Friday, October 28, 2011

The Difference Between Being Influenced By and Copying Someone Else's Work

No artist develops in a vacuum. From the moment we open our eyes, we are affected by what we see and feel. Some things attract us in a pleasing way, while others repel us. It is natural for us to want to grow close to and possess that which pleases us. As artists learning to crawl creatively, we naturally copy the work of those we like. Copying another artist's work develops your hand and eye coordination, which (in traditional 2D animation) is essential in being able to understand how to follow a character model sheet and keep your poses "on model".

The danger is that sometimes copying becomes a crutch which some young artists never throw down...and that cripples your creative growth.

Study the why's and how's of your favorite artist's work. Imitate that artist as a young bird would imitate its parents' flapping of their wings... but learn those lessons and principles that make for pleasing design, so that you can soar on your own into new territories...and not trudge along the well worn paths that were created in the past.

Pleasing designs are created by universal truths...and audiences are always interested in a fresh take on universal truths.


  1. In response to that, I've been practicing drawing from the Preston Blair book "Cartoon Animation" and model sheets and I mean, its great because I have things to draw from but in the back of my mind I worried "Oh no, what if I run out of things to copy from?" There was also the thought of well, I'm copying all these model sheets but am I actually learning anything? I'm sure this is a very Your Mileage May Vary thing or one of those things I'd need to figure out on my own but lately I've been trying to take a specific model sheet (like Woody Woodpecker for example) and just reviewing what I'd learned up to that point, free drawing the character from the model sheet's guidelines and they help me free myself up a little but I was wondering if there is a better way to use that technique or some else like it.
    /rambly comment O.o

  2. Amanda, I would suggest that your next step is to use the model sheets as a design guide while drawing poses that are different from those on the character model sheets. The easiest poses to start with are facial expressions depicting various emotions. You can then "graduate" to full body poses expressing those emotions.