I’ve had a week off before heading into the new quarter and Concept Illustration. I know a lot of animal artists talk about visiting the zoo to draw animals from life, but the zoo has its limitations – including the fact the animals are usually pretty far away. Yesterday I went to a Kangaroo farm and had a chance to hold a baby kangaroo and get close to a variety of animals I don’t normally see.
Besides kangaroos, there were lemurs, emus, donkeys, alpacas, Patagonian Cavies, and more. Plenty to see. It was neat to see the differences between animals and their different temperaments.
I had heard that Disney and Pixar animators work with live animals to capture their gestures and expressions.
Ralph Eggleston of Pixar said he watched a lot of National Geographic videos to get the correct shivers of birds for his For the Birds video (below). He also videotaped his bird for a few hours and he and his team studied its movements. The team also brought in Cornish game hens to study volume and weight.
I mostly took reference video and I’m going to practice sketching animals from different perspectives. I’ve heard it’s better trying to sketch from a looping video than relying on still photos alone…I can see why. James Gurney shared his tip about sketching a pony from life. He chose the time to draw it when he knew it would be sleeping.
James Gurney has a great blog, Gurney Journeywith great resources for how he learns to paint imaginary characters with life-like weighting, color, and balance. He uses references photos extensively to help him figure out feel the emotions of the characters in his pictures.
From Riding a Pterosaur:
“The idea is to get into the spirit of the action, feel the wind in your face and hear the screech of the pterosaur.
I think that’s more important than getting a photographically real piece of reference to copy. If you can identify with the weight and balance of things, and especially the emotion, you’ve got 90% of the problem solved.”