants’ First Steps,” focused on the early careers of the following artists: Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc., Up), Eric Goldberg (Pocahontas, Fantasia/2000), Kevin Lima (Tarzan), Mike Mitchell (Shrek Forever After, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked), Chris Sanders (Lilo & Stitch, How to Train Your Dragon), Henry Selick (Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline), David Silverman (The Simpsons Movie), Kirk Wise (Beauty and the Beast, Atlantis: The Lost Empire) and Ron Clements (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin).

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14. “John Carter” Animator Shares An Insightful Reel of Work

I still haven’t seen Andrew Stanton’s John Carter, but that didn’t lessen (and perhaps enhanced) my enjoyment of this nifty character animation reel put together by Emanuele Pavarotti, who worked on the film at Double Negative. Pavarotti has organized the reel nicely to give a sense of how his scenes progressed from video reference to blocking to final animation, and finally, FX/cloth/compositing passes. He even drops in comments throughout the reel to explain how certain shots evolved. Emanuele has recently been working at Blue Sky Studios on Epic and the forthcoming Rio 2.

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15. Book Review: “The Noble Approach: Maurice Noble and the Zen of Animation Design”

The Noble Approach: Maurice Noble and
The Zen of Animation Design

By Tod Polson, based on the notes of Maurice Noble
(Chronicle Books, 176 pages, $40, pre-order for $26.50 on Amazon)

By the modest standards of celebrity in the animation world, Maurice Noble is already a rockstar. Few Golden Age layout artists and background designers, with the exception of Eyvind Earle, Mary Blair, and possibly Jules Engel, command Noble’s name recognition. Maurice’s fame is primarily attributable to his long-term association with Warner Bros. director Chuck Jones.

Noble’s collaborations with Jones include such classics as Robin Hood Daffy, Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century, What’s Opera, Doc?, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, The Dot and the Line and the long-running Wile E. Coyote/Roadrunner series. Thanks to that beloved resume, Noble has been spared the ignoble anonymity of so many other classic animation artists.

With such standing in the animation world, and even an entire book-length biography already devoted to his life, one could reasonably expect that everything that could be said about Noble has already been said. Tod Polson’s The Noble Approach proves that that’s not the case. Polson has put together an irresistible package that fuses biography and art instruction, each of its page filled with invaluable insights and incredible artwork, much of it never-before-published.

Polson is one of the Noble Boys, the informal name given to a group of men (and women) whom Noble trained throughout the 1990s at studios like Chuck Jones Film Productions, Turner Feature Animation and his own company, Noble Tales. The Noble Boys have gone on to big things in the animation industry: Ricky Nierva was the production designer of Pixar’s Up and Monsters University; Don Hall directed Disney’s Winnie the Pooh and is writing and directing the upcoming Big Hero 6; Jorge Gutierrez co-created the Nick series El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera and is directing Reel FX’s 2014 feature Book of Life.

Some of the Noble Boys encouraged Maurice to write down his thoughts about design and layout for an eventual book. Polson has adeptly compiled and edited those notes for this book, and has combined them with the remembrances of the other Noble Boys about their interactions with Maurice and lessons learned from him, as well as archival interviews with Noble and original commentary from artists like Susan Goldberg and Michael Giaimo.

Polson devotes thirty-four pages of the book to providing a biography of Noble that follows his path which began professionally at Disney on films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Bambi. In spite of its brevity, this biographical section manages to be more revealing and historically well-rounded than the disappointing 2008 book Stepping into the Picture: Cartoon Designer Maurice Noble by Robert J. McKinnon. That well-intentioned book missed the mark—badly. It was understandable that McKinnon’s layperson understanding of the animation process prevented him from providing the kind of process detail that is in Polson’s new book, but his sins of omission made it a letdown as personal biography, too.

Basic and vital details about Noble’s personal and professional relationships that were omitted in that earlier biography are thankfully included in Polson’s book. For example, we learn hat Mary Blair and Maurice Noble were not only classmates at Chouinard Art Institute, but also a romantic couple. That’s a revealing historical tidbit considering that Noble’s giddy use of color is second in animation only to Mary Blair. Polson clearly expresses Noble’s unflattering thoughts about Sleeping Beauty production designer Eyvind Earle, with whom he worked during the production of the industrial film Rhapsody of Steel, whereas the earlier biography only vaguely acknowledged that Noble “may have had some difficulty working with Earle.” Polson also discusses Noble’s more-important-than-acknowledged role on Chuck Jones’ Oscar-winning short The Dot and the Line, an issue that was left untouched in the earlier book.

