Monday, August 29, 2011

Strong Silhouette...or not?

I am sure most of you know about the value and importance of a strong silhouette
when it comes to key poses.
Some of the old Disney masters said that your silhouette should give the audience an idea about the character's overall mood, and that it also might reveal the business and the acting.

The first two examples prove that point very clearly, the last two are somewhat of an exception in this regard.
Milt Kahl animated these scenes, and as usual they are worth a closer look.

Pecos Bill and Widowmaker show a very clear silhouette. Everything points outward, it's almost like an explosion. The emotion here is definitely exuberance.

This scene with Tramp interacting with the beaver also reads very clearly.
The staging connects the characters beautifully. Tramp leans forward and his paw pushes on the beaver's belly. There is just enough negative space between the two so that both poses are easy to recognize in silhouette.

Here we have a case of staging where the main business happens within the character's silhouette, not out in the open at all.
Robin Hood is wiggling his finger through a shot hole in his hat. So why does this read so well after all?
Milt made sure that your eye goes right to that subtle motion, look at the arrows.
And then the importance of  color. Robin's brown finger is moving in front of the WHITE  part of his fur.
It becomes a silhouette within a silhouette. 
Check out the frame grab below.

One of the great scenes in Disney animation.
But you couldn't tell from Medusa's silhouette what's going on here.
Again, the important subtle action of the false eyelash being pulled is staged within the main shape.
But to me there seem to be a hundred lines pointing at her left eye area.
No matter which part of the drawing you start looking at, your eye will end up at the stretched eyelash. The bend of every finger, the folds in her towel, even the shape of her lips help the viewer to focus on this one  particular part of the drawing. 

Of course all this looks so simple, but it took a lot of artistic brain power that made results like these possible.