Again, let's enjoy shape in a hierarchical manner. The biggest, most encompassing shape is the silhouette. The silhouette is the f illed-in shape created by the outline of the entire object. It is a vital element to animated drawing. A silhouette helps us see the whole body clearly, without any interruption. You can see if the story of a pose is clear t its silhouette.
It allows you to see how all parts relate to each other on a flat plane. Here it is the size of shapes that gives us depth. As I will show you, shape can give you force. A good silhouette can even imply form by its overlapping shapes. Silhouettes can tell you about character, emotion, and much more. There are two diff erent kinds of shape, forceful and un-forceful, lively or lifeless.
"What is conceived well is expressed clearly." Nicholas Boileau
Here is a clear silhouette. All parts of the f igure are distinguishable. The overall story is an easy read.
Keith's drawing has a great deal of force and form. You can tell he saw the connection between the upper and lower body. I love the "drawing through" in the left arm and also the head seen through the hair. The forceful shope he saw in the model's left hand is excellent. The drawing's major problem lies in its silhouette. The orb the model is holding gets lost within the shape of the body. The left arm is a clear read. I don't have students make things up to suit their needs, but what Keith could have done wos physically move to obtain a better vantage-point of the pose for a clearer silhouette.
The top of the poge shows us three shapes: a circle, a square, and a triangle. None of these shapes evoke force or form. They have no forceful direction because of their equalization and symmetry in shape. They are without force. The shapes underneath are full of life and fluidity.
Here we hove two drawings of o mole f orm. One is done oil in curves the other all in straight lines. If a f igure is drawn out of only straight lines it has no energy, and if it is all curves it lacks strength and structure. The balance of the two within every shape gives us drawings with a sense of believability through contrasting forces.
A forceful silhouette is a great opportunity to show us all of the above because the silhouette changes shapes, overlaps, and size. Shape is great for seeing angles and thickness, and gaining a new awareness that you can have an opinion about.
B. Forceful shape
Here we hove the silhouette of o porcupine ond o water balloon. One shows us hard, pointy aggressiveness while the other is soft and placid. Nature has already done o tremendous job of designing its world. To break both of these shapes down to their simplest components, they are both created by the relationship between
0 straight and a curved line. The curve represents on upward force while the straight tells of the hard surface on the bottom of both forms. This straight to curve is the beginning of forceful shape. Look for this shape in the figure drawings that follow.
Working ot Disney made me realize that there is such o thing as appealing ond unappealing shapes. I prefer forceful ond un-forceful shapes. If you truly understand something's function, it will be appealing.
To discuss un-forceful shapes, lookot the old cartoons where the characters had rubber-hose arms and legs. The shapes of their appendages did not lend themselves to asymmetrical, forceful energy. Their parallel quality created dysfunctional shapes.
Disney's first feature films suffered from softness. Everything from characters to backgrounds was primarily created from curves. The animation was excellent, but the designs were weak. Believe me, this is no critique of the stories either.
It was not until "Sleeping Beauty" came along that the studio really caught on to straight to curve design. Although the film was a financial failure, it changed the design principles of the studio. The dramatic modi-ficotion took the studio to o contemporary style and thought process that hos evolved to the efficient ond graphically strong appearance that it hos todoy. Because of this "Sleeping Beauty" was a great success. It changed the face of American traditional animation.
In "Disney Animation, The Illusion of Life" by Frank Thomos and Ollie Johnston on page 68, there is a small box thot discusses appeol in drawing. It has so much importance yet it is easily passed over in the book. It briefly talks about the theory that the studio stands on!
1 freelanced for Wolt Disney Consumer Products before going into feature film and the guys there were great at appeal. New York's artists were mainly drawing the traditional Disney characters. Thot is where I
learned what a great example of appealing design Mickey Mouse is. I heard that tests were done wherein babies were shown an image of Mickey, and they would smile and laugh. That is appealing design!
The artists kept telling me to design more. I did my damnedest to make the characters look right and I thought I was doing a good job. I look back at those drawings today and just want to thank them for giving me any work at all. They were dreadf ul. They lacked the spark and clarity of design they should have had. It took me four months down at the studio in Florida and some great "Timon" drawings in front of me to finally understand appealing design. It's strange how the light bulb just came on. Once you fully understand the theory, you realize just how applicable to reality it is.
Look at the Batman cartoon of today. Bruce Timm has done a great job of designing a character from a different medium, in this case comics, and converting Botman into an appealing cartoon design. This design principle has made it possible for the animation to be of higher quality than it usually is. Intelligent simplicity has lead to a greater product. Samurai Jack is also fantastic because of the amount of forceful shape applied to the design theory of the cartoon. Characters and backgrounds are af fected. Here you can enjoy it in a graphic, raw representation created by Genndy Tartakovsky.
Appealing design, or what I like to call forceful shape, helps us see force and form in the construct of a shape. We do this by being aware of straight to curve. We touched upon this in Chapter One os it related to force. Now the relationship of the different forceful lines creates forceful shapes. Straight is hard structure and curved is flexible force.
The trap in trying to draw with shape in mind that I find students fall into is forgetting about force and form. The theory of forcef ul shape is not something you have to assert upon the figure. Like the previous topics we've discussed, f orcef ul shape is a reality. Learn to see it.
Effective shape comes from force and form.
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