Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Characters: Preamble

Hey, gang. Lots going on. I haven't posted a lot because of the *ahem* proprietary nature of a lot of the stuff I'm working on. So unfortunately I can't show you how a lot of the production art is shaping up. Yet. What I can do, in the meantime, is talk about some methods I've used and share some of my general ideas about animation production. So to kick off this new series of posts I'll start with a whole spiel on the most fundamental exploratory process for all budding young animators - character design. Fundamental, I say, because this is arguably the first thing you do on a short film, often times even before - dare I say it - story. Because story often evolves directly from character design. Many of our most beloved treasures in the lexicon of animation started with a simple character sketch: the Aardman shorts, for example. The simple character designs almost demand a story to be told with them. Often you will jot down a scribble, a quick sketch of a character, and those little eyes looking back at you from the page will start to tug at you: "Paweeez tell my story! Paweeeeez!" And you just can't say no to your character. After all, this is your creation. Your offspring. You've got responsibilities, buddy. Nodody's gonna tell this character's story if not you. Can you really say no to those eyes? The inimitable Jim Woodring said as much happened to him when his most famous creation Frank came into the world. Suddenly, there was Frank, staring at him from some soiled diner napkin, filling Jim with a sense of wonder. He began to tell Frank's story if only to find out for himself where this creature came from. The same may happen to you, as long as you follow the first cardinal rule of art: doodle incessantly, with both words and pictures. Leave a trail of ravaged napkins in your wake like a creative slug leaving brain-slime. Don't worry about the environmental impact: the folks at Found Magazine will recycle your goods, if nothing else. If you do this, someday you will have your own "In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit..." - ten doodled words that gave one creator direction for the rest of his life.

Next post: Character Design!

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