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Published by Matt Cadusch
Classic notes from Disney instructor don Graham.
Classic notes from Disney instructor don Graham.

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: Matt Cadusch on Dec 20, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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DON GRAHAM NOTES"Animation of FORCES vs. Animation of FORMS"
Disney set up drawing classes for his animators at the Chouinard ArtInstitute in Los Angeles under Instructor Don Graham. When theclasses were started, most of the animators were drawing using theold cartoon formula of standardized shapes, sizes, actions andgestures, with little or no reference to nature. Out of these classesgrew a way of drawing moving human figures and animals. Thestudents studied models in motion as well as live action film, playingcertain actions over and over. The analysis of action became importantto the development of animation. This is a transcript from one of DonGraham action analysis classes from 1937.Don also wrote a book on animation called The Art of Animation,unpublished. If anyone has a copy or can get their hands on a copy –please forward it toinfo@thinkinganimation.comand we will get it intoa .pdf format for all to enjoy.
Don Graham Notes “Action Analysis Class” 1937 1 of 13
 It is a fair criticism of animation as it stands today to say that with fewexceptions, every animator animates forms instead of forces. During arecent session, Tytla's dwarf animation was studied. It is obvious thathe does not animate forms, but rather forces. This has becomeapparent only within the last three of four months in his work. All hedraws in his roughs are symbols of force....he turns these symbolsover to his cleanup man who draws in the forms.For example, when he brings a character's upraised arm around to abent position with the hand near the chest, he never conceives this asan arm having shape but as an actual force working from key pointsand studies what happens. He indicates the transition of strain fromthe elbow to the wrist as it sweeps around....he really makesshorthand notes of the tension between the elbow and the wrist.In animating a figure it is usual for the animator actually to drawforms. When he draws forms, he gets forms - generally lifeless. For along time here in the life classes there has been emphasis placed onthe forces of drawing - drawing symbols of forms, of expressivetensions of force. Tytla is the first animator who has consistentlycarried this principal throughout his animation - drawing symbols of forces, using these symbols to animate with and leaving the entireresponsibility of the forms to his cleanup man. This is a revolutionaryconception of animation.This is perfectly logical. The animator works with forces all thetime....there is a constant use of graphic accents in his manipulation,and these accents may be used to as symbols of forces. The actualform is something which is really a by product of animation. The vitalelement is force.What does this concept lead to? As soon as these forces are undercontrol it is possible to create feelings or emotions or reaction in theaudience. By sweeping an arm around fast, an animator expects areaction from his audience; but in moving the arm, does he conceive
Don Graham Notes “Action Analysis Class” 1937 2 of 13
it as an arm moving (which is animating forms) or does he conceive itas a FORCE? There is a world of difference in the mental approach -there is an entirely new philosophy of animation wrapped up in thisconcept of animating forces.
That leaves the responsibility of translating forceinto form up to the cleanup man which is quite a job.Yes, but that is where it should be. It is assuming that an animatorhas a cleanup man with whom he can work hand in hand. It is alsoassuming the cleanup man knows and understands these forces aswell as the animator does. The symbols must be understoodthoroughly by the two.
How can you move a form or mass form one positionto another without force?That of course is impossible.
Do you mean the animation we have had so far has noFORCE?Not at all - this is a matter of conception. If he moves the arm throughfast the animator knows that in doing it a certain way he will get areaction from the audience. He is dealing with forces all the time and itis with the expression of these FORCES that he gets reactions from theaudience. But in visualizing his animation, is he conceiving it as aFORCE or as a moving form?
This is a matter of terminology rather than adifference of approach.No- there is a philosophy here. In drawing the figure an artist can say:"I am going to draw that figure - those forms - and by drawing thoseactual forms I will get that figure. In order to draw these forms he willhave to understand balance and thrust to a certain extent to make thedrawing hold up. But that us a different approach than going into the
Don Graham Notes “Action Analysis Class” 1937 3 of 13

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