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Author Topic: Animation Pencil Question
mbaker
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I have a question regarding animation pencils. I've been practicing animation with red, and blue col-erase pencils. I've learned that when you start off with a red drawing, you place another sheet of paper over it, turn the light box on, and draw over it in blue. once the blue drawing is done, i turn the light box off, place another sheet on top of the blue drawing, and use a black pencil. My question comes from the fact that i can almost see the blue drawing underneath, and i've been tempted to turn the light box back on to see where i'm tracing. Should i use a dark blue pencil, or should i press harder on the blue pencil to make it easier to see without relying on the light box a second time. Thanks.
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tstevens
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I don't know exactly why people go red to blue to black. It sort of ends up making a nice purple!

When I was in school they use to gear people in this direction. However, I've always stuck to animating and drawing in red colerase and then I use a kneaded eraser to pull it back a little before laying on a black line. The blue intermediate always seemed like a hassle and a mess.

If you are roughing animation draw in red or blue and then find your line in black on the same sheet. When you go to cleanup the drawing you can restructure it in red or blue and then rub it almost all of the way back with a kneaded eraser and place your clean line on top. Make sure to switch back and forth between top and bottom light. If you leave your table light on all of the time you will get an inaccurate representation of what the drawing really looks like. When you scan a drawing that has red or blue under drawing you may get a fuzzy line if you don't have your scanner set up correctly. For the record most scanners will scan out blue and red when scanning in Bit Map or gray scale. In general, for final animation, you should always try to cleanup without under drawing for best scanning results.

For pencils I like using Pentel .5 and .7 mechanicals with HB leads (The pentel lead is smooth and dark plus it is cheap and easy to get). I use to use blue staedtler Mars Lumograph HB pencils but they are expensive and you can't just run over to Target or Walmart and pick them up. Anything softer than a B is probably going to smear, so if you can, stick to HBs.

I have tried quite a few pencils and most are either to grey or the lead has burs in it. Blackwings use to be the pencil of choice though I believe they stopped making them 15 or 20 years ago.

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http://www.foogersnarts.blogspot.com

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GaryClair
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I don't understand drawing things 3 times.. do you do that for every drawing?

I've noticed that when Col-Erase was bought out by Prismacolor the pencils have changed slightly. I don't like using them as much as I used to.

I found a great graphite pencil that is the closest thing to the old blackwing pencils.

It's made by California Republic Stationers.. and it's called the "Golden Bear" 2B I've only seen them on Ebay..
http://cgi.ebay.com/Golden-Bear-Graphite-2B-Orange-Pencils-40-pencil-tube_W0QQitemZ2202299 00687QQihZ012QQcategoryZ102953QQssPageNameZWD1VQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItemQQ_trksidZp1638Q2em118Q 2el1247
Amazing pencil, and eraser.

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GaryClair
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Another favorite animation tool for inking was the old white disposable Pentel fountain pens.
They discontinued them years ago. But bought one recently at Graphaids. Same Pen, but they are now brown and called the "Stylo"

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KevinO
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Thanks for the pencil listing Gary, sounds like a good pencil.

I never understood the process of drawing things 3 times either. I just rough it out in blue or red or graphite then get it to where I want it, then clean it up on another sheet, usually with a light blue line or I rub it back. If it's your own animation and you're scanning it, or just shooting rough tests, I say use whatever is most comfortable and try to keep the vitality in the drawings. Many times, redrawing, reworking and recleaning up takes the life out of them. But then again, I've always hated doing clean up and avoid it as much as possible. [Wink]

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EustaceScrubb
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I concur with what several others have already written above:

I would simply use a single colored pencil line (either Col-Erase red or Col-Erase blue) for the underdrawing, then rub it down slightly with a kneaded eraser and clean it up directly on top of the rough with black graphite pencil (if it's not too messy ) or if your roughs are really messy or chewed up from too much erasing and redrawing then put a new clean sheet of paper over top of the colored pencil rough drawing and clean up in black graphite on the new sheet of paper.

Drawing it over three times does seem unnecessary and as mentioned you risk watering down the original pose.

When you scan the drawings simply set the scanner to filter out red or blue , depending on which color you used for the underdrawing , or if you want that slightly sketchy "xerox" line look (like 60's era Disney features) just let the underdrawing scan in with no filtering.


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Don't even get me started on the poor quality control of the present day Col-Erase pencils [Mad] . I occasionally still get a good batch , but most of them are not up to the quality of what Col-Erase used to be.

For final clean-up line I use either a mechanical 0.5 lead if the clean up style needs to be ultra tight , or for a more organic , thick and thin line I prefer the Tombow graphite pencils. I will have to check out the Golden Bear California Republic pencils that Gary Clair mentions.

I spend about 95% of my time drawing on the Cintiq tablet with TVP Animation software nowadays , but I love a good pencil .

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mbaker
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So is there a difference between roughing in red, or blue? What does it mean to 'rub' it back with a kneaded eraser? I have noticed that if i trace on top of a blue, or red pencil drawing, the color lines go on the back of the drawing. Usually, i scan my work in black, and white TIFF format. For black, i use a Tombo pencil.
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GaryClair
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Oh, I see what you're asking..

