A Blog by James Gurney: Animation, Colors, Composition and More
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A Blog by James Gurney: Animation, Colors, Composition and More
26 July, 2017

We’ve just a discovered a marvelous art blog that might get you interested. Dinotopia creator James Gurney is publishing tons of stories for illustrators, plein-air painters, sketchers, comic artists, animators, art students, and writers. You’ll find practical studio tips, insights into the making of the Dinotopia books, and first-hand reports from art schools and museums.

Here are just three short stories to get you interested:


Dictionary of Color Combination

A Dictionary Of Color Combinations is a collection of flat color squares placed in over 300 side-by-side combinations.

The book is published in Japan and is based on the 6-volume work of kimono designer and teacher Sanzo Wada in the 1930s, a time when Japan was between wars, and was absorbing Western influences.

Japan has over 1000 traditional colors, based initially on the Chinese color system. Each named with reference to the seasons, and to plants, and animals, and the colors are often associated with social ranking.


David Farquharson

David Farquharson (1839-1907), The End of the Day’s Fishing, 56 x 91.5 cm

This oil landscape by David Farquharson (Scottish/English, 1839-1907) has a marvelous sense of scale and depth. 

A few observations:

1. Note the tiny fishermen figures on the right side of the picture.
2. Also, the tiny slivers of light reflecting off the water in the middle ground.
3. The foreground is illuminated and the middle ground is shadowed, the reverse of many grand landscape painters.
4. The corners of the composition are “dodged” or “blocked”—that is, darkened to keep the attention in the middle of the picture.
5. Well orchestrated atmospheric perspective. The dark colors in the extreme distance are lightened and cooled.


Tinkerbell Reference 

Disney Studios went to great lengths to shoot photo reference for Tinker Bell in their 1953 feature Peter Pan.

Animator Marc Davis brought in pantomime actor Margaret Kerry to pose with larger than life props.

Footage of her kicking a feather pillow informed a scene where she kicked a dandelion. Animators put reference films into a frame-by-frame viewer to study timing, spacing, and action.
While the reference helped make the action more believable, Marc Davis kept the look of the character aligned with his imagination.
You can find all his stories here. And don’t forget to check out the artist’s portfolio on his personal website. 
Source: James Gurney

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