Thursday, October 30, 2008

Have a Happy Hallowe'en!

I thought that Hallowe'en should be properly acknowledged here in The Cartoon Cave with an appropriate caricature. Nothing too scary of course - just slightly sinister mixed in with a healthy dose of sex appeal in the shapely, sassy form of Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. I must admit, Elvira was harder to draw than I thought she'd be. My first sketch showed her face in a direct front view but, after taking a fresh look at it, I wasn't so sure I'd caught her. So I tried a three quarter view to better show off her facial features and inked that up instead. I hope this one is better!

I quite admire Elvira's alter-ego, Cassandra Peterson. She's a smart, attractive and funny lady who has created a very successful franchise out of her Elvira persona. Here is an interview with Cassandra where she explains the origin of her creation:

And here's an Elvira blooper reel that's pretty cute:

I hope you all have a safe and happy Hallowe'en!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"The Chestnut Tree"

I just happened upon this film yesterday when I saw it posted on the blog of Alan Cook, a talented recent Sheridan Animation grad and a former student of mine. I've watched this short animated film over again several times now and must say that I just love it. It was created by a young animator from Korea named Hyun-min Lee, who has been accepted into the internship program at Disney and has apparently been working with master animator, Eric Goldberg. An interview with Hyun-min may be found here.

The film is a celebration of childhood imagination and the loving mother who encouraged that imagination to flourish. Now, some of you may be wondering why I am responding so enthusiastically to this film, when I recently gave quite a critical drubbing to "Adventure Time", which also centers around childhood imagination. Especially since the characters in "The Chestnut Tree" are also quite simplistic in design, with minimal facial features and a comparable amount of what we refer to as "pencil mileage" as that found in the designs of "Adventure Time". But that is really where the similarity ends, and for me the success is in the execution of the visuals and resulting animation in this charming film.

Though undeniably minimalist designs, the young girl and her mother are drawn with fully dimensional, simple forms and they are handled with fluidity and graceful movement in their animation. Unlike the awkward character animation and layouts I perceive to be at work in "Adventure Time", the skill of Hyun-min's animation is able to lead the viewer's eye pleasingly and playfully through each scene. Though the facial features are so simple in design, they register clear emotions that the viewer easily can respond to. Admittedly, as one who teaches Character Design, I myself prefer to see characters that have more specific features that can indicate more of their personality type, but when minimalist design is handled well at the animation stage, that's where the personality and emotional content can be put across through clarity of body language, expressions and timing of the motion. (I can also appreciate "Pocoyo" for that reason, by the way.) Still, I do expect to see more distinctness in the designs from my Sheridan students just to stretch their ability to depict personality through visual design alone, as they can all well attest to at this point! :)

I hope that Hyun-min Lee is successful in her goal to become a full-time animator at Disney and I look forward to great things from this young lady in the future!

Monday, October 27, 2008

B.B. King

A couple months ago I posted my caricature of Elton John that I drew as my entry for the August contest run by the National Caricaturist Network (NCN). Though there is a token prize offered to the winner, I think that should be just considered a bonus, as the real satisfaction is gained from taking on the challenge of drawing whomever is the subject for that month. For October, member Dave "Rock" Cowles came up with a rather intriguing subject dear to his heart: Legendary blues guitarist, B.B. King. I guess what I like best about this monthly contest is that it challenges me to draw somebody who I might not even think about caricaturing, as I usually gravitate towards either my personal favourite celebrities or somebody currently in the news.

Anyway, I quite enjoyed drawing B.B. King this month, though I must admit it was tough to work from what reference I could find. As I've mentioned often, I prefer to work from video as opposed to still photos. This was particularly important to me this time, as Mr. King is quite notable for his very extreme expressions as he plays. He has a rather endearingly comical face that is continually scrunched up and stretched out in his intense concentration, which makes for rich subject matter to capture in a caricature. Most of the still photos I found through a Google search really didn't help much in that regard, although I found them useful for some small details in the latter stage of my drawing, especially in approximating his guitar. Since I didn't have any video reference in my VHS or DVD collection, I ended up doing all of my rough sketching from viewing YouTube videos, as small in dimension and low res as they tend to be. Just for interest's sake, I'm including my pencil rough here along with the finished inked artwork.

Also, I think B.B. King must be seen in action to be fully appreciated, so here is a YouTube clip that I referred to, though not the one primarily used to achieve this caricature, which unfortunately cannot be embedded:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Well, We Lost!

Yeah, tonight was federal election night here in Canada, and my guy lost! Though it looked pretty likely that Stéphane Dion and the Liberal Party were not going to reign victorious, there was still some slight hope over the last couple weeks that they might pull ahead just enough to squeeze by Stephen Harper and the Conservatives. Alas, it was not to be, but I'm not particularly perturbed about the outcome. You see, I am that rarity of voters: the guy that refuses to see any of the Canadian party leaders as villains. Though they may have different ideas on what's best for Canada, I'm convinced that they all come to the job of public service with good intentions. Though I'm not keen on some of Harper's policies (especially his seemingly low regard for the arts), I can't say I'm displeased with how he's handled himself in office the last two years. In fact, I think he's a very bright, articulate man who makes Canada look pretty good on the world stage. And with a second minority government, he will not be able to do anything too radical now that he's been re-elected.

And even though Stéphane Dion was not elected, my vote was not wasted, as my local Liberal candidate, Bonnie Crombie won this riding. Life will go on just fine here in Canada. My congrats to Mr. Harper on his re-election.

PS: I'm still wondering if the main reason I voted for Stéphane is because he sort of looks like me. Maybe I've just taken so-called "Identity Politics" to the next level!