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Investigating: The importance of Character Concept Art Pages in Animated Films

In Animations, Character Concept Art pages are crucial in showing what the character should look like, to each animator working on animating that character (as each animator is given the same character sheet). The drawings of various gestures, facial expressions and postures form the more complicated character sheets (like Pongo from 101 Dalmatians below) and size comparison charts (Aladdin sheet below) but the ‘Turn around’ sheets are more common and show, as suggested, a turn around view of the character (i.e. front, side, 45 degree angle etc).

There are so many examples of these drawing sheets on google that I decided to add loads for you to look through. These are all from different Disney features, purely because they are the most well archived online.

Not necessarily with the Disney model sheets (as they are likely photocopied black and white) but I know that character designers first start out with blue pencil drawn shapes and line of motion (like arch of spine) not unlike the simple shapes in Aladdin size chart, and add red pencil detailing before final outline in graphite pencil. You can see this in the turn around drawings below…

This is where 2D animation is shown to be so different than other forms of drawing because, especially in large studio works like Disney, there could be 80 artists working on the key frames of different animated films, then maybe 100 artists who create the ‘in-between’ frames (lovingly known as Inbetweeners ) and possibly a further 100 artists as Inkers who paint each frame. So the style of drawing has to be taught, learnt and constructed into each individual frame.

How ‘Inbetweening’ works is that the senior artist will create the KEY FRAMES that will dictate how the movement/gesture will play out. the Inbetweeners have less skill in animation, so they use the key frames to create the frames that will join them together. You can see this below from animator Richard Williams’s book ‘Animator’s survival kit’ (worked on Who Framed Roger Rabbit). The pale circle -which here indicates where the head would move- would be the frames that are created by an Inbetweener, with the full body drawings being drawn by the senior key frame animator.

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