Friday, December 02, 2005

Tyranny of the Unforgiving Line

I find it hard to believe but it's been four weeks since I started the animation class at Foundation University. Every day for the past four weeks I have been at my drawing station, pencil in hand, wrestling with the assignment for the week for five hours.

The amazing thing is that those five hours fly by so quickly. This type of work is so relaxing that the only time I peer from my tracing disk is when my forearm starts to cramp.

Animation is by no means an easy job, at least as far as traditional methods are concerned. The character in each frame has to look exactly the same, something that we call "on-model". And you have to do it over and over and over again. Not that I should complain: after all, the most I've had to do so far was only 19 frames, a little less than two seconds of animation.

As such, there's what I call the tyranny of the unforgiving line. If you're off by a millimeter, then the drawing comes out all wrong. Then it's time to reach for the eraser and start rubbing away. There's no point in thinking that the other folks won't notice the slight error: if you see it, then the others will certainly see it, too. That's why I admire the professional animators who do this for a living: it's something that takes a lot of skill, patience, and practice.

So am I any good? I'm not quite there yet, but I can honestly say I've improved tremendously over the past few weeks. I've become more critical of my work and I know where my mistakes are. Most importantly, I know how to improve my work. That alone is worth a lot to me.

While I can't see myself doing this professionally, it's certainly been worth the time and effort. Onward!


  1. hehe. forgive me, dom, but i have to ask. why Animation? =)

  2. Why indeed? Cartoons and comics have always been a hobby of mine, and I suppose, under other circumstances, I really would have gone into it.

    But it's also for the thrill of taking something new, where I can be a student again and where I don't have any preconceived notions.

  3. sigh. were it only i could do the same.

    when i was in high school i used to buy tickler notebooks- you know the kind we used for CAT, and the ROTC- and draw comics. i wasn't much of a writer, and i really can't draw on my if my life depended on it- because my "talent" was only in copying other people's drawings- but it felt good, to churn out that kind of_ well, output. any output.

    and_ the nice thing about drawing is you get to appreciate this world that we live in. terra- earth, and everything in it; even those beyond it. when you draw you get to realize that we, all of us, are beautiful in our own individual way.

    and don't you just love the surprise that you get when you finally figure out that, when it comes down to it, we're only really made up of_ probably only more than a handful of shapes (and colors). and yet here we are, each of us different. you'll just have to love the variety. beautiful- fantastic.

  4. oops. i have to edit that, hehe....

    "...i realy couldn't draw, even if my life depended on it...."


  5. Well-said, TP. You should post an expanded entry on the subject in your blog.

    That said, everybody should draw. It's one of those things that GK Chesterton said: If it's worth doing, it's worth doing badly.