I got a lot of requests to see some animation roughs after the posts on Spacing and the Baxter Sinbad tests, so here are a couple from the Sinbad test scene I previously posted:
The top image is a preliminary rough, the second image is the final rough. You can click on them to see them larger. As you can see, James delivered very tight roughs to the clean-up department. This is the way animators at DreamWorks tended to work. The animation roughs I’ve seen from other studios were often more like the top drawing. Here’s another pair:
And remember the clips I posted in the Spacing discussion of Sinbad carrying Marina across the deck? Well, here’s a drawingthat’s NOT a rough from that scene, though I wish it were:
Yeah, that’s a gag drawing, done by Pres Romanillos, loosely imitating James’s style. I was away from my desk for a bit when Pres came by, and I came back to find this drawing on the pegs. Hmm, you think the movie might have done a little better if we’d have done this version?
Above are a couple of actual roughs from that scene, the first from the section I was working on when Pres did the gag drawing, the second just a nice rough. Sorry that the photocopy-machine scuzziness is so prominent — if I was better with scanner settings I could probably fix that, but I’m lazy.
After I posted the Sinbad pencil tests I got a lot of questions (mostly from those learning CG animation) about how an animator would approach these kinds of shots. Where does one even start? One method is to do thumbnails, carefully planning the key poses and main action, and develop those thumbnails as a first pass. I’ve seen some animators who would enlarge their thumbnails on a photocopy machine, tape them onto animation paper, and work out their timing under the pencil test machine. Based on that they’d go ahead with their first pass.
As James Baxter describes in the latest podcast, he rarely thumb-nails, but instead usually starts with a ‘scribble test.’ These would be extremely loose gestural drawings, drawn very quickly and somewhat intuitively. No stopping to work out charts, no noodling to get the face and hands right, just rapid-fire, in-the-moment right-brained kind of drawing and animating. This, unfortunately, isn’t possible in CG (at least yet). I’ve seen some of James’s scribble drawings, and as individual drawings they don’t look like anything. It’s frankly hard to tell which character he’s even animating. But the movement and force and timing is all there, and out of those scribble tests come the kinds of drawings I’ve posted above.