The Difference Between Two Drawings

The Flintstones

There is a huge difference between the two Flintstones drawings above, and not just superficial stylistic differences. Animator Will Finn (Iago in Aladdin, Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast) explores the contrast between these drawings in a monumental post on his blog:

For one thing, notice that in the more recent picture, the layout “rakes” the perspective of the floor line a bit, creating a diagonal that forces the composition elements into something of a diamond. Normally, a diagonal can create a sense of dynamism, which is often desirable, but here it is arbitrary. The figures, after all are literally, self-consciously “posed” in static positions to accommodate the idea of the whole family having their picture taken…In the first series, more often than not, the floor line is a relatively straight horizontal line, somewhat irregularly drawn. The irregularity goes with the organic feel of the concept of a largely organic world, and the horizontal quality lends maximum space for the stylized figures to appear in. It also allows props (like the piano) to have a slight diagonal witout being forced into paralell perspective like the couch.

This is a continuation of an earlier post Will wrote about the uppermost Flintstones image. There are some who might say that Will is being too picky, but I commend him for his vigilant eye. Animation has long suffered from the “it’s just a cartoon” mentality, and fundamental drawing principles are routinely ignored. As a result, amateurish and incompetent artwork that wouldn’t pass muster in any other illustrative medium is considered acceptable in our art form and disseminated to an unsuspecting cartoon-loving public. Even still single-frame artwork that is meant to be viewed for extended periods of time, such as the Flintstones image above, is carelessly crafted. Finn’s critique is a timely reminder to all of us that individual animation drawings lie at the heart of this medium, and the least any of us can do is to respect the value of each and every single drawing.


  • http://smomotion.com :: smo ::

    this is fantastic!!! this sort of stuff is really nice to see, we talk a lot about how things used to be good, but sometimes getting down right analytical about the bad things can really help us dodge those crummy mistakes.

    it’s definitely a classic error for a company to do a modern rendition of a character, get so bent out of shape about “model” and totally ignore any principles surrounding said model. ugh! i’m definitely going to be checking out this blog a bit! thanks!

  • http://www.copernicus.ca Murray Bain

    How about comparing Perez Hilton to Walter Cronkite?
    I keed! I keed!

    The top is Korean- cartoon factory- xeroxed, Vs. Indy- LA studio- hand inked at it’s creative peak, no contest.

    Sadly the top image is tons better than the majority what on TV, so let’s all get back to work. It might be a good exercise for an animation whipper snapper to recompose the top image thoughtfully, see why it sucks to have a “gang” cartoon.

    *hint* it’s about grouping and negative space, not snarking and negative comments.

  • Jeffers

    In the book “Hanna Barbera Cartoons” by Michael Mallory on page 111 there is a picture of the limited edition cel “Happy Anniversary Quartet” that is in fact the same picture of Fred and Barney above redrawn. I would love to hear Mr. Finn compare the two images. Warner Bros. is notorious for a lot of crappy, god-awful looking gallery images like the one featured above. The ones that really turn my stomach though are the group shots of chacters from different shows participating in an activity that has no relevance to any of the shows. Having them on a cruise-liner, playing baseball, going to the beach, what the hell?

  • http://deosanimation.com Chris Allard

    What I don’t like about the first drawing is the lack of personality-they all have the same “zombie like” look. Also,the black line of the second drawing is much more interesting.I think that the first year of the Flintstones was filled with funny animation and great backgrounds.

  • http://deosanimation.com Chris Allard

    I know they’re staring into the camera but it still looks zombie like.

  • http://willfinn.blogspot.com/ Will Finn

    As pretty much everybody knows, Mark Kennedy’s blog (TEMPLE OF THE 7 GOLDEN CAMELS) covers a great deal of information on related subjects–this grew out of the topic of tangents, which Mark and I traded emails on after his post on silhouette. Mark is a lot more dedicated to teaching than I am, in addition to being better at it…

    Y’know, there’s tons of flawed art around, but this stuff makes me nuts because they had a great blueprint right off the bat in the original series. Everything you needed to know was worked out in those first few shows. Sadder still, it started going downhill way earlier than this 1990′s picture…

    All respect to the original creators…I linked to AMAZON for the Season One DVDs–it’s a wonderful set.

    Maury Bain–I think you will find I addressed your issue in the comments, before I knew there was a link over here. I am not trying to be gratuitously mean. This is from a publication I have flipped through many times and I thought i would be worth writing about.

    Jeffers, I will look for that image. I might have that book, but I will have to dig around.

