Announcing: OUTNUMBERED, the comic strip!
I've been developing a comic strip for awhile now and I have decided that this is the (new) year to launch it! It's called "OUTNUMBERED" and it is a semi-autobiographical strip about a man living in a woman's world. I have the first two strips up now (hit the "first" button to see the first one and hit the "about Outnumbered" button to read the character bios. The plan is to post a new one every week, on Monday mornings. If you like it, tell people about it, I would appreciate it. Leave a comment and bookmark it too!
Sunday, December 30, 2012
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Hey everyone. Especially those of you that are in driving distance of Nashville, TN. This Saturday, Nov. 3rd at 11am, There is a FREE series of lectures THIS SATURDAY here in Nashville, TN at Watkins College of Art by members of the National Cartoonist Society. I will speak at 11am, then others like Mad Magazine artistsTom Richmond and more too! You gotta go. Spread the word and see the flyer below for more info.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Someone getting a Master's degree in Character design recently asked me to answer some questions about my career and thoughts on character design. Here's the mini interview:
When did you start with character design and what motivated you?
WHEN I WENT TO CALARTS, ONE OF THE CLASSES I HAD WAS A "CHARACTER DESIGN" CLASS. MIKE GIAMO, WHO IS A GREAT TALENT, TAUGHT IT. I HAD ALWAYS LOVED DRAWING CHARACTERS AND MAKING UP MY OWN, BUT SOME OF THE PRINCIPLES OF DESIGN HE TAUGHT US REALLY OPENED MY EYES TO HOW MUCH MORE I NEEDED TO LEARN. I GOT HOOKED IN THAT CLASS, BUT IT WASN'T UNTIL YEARS LATER, WHILE AT DISNEY ANIMATION, THAT I STARTED TO ACTUALLY DO CHARACTER DESIGN PROFESSIONALLY.
What are your main resources for inspiration?
ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING. I LOVE GREAT ANIMATION STYLE ARTWORK SO I HAVE A LARGE COLLECTION OF OTHER ARTISTS' SKETCHBOOKS AS WELL AS MOST ALL OF THE "ART OF" DISNEY, SONY, DREAMWORKS, AND PIXAR BOOKS. THEN THERE IS THE INTERNET AND ALL THE GREAT ARTISTS BLOGS. MOST OF THAT IS FOR STYLE INSPIRATION THOUGH, FOR POSING, EXPRESSION, CLOTHING, PROPS, ETC INSPIRATION, I DO GOOGLE SEARCHES FROM LIVE PHOTOS OF PEOPLE. THE INTERNET IS A HUGE PART OF WHAT I DO. I RARELY START A DRAWING/DESIGN WITHOUT GETTING SOME KIND OF PHOTO RESEARCH FIRST.
How do you recognize that a design idea is „final“ at its sketch state?
THAT USED TO BE A HARDER QUESTION FOR ME. AS I'VE GROWN IN EXPERIENCE AS AN ARTIST, I HAVE A CLEARER IDEA OF WHAT I WANT TO DO BEFORE I START DRAWING. BECAUSE OF THAT, I HAVE A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF WHERE I'M GOING WITH A SKETCH; SO THEREFORE, I KNOW WHEN IT’S DONE.
What to do if there is no matching anatomy in nature?
I RAN INTO THIS PROBLEM WHEN I WAS DESIGNING "MUSHU" IN THE DISNEY FILM, MULAN. AT FIRST, I WAS LOST. I COULD DO ANYTHING, SO THEREFORE I COULDN'T DECIDE WHICH WAY TO GO WITH THE DESIGN. THE POSSIBILITIES WERE TOO ENDLESS. FOR SOME, THAT'S A BLESSING, BUT FOR ME I LIKE SOME MINOR RESTRAINTS TO WORK WITHIN. IT HELPS ME HAVE A DIRECTION EVEN IF IT’S A LOOSE ONE. I DID FIND THAT YOU ARE NEVER TRULY WITHOUT SOME REFERENCE THOUGH. MOST MONSTERS, CREATURES, ALIENS, ETC. HAVE SOME KIND OF ANATOMICAL REFERENCE THAT RELATES TO EITHER HUMANS OR ANIMALS. THEY REALLY NEED TO, ALSO, SO THAT THERE IS SOME REFERENCE FOR THE VIEWER TO UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY ARE LOOKING AT.
Do you use vector art in your character designs?
NO I DON'T. I DON'T HAVE A VERY GOOD UNDERSTANDING OF VECTOR ART CREATION VIA FLASH OR ILLUSTRATOR LIKE SOME DO. I WISH I DID. THERE HAVE BEEN SOME CLIENTS THAT NEED A DESIGN I'VE CREATED TO BE VECTORIZED SO THEY CAN USE IT IN A VARIETY OF WAYS FOR MARKETING. WHEN THAT HAPPENS, I HAVE A FEW FRIENDS THAT I CAN HIRE TO CREATE THAT. I KEEP MY FOCUS ON THE ROUGH/TIGHT DESIGN WORK AND ART DIRECT THE FINAL VECTOR PIECE IN THOSE CASES.
