Animes and Cartoons
Animes? What’s that?
Animes refer to art form or animation that can be found in cinemas. Earlier, it was referred to as an animation particular to Japan which was done using graphics, character and themes. However, of late, it has been understood as a style of animation or television entertainment created in Japan or Japanimation as it was known in the 1970’s. Though anime has emerged as a distinct genre, it still follows the steps of traditional animation- storyboarding, voice-acting, character-design, and cel-production. Earlier, images for animes were made from paper cutouts, blackboards, silhouettes etc. During the 1990’s, animators started making animes by using computer software. In some cases, key frames and in-between animation also gets used.
The importance of anatomy is pivotal for creating an anime character. It is said that the body proportions of the character should exactly match those of the human body. Most characters are either seven or eight heads in height. Modifications maybe made so that deformed characters can be created which are usually two to four heads. Some creative alumni from best animation institutes spined courage to defy the credo by creating some animes that have not followed these rules and hence they look similar to cartoons made out of Japan.
One thing that stands out in anime characters are the size of the eyes which are usually exaggerated. This is because the entire gamut of human emotions can be depicted through the eyes. So, for giving depth to the cornea, variable colour shading is done by anime artists. However, there could be an exception as not all animes have large eyes. Depending on the hair colour, the eyes could have corresponding colours. Therefore, it becomes necessary that the hair design is styled colourfully so that action and emotions produce a visual effect. All this are done keeping in mind the mood and thought that the character may have in its mind.
The successes of animes have been attributed to the following reasons:
- Spread of television: The sale of TV sets, especially in post-World War II Japan, increased leaps and bounds. Infact by 1965, around 90% of Japanese households owned a TV set! This helped the animated anime series to be such a big hit when it was released in the mid 1960’s.
- Success of Tetsuwan Atomu: ‘Tetsuwan Atomu’ (Japanese for Atom boy) was the first anime ever made. It was made by the legendary Osamu Tezuka (1928-1989) and subsequent animators started to follow his example in later years. Till 1963, the Japanese public had to look up to animation made by the Chinese or Americans for ideas and their entertainment. Moreover, since Japan had to still recover from the devastation of the World War II and animation was seen as both expensive and time consuming especially for screening it on TV. However, Tezuka, by founding ‘Mushi Pro’, made the impossible possible.
Then, what are Cartoons?
The word cartoon has originated from the word karton meaning strong or heavy paper. Its history can be traced to 1499 wherein the Pope is seen playing a game of cards with the Roman emperor and the kings of France and England. However, the current understanding of cartoon has nothing to with its etymology. Since it can be seen in the print media as well as in films, a cartoon can be referred to as a drawing showing the features of its subjects in a humorously exaggerated way as well as a ‘motion picture using animation techniques to photograph a sequence of drawings rather than real people or objects’. In most situations, the purpose of a cartoon is to induce laughter by focusing on topics that are humorous. Though one may make educational cartoons, the primary market for cartoons has been young children. To denote the humour element in a cartoon, dialogues or captions are used by cartoonists.
When cartoons are seen as a form of visual arts, anatomy is ignored in most cases. This is the reason why we see that the characters have features that would be not relative to the restof the body. They also are done using the process of traditional animation. Though principles of anatomy may not be strictly adhered, some resemblance to humans can be seen. The duration for a cartoon animation cannot be fixed as it could be for few minutes or could stretch for an entire hour. Though most of them are to make people laugh, few cartoons could be satirical at times.
Steps in making an Anime
The following steps maybe considered to make animes:
- Three Frames Shooting: Regular animation works on 12-18 frames per second whereas it is 8 or less in the case of animes.
- Stop-Images: This technique involves, for example, blocking a character’s mouth while it is speaking by using a single or still image.
- Pulling cels: Here, animators move a single animation cel across the background. This saves time spent on drawing as well as money.
- Repetition: in this technique, cels are reused or in some cases, animated sequences within a sequence may be also reused. By this, an illusion gets created.
- Sectioning: Here, parts of the shots are animated whereas the rest of them are stop-images.
- Cel-banking: In this step, the animation cels are reused along with the animated sequence.
- Lip-Synching: Cels at the mouth area of the anime are animated. These animations maybe used over and over again.
- Short Shot Length: This is a trick that is employed so that the audiences don’t realize that the images are lacking in animation!
- Special Effects Layers: Certain onscreen effects are created without full animation that are done through layers.
- Camera Movement: Movements like pulling away, zooming in, panning across a shot, or fading in or out etc. create an artificial movement. These help anime animators to create an illusion which may distract viewers!
Steps in making a cartoon animation
The following steps maybe considered:
- Brainstorm for getting ideas as well as a fair idea of the resources one may have
- Decide on the duration of the cartoon-whether it is for a show or movie
- Determine the target audience
- Use imagination to come up with a plot or storyline
- Start writing the script along with dialogues if necessary
- Ensure to divide the story into as many parts as possible
- Begin animating by starting off with cel animation
- Try to use ‘stop-motion’ techniques
- Try using 3D models
- See if you can record your own sound effects or look for pre-recorded ones
If you like this article prepared by animation scholars at Animaster Academy, the No.1 animation college in Bangalore, you may also like another article- All about Cartoons. It has been framed by the same team and it discusses the facts and figures since the origin of cartoons. If you find delight in design industry, have a glance through- Designer’s dilemma.