For all its historical value, the real meat of the Noble Approach follows the biography. In these subsequent sections, we learn Noble’s artistic process step-by-step from the start of a film to its completion. Chapters are devoted to starting a film, story, breaking down the elements, research, design, color, layout, and an oddly ineffectual and anticlimatic two-page chapter devoted to the finished film.

The material covered in these chapters will undoubtedly be familiar to anyone with an art background—values, contrast, simplifying elements, visual hierarchy, compositional grids—but the examples of Maurice’s own work gives us a fresh entry point into these topics. The section on color is particularly fantastic. Color is one of the hardest elements to get right in animated film, and Maurice knew how to walk the thin line between playful and tacky. Polson does a superb job of explaining how Maurice managed to do this by doing a deep analysis of his color palettes.

The section on color, for all its strengths, also represents one of the parts of the book that I wish the author had expanded his scope. Polson makes clear from the outset that this is “Maurice’s book,” but I can’t help but think our appreciation for Noble would have been enhanced further by offering some discussion of his contemporaries at Warner Bros., like layout artist Hawley Pratt and background painter Paul Julian. Contrasting the color theories of Julian, who was the studio’s true master of color in my opinion, would have been an enlightening sidetrip.

A lot of the best information the book isn’t technical, but rather practical advice and the wisdom of experience. This is true of Noble’s thoughts on selling an idea:

To be a successful designer, being able to sell a good idea is just as important as coming up with the idea itself. It’s hard to sell something simply because you think it feels right. You have to be able to logically discuss why it feels right.

—and his thoughts on why the production methods of yesteryear produced better cartoons:

There is more talent working in the industry now than ever before, but sadly the vast majority won’t have the opportunity to work on really good creative stories. The problem isn’t always the type of stories being told; it’s more in the way these stories are being told and developed. There is no room for visual exploration. There is no time for thought and craftsmanship. There isn’t the chance for crews to build trust and synergy.

The production design tips that he offers are applicable to artists today, even if the tools of the trade have changed:

I suggest putting all your research materials away once you start designing and never refer to them again. This may prove difficult at first. But I’ve found that if you are tied too closely to your reference, your designs will tend to look stiff. You will miss out on many fun design opportunities.

or…

Starting rough and not getting specific too early will allow you to keep your design ideas flexible…The more ideas and work you have, the more design possibilities you will have to choose from.

The Noble Approach: Maurice Noble and the Zen of Animation Design ranks among the most unique and delightful animation books in recent memory. It goes without saying that the book’s mix of technical tips and advice makes it a must-buy title for professional artists and students, but it should also appeal to fans of classic of animation who will surely gain a renewed appreciation for the Chuck Jones canon. The book will be released on October 1st. For those who are still in need of convincing, the book’s official blog gives a nice sense of the book’s content.

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16. Monarch Madness: Facts about an Incredible Insect

ButterflyHope_187Officially launched to yesterday, A Butterfly Called Hope by Mary Alice Monroe with butterfly expert Linda Love and photography by Barbara Bergwerf is sure to inspire young entomologists out there.

Kick off the school year with this fun book about a young girl and her experience with the amazing journey of a Monarch Butterfly! This book not only shows the entire metamorphosis of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, but it also provides interesting facts for readers to learn more about these flying beauties. This is the fourteenth book by New York Times best-selling author Mary Alice Monroe, and features incredible photographs by Barbara Bergwerf that document Hope’s entire journey in raising a butterfly.

Authors

Curious for more? Here are some fun and interesting facts about Monarch Butterflies:

-Did you know that Monarchs go through four generations each year?

-Did you know that Monarchs are the only insects that can migrate up to 2,500 miles?

-Did you know that Monarchs are actually poisonous as a defense against predators, but are harmless to humans?

-Did you know that male Monarchs have black spots on their wings, and the females don’t?

-Did you know that Monarchs migrate during the winter to warmer climates like Mexico and Southern California?

-Did you know that the first 3 generations of Monarchs only live up to 8 weeks, but the fourth generation can live up to almost a year?

-Did you know that climate change is a threat to Monarchs? Wetter climates during the winter can cause Monarchs to freeze to death because they can only survive in dry winter climates.

