Level of Study

“If you are drawing a blank, or are having a hard time drawing a certain thing, then it is because you have not studied it enough”
– Glen Keane

While poking around some blogs I came across this collection of deer studies (originally posted on Michael Spron’s blog) that Rico LeBrun provided and taught to the Disney animation crew during the production of Bambi. My reaction went from intrigue to gobsmacked, the number of pages of pure anatomy in motion is astounding.

It’s great to also compare it to the next stage of development drawings Andreas Deja has on his blog, we can see where the animators have veered away from realism and pushed animation principles.

What I found interesting about the pages is how motion is studied differently in schools and workplaces compared to this kind of training. While modern day animation relies heavily on reference, I question how much of that becomes more a habit of copying to get a shot done rather than truly understanding of why and how anatomy functions or movements convey meaning.

When speaking of using reference on The Jungle Book, Milt Kahl said “the way to use it, I think, is to learn so much about it that you don’t have to use the reference anymore“. It’s easy to see through this documentation that his comments were no exaggeration.

In looking at our own animation training, how does this level of analysis compare to your studies of locomotion? Is it overkill for today when we are able to find specific reference to help deliver a shot, or does it show insight to the deeper level of study one takes to become a great animator?

I tend to think it’s the latter.

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