Thursday, March 29, 2007

Introduction to "The Early Birds"

This post isn't meant to be a bible on what order to do things, because I am certainly no authority on the matter. In fact, maybe some people can clue me in on things I am doing wrong, because I'm sure I'm making plenty of rookie mistakes. Anyway, I have an idea for a series that I've just started working on, so I figure this is a perfect time to start sharing my workflow & such. This blog won't be 100% dedicated to this series, but since I'm starting the two at the same time, it will be a good opportunity to share my creative process as it unfolds. Hopefully some people will benefit from reading it along the way, and anyone with advice or tips for me is certainly welcome to share them.

Step one in the creative process is obviously generating an idea. I'm sure everyone's brain works a little differently, but I know that the majority of my ideas (or at least the good ones) seem to happen spontaneously, so based on that, I would advise anyone & everyone to always carry a pad of paper & a pen. When you have an idea, write it down, or you will be cursing yourself later. Now I had wanted to do something with a couple of fishing buddies for a while, but that was all I had, no artwork, no script, no setting, no character personalities in mind, just an idea for a buddy piece that revolved around fishing. So I just kept that much in the back of my mind until something else came to me.

So I'm working with an idea involving 2 buddies, & the obvious path is the standard odd couple spinoff, or a beavis & butthead/ Bill & Ted/ Wayne's world type thing, which is O.K. but played out. So then I thought of something more like a Tom & Jerry or Coyote & Roadrunner relationship, which again is all well & good, but been done a million times. Then I decided based on a quick sketch I had done that my fishing buddies would be birds... no reason other than I liked the sketch & it looked something like a bird crossed with Grover from sesame street.

Now I have two buddies that sort of fall into the "Tom" & "Coyote" role, but who is "Jerry" or "the Roadrunner?" Well, fishing buddies need bait, & birds eat worms, and there's no bait more timeless than the humble worm, so... I found my third character, & more importantly, my "Jerry." At this stage I have the general idea for the overal story, two protagonists, and now my antagonist. I also have a few initial sketches that I've done which you can see here:

This is the character design phase, where I put some thought into who these characters are, how they move & what their personalities are, and of course try to bring all of this out in the drawings. The best example I have of this so far is this walk cycle of Larry. The first 7 frames I like, but I did a horrible job on the second half of the cycle, I was in a big rush to ink it, the pencil drawings actually look better. It is 13 frames on 2's, & as it stands right now I'm happy with the motion except for frames 8 & 9, I need to have his right leg look more like he is swinging it out to the side as it comes around. Anyway...
The main characters are Larry & Ron (I'm not married to the names but for now...) and of course the worm, I'm thinking he'll be called either "Cyn" or "anti" - more on why later. Anyway, Larry is a turkey vulture. He is a very laid-back, relaxed country boy, sort of awkward & goofy but still the man. He fishes because there is no better way to spend his time, plain & simple. Ron is more of the NRA type, donned in cammo gear, militant patriotic attitude etc, that fishes & hunts for sport. Now I have been using the names Larry & Ron because my first thought was to take a political angle with this toon, having Larry represent my liberal views while Ron represents my conservative ones. The worm is going to be loosely based on Antisthenes (student of Socrates & founder of the "Cynic" school of Philosophy) hence his name being either Cyn or Anti. He will be the one who points out the plethora of hippocritical behavior that he sees in both Larry and Ron. I also envision him with a big time Napoleon complex, he will have a tough-guy attitude & will always be ready to kick ass & take names, but alas, he is a worm.

I'm pretty comfortable with the characters right now, & think they have the potential to play off each other quite nicely if I can manage some decent scripts. At the moment I am still developing exactly what each character will look like from all angles, & figuring out how I want them to move. Aside from that I have been laying out some backgrounds & landscapes to try & establish the world they live in. Here are a couple super-rough sketches of Larry & Ron's bedrooms I have so far, they're totally out of proportion & perspective, but they capture the general idea I want.

Well, that post was longer than expected, but I've been writing it in pieces for a few days. I'll try to keep future posts shorter & more frequent, but I hope it was worth the read.... probably not.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Here I am...

Well, as a first post I guess I should introduce myself & explain a bit about what I'd like to accomplish with this blog. At the moment I would say I am a novice cartoonist, but the important part is that I am a cartoonist. My favorite quote to live by is: "Become through being" (Aristotle), and that is exactly what I am trying to do. Along with that I would like to share the journey of my trials and errors with anyone interested so that others might benefit from my learning process.
I would like to give credit from the start to two people who have already helped me immensly, & who have also inspired me to participate in the free exchange of ideas, namely JK, and Will. They are both users of Toon Boom Studio, (among many other programs) which is the program I have been learning on. I will try to gear this blog towards tutorials & tips that I can share regarding TBS, as well as the animation process in general. That said, all questions & comments are always welcome whatever they might be about. If I can't answer your question, I will be sure to direct you to someone who can. That's about all I can think of for a first post, I will upload some stuff as soon as I get on my own comp, but for now: WELCOME TO PIRATE PRODUCTION TOONS

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