Disconnect

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/81221252″>Disconnect</a&gt; from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/fenni”>Fenni</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

The narration in the video itself isn’t the actual story; what I am trying to convey is the difference of emotions conveyed within the conversation and the emotions that are seen on a person’s face when they are typing to friends on the internet. It was Kristina herself whom was briefly featured within the video who actually mentioned that it’s not that people are always robbed of emotions when conversing online, but that all of the emotions felt is because one is immersed into the experience knowing that their face can’t be seen and as a result not putting much effort on the actual face.

New Media Art Response

The story behind how the current new media art came to be and how it can hold appeal even with an audience who aren’t actively art appreciators is an interesting one, notably its role on the internet world. Ironically enough, despite an artwork’s material intangibility within social networks for instance, the amount of feedback from the audience – via “likes”, “shares”, comments, and sometimes more feedback within the hashtags if there is that option – is far more tangible than if an artist’s work is viewed with the same amount of people within the space of a museum gallery all at once. In that regard, I believe the narrative behind the art, between both the artist and the viewer, are more freely and more enthusiastically discussed within the digital space, than if one merely presents and the other take in the message of the piece. This may especially hold true when the piece has political undertones, where people can talk about what the new media art is expressing, rather than interpreting the piece by oneself.

Artist feature: Loish

36_handygirl

I’m cheating a bit here because this is technically a 2D animation blog, not a 2D illustration blog but this is still relevant!

Loish is currently a freelance 2D illustrator and animator who resides in the Netherlands. I’ve been admiring her artwork on DeviantArt for a few years and even now, I believe she is actually one of the most well-rounded artists I’ve ever seen. As in, she can draw varied character designs of both male and female, tech machines, old people, color just as gorgeously, and is able to animate several quirky little character and animal sequences. But really, go check out her website (and she is on several other common social networks as well), because not only does she post her wide array of a portfolio for everyone to see, but she also shares some resources and answers several useful questions to any aspiring artist. Hope this provided anyone some new creative inspiration!

Logorama

This here, is a super wonderful video that is about 16 minutes long of logos, logos everywhere! As in, before watching this, keep any fairly well-known company in mind and look for it in the video because it’ll be highly likely to be there (I in fact was jokingly looking for a Sara Lee logo, and there it was)!

That said, I believe this is social commentary in terms of how commercialization has pretty much taken over our lives despite how much we don’t really pay mind to them very much in real life, and this is pretty much demonstrated by our ability to recognize where all of these brands and characters come from the second we see them. A lot of the visuals are text (and therefore pretty “telling”) but it is still done in a remarkably artistic way.

The Creation of Paperman

Recently watched Paperman in theaters along with Wreck-It Ralph; which were both very solid pieces! Since this blog is a 2D animation blog though, I will only be talking about the former here, but really, Wreck-It Ralph is a must watch too with its homage to many pop culture and video game characters. Anyway, I’ll discuss about both the artist and origin of the idea behind Paperman.

John Kahrs was an animator who has worked for both Disney and Pixar; in other words he has always worked with people who were experienced with both 2D and 3D mediums of animation. Kahrs didn’t want to completely revert back to traditional animation though considering even films like Princess and the Frog nowadays are mostly done with computers. Using CG in the process of animating is also a much quicker process than drawing every frame by hand, as frames on the computer can be replicated and tweaked through fewer clicks than pencil strokes, and this requires less skill as an artist (including from himself) than doing it the traditional way. 3D also makes actions flow in a way that imitates real life more, but he didn’t want this kind of animation to be the only type of 3D audiences should be exposed to.

As an animator who wanted to be able to send a message in more ways than what photorealistic animation usually brings to the table, he still wanted to bring back the smooth fluidity of animated paper drawings back into the picture of animation as well. This is something I appreciate because I know many artists fear that 2D animation will eventually go away and be replaced, even if drawings and quick sketches are still needed for pre-production and storyboarding. With Paperman, the plan to execute the combination of digital and traditional animation was to “get these drawings to move on top of a base layer of computer generated forms”. As a result of this technique, there was the characteristic 3D movement found in the characters and overall feel of the environment they’re in, but there is also that 2D style that is apparent, especially in still frames.
However, just merely drawing and lining over the 3D layers alone didn’t bring out the traditional aspect: there were strategies that was employed to make this look like it was really on paper, such as the paper texture on top, and making sure some lines don’t close or connect in certain areas of the character. The lines don’t appear cleaned up like CG lines on 3D characters. And because of those line breaks, the eyes of the female character Meg look more 2D with varying ink/pen stroke size, and lays flat on her facial features instead of concaving in, making the eyes appear more crisp.
Even though it appears to be the first animation to employ such tactics, this isn’t what completely dominated the audience since many people who commented about the shorts online talked about the story idea within Paperman as well, including Perry Chen who thinks this style fits the 1900’s well. Ultimately, his goal wasn’t to show off this new style in a grandiose manner, but he wanted to demonstrate with his vision another way to portray stories on screen. He doesn’t feel that one style is more superior to the other, but instead as two potential ways in one to deliver here both feelings of nostalgia, and a refreshing new way to create a motion piece.

