I really don’t know how to describe this. I’m
not even sure why I started writing this. I guess I want to express my thoughts
and knowledge about eyes. It's hard to say are these actually useful information but maybe they are at least very cool things to
However, I think that most of the time all this knowledge can
cause some trouble, especially in animation field. Because obviously reality and animation doesn’t
always share the same rules with each other (if they did, there wouldn’t be gigantic,
gravity defying breasts that some ladies have in animation..). It’s
understandable but also quite funny at the same time.
But who knows? Maybe I will educate some of
you and you’ll be happy to learn something new!
One of my biggest pet peeves is the enlarged
pupils in character’s eyes. Not the static pupils that animated characters have
permanently. I’m talking about the moment when the pupil in the eye starts to dilate.
One good example of this is that infamous
scene from Shrek 2 (2004), where the cat stares with his eyes wide open and making the
most adorable face the audience has ever seen. I know what they are trying to
achieve with that, but every time I see that shot I keep thinking “Run away,
you fool! Can’t you see that cat is going to strike you in the throat?!”
This probably needs some explaining. You see,
when a person or an animal gets aggressive or scared, the adrenalin is pumped
in the body. Part of that adrenalin goes to your eyes. Now, when adrenalin goes
to your eyes, it enlarges the pupils. By enlarged the pupil your eye will get more light (this is why for example your pupils enlarge when you
are in dark places, it’s much easier to see) . This is very important in
dangerous situations where you need all the light and your ability to see clearly in order to
So, when I see enlarged pupils in animation, I think that
the person is aggressive and you should run as fast as you can. Or at least be very cautious about it.
You may be thinking now: “If enlarged pupils actually
mean that the person is mad, then why on earth do we use them on cute kitten drawings and on Disney princesses?! This is madness!”
Well, because eyes are complicated. And simply because:
a) It looks appealing.
b) Large pupils don’t always mean that the
person is trying to kill you.
Let me explain.
Face it. Large pupils make things look
appealing. Look for example these pictures:
Now look at these..
Which row looked much appealing to you?
Most of you probably chose the first row (except Rafiki, he looks like he's on drugs), with large pupils. It’s
not surprising. Scientists have been studying this many ways. One famous
example was a study where dozens of men were asked to watch two exact same photos
of a woman. There was one detail that was different: in one photo the woman’s pupils were large and in the other one the
pupils were small.
When asked which photo was more attractive to the men, almost
every man said that the one with large pupils was attractive. They didn't know that it was because of the pupils until it was explained to them.
So, if large pupils look appealing then what do tiny
pupils do? They look scary and sometimes quite dramatic. Tiny pupils are mostly used in scenes (or used part of character design, think about Scar from The Lion King ) where the
character is scared or insane. It is effective and describes the state of mind
of that character. Think about any anime fight scenes or animated movies where
there’s a close-up of a character that is in deep trouble or.. well, just crazy.
That character’s pupils are very, very tiny. In reality, it doesn't make any sense but in animation it looks just right and damn cool.
And just for fun, let's see how scary this innocent picture of Simba and Nala showing big smile will look if we mess around with the eyes.
What they normally look like..
This picture will haunt your dreams tonight.
Now about the B part. What other things do large pupils
mean then? Well, pupils tend to enlarge when a person is interested in
something. Again, the pupils get larger so that you will be able to get much
information as possible. This can happen when you are watching your favorite
movie or seeing delicious food.
I have heard someone to say that one dating advice is to
check the date’s pupils to see if they dilate. If they do, that can mean that
he or she is interested. Well.. there's two problems with this "dating trick".
First, there's a big difference how close you are to the person. If you are very close, the person pupils will get smaller in order to see better. If you stand far away, the eyes will enlarge to see that far.
Secondly, like I said before, enlarged pupils can
mean other things. Like if the person is scared or getting angry.
Because of these sweet little eye functions, it's very hard to tell if the person is actually interested in you. So, maybe it
would be much better to study body language or simply just ask. Don't to stare his or her eyes. Because, you know,
staring someone's eyes can be also quite creepy. Sorry, I mean very creepy.
I don’t watch that much 3D animation but I
wonder if the animators aware of all this kind of information about eyes. The eyes
movements are very realistic nowadays (especially in Bolt, I really like how subtle the eye movements are!) so maybe it’s
not that insane to think that these details are being used. Especially when animated movies are getting more and more realistic looking.
And lastly, let me make one thing very clear: I'm not one
of those people who likes to point out how some things shouldn't work
in certain way in animation because it doesn't work like that in real
world (for example, some people argue that Zazu's beak shouldn't squash
and stretch because real bird's beak doesn't bend that way. Yes, there are actually people like that.). I know perfectly well that in animation (and
sometimes in movies) some things work differently from reality because
it's the best way to tell the story and make audience to get emotionally
involved. But sometimes it's just fun to think about these details. It
makes you admire and wonder how differently we view things in movies
while it can mean exact opposite in real life. It's very fascinating!
Oh, boy. I just realized that I spend an hour
and half to explain something so simple that even an highschool student knows
this stuff. Okay, maybe doesn’t know,
but sure doesn’t give a damn. Dammit!
So, I visited my friend some time ago and we decided it was time to watch Kung Fu Panda 2. I had seen the first movie but never the sequel. Naturally, because it was a sequel I didn’t have any expectations before seeing it. I had just heard that in focuses more on Po and his past. Nothing else.
And I have to admit that I was surprised. The movie was darker and in some points very serious, even though the movie is comedy most of the time. But.. oh, boy. When the movie gets serious, it is very good. Seriously good.
It was wonderful to see how many different animation styles they used in the movie. Chinese puppetry, 2D...Great stuff! I was also surprised to see how many characters actually got killed during the movie. You didn’t see them die but it was pretty clear.
The villain was very well done. The design, animation and the voice acting were top notch! I can't describe how much I loved the mixture of disappointment and insanity in the character's personality (actually, I could but there would be so much text to read..). And of course I really, really liked those staring bird eyes. I can't remember when was the last time when I saw a movie villain, that was elegant, smart and charming but still had.. not empty, but heartless and crazy stare. It's hard to pull that off and make it effective. I mean, anyone can draw a crazy looking character. But to make it actually "feel"creepy and real, that's another story.
Okay, let's cut the story short. After finishing the movie I got so inspired that I decided to draw some kung fu fighting giraffes. Stop smirking! This is the best idea since sliced bread! Almost. Not quite but almost.
I didn’t want to draw fancy pictures of giraffes kicking some butt. I wanted to explore what kind of characters these are. I had some ideas what kind of personalities they could have which was a good start. So, I made some experiments with different styles trying to find the right style for the characters. Still haven't found it but I think I'm getting closer every step..
It's kinda funny that the orange giraffe turned from a loveable big sister to an arrogant and jealousy filled character. At least in my mind. It doesn't really show up that well in the drawings.. The white one is an albino. Like many albinos, he's also blind which explains why his eyes won't seem to focus anywhere.
This can sound very silly but I had lots of troubles drawing these giraffes on two legs. I didn't know how to deal with the front legs because they were so long. Finally, I understood that I don't have to make them as long as real giraffes have.
In case you are wondering what giraffe on two legs looks like if the front legs aren't shortened:
Holy geometry! Those legs are so long that you would think that animal is related to spiders or something.
Wait a minute.
Spiders. Giraffes. Giraffe spiders. I wonder what those look like..
SWEET MOTHER OF BAMBI’S MOTHER’S KILLER!! What on earth is that and how to do you get rid of it?!
Maybe next time I will draw giraffes that actuallydo some kung fu.