What do you believe will change over the next few years in the field of character design?
I CAN'T THINK OF ANYTHING, REALLY. I THINK WE WILL STILL NEED TO CREATE CHARACTERS (OR AT LEAST IT WILL BE FASTER) WITH PENCIL AND PAPER (OR CINTIQ) AS WE DO TODAY- BEFORE THOSE CHARACTERS GET MODELED FOR A COMPUTER ANIMATED SHOW, FOR EXAMPLE. THE RESULTS OF TRYING TO DESIGN YOUR CHARACTER IN 3D, ON THE COMPUTER, WITHOUT PRE PLANNING IT TRADITIONALLY SHOULD MAKE THAT METHOD NOT VIABLE IN THE FUTURE JUST AS IT IS TODAY.
What do you think about 3D speed modeling? Is there already a competition in the industry between 2D and 3D concept art?
I THINK I JUST ANSWERED THAT QUESTION ABOVE. MY BELIEF IS THAT YOU WILL EXPLORE MORE OPTIONS (SHAPES, SIZE RELATIONSHIPS, RADICALLY DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS) WHEN YOU HAVE THE FREEDOM OF PENCIL AND PAPER. WORKING WITH THE "CLAY" OF 3D MODELING TO "FIND" YOUR CHARACTER INHIBITS THE POSSIBILITIES, IN MY OPINION.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
I just wanted to post a quick blog note to let you guys know that my THIRD LIVE character/drawing workshop is AUG. 23rd, 8PM Central! If you subscribe to the www.charactermentorstudio.com website emails, you won't ever miss out on any news regarding the workshops. Go now! I will be emailing out the assignment shortly. Also, I looked up how my two art instruction books (Creating Characters with Personality and Character Mentor) were doing in the AMAZON.COM ranking for the 100 top books in CARTOONING and below is their ranks! They seem to be staying within the top 10 or 20 depending on the day and that makes me proud. What I love about this image is that they just happen to be sandwiched between two of my ALL TIME favorite books too! If you don't have those, get them! (and mine too, if you don't have them also....)
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Tuesday, May 01, 2012
I will be appearing with my twin brother, Tony Bancroft, in California on Sat., June 9, 2012 from 3:00 to 6:00 P.M. at a "Wine Tasting and Meet and Greet the Local Artist/Writers". This is an ADULT ONLY event held at St. Isidore Historical Plaza, 1096l Reagan St., Los Alamitos, California 90720 (562-596 9918 Office #) This is a fund raiser to save the Plaza as a historical site in my home town of Los Alamitos, California. The price of admission is $30.00 a person/$50.00 per couple. At the door it will be $35.00 a person/$60.00 a couple. You can mail in your check in advance to the Plaza, Atten: Cori Crismon. Make check payable to Comite' del Amor, a non profit organization formed to save the Plaza. Check out their web site: St. Isidore Historical Plaza.org Tony and I will be doing drawings and they will be auctioning them off. In addition, I will have my new "CHARACTER MENTOR" book with me and I will sign them with purchase. Come on down to our hometown!
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
I've recently gotten some requests for commission sketches. These are fun to do because the people making the request ask for a certain character and its usually one I wouldn't pick and have not drawn before. That challenge often makes for a fun experience. Apparently there is a subculture out there that loves mixing mermaids with pirates, because that was my first request: Pirate Mermaid. So, here she is protecting her booty (pun intended).
