Friday, February 25, 2011

A Deconstruction

I am learning to see the world through an artist's eyes. Years ago, I had found a gorgeous piece of Final Fantasy IV fan art once that I chose as my desktop. After gazing at it for quite awhile, I eventually noticed that the girl's feet were far too small for the rest of her body. These days, I think I would be able to spot it immediately. How can I improve my own drawings unless I learn to look for these things?

Jak's garage, like many, contains various artifacts and products that time has forgotten. Since he was, up until recently, a smoker, we spent a lot of time out there. There's a Disney cookie container that was re-purposed for storage of who knows what that I must have looked at dozens of times by now, but for whatever reason this time, I really looked at it.

The beauty of Disney characters is that they are designed to be really easy to draw. Animation pretty much requires this since whole teams draw these characters over and over again with only slight movements in each drawing. And of course when we're talking about a franchise as long running as Disney, artists are going to come and go. They need to guarantee that you're still going to recognize Mickey no matter what. However, the artist still needs to understand things like composition, proportions, and how people and animals move in order to draw effectively.

I'm amazed that whoever designed this cookie jar even kept his job, let alone that this design got approved and sent out the door.

If you look at the images quickly, you'll see that they show Mickey, Pluto and Donald playing with a Frisbee. There are three images total that show different states of their game, almost like a mini-animation or comic strip. The order of the three characters always remains the same: Mickey, Pluto, Donald. But let's take a closer look, shall we?

Mickey side 1
Here we see Mickey doing the classic bull fighting technique to Pluto with the Frisbee. "Toro! Toro!"

Pluto side 1
Poor Pluto. Not only is this whole game just a way to tease him, but his left front leg has clearly been dislocated. I've never seen a dog that can raise its arm that high up, have you? To make matters worse, his back legs seem to be stuck in a bent position.

Donald side 1
Donald seems to be under the impression that they are playing football, because he's in a classic linebacker pose.

Mickey side 2
The only way to properly distinguish which of Mickey's arms is which here is by looking at those hash marks on his gloves and realizing that means we're looking at the back of his hands, and then going by thumb position. Add to it his horizontal orientation and the strange way both of his feet are now turned up, and all I can think of when I see this image is that Mickey's head must be spinning 'round and 'round and 'round.. I can hear his demented laugh right now.

Pluto side 2
What on earth is going on with Pluto's mouth here? His bottom jaw seems to be completely resting against his chest. I think the reason that Pluto and Goofy are treated differently is that Pluto is actually half dog half rubber tree.

Donald side 2
Oh no! The bones in Donald's legs have turned to jelly! And the Frisbee has changed colors!

I believe Mickey's position here is meant to suggest that he's just thrown the Frisbee. If anyone can figure out exactly how you would end up in this position after throwing a Frisbee in a completely straight arch, I would really appreciate if you would take some video of yourself to show me how it's done.

Pluto's collar has changed from blue to white. I think the poor thing has now decided to start crawling on his front legs only since those back ones are still locked.

Donald shows us the proper way to catch a Frisbee. Always make sure to lift a leg along with your arm and make the peace sign with the other hand.

I hope you didn't mind this little diversion from my normal posts. I've decided I've been taking this blog a little too seriously lately and I might as well show my silly side. :)


  1. LOL I remember that jar. He used to keep his wooden Noah's ark animals in it. Haven't a clue what the original cookies were like anymore. Thanks for the giggle. I didn't even know that was still in their garage!

  2. +JMJ+

    I'm no artist, but I've noticed a few bad drawings in my own time. I can't remember any of them now, though.

    Of all the ones you share here, I think Mickey's spinning head (complete with demented laugh!) is my favourite. I think I could have drawn Mickey better than that, and as I've said, I'm really no artist!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I hate to be the stuffy voice of reason here, and it is cool that you're accruing experience with drawing has heightened your attention to details, but I think criticisms such as these are sort of lost on the subject of cartoon characters.

    It is the nature (and even the goal) of the cartoonist to throw proportions to the wind and exaggerate the appearance of movement to the extreme. In fact, the things that you pointed out here (and especially the fact that you realize you're *only just* noticing them) speak more to the drawings' success than their faults. They are readily interpreted - the audience recognizes familiar characters (being off-model is far more grave an error than distorting proportions, etc. to a cartoonist) and knows exactly what the characters are doing, regardless of which one of Mickey's hands is which or which sport Donald is really playing - and the suspension of disbelief trumps, or at least masks, any technical inaccuracies which, rather than jumping out at you, as a backwards hand or elongated leg might otherwise do, are easy to accept and require a good second look to pick out.

    Am I being a royal pain in the ass saying all this? I can never seem to shut up when we're in *my* territory.

  5. Re: Sarah

    +10 for knowing what you're talking about and demonstrating an intelligent and thorough understanding of your chosen expressive medium.

    -10 for sucking every last drop of fun out of an entertaining post.

  6. Jak probably summed it up succinctly, but yes, this whole thing was meant to be a joke and funny. Cartoon characters do pretty much constantly bend and stretch and move in unnatural ways. I just thought it was funny that if you take a really close look at them, you start to see just how unrealistic and goofy the positions really are.

    Basically I was making Jak laugh his ass off by over analyzing these and he told me I should post it on the internet. I needed an intro, so I figured my recent art experiences would probably explain why I suddenly noticed this now.

  7. Mickey seems to be lefty. So, I suggest that he simply thro a "flick" to Donald Duck, so this is why he end in this position.


Related Posts with Thumbnails