Thursday, 4 June 2009

Chuck Jones Part 2: Going Rough

Sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves to do the perfect drawing right out of the gate. I know there are some artists who can quickly throw down a series of five or six simple, beautiful lines and it's always an amazing drawing. Everything is there. Perfect. Ready to hang on the wall of an Art Gallery.

While I'd really like to be able to do that some day, I'm not there yet. I have to go through a process by putting something really rough down and then working with it. Kind of as if I were sculpting, roughing out a basic form in clay and then adding, subtracting, and pushing things around on top of that initial rough shape until it is gradually honed into a finished piece. I don't know how many other people can relate to this way of working, but I feel like I see this process in the work of Chuck Jones.

Of course Chuck Jones' roughs are beautiful, because he drew with such a natural sense of appeal. But look at how rough these frogs are from his "One Froggy Evening" short:

The feet, hands, arms in some of these are literally scribbles and he left them that way. What's really important though, reads--The character and the pose. With these as his foundation, he could do another pass where he works everything out and finishes it off. I have some examples of him doing that here:

These drawings are from his books "Chuck Amuck" and "Chuck Redux", the drawings of the frog are from one of the books as well. The rough of the man sneaking away with the box under his jacket is actually from one book, and the clean-up is from the other. I put them together here because it's interesting to see how he changed and clarified things from the rough to the final. Especially in the drawing of the kid. Jones changed the initial rough and drew his baseball cap on backwards as well as turning his feet more inward in the clean-up, which seems to clarify the attitude and quality of the character. His arm holding the baseball glove has also been made a lot clearer. While he may have lost a tiny bit of appeal from the initial rough, he mostly clarified it and he arguably made it better.

Cleaning up a final drawing has always been a tough thing for me, so I've been tending to try and make it perfect in the rough and as a consequence wasting too much time on it. We can't all be Alex Toth unfortunately, some of us are actually human. As good as Chuck Jones was, I think he was human too, or at least I can relate to the way he seems to draw a lot more. If you get hung up with the clean-up phase like I do, these drawings show how Jones did it, so maybe we can all learn something from them.

The real point of this post though, is that it's okay to go rough, and just leave it. Look at how rough Jones went here, they're almost more a series of indications than they are drawings. We can always go back and do another pass to clean it up and clarify it later. The important thing is to get the idea out.