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Applying Schulz’s hand drawn style to CG animation

Film Divider took a frame by frame look at how the CG artists are applying a more traditional line-art style to 3D animation.

One of the inherent problems comes from Schulz?s character design. In CG, the underlying premise is that each character is represented, with very few exceptions, by a single, three dimensional model. This is then posed and animated with techniques far closer to working with a stop motion puppet than anything you?d do with a pencil.

The Peanuts poses that we?re very familiar with, some 64 years since the strip first launched and 49 years since their first TV special, don?t adhere to those principles at all. Schulz?s characters were expressed and positioned in ways that made the best of their original medium, not this one.

After watching the teaser to the Peanuts 3D movie, one of the things I and many others noticed was how close this seemed to have captured Charles Schulz’s drawing style – including that wonderful shaky line. It gave me a bit of confidence that the technical end of the film was going in the right direction. See image example below, and the movie’s teaser below that if you haven’t seen it yet.

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Community Comments

#1 Mike Cope
March/19/2014
@ 12:43 pm

I wrote on Facebook earlier today that it would be cool if the features that look more hand-drawn are actually extruded from Sparky’s original pen work.

A little birdie, familiar with the project, then replied: “”” ””!”

(“They were!”)

It will be very interesting to learn more about what the actual techniques were that the filmmakers used, but for now, it seems like they used something *like* rotoscoping, but for comic strips. Disney (and others) would sometimes film live-action video for animators to “trace” over. The rotoscoping technique is usually frowned upon for classical animation, where the animator is supposed to have drawn the art originally, but in this case, I think using Sparky’s art helps to elevate the quality of the film.

I recall Sparky saying in interviews that a comic strip cartoonist must remember that they can do things that television and movies cannot… I don’t know how well that statement holds up today, but his action lines were an integral part of the Peanuts comic strips. They are part of what makes the Peanuts world.

That is, those action lines are part of the way characters and objects move and react — in the *Peanuts* world.

The lines are characters themselves. And they don’t exist in the world of other animated films because things move and react differently in those worlds. So for me, seeing these lines in this new 3D film makes me feel, “Yes, that IS the Peanuts world.”

#2 Joe Engesser
March/19/2014
@ 2:05 pm

Looks a bit ViewMaster-like without the black outlines. Interesting points on 3D intentionally incorporating some flat cartoon design aspects…quite the task mixing to create an acceptable balance. Good luck to all involved…Don’t Blow It, Charlie Brown:)

#3 Tom Falco
March/20/2014
@ 6:31 am

I don’t like the look of this new Peanuts movie. Do they really need to touch the masterpiece and change it from it’s origins? The charm was in the simplicity and style. Bill Watterson knew what he was talking about.

#4 Magic Addict
March/20/2014
@ 10:58 am

Mimicking the artwork of Schulz doesn’t mean you’re doing Peanuts. Peanuts was so much more than anything that can be produced by some slick animation studio. Just check out comics like this

http://img3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20130721141729/peanuts/images/9/9c/Pe560306.gif

#5 Garey Mckee
March/20/2014
@ 7:46 pm

From what the teaser reveals, I like the look of the film. It does make me wonder why perhaps a traditional cell animated film project wasn’t pursued. But perhaps it was a choice to separate the film franchise projects from the television and direct to video market. I’ll reserve my final judgement until I actually see the film in 2015, but for now I am very interested in and excited about this film.

@Mike Cope I recall an article I read where Schulz said Linus could only be drawn sucking his thumb from the front and not the side because his head was too big. He said it confounded the television animators.

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