Friday, March 2, 2018

Joe Ranft's 9 Rules for EFFECTIVE STORYTELLING - ジョー・ランフトによる効果的なストーリーテリングのための9つの原則

STAGING: The positioning of characters in a scene for maximum emotional content and clear readability of actions  - Eric Goldberg, Animator (Character Animation, Crash Course)


Joe Ranft was an acclaimed storyboard artist who worked at both Pixar as well as Disney Animation studios.


He is most famous for his work on Toy Story and Cars.


Joe taught a class at CalArts in 1987 where he outlined rules for storyboarding.


I believe these rules apply to figure drawing or gesture drawing as we (are not just drawing a figure but we are conveying an IDEA.  We have to think beyond just drawing anatomy, limbs, with proper proportion and appealing lines - what are the combination of these elements are trying to express when put together??


When I refer to an idea, we have to consider that what is happening on the page has some sort of beginning, middle and an end.  Something was happening before the figure moved,  the current action of the figure and the end result of the figure that we anticipate the figure to fall into.


All this has to be visualized as we put the figure to the paper if we want to be storytellers.


Be a storyteller!  Not a copy machine!


Please consider Joe's rules below.  Hopefully it will inform our drawings and make the world better for everyone:


1) Show rather than tell.

2) Communicate one idea at at time.

3) Stage it so that the audience sees it clearly.

4)  Clarity in the shot’s composition

5) Clarity in the staging or pantomime

6) The story drawing’s job is to communicate an idea, feeling/ emotion an action.

7) Imply animation in your drawings (through caricature, use of animation principles, i.e., stretch and squash , exaggeration, etc.)

8)  Imagine ourselves in our character’s shoes/place

9)  Leave an impression, an impact (visual and emotional) that affects the viewer

These are rules that should be framed in gold, but I think Rules 7, 8, and 9 are the most essential to a drawing that tells a story.


Below are some of my suggested masters who demonstrate their own examples of these principles:
(Since the upcoming Ki Creative Studio Vol. 13 - 1st anniversary! Will feature our famous posing pair we did our best to give examples using two characters)

(次回のKi Creative Studio Vol. 13は、1周年記念です! これまでのドローイングの会で素晴らしいポーズをとってくれた女性2人をモデルに、2人組のポーズを描きます)

Edgar Degas -Waiting

Illya Repin - Refusing Confession

Norman Rockwell

Ryan Lang - Big Hero Six

Bill Peet - Lady and the Tramp

Milt Kahl - The Rescuers

Cory Loftis

Heinrich Kley

Sunday, February 18, 2018


The title is a little misleading because "Vs." is not accurate.  Straights and curves in drawing, art or nature are not enemies nor opposites, but rather compliments that give each other meaning.


Straights and curves are tools that the artist can use to help create a greater sense of balance in their art.


Often I like to talk about the watery rhythm that exists and can be seen in nature and of course the figure.   I like to use this diagram of the opposite C's to help expose that rhythm.  Drawing master Glenn Vilppu likes to call these curves a "school of fish", some liken it to "skiing down a slope."


Though it moves the eye to follow rhythm, it has no meaning without its compliment which we can call form, structure or in today's example "the straight".


These curves here definitely show movement but are ultimately meaningless without some form of structure to hold it together.


But see, "voila!!" 


With the structure added suddenly now we have form, context and possibly application!


American animation studios taught this as "Appealing Design".   Straights and curves working together, supporting each other in design.  Don't be so dogmatic about what exactly is a "straight" and what is a "curve"!  It's all relative!


Please take time to view veteran Disney animator and artist Aaron Blaise's video on "Straights and Curves".


I am attaching including some other examples below for your artistic and inspirational enrichment!


Friday, December 8, 2017


I am often encouraging my students to "think" about what the character is feeling before putting down the gesture.   As the saying goes, "A drawing that does not convey a state of mind or a thought through action, isn't a very good drawing." 


I notice sometimes the more clothing the figure is wearing, the more people focus on the the drapery and the folds and such.  The less the figure is wearing the more artists tend to focus on the anatomy and the musculature of the figure. 


I suggest giving equal consideration (if not more) to what is motivating the figures muscles to work in such as way?  What does the clothing say about the character and what they want?  


Constantin Stanslavsky said, " In every physical action, there is always something psychological and vice versa.  There is no inner experience without external physical expression." 


It reminds me of the quote from George Bridgman who said, "The hand is thought of being the slave of action.  But the slave of of action is the master of expression."  I think the same thought can be applied to the human figure. 


Please consider the photos below of some of my favourite masters:  Rockwell, Michaelangelo, Frazetta and Kahl.  


How quickly and easily can you read what the gesture is communicating about the character and what is motivating them? 


