Friday, October 16, 2015

Animation: Background Planning/Set Design

This is an area that is not my forte but here are some notes I picked over the years starting from a layout class I took with the great Scott Caple long ago and on up through time. Something Scott said was "A layout tends to feel...well, empty or awkwardly unfinished somehow until the characters are added.  Then the composition is complete."

I am going to approach this in terms of scene planning, take note that this is in no intended to be a "How To" on background ground layouts or painting but simply a "something to think about when planning your shots/scenes." Some links on this topic are here, here and here (There are so many but I don't want to get carried away).

Planning a scene is a lot like planning a a painting; you must decide what is to most important and then work your way to least important. If something has no importance it must be taken out of the shot-everything to be shown must be of some importance, even if it only adds to the composition. So a first step in planning your shots would be to ask if all of the background subject matter is necessary as well as how the elements in the BG work to achieve a solid composition.
In the image above, Rembrandt chose to position the main figure (Christ) higher to show his significance as the other figures (the sick) swarm around him.  The dark tones of the building in shadow behind the main figure out create an contrast from the foreground elements.  The shadow of the archway frames the action as light spills from right to left. The darks and lights make the visual hierarchy clear.

Below, in this drawing by Charles D Mitchell, storytelling is very clear but layout is much too flat to allow for the characters to move freely in the space due to the cluttered chairs etc.
Below is a painting I love, by Giovanni Bedini from 1924.  Here, a young woman plays a violin with such a charming expression and character that it is hard not imagine walking into this scene where she plays just for the viewer. The darkest and lightest elements lay atop each other on the right third of the painting and the painting seemed designed to allow the woman the ability to get up from her work and move around the space. It's this, seeming openness of space that is what sets layouts and BGs apart. Like real spaces, a character is able to "move" around in these imaginary environments.
But what are the first steps to scene planing?
Scene planning begins with the script/storyboarding phase. Concept art is generated while story is in development to craft the look of the themes, places and anything that will be involved in the story.  Concept development may give a snap shot of look of a moment but may not focus on setting a stage for animation as this painting from Marc Lumer for The Emperor's New Groove.
Another example of concept art from Disney's Tarzan is this drawing below. As seen, there is little room for a character to actually move around in the spaces provided here.
The next step is the planning of the actual scene beyond the concept stage. The director(s), story and layout artists decide what camera angles would be best to describe the story and action is mapped out. In this storyboard image from Batman Animated Series we see the camera has been planned to show the Penguin aiming up at an onrushing Batman. The camera tilts up and dollies into Batman, then tracks his progress right as machine gun fire explodes around him.
As scene planning is signed off, the process moves to layout, at least for 2D animation. The process changes in 3D creation. A 2D layout becomes the actual "physical" world where the characters will 'live' in each shot. Below are some examples of layouts for animation, starting with Balto followed by an example from Gulliver's Travels. In both, the spaces designated for the characters to traverse are pretty clear.
Below is a layout grid for Lady and the Tramp 2 by Patrick Raines. Where do you suppose the action of the characters will take place here? A fine example of using grids for perspective layout.
Another from 101 Dalmatians, from Animation Treasures (an awesome blog). Clearly the dogs would mount the hill.
In this layout, Cruella speaks to Horace and Jasper from her phone on the bed in long shot.  This shot followed by a close up for better staging of character action. This is a great drawing though, so I had to post it.
Two other layouts, one from Ralph Bakshi's Lord of the Rings...
...and the other from Chuck Jones' Riki Tiki Tavi. This is down shot which pans to follow the action of the characters as they move through the garden.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Anatomy: Isolated Muscles of the Trunk - In The Round

Work in progress...

Another post regarding anatomy here so I will be brief. You see below Posterior, anterior and lateral views of the skeleton.  The muscles will be laid starting with a few deep layer muscles outward to the top layer muscles.  In lieu of time and space, the number of muscles are limited, but for figure drawing purposes these should get you moving forward. 

Shown below; Pectoralis Minor (green): origin; rib 3-5, insertion coracoid process of scapula. Pulls scapula (shoulder) forward toward the anterior chest.
Also shown Sternocleidomastoid (teal): origin; clavicle and manubrium, insertion mastoid process. Pulls skull toward chest also turns skull left or right.
Erector Spinae (light green) reefers to a group of muscles that run along the spinal column including the Sacrospinalis and holds the body erect.  Origin; sacrum, lumbar and lower portion of thoracic spine. Insertion; ribs, upper thoracic spine, cervical spine and skull. Keeps torso erect in standing position, pulls rib cage upright from bent over position, also aids in twisting the torso.
Rhomboid Major and Minor (light orange): Origin; Thoracic spine vertebrae 2-5, insertion; vertebral border of scapula. Pulls scapula back and rotates it upward medially.
Infraspinatus (dark orange), Teres Minor (red): Origin; interior spine of scapula , insertion; greater tubercle of humerus.  Rotates humerus towards back.
Also shown, Teres Major (blue): Origin; Lowest corner of scapula (inferior angle), insertion; just below head of humerus. Allows for forward rotation of humerus, also aids bringing arm down from raised position.