Do you want to learn more fun facts about butterflies visit the webpage and download the free For Creative Minds section and Teaching Activities where you can even learn how to raise your own monarch butterfly! http://www.sylvandellpublishing.com/bookpage.php?id=ButterflyHope

Send us your favorite butterfly fact and you will be entered to win a copy of A Butterfly Called Hope!


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17. A Lesson on Character Design by ‘SpongeBob’ Artist Robertryan Cory

Robert Ryan Cory, a veteran character designer on "SpongeBob SquarePants" and "Secret Mountain Fort Awesome," has posted a helpful set of notes from a character design lecture he presented recently to CalArts animation students.

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18. The Best Thing You’ll Ever Read About Pitching Animation Ideas

Mark Mayerson, a TV show creator, animator, and teacher, has written what may be the single best thing I've ever read about the contemporary animation pitching process.

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19. What Every Animation Student Should Know About Title Sequence Design

Art of the Title, an addicting resource with dozens of high-def clips, recently posted their Title Design Finalists for the SXSW 2013 Film Awards. Of the animated title sequences, The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez and ParaNorman are standouts: the first for its use of vintage woodblock typeface and spaghetti western aesthetic, and the latter for its 1950s horror-inspired design. Both sequences are richly nuanced, and imply an understanding of the history of typography and graphic poster design. This applied visual knowledge is the direct result of the collaboration between animators and designers.

Title sequence design has evolved since the days of Saul Bass, Maurice Binder and Pablo Ferro, some of the most recognized godfathers of the artform. More and more animators and graphic designers are building entire studio practices devoted to title sequence design. The first (or last) fifteen minutes of any film is increasingly crucial to the overall art direction, and often seen as an opportunity for experimentation.

I’ve spoken with several young animators who still treat title sequences as an after thought. Or, even worse, they just slap on the default fonts provided by Flash or After Effects. I’ve never understood this attitude. Think of it this way: you wouldn’t spend several months working on a cake recipe, bake it to perfection, just to cover it in store-bought icing. But for animation students just starting out, executing a thoughtful title sequence in addition to animating a film can be overwhelming. Fortunately, help is usually nearby in the graphic design department, where students will leap at the chance to assist in creating a title sequence.

One of the (many) ironies of higher education is that colleges attract hordes of bright, eager students, then isolate them into separate buildings, sometimes several city blocks or miles from each another. When I was a design student at the University of Texas, the animation students didn’t even realize my department existed—and vice versa. Unfortunately, animation and graphic design departments are rarely adjacent, and it’s up to students—not their teachers—to make these connections.

So if you’re an animation student, do yourself a favor: open up your university map, locate the graphic design school, then drop by and make introductions. Not every animated film, short or feature-length, needs a complex, typeset title sequence with bells and whistles. But building relationships with graphic designers, especially now that motion graphics is a required area of study in many design schools, could yield infinite possibilities with mutual benefits.

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20. The Milt Kahl Head Swaggle

Like a signature, each animator has their own little quirks or trademarks that distinguish their animation from others. Some draw character’s features in a unique way (eyes, hands, etc.), some lean heavily on certain principles or include abstract imagery or gimmicks into their scenes, and some fall back on specific poses or gestures. The “Milt Kahl Head Swaggle” is an example of the latter, and it both intrigues and aggravates me at the same time.

To clarify, the “Milt Kahl Head Swaggle” is when a character (animated by Disney legend Milt Kahl) sort of rattles his/her head from side to side, usually at times when they’re feeling cocky or self-assured. Sort of an “Am I great or what?” type of gesture.

Again, I can’t deny how remarkable an animator Milt Kahl was, but for a long time I considered him to be a really hammy animator in the worst possible sense, and this gesture cemented that idea in me for a good long while.

In a Frank Thomas or Ollie Johnston scene, I could see the wheels turn in the character’s heads and felt that the characters were sincere, emotionally-driven personalities. I never felt that in the majority of Kahl’s characters. A lot of his characters are like actors on a stage, projecting themselves a bit too far in their performances.

But at the same time, he uses this gesture for a reason, and it works well in every scene he implements it. He only used it on broader, more caricatured characters like Tigger, Sir Ector or Brer Rabbit, characters with strong egos and a cocky sensibility, and the gesture defines the character’s personality in the most simple and direct way possible.

