This is an excerpt from Bill Plympton’s Make Toons That Sell Without Selling Out. This living legend breaks down how to make a career outside of the world of corporate animation – and without compromise. Learn time-saving techniques, the secrets to good storytelling, and the business-side of short and feature-length animation films.
When drawing props and inanimate objects, you must think of them as animate objects, as if they’re alive, they have personality, they have souls. Otherwise, these items will be very boring to look at. For example, I’ve seen a lot of guns drawn like this:
But for me, this is a sissy gun. A gun is masculine, it’s macho—it’s got muscles. It’s not a delicate piece of ornamentation. No, it’s a brutal, powerful statement—so try drawing your pistols like they are characters in your story.
And that brings us to our next category in animation: design.
To me, it’s the arrangement of shapes so that they form a powerful image that is used to meet the creator’s needs. For example, if I want to create a feeling of peace and beauty, I’ll arrange shapes in such a way as to meet those ends. I’ll use soft, complimentary colors and shapes that have an easy flow. Or perhaps I want to communicate a feeling of violence, so the design might be much more aggressive or shocking, with bright colors and hard edges.
I can’t tell you how important design is to a great film. Again, look at some of N. C. Wyeth’s wonderful illustrations to see examples of how he used great design to push the eye around and to make you look where he wants you to look in order to capture your imagination and boost the powerful human emotions in the visuals. He used very little detail, and the detail he used was only to draw the eye to certain areas. The rest of the painting was dark shapes that have almost an abstract feel.
And that’s where design comes in. Here is a drawings in which I manipulate the eyeballs of the audience.
Use perspective to push the eye. Just try to look away from the guy’s head—it’s very difficult. Many pictorial elements can be used to divert the eye.
Excerpt from Make Toons That Sell Without Selling Out © 2012. Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved. Make Toons That Sell can be purchased Amazon.com, BN.com, and wherever fine books can be found.