Sunday, April 11, 2010

Two years

The second year is over: it was a year of struggling. While I felt I learnt an awful lot in my First Year, I have this nagging feeling that this Second Year did not bring me where I had hoped to be.

A number of courses just did not work for me. I had really been looking forward to 'Storytelling and story development', but where I feel that storytelling is a skill that needs to be practiced, the course mainly consisted of theory on characters and story structure, watching a lot of cartoons to illustrate the theory, and three ultra-short story assignments, each aiming at 30-60 seconds of screen time. I had always wanted to do a course on storytelling; it is still on my list.

Anatomy was not really bad, but the 7 hours per week spent with it made me expect to learn a lot more. In those hours, consisting of a class, a lab and a video lecture, we got a rough overview of the skeleton and the main muscle groups, everything restricted to the torso, upper arms and upper legs, we spent a lot of time drawing the various bones, and plaster models with muscles, and drawing live models with attention to the various anatomical 'landmarks', where the emphasis seemed to be more on producing nice drawings, than on gathering accurate anatomical knowledge. I studied anatomy before, but I am still puzzled by how muscles interact and change in action, so I will continue to study this on my own.

Cartooning was the biggest disappointment for me, mainly because I firmly believe in how it should be based upon life drawing skills, while the teaching in no way connected to these underpinnings. A good deal of time was spent on material that is really worth studying, like trees, clothing and shoes and furniture, but for me it makes no sense to study it in a cartooning context. The school defends 'From the general to the specific' as a guiding principle, which to me really means to first study the real thing, and only then to move to its abstraction. Next year we will learn about heads and features, hands and feet, and the clothed model, and a good deal of Cartooning should build upon that. I still have not passed this course, will spend some more time on it during the summer, but it is in the same category as Storytelling and Anatomy, in that it did not really work for me.

The main struggle was Life Drawing, my favourite course in every respect, and also the course I spend most of my time with. I had expected that the variety of exercises I have went through in the past two years would have resulted in a useful skill set, but for now I am a little disappointed to see how gestures, contours and box forms have remained just gestures, contours and box forms. On the other hand, life drawing is complex matter, maybe I am just expecting too much.

I came to the conclusion I am more of a painter than a draftsman, seeing the world as in colours, light and dark, and not so much in lines. My linework, consequently, seems to be a little underdeveloped, so this is definitely an area to work on. For an animator, lines are fundamental!

It also was a year of technicalities, with a sea of time spent on those parts of the process of creating a movie that do not necessarily deliver 'nice' output. I learned a lot in Layout, Storyboarding, Cleanup and Inbetweening, but really nothing worth showing here.

Of course, there was Animation Basics, which step by step teaches the fundamentals of animation, like squash and stretch, anticipation and overlapping action, through a series of exercises, like the Bouncing Ball, the Rollercoaster, the Profile Walk, the Splash, the Cannon Blast and the 3/4 Walk. I showcase these on youtube. And, finally, there was Background Painting, one of my favourites, which I mentioned earlier in this blog.

I will conclude with two 'reductive drawings', which were started with an eraser on paper that has been chalked grey. These are part of a series of four, with model clothed and nude, in lines and grey. Enjoy.

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