Much like finding an often-reused piece of animation or sound effect in a Disney film, my dislike for it came only from repeated viewings. Because we live in the age of DVDs, Netflix and Quicktime files,  we now can have a studio’s entire library literally at our fingertips, able to survey and dissect the content any way we choose, including surveying an animator’s entire forty-year output front to back and taking shots completely out of context like I have here.

Another thing I realized over time is that Kahl seemed to prefer being a broader animator. For years he was stuck with the most difficult and seemingly less interesting assignments, which the rest of the animators couldn’t pull off because they weren’t as good of a draftsman as him. For example, he clamored to work on characters like Captain Hook but was stuck doing Peter Pan and the Darling children, or with Alice instead of the more zany, off-the wall characters that populate the rest of Alice and Wonderland. He would end up designing a lot of these other characters, but never get to animate most of them.

Luckily for him, by the 1960s, Kahl’s creative shackles were loosened and he was back to doing broader animation, and like a free spirit, he went all out on each character, from The Sword in the Stone through The Rescuers. Each character he animated during that period overflowed with energy, all of which was probably pent up inside him for so many years. His days of princes and realistic little children were over, and for the rest of his career he was able to let loose, have fun and do the things he wanted to do.

Milt Kahl knew he was a good animator, and he wasn’t afraid to show it through brash flourishes of animation. The head swaggle, corny and over-the-top though it may be, not only defines those Disney characters, but also defines the self-assured Kahl himself.

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21. Deductive Detectives

Image

“Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth,” Sherlock Holmes has said about his method of detective work. In Sylvan Dell’s new picture book, Deductive Detective, our hero Detective Duck shows that he’s learned from the best! He dons his best deerstalker hat, his much-too-big magnifying glass, and solves the case of the missing cake with the same methods the pros use!

That is, a style of logical thinking called “deductive reasoning.” In deductive reasoning, someone finds an answer they’re looking for by first finding out what the answer isn’t. When Detective Duck examines the clues and finds out which of his friends couldn’t have stolen the cake, it leads him closer to what really happened!

Of course, you don’t need a weird hat and a magnifying glass to use deductive reasoning. These methods come in handy every day! If you lose a toy, for example (or car keys), you may make your search easier by determining where the item isn’t.

“Oh yeah,” you may say, “I didn’t bring it to my friend’s house; I wasn’t holding it when I walked to the living room, or landed on the moon. I wouldn’t have brought it to my parents’ room or under the ocean or into Mordor.” By deciding where you shouldn’t look, you now have a better idea of where you should.

This kind of logic process happens throughout the day, sometimes without you even being aware of it; you might say your brain is always on the case as much as any detective!

Apply deductive reasoning the next time you’re in the bookstore: subtract the books that don’t meet the highest educational standards, offer pages of activities and facts, offer online supplements, are fun to look at and fun to read! You’ll be left with books by Sylvan Dell like The Deductive Detective!


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22. Richard Williams Releases “Animator’s Survival Kit” iPad App

The Richard Williams Animator’s Survival Kit iPad app that we announced a couple months ago is out today. It’s available for $34.99 on the Apple Store, a bargain when you consider the DVD version of the Survival Kit costs nearly a grand. If you’re on the fence about splurging, you can also download a free sample version.

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23. Joe Pitt Shares the Artwork That Inspires Him

Industry artist Joe Pitt has started a new Tumblr called Straights Against Curves to share “a collection of animation related art, primarily character development, thoughts, and anecdotes that greatly inspire me in hopes to inspire others as well.”

Pitt is the lead character designer on the upcoming Disney series Wander Over Yonder and formerly a director on Gravity Falls. (He’s also a recent Cartoon Brew Artist of the Day pick.)

There’s only a handful of posts so far, but already some valuable insights, such as this observation about how Disney feature characters were developed in the late-1930s/early-1940s compared with today:

The great thing about the old Character Model Department at Disney is that with Joe Grant running it, the concentration was less on solving a final model, but approaching design from a place of story…It was in the model department under Joe’s supervision that they would work with story to help develop the character’s personalities. You don’t see this process much any more. Finding the characters’ traits and personalities are now mostly solved in the story room. This is not a bad thing, it’s just a lot more departmentalized now. I would love to see this structure brought back though, blurring the lines between design and story. It would breed a more collaborative atmosphere I feel.

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24. Why Is It So Difficult to Make Cute Characters?