Thursday, November 16, 2017


When doing gesture drawings, always remember that you are drawing an action or at least a state of mind.  Drawing just the contour or replicating what's in front of you is not the path to making a drawing that has life. 


One aspect of pushing your drawings is to be aware of where the tension is and not being afraid to push it even further at times.  Figures that are evenly balanced and vertical are somewhat dead.  


These quick drawings I made both have the sense that they are pulling away from their gravity centre.  This tension is what creates the illusion of movement when the figure is actually standing still. 


There is a drawing teacher who suggested imagining a rubber band like tension that would snap the figure back into their previous position.


Models in life drawing sessions sometimes "straighten" out due to the difficulty of holding long poses.  It's our jobs to push the poses beyond what the model is giving us.   


NOTE:  The blue lines represent the direction the body is pulling away from its center of gravity.  The ball and the arrow represents where the gravity is.

John Buscema 

Samantha Youssef

Andreas Deja

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Fred Moore's 14 Points of Animation

"If a drawing looks clumsy, or lacks appeal, or no longer looks like the model, perhaps the animator is trying to show something that should not be shown.  

When Fred (Moore) was giving a talk on drawing Mickey, he was asked,  "How do you draw him looking right down on top of his head?"  Fred responded, "Why would you?"  If the appeal in the design was based on the balance of the ears to the nose and the relationship of the cheeks to the eyes and the head shape, Fred wondered why would you deliberately throw all that away?  

Why would you show a view that did not have much going for it as possible?  

- Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, The Illusion of Life   -  

"What happens is FACT.  TRUTH is what we think about. Write the truth."  - Robert McKee

People often like to cite the 12 Points of Animation as described in the Illusion of Life by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. In this very same tome is their once senior animator, Fred Moore's 14 Points of Animation. 

Each has its own value and speaks for itself. But perhaps #6, 11-14 are the ones I'd like to point out when it comes to drawing.

 Fred Moore's 14 Points of Animation

1. Appeal in drawing

2.  Staging

3. Most interesting way?  (Why would anyone other than your mother like to see it?)

4. Is it the most entertaining way?

6. Are you advancing the character?

7.  is this the simplest statement of the main idea of the scene?

8.  is the story point clear?

9. Are the secondary actions working with the main action?

10. Is the presentation best for the medium?

11.  Does it have 2 dimensional clarity?

12.  Does it have 3 dimensional solidity?

13.  Does it have 4 dimensional drawing?  (Drag and follow through)

14.  Are you trying to do something that shouldn't be attempted?  (Like trying to show the top of Mickey's head)

There is another anecdote where the legendary Milt Kahl commented on dealing with "difficult drawings", "Why would you even draw it that way in the first place??" 

In the search of drawing what rings true about a's not about drawing what is literal about it, but rather, what is "true" about the subject.   "Truth", perhaps to be specific, "emotional truth"  is sometimes better served subjectively. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

GLENN VILPPU : The Drawing Master Returns to Tokyo again!

"Glenn Vilppu was the caliber level of work that we strove for." - Aaron Blaise, Veteran Disney animator/ director, artist. 

He has been teaching drawing in the animation industry for over 40 years. He's been called a legend. His teachings are part of the compilations notes of fellow Disney teacher, Walt Stanchfeld in Drawn to Life.   His original Drawing Manual is one the most coveted instructional art books in the world but sadly is the the most pirated globally. 

His name:  Glenn Vilppu.   

アニメーション業界でドローイングを教えて40年以上。彼はいまやレジェンドと呼ばれている。彼の教えは、同じくディズニーで講師を務めていたウォルト・スタンチフィールドがまとめた「Drawn to Life」にも掲載されている。彼が著した「Drawing Manual」は、アートの指南書として非常に人気を博したが、悲しいことに、世界中に海賊版が出回ることにもなっている。


He humbly just calls himself an drawing teacher, but Glenn is a master draftsman whose teachings has enabled countless students, artists and professional artist to have the skills and confidence to pursue their dreams.  


Glenn has taught at some of the biggest animation studios in the world, Disney and Dreamworks and has taught globally, from  North America, Europe and Asia.   


This coming December will be Glenn Vilppu's 4th seminar with Master Drawing Japan.  Additionally he is coming to Japan to christen the release of his NEW Drawing Manual which has been translated in to Japanese with Born Digital. 

来る12月、グレン・ビルプはMaster Drawing Japan主催のセミナーに来日。これは、4回目のセミナーになる。また新しいバージョンになった「ドローイングマニュアル」は(株)ボーンデジタルによって日本語版も出版されている。その記念の講義も同じく12月に開催の予定だ。


12月4日:グレン・ビルプ メソッド:6時~9時(講義の後にはサイン会も行われます)