Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Disney Turnarounds

A few weeks ago, John Kricfalusi wrote a very helpful post on using simple toys as a drawing aid for learning how to construct a character using basic forms and guidelines for placing surface details. Here is the post showing his example of a Top Cat construction drawing. Although I haven't used that officially as a lesson in my own Character Design class, I have actually given something similar in past years to individual students who are having trouble getting the hang of construction drawing. I'd hand out a sheet showing my sketches of a simple vinyl toy in several different angles. Hopefully, practicing that method of drawing on their own, the students could more quickly get up to speed with the rest of the class.

Interestingly, I have often had the opportunity to do the exact reverse of that process for many jobs in the past. I used to regularly create "Turnaround Drawings" of various Disney characters for the Disney Stores and Catalogue art department. Usually an artist there would provide a rough concept sketch of the character in the desired pose and I would then adapt that sketch into a series of 2 or 3 drawings depicting the character at different angles. These turnarounds would then be sent to the artist who would then sculpt the actual item in clay using the various views as a guide to maintaining the accuracy from all sides. I always enjoyed the challenge of trying to visualize the finished sculpture as I was working out these different views. One really has to "think" in 3 dimensions.

Usually, front and back 3/4 views are the best for showing the most visual information, but sometimes including an extra view or partial view is desirable to fill in some extra info, like the direct front view of Grumpy's head to show how the one eye is shut while the other is stretched wide in his skeptical expression. In addition to these turnarounds, the sculptor would normally receive some animation model sheet drawings that would help him further understand the character's structure. By hunting around a bit on Google, I was able to find this one image of the finished Pinocchio figurine ( a line called Big Figs" by Disney), though the view is certainly not the best to show off the character well. After I do these things, I'm never really sure if all of them do in fact get produced. Last year, however, I did see several I had worked on when I visited the Disney gallery in Downtown Disney at WDW in Florida. It was neat to see how they'd come out. Usually I feel that the sculptor, with the Disney art department's guidance, does a very nice job in maintaining what I was trying to portray in my turnarounds.

To help understand his profile, Disney had requested a third view of this White Rabbit pose. He was certainly an enjoyable figure to work on, being comprised of very rounded forms. In fact, you can see my construction lines still visible, like the round pear shape body and the small sphere for his cranium. These underlying construction lines would have been drawn in blue pencil in my original drawings, appearing as a light gray in these photocopies.

Incidentally, this post today is in response to a request made several weeks ago by my friend, Alvaro Cervantes. He is a brilliant sculptor himself with many years experience in toy design, both at Disney and other companies. Please check out his work by clicking on the link to his blog provided on the right.