20060505

Variations on a Theme



Steve Worth has just posted the first half of the first edition of Preston Blair's Animation book over at the the ASIFA Archive blog.

Steve explains,

When Blair put the book together in 1947, he used the characters he had animated at Disney and MGM to illustrate the various basic principles of animation. Apparently, the rights to use some of the characters were revoked after the book was already in the stores. Publication was halted for a time, and he was forced to redraw most of the MGM characters, replacing them with generic characters of his own design.

You can check out screengrabs from the MGM cartoons these characters are originally from over at Clarke Snyder's Inspiration Grab-Bag.

And over at all kinds of stuff, John K. explains how to use this book to learn about construction of the head.

And here at DUCK WALK, you can check out the generic characters of his own design that appear in my copy of the book!

(Images on the left are from the original, images on the right are from the currently available yellow-covered version)













The duck on the left is a thousand times cooler than the goose on the right!







...and now watch me change this chicken into a rabbit, right before your eyes, folks...



Hey, where'd Thumper go?

24 Comments:

At 11:17 PM, Blogger MikeMatei said...

This is probably the best book on animation out there. I didnt have it until about 4 years ago. Before that I would freeze frame old cartoons I had taped on vhs and try to draw the characters. But then the vcr would shut off after about a minute. It was really annoying but it did force me to try and draw them quickly. Its much easier to do now that so much stuff is on dvd.

 
At 11:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so glad Blair wasn't a designer.

Still, the most informational how-to book in my collection. The knowledge able to be gleaned from it is endless.

 
At 2:54 AM, Blogger Stephen Worth said...

Hey Marc

Can you put the pages side by side with the ones at the archive in a single image? That would make it easier to compare. It doesn't have to be huge... just big enough so you can instantly see the difference. That would be great.

See ya
Steve

 
At 12:49 PM, Blogger Marc Deckter said...

Hi Mike - Even though DVD freeze frames are great, I'll bet studying under the time-constraints of the VHS pause button was actually really helpful!

You only get 60 seconds to draw this character, start drawing NOW!

 
At 12:51 PM, Blogger Marc Deckter said...

Hi Anonymous - haha, yeah the designs are definitely more appealing in the original version!

 
At 12:52 PM, Blogger Marc Deckter said...

Hi Steve - good idea!

 
At 6:39 PM, Blogger MikeMatei said...

The original book is so much better. They should reprint the original. I'd buy it.

 
At 7:14 PM, Blogger Pedro Vargas said...

I dunno, they're both preferably good. The original version looks beautiful and more cartoonier than the other one, but I've grown up with the later version more. They're both awesome I'd say. If the original version were to be out in stores now I'd quickly buy it.

 
At 9:51 AM, Blogger The GagaMan(n) said...

That's funny, I just bought the modren version of this book after countless rentals from the libary for about £13 on Amazon. Edited character designs or not, it's still a great book, though.

 
At 10:57 AM, Blogger Katie said...

Thanks for the side by side comparison, Marc! I'm so glad I finally got to see this book. I love the page with all the funny squirrels. I think it's on Steve's site.

 
At 5:07 PM, Blogger NateBear said...

wow. preston sure wasn't a designer but what a hell of a book. i've had it since a little kid. i've put it aside for a number of years but the impression of the book always remain din me. i think it's time to yank it off the shelf and teach myself to REALLY draw all over again

 
At 5:24 PM, Blogger NateBear said...

that cow is pretty sweet design tho, at least in full body

 
At 10:27 PM, Blogger Marc Deckter said...

Hey Mike - I'd buy it too! But in the meantime, the large scans that Steve is uploading on the Archive blog print out pretty good.

Hi Pietro - I agree, they are both good. Actually, it's pretty interesting that the MGM characters and the generic characters each have the same construction as each other. It just goes to show that once you understand the concept of construction, you can apply it to lot of different characters!

Hey Gagaman(n) - sounds like you made a good purchase!

Hi Katie - glad you like the comparisons! Yeah, that squirrel page is great - and Clarke Snyder has posted that exact sequence on his "Inspiration Grab-Bag" site, too!

Hi Natebear - yeah, the cow is funny! I like his goofy rabbit design too (on that same page).

 
At 11:07 PM, Blogger william wray said...

Both are great, what a joy!
And now for the unpublished Rod Scribner book!

 
At 12:33 AM, Blogger Marc Deckter said...

Hi Bill - Thanks for stopping by! An unpublished Scribner book would be amazing!

 
At 12:31 PM, Anonymous jorge garrido said...

Does anyone thihnk the new bulldog was better than the old one? I mean the later one was a classic. ACtually, boht are amazing. I'm glad there are two versions, it can teahc you how to draw two of teh same animals in fdifferent and distinct ways. I only wish the old one was in print. THANK YOU STEVE, JERRY ANd MARC FOR DOING ALL THIS FOR THE ANIMATION COMMUNITY.

 
At 6:13 PM, Blogger Stephen Worth said...

Hi Bill

A published Rod Scribner book would be even better!

Take a look at the archive page. I just posted the rest of the pages of the book... Who Killed Who, Big Heel Watha, Batty Baseball, Red Hot Riding Hood, Northwest Hounded Police... wow!

See ya
Steve

 
At 7:12 PM, Blogger Marc Deckter said...

Hi Jorge - I'm glad you're enjoying the Preston Blair posts!

I agree with you - it is nice that there are two versions - it provides a useful example of how the same basic construction is beneath all these differently designed characters.

 
At 12:32 AM, Blogger Marc Deckter said...

Thanks Steve!

I'll try to do another post of comparisons when I get a chance.

 
At 6:28 PM, Blogger B. Durbin said...

Personally, I've always been amused by the fact that Preston Blair's bulldog has been grabbed by virtually every school with a bulldog mascot AND every company with a bulldog mascot.

It's usually a bit degraded from the original, but that left-facing bulldog is quite clearly the most popular individual image out of the entire book. (Jpeg .009, in case you're wondering.)

 
At 2:08 PM, Blogger Marc Deckter said...

Hi B. Durbin - it would be cool to see a post with a compilation of Preston Blair characters used on signs, school mascots, posters, etc.... I think there were a handful of found images on cartoonbrew many months ago.

 
At 5:26 AM, Anonymous Josh Farkas said...

This is amazing! Thanks so much for the comparison.

 
At 1:25 AM, Anonymous Susan said...

Hey there,
What is the ISBN of the yellow covered book? Is this the same book: 1560100842?

 
At 4:42 PM, Blogger Frank said...

Awesome Post !

 

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