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Artist Kevin McShane Draws Himself in A Hundred Different Animation Styles

Cartoonist Kevin McShane has spent the last two years drawing himself in the styles of different animators and animated films. He’s collected one hundred of these stylistic deviations on One might criticize McShane’s decision to emphasize only the most superficial stylistic traits of a character design as a representation of that style, but it still manages to be a worthwhile exercise that makes the viewer aware of both the similarities and differences in character design styles across the spectrum of animation history.

(Thanks, Justin Hilden)

  • IDK the Otto Messmer version looks a little more like “Mutt and Jeff” by Budd Fisher… otherwise, it’s pretty epic!

    • AmidAmidi

      We could quibble over lots of his choices, like the WB Chuck Jones resembles MGM-era Jones if anything. But obviously no one is going to perfectly mimic a hundred different styles, and such criticisms miss the big picture of what McShane is trying to accomplish with his art project.

      • I wasn’t criticizing, just noticing. I think they’re great. The Don Hertzfeld one is my favorite :)

  • I like how he has multiple specific anime styles rather than just one.

    • AmidAmidi

      You’re right. We’ve seen plenty of artists draw a single character in a handful of generic styles (TV, anime, Disney, etc.), but this is the first time I’ve seen someone do a hundred different styles of the same character.

    • Agreed. A lot of people see anime as just one style, but there’s a lot of variation, ya know?

    • I so want to see him draw a Jiro Kuwata version of himself. :)

  • m(_ _)m

    Wow, this is awesome. He captures the nuances between styles so finely. Most of these are instantly recognizable, and those that aren’t (to me) are mostly just so because of unfamiliarity with the artist/show; that is, they might not be recognizable from a production, but they still retain their own individual style, separate from the other images.

    Well, that goes for this generally. Although I love most of these, I gotta say he falls a bit short on several of the Japanese ones. While Speed Racer, Macross, Astroboy, NGE, and even Naruto are instantly recognized, I had difficulty identifying the Miyazaki, Otomo, and Watanabe recreations, and the Toriyama is far more in the style of Dragonball GT than Dragonball Z, imo. Most of the Japanese ones are identifiable as being inspired by Japanese designs, but for these three I’ve mentioned (Miyazaki, Otomo, and Watanabe) I just don’t think he gets it right. The Cowboy Bebop one looks more like a western caricature of Spike, done in a heavy western style, opposed to an accurate recreation of the style. I dunno, I can see some of the nuanced differences and understand why he would do them like that, but mostly they just seem like heavily westernized interpretations opposed to accurate depictions such as are seen in the many western characters.

    Admittedly though I am more familiar with the anime adaptations of the characters rather than the original manga designs. But with the Miyazaki one, it just seems like Miyazaki, or rather Studio Ghibli, has such a cliche and recognizable style that it’s kinda weird how unrecognizable I feel his Miyazaki design is.

    • sam wilson

      I agree. You see in many american artists who haven’t grown up with anime, an inability to capture a Japanese style. There is some kind of qualitative difference in how they use line, which makes all the Japanese portraits weak. The Miyazaki is almost entirely unrecognisable and the Anno, not only doesn’t look like Anno, it fails to understand that the Evangelion’s character designer was Sadamoto, not Anno. When you look at them close up you can seee a fundementally different understanding of line, posture, anatomy, and style. Still I like things like this because they engender discussion about style, It’s just a shame that it isn’t done with the love and appreciation of Mike Holmes Mikenesses.

    • Funkybat

      It seems to be almost impossible for artists not “raised on Anime” to match the visual style perfectly. I can almost always tell when an Anime drawing was done by a non-Asian artist.

      There does now seem to be a new generation of American kids that took to Anime much more than American cartoons at an early age who can replicate it pretty well, regardless of cultural/racial background. Me? I’ll always default to Disney, WB or Hanna-Barbera inspired visual styles if left to my own devices.

      • I’m sure many of us older folks would too. You come and go in this business. I just came back from an art show and had to notice one person’s wall of art consisting of nothing but drawn fan art placed in sheet protectors stuck on with thumbtacks.

  • Elana Pritchard

    Hooray for people who know how to draw, the most powerful people in the
    animation industry (even though lots of non-drawers try to convince
    them they are not).

  • jhalpernkitcat

    The styles are so on the spot, it’s incredible.

  • AmidAmidi

    Wow, those are impressive! Thanks for sharing!

  • Ha, that’s so cute! I love how he got all the little details. A lot of people don’t really realize how much variation there is in animation style, but McShane really captured it here! (though personally I would’ve done the eyes on the Miyazaki one differently)

  • Now that’s way more impressive. Looking at these, McShane’s drawing himself more as a specific character than an art style.

  • Brandon Pogrob

    Yeah I must say, Mike Holmes does pulls this feat off with a lot more grace and stylistic flair. McShane’s characters seem to be less an exercise in drawing styles and more an exercise in “I’m gonna take character traits from the lead male character off a tv show and appropriate them for myself. It’s not all that interesting; he’s really just changing color palettes.

  • Hi guys. Thanks for the article and comments. As an aspiring animator/character designer, I really respect CB’s readers opinion and critiques. Yeah, some of the styles aren’t that great (esp. the anime styles), but I’m working on it. And thanks for hipping me to Mike Holmes’ work. It’s fantastic. If you have any questions or feedback, please let me know. Cheers.

  • Murdoch

    He misspelled “Filmation.” Other than that, and the general inability to draw or keep tennis shoes in perspective, Kevin shows a hell of a lot of energy. Every artist should be as aware of all that came before as this one. It can only help.

  • Funkybat

    Both artist’s work is pretty cool, though Mike Holmes’ stuff has way more diverse scenarios and creative storytelling. Looking at Kevin McShane’s stuff is also fun to look at because using identical poses, it really highlights what’s different and what’s the same between different styles. I doubt I could ape half as many styles as either of these guys.

  • I’m sure that would be Cordell Barker’s hand in it anyway. It really should be credited it that instead.

  • Wow Mike really kicks butt ! Also he uses more illustrators for his likenesses than animators, whose drawings should be more easy to copy by their staff.

  • Thanks so much for the mention, guys! I started doing Mikenesses as a daily warmup back in Oct. 2011, and it was just a personal project where I wanted to express how much those great artists influenced me (and so many others!). It’s cool to see that someone else tried their hand at this kind of project!