Character Creation & Illustration

Character Creation and Illustration

Character Creation

is a work of art. As the father of the animated cartoon ( Winsor McCay ) had once said prior to pronouncing the doom of an industry he had inadvertently helped to create : “Animation should be an art….what you fellows are doing with it is making it into a trade….not an art, but a trade….bad luck .”

From 1911-21 McCay nursed animation from a simple camera trick to full blown character animation that would take 20 years to be surpassed. McCay animated his films almost single-handed; from inception to execution each cartoon was his and his alone. He took the time to make his films unique artistic visions, sometimes spending more than a YEAR to create a single five-minute cartoon. But the burgeoning world of cinema could not wait so long for so little, and so the modern animation studio came into being.

The art of animation was no longer the work of one man, it was a streamlined, assembly-line process in the best Henry Ford tradition. But was the ” Art ” of the animated cartoon sacrificed for the trade’s sake? That, of course, depends on the studios themselves and how one chooses to perceive things…

Through the years several institutions have proven McCay’s prophecy at least partly false; indeed, without such positive collaborations of talent the Artistic aspect of animation would not have advanced to the level of sophistication it enjoys today. But who exactly was it “bad luck” for: the Art, or the Artists themselves ?

It was when animation finally made the leap to television that the Artistic aspect truly began to suffer for business’ sake. The great Hollywood studios of the 30s, 40s, and 50s had been manned by people genuinely interested in making quality cinema. The denizens of the TV animation houses of the 60s, 70s, and 80s only cared that the product was there to market. The quality of writing was poor, and the animation itself was often so limited it barely qualified as animation at all. McCay’s prophecy had finally come to pass…

Finally in the 1990s the artists in the television cartoon industry began to figure out how to work effectively with the limitations of the field. Around 1992 we saw the debut of Warner Bros., “Batman: The Animated Series.” Despite the fact that the animation was contracted to various Oriental studios (by the mid 80s the practice was almost universal in television production….it continues to be so today) the show’s creators Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Eric Radomski, and others managed to infuse the series with a distinct visual style. Combined with the deep characterizations and strong stories, “Batman” was a first-rate cartoon. While they did not attract as much publicity as Disney’s theatrical department, the Warner Bros. TV artists were just as important to the art of animation, demonstrating that even a television cartoon series was capable of Artistic achievement.

From the advent days of character creation such as : Steamboat Willie ( Mickey Mouse ) to Donald Duck, Goofy , Bugs Bunny , and Betty Boop , the cartoon & comic book industry has advanced immensely . When we look back at the early days of character creation and the lack of technology at the time one thing can be said when we compare the advancements we have made today : There is NO comparison . I cannot say that I agree with Winsor McCay’s viewpoint – as far as Art having been made into a trade , simply based on the fact that : Once a product ,( any product ) is created for the masses : it automatically becomes ” Marketable ” . Whether one creates Art in any sector or medium , they are in essence creating for the masses : to either be viewed or to capture the attention of an audience . One does not create in order to harbour their art locked away in a cellar for their own personal satisfaction or consumption . Art is meant to be shared with the world .

Today’s Artists possess the skill , technology and imagination which Artists of McCays & Disneys era lacked . This basically correlates with the fact that : those were different times , as far as technology , skill and sociological factors were concerned . Technology is just an  , evolutionary process of “Change “,  and is inevitable. Character creation has advanced to incomparable proportions , whether we look at Bugs, Donald, Mickey or Spawn , Spiderman , and a myriad of other characters one thing is certain : Character Creation & Illustration is rapidly advancing , changing and definitely improving at light speed , and I personally like what I see , hope you will also.

Below are a few new Up & Coming Artists and Illustrators who will be the New Age Winsor McCay’s and Walt Disney’s of tomorrow . Enjoy their art as well as their immense talent . All of the Art featured here is the work of their respective Authors – when you click on an image it will take you to the profile of the respective Artist where you may view more of their work portfolio . Enjoy .

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You may visit Yu Cheng’s site and blog page by accessing the links below . Yu is a very talented young man and his art is simply beautiful . If you wish to see more , visit his site and drop him a comment .






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  1. Holger R. says:

    The first pictures are cool… looks really same as plastic or something like that. Regards Holger.

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