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Starting out with a pencil...

So my creative style up to now has been almost entirely based in a digital format, creating abstract or highly geometric visuals for live music. However, following working on a pantomime with a video designer from a more traditional animation background, I found myself curious about his style and how he achieved it. Thus, I have manically embarked on a mission to learn to 2D character animate.

My initial attempts, being the tech-head that I am, were on Photoshop and interacting with the environment via a Wacom Intuous tablet. Using this approach I found to be quite challenging, always very hard to judge where your pen was going to land and making the lines curve just the way you wanted. That said, being able to instantaneously undo anything and easily layer objects seemed to be quite useful.

One of the tutorials that I was working to mentioned a lot about working in pencil and stepping firmly outside of my comfort zone, I figured that a little bit of retro workflow could be worth a shot. Having both the handwriting one might find hard to distinguish from that of a ten-year-old, I pleasantly surprised myself to find that the process was actually surprisingly natural. It missed the inhibitive gap between gesture and stroke present when working in a digital format, or at least with the graphics tablets lacking in-built screens.

Below are some of my first attempts to draw on paper, exploring "gesture and attitude drawings". Some of them, at least to me work fairly well and others just look a bit weird in their structure. At this phase, I'm still working with proportions of the body and how to structure a character, thus not being too precious with details for now.

Gest. 1 was imagined as a sorting of singing/serenading pose and I think works quite well, am generally happy with how it turned out. Gest. 2 is some kind of kung-fu-y type thing, came out alright. This one highlighted the need to practice achieving the same body shape throughout poses and being a little more careful with legs and feet.

Gest. 3 through 5 were various attempts at trying "leaping back in surprise". Attempt 1 doesn't work because it looks very unbalance and very squashed into a small space. Attempt 2 was very unbalanced again, but actually works quite well for either someone running away or to catch something. The third attempt got pretty close, I think it could be fixed by moving the direction the head points and flipping the bent leg around the vertical axis.

Still very rough at this stage, but I think I have a lot to play with to start discovering more gestures and body languages that translate well on to paper.

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