Over on question-and-answer website Quora, someone posted a very simple question: Which is the cutest cartoon character ever created? The answers from Quora members cover a broad spectrum, some more obvious (Tweety, Pokemon, Pooh) and others less so (Gertie the Dinosaur, Night Fury from How to Train Your Dragon).

So what makes a cartoon character cute? You could reduce the answer down to a few basic characteristics: big eyes and head, fluffiness, warmth and chubbiness. “Cuteness is based on the basic proportions of a baby plus the expressions of shyness or coyness,” wrote Preston Blair in Advanced Animation. According to Blair, other cute traits include:

  • Head large in relation to the body.
  • Eyes spaced low on the head and usually wide and far apart.
  • Fat legs, short and tapering down into small feet for type.
  • Tummy bulges—looks well fed.

But cuteness is far more complex than even Blair’s set of rules; some consider E.T., Yoda and WALL·E to be the epitome of cute, despite their furless, odd appearances. Cuteness and a character’s perceived hugability aren’t always determined by aesthetic appeal. “Cuteness is distinct from beauty,” wrote Natalie Angier for The New York Times. “Beauty attracts admiration and demands a pedestal; cuteness attracts affection and demands a lap.”

In essence, any creature deemed cute is one that speaks to our nurturing instincts. The cuteness of an infant can motivate an adult to take care of it, even if the baby is not a blood relation. Even more, studies have found that humans transfer these same emotions to animals (or even inanimate objects) that bear our similar features. Finding Nemo combined all of these psychological elements perfectly—you can’t hug or cuddle a fish, yet adorable Nemo, with his fin damaged from birth and his human-like facial features, appeals to our caregiving instincts. In fact, every character in Pixar films, whether it’s a clownfish or a car, features forward-facing eyes, the most crucial feature for achieving an emotional connection with the audience.

But with any extreme comes another. If a character is too cute and sugary sweet, the audience can develop skepticism. “Cute cuts through all layers of meaning and says, ‘Let’s not worry about complexities, just love me,’” philosopher Denis Dutton told The New York Times. It is for that very reason cuteness stirs uneasiness and sometimes feels cheap.

After all, the adorable, smiling face of a child can hide the havoc he just wreaked by breaking all of his toys. “Cuteness thus coexists in a dynamic relationship with the perverse,” writes Daniel Harris in his book Cute, Quaint, Hungry And Romantic: The Aesthetics Of Consumerism. You could call this the Gremlin Effect—a character with an underlying creepiness. Troll dolls (which were recently acquired by DreamWorks Animation) and Cabbage Patch Kids are the inexplicable result of this paradox.

There’s no denying a cultural need to pigeonhole and perfect the attributes that could be popularly deemed cute. In his fantastic short essay on Mickey Mouse, biologist and historian Stephen Jay Gould asserts that Mickey’s changing appearance over time is a physical evolution that mirrors cultural attitudes toward cuteness. As the Benjamin Button of animated rodentia, Mickey’s eyes and head have grown larger, his arms and legs chubbier. Mickey has become more childlike and, most would say, more cute and less rat-like. Mickey isn’t the only character to undergo this transformation. The teddy bear, first sold in 1903, started out anatomically similar to a real bear, with a long snout and gangly arms. Today’s teddy bears more closely resemble the Care Bears, with pudgier features and colorful fur.

Audience don’t always need Mickey’s goofy grins and huge eyes to connect with a character’s cuteness. Pictoplasma, the artists’ network and conference that celebrates characters extracted from context, reveals how sometimes it’s our own invented narrative that blasts a character into hall-of-fame cuteness. As Pictoplasma co-founder Peter Thaler said explains, “It’s a horrible example, but Hello Kitty has no facial expression. You don’t know if she’s happy or sad; you just see these two dots. You’re projecting all the narration, the biography.”

Our ideals of cuteness continue to evolve, a trajectory in visual culture that has birthed Hello Kitty and Japan’s kawaii movement, Giga Pets, Furby, Elmo and Slimer. Often the most exciting, memorable cute characters are the ones who bear negative traits that reveal the vulnerability. Scrat, the saber-toothed squirrel from Ice Age, is adorable and loved by audiences even more for his greed. Cuteness, perhaps then, is not just about an objective set of physical features—it’s also about a behavior that compels audiences and connects us emotionally to the character.

0 Comments on Why Is It So Difficult to Make Cute Characters? as of 4/24/2013 12:14:00 PM
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25. Why Is It So Difficult to Make Cute Characters?