PSYCHO-PASS

Gen Urobuchi (the TV script writer of this show) is perhaps my very favorite anime writer; the concepts he explores in his well world-built works like Madoka Magica and Fate/Zero are to me enough to teach a humanities or philosophy class alone. And after watching episodes 1-5, Psycho Pass is proving to be no exception.

Within its 5 episodes, Psycho Pass has already delve deep into the role of policing a society that pretty much has the ability to determine each individual’s happiness (i.e. where unemployment is not a big issue), eliminating any possible criminals with a weapon that will not do lethal action until it “reads” that the person is not mentally sound, and exploiting the hive minded mindset of social networking both online and in real life. The world building here features a clearly dystopian setting that is first very akin to Bladerunner’s, with actual numerous pop culture references such as George Orwell’s 1981 and mentions of Jean Jacques Rousseau. So far, it appears to be a case study between the concept of individualism vs. collectivism, and I believe it’ll go even more into it in the next few episodes. Asides from the overall dark mood of the story though, there are a good share of cute mascots that roam the world every now and then to lighten the atmosphere (but for that same reason, some of them are also plot points).

For those who are interested, here is the link to watching the episodes for free online on the official website. And despite having watched lots of anime with exclusively Japanese named characters before, 7 out of 8 main characters (including an antagonist not pictured here) are introduced in this first episode alone and were hard for me to memorize, so here is also a link to the character names associated with appearance.

Comparison #1: Mentalities behind people drawing one style or the other

This is perhaps one of the most common art arguments brought up, but a discussion that still goes on today in art classrooms everywhere: the difference between the two art styles that is Western and Japanese animation, debates on which is “more superior and better to learn from when starting to draw”, and general biases towards the both of their styles.

First, a list of common general features of both types in terms of character art style. One bullet list appears more “positive” than the other, but this is more of a representation of overall opinion on it.

  • Western animation:
  1. Tends to have more exaggerated/varied facial features and expressions per character
  2. More exaggerated body types, sometimes even making someone appear geometrically shaped that usually tells of their personality (i.e. round for cute characters, triangle shapes for smart or evil characters)
  3. One is able to usually tell immediately which series a character comes from as each western show often portrays a much different style than another series’

This acute need to develop a unique art style in the west usually results in overemphasizing many features of a character to make them distinguishable, either to the point of charming quirkiness, or downright zaniness. One of the best things about western animation is not only the vast differences in art style, but the many ways these visuals can be presented. Shows like Tom and Jerry are all show and not tell, and musical numbers like that trippy sequence in Dumbo are very abstract by nature. There are huge liberties in portraying it with a certain mood, and there are just less negative reactions or backlash towards it as each animation style in western animation can feel like a refreshing new start when starting on another series. Criticism of the style would be times when expressions and emotions are so exaggerated such as dropping jaw to the floor when surprised, and these aspects makes this type of animation “too childish” for some people to watch anymore as the style deviates from real life norms. This however is mostly a culture issue, and doesn’t make the message any less expressive to those who do end up watching.

  • Japanese animation (anime):
  1. More concerned with aesthetics and sympathy factors of a character that will directly appeal to the audience. Everything is also usually shinier when colored/animated
  2. Less variety in facial features (i.e. dots/small lines for noses, nearly identical head shapes of almost every character, etc), and bodies tend to be very cookie cutter shaped among characters
  3. Less variety in art style in general: a majority of the time, rather than being able to judge by art style to see which anime series a character comes from (i.e. for Western animation one would automatically know whether a character comes from Fairy Odd Parents), people would ask “what anime is the character from”

It is this latter problem that makes art teachers  tell students “not to draw in anime style, to branch out on a style of their own.” This concern for students only drawing in anime style is not unfounded: a lot of people do fall into the pitfall of only consulting “how-to draw anime” books and drawing exactly how the book teaches without improvising on the style further. However, I do think it is a little unfair to totally dismiss anime style altogether as it closes doors on certain positive aspects of aesthetics in anime such as the fine details in hair and clothing wrinkles. And while not focusing on artistic expression as often, it is a good platform for serious works as it tends to reflect real life in a way that you don’t often see square/triangular people in large head shaped varieties, nor can you tell who is evil or good just by looking at them. Works like Full Metal Alchemist is a good example of portraying a serious storyline, and managing to have characters who look unique without having to resort to extreme shapes.

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Ultimately, there are so many exceptions to both which I can provide with plenty of examples in comments if you address them. Bottom line is, if anyone who wants to draw illustration, storyboards or animate have no idea where to start getting their inspiration in honing skill, I think it is okay to draw inspiration from -even piggyback for a while on- a style from any country, regardless of how generic the style may be in the beginning. In the end, there is no better teacher in creating authenticity than taking a great amount of motivation by observing everyday life, taking some courses that teach basics that you might already know (but will force you to practice and get better with those skills regardless!), and just having fun drawing whatever it is you want to draw in general. No matter how different or ordinary the art style may turn out to be, if someone enjoys it regardless, I think at the end of the day the issue becomes irrelevant if the message or emotion behind the work is meaningful.