Sunday, October 10, 2010


I love writing about the art of animation.
Traditional, pencil animation, that is.
It’s a very sensual thing, holding a pencil in your fingers, the wooden angles against your knuckle,
feeling the texture of the paper, hearing the hiss of graphite, inhaling the papery smells
It’s intellectually stimulating to write about
discovering the history and literature of the period you’ll be drawing and animating, researching period costumes to match the story, finding the best shoes and hairstyles to match your character.
It’s an adventure to write about drawing a character,
starting tentatively with blue pencil, lightly sketching the first ideas, the construction lines, then changing to graphite and pressing harder and harder until you’re carving your character into the paper.
It’s a bit of a chore to make model sheets
for all the artists on the crew to follow so the character looks as though she’s been drawn by only one artist.
It's a challenge to write about how to measure the character in heads,
i.e. how many heads tall is she?  One and a half is she's very cartoony, five and a half or six if she's a cartoonified human.  And how big is she compared to other characters?  Describe a size comparison chart. Give detailed instructions on how to draw special features, such as eyes, hands, feet and how she should be animated.
It’s weirdly satisfying to describe spiteful studio gossip and the damage it does, artists working hellishly long hours, being fed dinner by the studio so you’ll stay at your desk longer, getting so tired that you get to work by muscle memory and have no recollection of how you got there.
But, best of all, it’s thrilling to explain how a character is animated, comes alive, how he's made to move across the page, in the costume and shoes and hairdo that you’ve chosen for him. How he squashes and stretches and bounces and arcs and overlaps and talks, sometimes with the words you’ve written.
Finally, how breathtaking it is to sit in the dark and see him all painted
on the screen, with music and effects and backgrounds.
And sometimes, to hear applause.
It's very exciting to write about all this.

1 comment:

Nora Lumiere said...

Comments from Jonathan Wakeham on Twitter November 16, 2012:

"It's a lovely piece, rather inspiring."

"Absolutely made me want to read the book! when is it out? looking forward to it."