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
I was digging through one of my boxes from my traditional animation days at Disney Feature animation and found tons of notes I either took or gave out depending on the class. Disney was a great time of learning for us all. They really put a lot into training us- especially during breaks between films. Sometimes I would be attending a great lunchtime talk by a visiting artist and other times, I was the one giving the talk on a certain subject of animation. The notes I post today are from the latter, a talk I gave on the subject of "TIMING for Animation". Remember, these were the traditional (hand drawn) days of animation. These are dinosaur notes about the way we worked back then. I'm not saying that some of this isn't still interesting and maybe even a little useful for the CG animators out there. BUT, what has made me want to post this is because I've gotten asked about charts so many times through the years. Yes, its a smaller, traditional-animation-hungry crowd with a fair amount of knowledge about how animation is done, but nonetheless, there is interest. These notes are on small, yellow, lined paper so I hope they are clear enough to read. I may have even photocopied these and handed them out, I'm not sure. At any rate, they do help describe what the charts were for and what they were describing. Now that I look at these notes, I think page 4 should be the FIRST page. It helps to give a visual of what a chart is if you haven't seen them before. Look at that one first. To be honest, charting is more of a "feeling" you are trying to express in a technical way. Every animator hated handing off their scene for someone else to inbetween because as the animator, you really felt like you knew how each drawing should be drawn, felt, and move. You were then giving the half completed (though 100% thought out) stack of drawings to an assistant to finish up. This was a necessity because of the sheer volume of drawings that needed to be completed for each scene, for each character, for each special effect, in each sequence in each film. You had to go onto the next scene while that one was being finished up. That usually meant you had the rough inbetweener or clean up assistant bring the scene back to you when it was completed so you could "roll through it" (that's like flipping it, but on the pegs)and check all the arcs, timing, drawings, etc. Corrections could be made by you are by made into a "teaching moment" for your assistant if there was time in the production. I held the job of rough inbetweener for Mark Henn and learned most everything I know about animation- and especially how he organized an animation scene- from that experience. How I charted a scene is very close to how Mark charted. Except for the exception of the animation behind the charting. He could place the drawings (spacing-wise) so that most of the crisp timing was already in his keys and breakdowns. This made most of his charts, even "halves"- since he just needed a drawing there to evenly keep the pace of the animation. I never mastered that ability. I relied on throwing drawings onto "1s" (one frame of film shot per drawing, rather than 2s which is exposing a drawing for 2 frames of film) or getting very creative and complex in my charting so that I could get more time out of a pose and a crispness as the character was leaving that pose. Most of us animators relied on those "tricks". To be honest, had I not worked with Mark Henn, I would never have thought of charting as anything but where the "real" animation timing comes from. But, through working with him, I discovered that the timing isn't in the inbetweens, its in the breakdowns. Eric Goldberg is a good example of that. His most important "animation drawings" (not poses- those are the key drawings) are his breakdowns. His inbetweens (that he charts) then become mini-breakdown drawings also. He is making keys and sub-keys (to make up a new term) rather than breakdowns. Those are in his charts. Sorry, this is way too complex to explain without having visuals. To be honest, the notes below may do the same thing: raise more questions than answers. I hope you get something out of them. All you really need to know is that every horizontal line on the chart (or "graph" for math people) represents a drawing. The numbering system that correlates with each drawing helps you know weather or not the drawing is on 1s or 2s. If they are all odd numbers (like in the first example) then they are on 2s. (Mark always had a way of getting his animation that was on 2s on odd numbers- no matter how many times he would switch to 1s inbetween animation sections. I think it was just a pet peeve of his,there was really no reason they had to be odd numbers.) On page 3 you will see the more complex charting examples. Believe it or not, as a rough inbetweener, you could get a scene on your desk that had 2,3, or even 5 charts per drawing on it! Ruben Aquino was a master at the multiple chart keys. What this meant was that if it was (for example) a human character turning from right to left, he would have a seperate chart for the head, one for the right arm, one for the left arm, and another for the hair overlap. ESPECIALLY for the hair! (Ruben is excellent at overlap animation and ALWAYS has the hair moving at a different timing than the body that is leading it.) In doing this, he could make (in one drawing/inbetween) the head move out of the key faster, the left arm evenly, the right arm favor the key, and the hair REALLY favor the key. In the end, I think I charted more like Ruben Aquino than like Mark Henn. Of course, it doesn't really matter how you do it, just the result you get when you shoot it. Or as we would say when we were tired of a scene and just wanted it done- "IF ITS MOVIN' ITS GROOVIN'!"
Friday, March 16, 2012
These are some sketches I did the other day inbetween real work. Often times, while working on one project, I have the urge to draw the "side project" that is on my mind. This is one of those. I'm thinking about a graphic novel with a version of this panda in it. It's tentatively titled "The Panda and the Pea". (You'll see some peas in the sketches too.) I won't give away the story, but it started as a children's book idea but became more serious with lots of symbolism about a persons decisions they make in life- and what drives them to make those decisions. Its a story I want to tell for myself too. I hope I actually do it. By the way, I'm not sold on this design just yet. Still working on it.
Friday, February 17, 2012
After almost SIX YEARS, I'm back to the Tom Bancroft Blog! Its not because I haven't been blogging, its just been that I've been doing it elsewhere. I know have a DeviantArt page that is very active. Check that out also. And there's the Facebook "fan page" I share with my brother Tony called "The Bancroft Brothers". Like that too. But now I ALSO have this blog that will go to Facebook (I hope) and to my new website: CHARACTER MENTOR STUDIO! My hope is that this will be the place for me to communicate with all of you about all things related to what I'm up to, character design instruction, the animation industry, updates about my books, appearances- you name it. Oh, and post whatever new drawing or sketch I have to post. That's the main point, really. Here's some color marker illustrations I've done for people recently.