Red usually comes off dark on a copy machine, and blue fades

If you're really light handed with your blue underdrawing.. if often doesn't show at all when there is red over it.

Blue under drawing, red on top for details is how i've always seen it done.

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tstevens
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You have to distinguish between blues. Non Photo blue is light like a Cyan. Straight Blue Colorase is more of a true blue. You can get an indigo blue as well but they are pretty hard and dark.

As for roughing in red or blue, that is personal. And like Gary said. Blue (non photo) will fall out on a copier.

When you rub something back all you are doing is running the kneaded eraser over the drawing really quick to lightly erase the drawing back so the colored pencil isn't as prominent. That will help the black stand out.

Getting an impression of the drawing from underneath is just part of the game. If you are concerned about it place a piece of paper in the middle (this may make it slightly harder to clean up details though). Scanning a Black and White TIFF is good but it may not make a great Alhpa channel. If you scan as a Bitmap the drawing will have no gradation so it is easier to create a perfect Alhpa channel. If you scan in Bitmap you will want to go up to 600 dpi on the settings. That will keep the un aliased line from looking too jagged.

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http://www.foogersnarts.blogspot.com

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mbaker
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So when do you turn the light box on? I would rough out the drawing, and then trace over it, and before that, i would just draw the character, and place another sheet on top of it for the next drawing. So after i rub out the roughs with the kneaded eraser, do i trace on the rough with black, and put another sheet for clean up?
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tstevens
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Yeah, You sketch in red or blue and then lay the black down on one sheet. This is your rough drawing/ animation. When the scene is approved you clean the drawing up onto a new sheet of clean paper.

The idea is that you rough your scene out fast in Blue or red. When it feels right you put a black line down over the red to finalize the shapes. Once that gets approved it goes to clean-up.

Think of it this way... The underdrawing is literally that: You are blocking in shapes and structure. The Black line is the final drawing over the structure. To make it all look pretty, you clean it up onto a new sheet.

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http://www.foogersnarts.blogspot.com

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tstevens
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Also, Use the light box when you need to see the drawing below the one you are working on.

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http://www.foogersnarts.blogspot.com

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mbaker
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I've been working with Digicel Flipbook, and their instruction booklet says that i should scan the artwork at 300 dpi. If i go up to 600 dpi, the lines will look less jagged, right? And if so, will help me if i'm working in Flash?
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tstevens
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We have been using digicel for a while...

The scan resolution is relative to the final output. 300 dpi will work for output at 720 x 540. if you want to output at 200% (1440 x 1080) you should scan at 600 dpi.

The best way is to test it and see what looks best to your eye.

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http://www.foogersnarts.blogspot.com

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mbaker
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quote:
For final clean-up line I use either a mechanical 0.5 lead if the clean up style needs to be ultra tight , or for a more organic , thick and thin line I prefer the Tombow graphite pencils.
I have a mechanical pencil, and didn't know they can also be used for animation. Since i also use a Tombo pencil, it would be nice if they had an eraser. Which is the best lead to use for a Tombo? I currently use 2B.
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tstevens
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If you are doing clean up I would think a 2B would be about as soft as you could go without smearing (if you don't already, use a piece of paper under your drawing hand to prevent smearing the final clean-up). Mechanicals are great just because you don't have to worry about spending $1.00 or more per pencil. Pentel even makes a .9 if you need a thicker point.

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http://www.foogersnarts.blogspot.com

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mbaker
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Do mechanical pencils have leads that are similar to the lead in a Tombo pencil? I thought that Tombo pencils are made with a special dark enough to scan in to a computer.
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tstevens
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Don't know about that... If you dig the Tombows use em, just get the best price that you can. Like I said though, Pentel makes very good leads if you don't mind the difference in the feel (get the drafting pencils though). For thick and thin cleanup I would definately stick to regular pencils.

It really comes down to experimenting and getting the right mix of things that work best for you. A big part of the scanning also has to do with what kind of paper you use. I like Chromacolour 25lb prograde paper though the only reason I can use it is because the company pays for it. If you are in or around LA you probably use the Ingram paper from Cartoon Colour. Both are pretty similar in feel though the Chromacolour is a higher white and tends to scan very well. So ultimately the paper you use is just as important as the pencil. Standard copy paper will work if you get a very good paper but often it is less transluscent and grainy (grainy papers will tend to scan with more speckling if you don't screw with the settings). I actually know animators who have been working on 8.5x11 for years who like it just fine. It is all about how you make the most out of what you use.

Back when DIP first came out in the nineties everyone was trying to figure out how to get decent scans. There was a period when people were inking thier cleanups rather than using pencil (if you have ever had to ink your clean-ups you know it is not easy). However, now you don't have to do that. You just need to make sure that the threshold setting on the scanner is set at the right point for your drawings.

