As I mentioned in my previous post, I've just finished the curriculum at Animation Mentor. One of the things they do at the end of each term is have your mentor give you end of term feedback. Essentially, it tells you what you're strengths are and where you could stand to improve. As with all previous classes, I asked my mentor Mark Oftedal to be brutally honest with me with where i need to improve. He didn't feel i was particularly weak in anything in particular (which felt pretty darn nice to hear), but one area he felt we (in this case we being I, but really all of us as animators) could always improve it was in the strength and beauty of our poses. He mentioned that when he started at Pixar, coming from a drawing background, there were many animators who were faster, had better acting, better timing, but one thing where he felt he shined was in solid appealing poses. Anyone whose familiar with Mark's work would certainly agree. As with his drawings he spent a lot of time examining and re-examining his poses and making them as beautiful as he possibly could.
This brought my thoughts back to class 4 and a question posed to my mentor Steve Cunningham from Dreamworks Animation. In one of our Q&As, someone asked Steve if he had any quick, easy, daily exercises we might do to make us better animators. Steve said he was asked this every class and every class he replied the same way. Do a pose a day on what ever rig you're currently working with. Do it every day. He told us to simply find a picture somewhere; on the internet, in a magazine, from a photo - wherever - and spend 15-20min tops trying to copy that pose onto your character. Steve said this was an exercise he still practiced when getting a new rig. He said it would help you understand the rig (which in turn would help you work faster) and it would help you come up with better, stronger poses (which is really the root of our art if you boil it down, a series of poses) if you stuck to it. Steve challenged us to do a pose everyday and put it in our Public Review and followed by saying that despite everyone wanting to get better at animation and him having what he claimed was a method for accomplishing this, that he'd NEVER had a student actually follow through.
Well I for one am game for anything that will give me even a shot at bettering my art. I'd read somewhere or heard it said somewhere that everyone has 10,000 bad drawings in them that they have to work out before they get any good so this made perfect sense to me and i challenged myself to do it. I'm proud to say i DID do a pose day everyday in class 4. And class 5. Admittedly i started slacking on this challenge halfway through class 6, but what can i say?!?! I was trying to get a reel together! In any case, Mark's end of term feedback got me back to thinking about it. Steve had promised I'd see improvement in my work, (and i certainly have, both in terms of speed and quality,) but i started to think maybe i hadn't worked out my 10,000 bad drawing yet so it was time to get back to it. Besides, i like doing it and i can't see how spending 15-20 minutes a day on this is ever gonna negatively effect my work.
So here we begin. The Pose-A-Day Challenge is back in full effect, and i challenge any animator out there reading this to do the same. The rules are simple. Find a picture somewhere and copy that pose on your character. Spend no more than 20 minutes posing it on the character. I mean it! 20 minutes at the absolute most. The goal is to capture a pose and capture it quick, so hit the important things about the pose first and only worry about the details if time allows. Think about how you can plus the pose from the image, how you can exaggerate it to make it read more clearly, how you can make the pose work on the rig you're using. Sometimes i pick a theme for the week, like horses standing, people sitting, sadness, happy poses, dance poses, animal poses, etc. One week i even found animal poses and posed them on a human character. Not trying to make the character look like an animal as much as thinking 'how would a human character pretend to be an animal.' Your options are limitless!
As Steve Cunningham assured me my work would improve, i promise you the same. If you actually do this, your work WILL improve. You WILL get faster. So give it a shot and let me know how it works for you!
I expect this blog will keep me accountable for my pose challenge as much as the challenge will keep me accountable for posting to my blog. Everyday, I'll post a new pose. Here's the first one:
Animator, artist, musician and all around pretty awesome guy.