There’s a bit in Eric Goldberg’s Crash Course for Animators book where he explains his tie-down technique: in short, he builds up more and darker lines over a light, impressionistic rough. There’s another bit where he explains how this relates to animating angular characters. His recommendation for those new to angular forms is to draw a softer, rounder rough and add angles (preferably where they would naturally occur on the body — joints, bones, etc.) in the tie-down process.

Those are sound draftsmanship techniques — not the only approaches, but nothing to be sneezed at. And I wholeheartedly recommend doing curvy, rhythmic, dimensional drawings first, or you’ll fall into the same haphazardly angular rut that I did for several years.

The old drawing below still brings a mischievous smile to my face, but Gawd is it boxy. (Star Wars mugs is copyright Lucasfilm)

BUT…

Nowadays I favor quick, long, violent pen strokes, and I realized tonight that those kinds of strokes make sharp straights and angles easier for me to draw than curves. I also realized that even a slight bend on each angle can keep such a drawing from going stiff.

So I tried doing a light, somewhat more angular rough, and then tied it down with more natural-looking curves.

First, I was pleased to find that it kept the pose from going noodly. The space-clown’s straight back plays nicely against the aggressive curve from his belly to his left leg! Second, even though the angles were softened, their directions and contrasts made the drawing explode with energy. I am always trying to achieve that. So even if I’m using kind of a backwards method, it might continue to produce fun, kinetic results.

There, I hope that all made sense and I didn’t confuse anyone into drawing Johnny Test or some schlock. Seriously, angles are tough, but if you use them carefully and balance them with curves — or better yet, mix the two — you can get interesting results. Heck, two guys I follow just popped into my head as examples…

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Our friends at MASHED (HBrunaTV, Sam Green Media & Twisted Grim) have some very awesome animation! Watch it now!