Friday, June 7, 2013

Hercules



Barry Johnson, a very talented story artist who I worked with on a few projects, posted this partial rough model sheet on his blog recently. I had forgotten about it, but it reminded me to do a post on Hercules.
I animated adult Hercules in the movie, and the assignment was a shift from my previous characters Gaston, Jafar and Scar, all villains. I wanted to do a different character concept this time around, so I asked if I could do the title character. 
Even though the film's cast was going to be inspired by the graphic style of British artist Gerald Scarfe, I knew that Hercules needed to be animated subtly and convincingly.
As a matter of fact, Gerald Scarfe drew him in a very exaggerated way and told me:" I just don't draw Hercules the way he needs to look in the movie."
Still, a very cool sketch.



Eventually Gerald and I got together to discuss design issues. All the other units had pretty much finalized their characters, and it was time to nail the appearance of Hercules.
So we both talked and doodled at the same time until we quickly came up with this sketch.
The main idea was to go back to images of Greek sculptures, athletes or Gods, and incorporate some of the facial features into our design.



Still looking for the right shapes and forms.



Thumbnail sketches for my first production scene. Herc has just offered Meg a ride on Pegasus, and confirms that the horse wouldn't mind. Then from up above an apple hits Herc on the head.
These sketches were made in front of a TV set, I was studying life action reference by actor Robert Gant, who gave me great ideas for acting.



More thumbnails for a scene, late in the film. Megara has died, and Hercules rushes into frame and in disbelief picks up her body.



A couple scenes later he lowers Meg slowly to the ground.
These poses are my first rough pass, the last image is tied down. Animator Ken Duncan, who supervised Meg, helped me to keep her drawing on model.






Turn around sheets in clean up and rough form. As you can see, there is quite a bit of line mileage on this character.




A color model sheet.



I have to say I really enjoyed animating Hercules. Tate Donavon's great voice performance had a mix of innocence and awkwardness, but also bravery. After a few scenes under my belt Herc also became a lot of fun to draw. The design was stylized, but he needed to move with weight and subtlety. There are plenty of scenes I'd like to do over again, but I look back with fond memories of how much fun we all had creating these characters.

By the way, initially I was asked to animate the villain Hades. At that time he was thought of as a Jack Nicholson type.
I am glad Nik Ranieri ended up doing this character, he did a splendid job with him.



A fun caricature by Eric Goldberg of me as Hercules and Eric as Phil.


34 comments:

  1. You know, like Robin Hood, Hercules is most likely not to be in everyone's list of favourite Disney movies. Right?

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  3. Andreas, you've mentioned in the past how Milt Kahl would get a character design, then he would refine it to the final version he would animate. It appears you did the same thing with Hercules. Is it the same with all the characters you've animated? Does the director give the final OK on the characters appearance? Just curious... thanks!

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    1. Yes, the director approves the final design. Some of my characters relied more on previous Vis Dev work than others.
      Scar's final appearance for example was pretty much my idea, Lilo on the other hand is completely based on C. Sander's character design.

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  5. Haha I used to copy yours and Ken Duncan's drawing a lot coz Hercules was pretty difficult to draw so I got really curious and want to "crack" it so I can draw them.

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  7. Just yesterday I listened to Clay Kaytis' Animation Podcast interview with Ken Duncan. They couldn't remember whether you had done preliminary pencil tests of Hades based on the Nicholson idea.
    I know Nik Ranieri did Hades tests with John Lithgow's voice but did you do experimental animation with any design incarnations of Hades at all?

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    1. Yes, I animated a test scene of Hades with a Jack Nicholson dialogue line. It was shown at the CTN Expo last November.

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  8. Actually "Hercules" is my favorite Disney animated feature. I like it even more than "Aladdin" and "The Lion King". It is so bright and cheerful! Unfortunately there are no blu ray edition yet while existing DVD edition is pretty lame in terms of image quality.
    Anyway this post is the awesome bit of trivia for me. Thank very much for it, Andreas! I just cross fingers for continuation!
    P.S. Andreas, do you remember who came with idea of using Scar's pelage? :-)

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    1. I believe it came from somebody in the story department.
      It was kind of cute that they asked me for permission.

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  9. Fantastic! I was looking forward to a post from Hercules! Its animation in this film is really inspiring!

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  10. Did you do the "Jack Nicholson" Hades drawing, Andreas? It looks pretty good, but somehow I compare that to the 'antagonistic" Zeus from the Pastoral Symphony section of "Fantasia". But, I'm glad James Woods and Nik Ranieri were a great team picked for Hades. He was probably the only best known thing from "Hercules" as I read.

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    1. Yes, that is my drawing of an early Hades concept.

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  11. first class character and design!!

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  12. fab! Just happened to watch this on Netflix last night- it really is a handsome picture- gorgeous production design and lovely, broad, caricatured animation. Plus your fine work on Herc!

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  13. Always so appreciative for all you have to share! ...just had an in-betweening assignment with the Baby Hercules & have such a deeper appreciation for the visual style of this film - really fantastic to see your acting thumbnails... your blog is truly a treasure trove of daily inspiration - thanks again...!

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  14. Excellente!
    I'd been waiting for you to do a Hercules post.
    This is one of those Disney movies where I remember each character's acting beats in almost every scene; I love the caricature and varied character performances.

    It's great to see more of your thumbnails, and beautiful animation drawings.

    That was your first scene in production? Amazing.
    I hope you'll do more Hercules posts in the future. I feel Hercules is the least discussed (animation-wise) of the characters you supervised at WDFA, and it's great to see him getting some love here.