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http://www.foogersnarts.blogspot.com

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mbaker
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I've never tried experimenting with the threshold of my scanner settings, but i have experimented with Photoshop's threshold for comic paged before. Also, is a black col-erase pencil just as good as a Tombo pencil?
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EustaceScrubb
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quote:
is a black col-erase pencil just as good as a Tombo pencil?
Black Col-Erase will give a much lighter , grey-ish line than a Tombow.

I have done clean-up with Black Col-Erase , it works pretty good for building up a line gradually from thin to thick, but it takes a lot of pressure to get a dark, dense line. I found that I ended up with a sore wrist using the Black Col-Erase for that purpose.

Black Col-Erase also doesn't erase very well. I found that it tended to smear or leave ghost images when erased.

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tstevens
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When you adjust the threshold you are setting the point at which cetain tones go pure black and others go pure white. With a bitmap scan you have to really worry about midtones: week line wieght, tapered lines etc... So by that standard you want as dark a pencil line as you can get that won't smear easilly.

I have never used black colerase but I am assuming that it would be harder to erase if it has the same type wax base as the other pencils.

side note: If you have to erase small mistakes on your clean-ups use the peg holes on a piece of scrap animation paper as an eraser shield to block off other areas from being smeared or erased.

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http://www.foogersnarts.blogspot.com

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mbaker
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quote:
I have never used black colerase but I am assuming that it would be harder to erase if it has the same type wax base as the other pencils. Side note: If you have to erase small mistakes on your clean-ups use the peg holes on a piece of scrap animation paper as an eraser shield to block off other areas from being smeared or erased.
Now, I'm wondering if i should use a regular pencil to draw, and erase the black outlines on the color sketch, and trace with a Tombo pencil on a clean sheet? Also, by peg holes, do you mean the actual holes on scrap paper, and where do i place it 'shield the smears'? I'm kinda lost on that.
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EustaceScrubb
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quote:
Also, by peg holes, do you mean the actual holes on scrap paper, and where do i place it 'shield the smears'? I'm kinda lost on that.
Ok, one thing you use as a shield to prevent smears is a Post-It Note , like this:

 -

By using the peg holes as an eraser shield that means you're using the peg holes on a blank piece of animation paper in the same way you'd use a thin metal eraser shield --

 -


http://www.danielsmith.com/images/p21137b.jpg

But instead of the metal eraser guard template you use the oblong peg holes on a piece of animation paper to selectively erase portions of your drawing. This lets you erase small sections of your drawing without erasing or smearing the parts of the drawing around it.

It's funny ... these are little tricks that everyone learns within the first two weeks of being on a production , but the tricks are not taught in any book that I know of .

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mbaker
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quote:
It's funny ... these are little tricks that everyone learns within the first two weeks of being on a production , but the tricks are not taught in any book that I know of .
I'll say. Show you how much animation is still looked down upon in mainstream society while journalists, politicians, and pop stars are treated as 'royalty'. [Roll Eyes]
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EustaceScrubb
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Well, not entirely sure what you're referring to there ...

but what I meant was that the little production tips like using the peg holes as an eraser guard and other techniques related to (primarily) clean-up and assisting are not usually covered in books because very rarely is anything having to do with clean-up covered in any detail. Most of the good stuff is floating around in various photocopied Notes that get passed around from artist to artist at various studios. Or you learn it on the job.

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tstevens
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I think a lot of animation is about seeing. If you try to explain something like inbetweening it is almost impossible to do so verbally. Even with pictures it doesn't quite make sense. In the world of 2D animation you really have to learn by sitting next to someone and then figuring it for yourself.

I can remember trying to to explain the difference between layout poses, key poses, extremes, breakdowns, and inbetweens to other people and I just couldn't convey it verbally. You have to draw it and then explain why one works different than the other and why sometimes they are one in the same.

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http://www.foogersnarts.blogspot.com

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John (Gian) Celestri
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I use California Republic Stationers' "Palomino" 2B. I have a very light touch and the line from that pencil glides smoothly across the page. Check Ebay [thumbsup]
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Sergio Pablos
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Early on, I spent a few months trying out different techniques, such as the "Light Blue then Tie Down in graphite", or "use the same kind of pencil that such and such artists use".

The reason for that was that I had convinced myself that my method was too messy and unorthodox, and I had to change that. After that period, I realized that, aside from the technical issues, you just have to go with what works for you. My method is still just as messy, but I'm comfortable with it.

Today, every time a young animator asks me what kind of pecil I use, I just tell them that's not what they should be worrying about. Good animation is good animation, no matter how you acomplish it.

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mbaker
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I'd also like to know what ruler is best suited for drawing lines on animation paper. I use a ruler with an 'inking' edge for comic pages, So do i use a different kind for color, or Tombo pencils?
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Sergio Pablos
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That'll teach me.
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mbaker
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Can i use a regular ruler, or an inking ruler with my animation pencils if i need to draw a line above the pegs?
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tstevens
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Seriously... Just do what ever works: "It ain't rocket science!"

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http://www.foogersnarts.blogspot.com

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