Over on question-and-answer website Quora, someone posted a very simple question: Which is the cutest cartoon character ever created? The answers from Quora members cover a broad spectrum, some more obvious (Tweety, Pokemon, Pooh) and others less so (Gertie the Dinosaur, Night Fury from How to Train Your Dragon).

So what makes a cartoon character cute? You could reduce the answer down to a few basic characteristics: big eyes and head, fluffiness, warmth and chubbiness. “Cuteness is based on the basic proportions of a baby plus the expressions of shyness or coyness,” wrote Preston Blair in Advanced Animation. According to Blair, other cute traits include:

  • Head large in relation to the body.
  • Eyes spaced low on the head and usually wide and far apart.
  • Fat legs, short and tapering down into small feet for type.
  • Tummy bulges—looks well fed.

But cuteness is far more complex than even Blair’s set of rules; some consider E.T., Yoda and WALL·E to be the epitome of cute, despite their furless, odd appearances. Cuteness and a character’s perceived hugability aren’t always determined by aesthetic appeal. “Cuteness is distinct from beauty,” wrote Natalie Angier for The New York Times. “Beauty attracts admiration and demands a pedestal; cuteness attracts affection and demands a lap.”

In essence, any creature deemed cute is one that speaks to our nurturing instincts. The cuteness of an infant can motivate an adult to take care of it, even if the baby is not a blood relation. Even more, studies have found that humans transfer these same emotions to animals (or even inanimate objects) that bear our similar features. Finding Nemo combined all of these psychological elements perfectly—you can’t hug or cuddle a fish, yet adorable Nemo, with his fin damaged from birth and his human-like facial features, appeals to our caregiving instincts. In fact, every character in Pixar films, whether it’s a clownfish or a car, features forward-facing eyes, the most crucial feature for achieving an emotional connection with the audience.

But with any extreme comes another. If a character is too cute and sugary sweet, the audience can develop skepticism. “Cute cuts through all layers of meaning and says, ‘Let’s not worry about complexities, just love me,’” philosopher Denis Dutton told The New York Times. It is for that very reason cuteness stirs uneasiness and sometimes feels cheap.

After all, the adorable, smiling face of a child can hide the havoc he just wreaked by breaking all of his toys. “Cuteness thus coexists in a dynamic relationship with the perverse,” writes Daniel Harris in his book Cute, Quaint, Hungry And Romantic: The Aesthetics Of Consumerism. You could call this the Gremlin Effect—a character with an underlying creepiness. Troll dolls (which were recently acquired by DreamWorks Animation) and Cabbage Patch Kids are the inexplicable result of this paradox.

There’s no denying a cultural need to pigeonhole and perfect the attributes that could be popularly deemed cute. In his fantastic short essay on Mickey Mouse, biologist and historian Stephen Jay Gould asserts that Mickey’s changing appearance over time is a physical evolution that mirrors cultural attitudes toward cuteness. As the Benjamin Button of animated rodentia, Mickey’s eyes and head have grown larger, his arms and legs chubbier. Mickey has become more childlike and, most would say, more cute and less rat-like. Mickey isn’t the only character to undergo this transformation. The teddy bear, first sold in 1903, started out anatomically similar to a real bear, with a long snout and gangly arms. Today’s teddy bears more closely resemble the Care Bears, with pudgier features and colorful fur.

Audience don’t always need Mickey’s goofy grins and huge eyes to connect with a character’s cuteness. Pictoplasma, the artists’ network and conference that celebrates characters extracted from context, reveals how sometimes it’s our own invented narrative that blasts a character into hall-of-fame cuteness. As Pictoplasma co-founder Peter Thaler said explains, “It’s a horrible example, but Hello Kitty has no facial expression. You don’t know if she’s happy or sad; you just see these two dots. You’re projecting all the narration, the biography.”

Our ideals of cuteness continue to evolve, a trajectory in visual culture that has birthed Hello Kitty and Japan’s kawaii movement, Giga Pets, Furby, Elmo and Slimer. Often the most exciting, memorable cute characters are the ones who bear negative traits that reveal the vulnerability. Scrat, the saber-toothed squirrel from Ice Age, is adorable and loved by audiences even more for his greed. Cuteness, perhaps then, is not just about an objective set of physical features—it’s also about a behavior that compels audiences and connects us emotionally to the character.

0 Comments on Why Is It So Difficult to Make Cute Characters? as of 4/24/2013 1:34:00 PM
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