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  15. Zunächst einmal ganz vielen lieben Dank für diesen informativen Beitrag, Herr Deja! Auch wenn ich kein Profi-Zeichner bin, habe ich mal einige der Hercules-Posen nachgezeichnet - und finde, dass die Linienführung extrem kompliziert und die Figur sehr detailliert ist. Deshalb meine Frage: Geht Ihnen bei einer solchen Produktion die Figur irgendwann in Fleisch und Blut über? Und wenn Sie sich so richtig in die Materie eingearbeitet haben, wie lange brauchen Sie dann im Schnitt, um eine Zeichnung bzw. eine ganze Sequenz (es geht ja nicht um die Zeichnung an sich, sondern um deren Abfolge und die sich daraus ergebende schauspielerische Leistung) anzufertigen?

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    1. Nach etwa 5 bis 6 Szenen geht die Figur in's eigene Fleisch und Blut. Die Frage wie lange es dauert eine Szene zu zeichnen ist schwierig zu beantworten. Es hängt davon ab wie komplex das Design ist, und natürlich wie lang die Szene ist.
      Aber da Animatoren skizzenmaessig arbeiten, geht alles eigentlich ziemlich flott voran.

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  16. That's a lotta detail to inbetween and clean up. I had a friend doing cleanup on Pegasus and he was only getting done maybe two drawings a day, especially with the varied line width on a lot of the cleanup. Herc looks like even more detail than the horse..So,How do you, as a lead, make the call on how much detail to leave for the next guy? Is it based on how much time you get, or are there other factors involved? I noticed Jafar was similar in that respect.I kept watching his staff turning around thinking "I'm glad I didn't have to do that one..hehe

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    1. I try to add as much detail as possible, so clean up gets all the information. But I try to stay sketchy with my drawings, otherwise I would slow down too much.
      The tied down Herc & Meg drawing is a good example.

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  17. Amazing inspiring drawings and great tips for animator how to plan scene. Thanks for these. I´m interesting on drawing #63, that what are arcs on frame numbers on upper right corner?

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    1. The arcs indicate exact devisions for spacing the in-betweens.
      If an in-between is required right in the middle, you would see two same sized arcs. Then if one section needs another in-between, there will be two same sized smaller arcs.
      Actually...it's a bit hard to explain in words, but the logic behind it is very simple. With these arcs the inbetweener can better estimate the distance from one drawing to the other.

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    2. Thank you very much. I think i got it now. I just love old-school pencil animaton and really like to learn these methods. Never really used spacing charts, just never assimilate that. Even it´s must be simple and helpful. Thank you.

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  18. Thanks for sharing these... Always great to have insight into the development process. You all did a great job.

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  19. Amazing Work!!

    I'm so excited about this post! Herc is my all time favorite superhero!! - He's so sweet and awkward but in a very cute and charming way!

    I do have one question, does Hercules have a Andreas Deja move?

    (like Gaston scratching his cheek, you mentioned it in a earlier post.)

    :)

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    1. I don't recall any specific moves, but there were scenes which I acted out in front of a mirror.

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    2. Ah okay, I have to watch it again and see if I can find some of the scenes!

      Thanks for your reply!:)

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  20. Just found your blog and I am SO excited! I have been a very big fan of your work since I was in my teens. I will definitely be following up on your blog! I have been searching the internet for a few of my favorite artists so that I can send them fan mail. Mr. Deja, if you have a fan mail address where I can write to you please let me know. I would be greatly honored. Can't wait to read all of your blog entries!

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  21. really dig that hydra sketch. hercules seemed to keep his long neck throughout the entire design process. its fun to see how when we work in a team we try to preserve what the previous artist found was important when we add our own ideas. thank you for showing us how one thing flows into another. you are really doing the community a service with this blog.

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  23. Hallo Herr Deja,
    1992 sah ich damals den Film Aladdin, ich wollte auch sehr gerne Animator werden. Ich hatte Ihr Empfehlung gelesen dass man viel üben muss und an der Kunstakademie studieren soll. Ich habe habe leider auf keins meine Anfragen jemals ein Antwort von Disney erhalten, war auch damals sehr traurig darüber. Mit dieser trauer als Kind habe ich mehr oder weniger auch nicht an der Kunstakademie studiert. Heute bin ich Jurist, wie weit ich damit glücklich bin steht wohl in den Sternen..
    Ich zeichne heute aber viele Produktdesigns für Kunden die patente etc anmelden, macht auch Spaß soweit:) Ich würde trotzdem sehr gerne ein Originalzeichnung von Ihnen erhalten, als Erinnerung.. Ist das möglich?

    Grüße aus Nürnberg

    Dennis

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  24. Dear Andreas Deja,
    I'm 16 and a complete fan of you and all the animators at Disney. Some day I hope to come to Disney and be a director and writer :) I have good ideas of 2d animated movies for Disney. And I know, Disney's only doing 3d animation movies these days, but I'm still gonna try because I feel these stories I have would be great or amazing for a Disney animated movie. Anyway, I have two questions on animation. One, when making keyframes, how does an animator know which poses would be consider a keyframe? Also, when a movie has co-stars, do the animators for both of the characters come under one roof and animated the characters together. Like with Phil and Herc, did you and Eric Goldberg ever work in one room with the two characters, or were you completely separate? Well those are my questions. Have a nice day. Also, um if I ever do get my stories and movie ideas to Disney, would you ever consider coming to animated, because I know your still in 2d animation and all and I just thought you might like it. But you don't have to answer that last third question. Anyway, have a nice day :D Good luck with your Mushka movie, it looks cool from the teaser, if your ever need a voice actor for it I'm thinking of going into that kind of work as well. Take care ;) bye.

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