  • DBishop

    Looks like the babies won’t be seen in the picture. It doesn’t really look like most of them will be seen. And why does Fred get to sit instead of Pebbles, who just gave birth to twins ? Those Flintstones/Rubbles are awful at taking pictures.

  • Rob M.

    As great as the older image is, I have to point out that Barney MIGHT be possessed. No one’s neck should turn that much.

  • Jorgen Klubien

    That’s often the problem with “later management”… it takes talent to see talent.

  • http://www.taberanimation.com Taber Dunipace

    Rob M. says:

    “As great as the older image is, I have to point out that Barney MIGHT be possessed. No one’s neck should turn that much.”

    LOL! Good spot on that one. But yeah, everything, even exorcist Barney is superior in the second image when compared to the upper Barney who just can’t seem to fit into frame and so has to turn sideways awkwardly.

  • Thomas Hatch

    I think the top image would be better if they were all eating Chinese food.

  • http://www.copernicus.ca Murray Bain

    Sure thing Mr. Finn,
    I feel this post was an answer to the infamous “single frame” of the new Looney Toons, which tons of people had to add their two cents to.

    I was poking fun at the controversy, not you. Thanks for the great analysis.

    I wish something like first season Flintstones could exist now, but I don’t think a TV crew exists with that much raw talent and individuality. Weren’t most those guys Ex theatrical artists slumming it in TV?
    Reading that “John K interviews Ed Benedict” animation blast article, even Ed Benedict himself preferred the more controlled on model versions a few seasons in. He thought the Disney stuff was what everybody should of been doing.

  • optimist

    the least any of us can do is to respect the value of each and every single drawing.

    I honestly can’t think of anyone I know who doesn’t do just that.

    There are other, often outside reasons “bad” drawings can come about rather than carelessness or disrespect. That’s not by way of an excuse for them, simply an explanation.

  • Baron Lego

    Uh oh. The voice actress who performed Wilma’s mother in that Flintstones special just posted on her Twitter account that we’re all being far too picky and dismissive…

  • Chowderfan

    Amid-

    No-one is arguing that there exists an objective difference in good and bad drawings. If this post is in defense of yourself for your earlier criticism about the looney tunes art then just be a man and defend your own argument instead of posting someone else’s analysis.

    You said there were objective flaws in that looney tunes art. Break it down for us. Please.

  • Stephan

    Why even single out this entry? While interesting it’s altogether a negative one. And from a reboot from years ago. Why not cut Care Bears a new one while you’re at it.

  • Chowderfan

    Amid,

    Will Finn’s blog post is the kind of analysis I would like to see a fraction of coming from you to back up your brash statements against modern animation artists. Please, break down the new Looney Tunes art like this.

    Show us what you are saying. I don’t think you are capable of it.

  • http://dltad.blogspot.com A.M.Bush

    Can anyone explain to me how Fred is supposed to look sitting in that chair, like if you moved Dino away. Haha, and totally 3 different types of eyes, and not in a good deliberate way.

  • Boris

    Barney is POSSESSED!! What’s wrong you people?? lol @ Taber!!

  • http://www.itsthecat.com Mark Kausler

    How about giving some credit to George Nicholas, one of the best of the early H-B TV animators? He drew the set-up of Fred, Barney and the cops around the piano. Whoever drew the couch photo setup wasn’t as skilled an artist as George. George, of course, received his training at Disney, working on Pluto cartoons, among others.

  • amid

    Mark: Thanks for pointing out George Nicholas’ work on the bottom image. Now we know!

  • http://www.oddballcomics.com Scott Shaw!

    Both feature-length Flintstones 1993 specials I YABBA-DABBA-DOO and HOLLYROCK-A-BYE BABY represented an abysmal attempt to relaunch the characters’ popularity. Both featured Iwao Takamoto’s Disneyfied re-designs of the iconic lead characters, resulting in the exploding-cranium Fred, the needle-nosed Barney, the zombie Wilma and Betty and the ghastly adult versions of Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm. There wasn’t a single laugh in these 90+ minute coprolites. (That’s petrified dinosaur shit to you modern-types.) Never before has the term “TV special” been applied to such sub-standard material. Having worked on all of the Pebbles cereal commercial spots of the 1990s, I remember feeling that we packed more classic FLINTSTONES-inspired entertainment in a single 30 second spot than both of these feature-length shows run back-to-back…

  • http://www.leonanimationstudio.com Reynaldo Leon

    Why is Betty the only one NOT looking at the stone camera but instead at our P.O.V. camera? And Dino, stop sniffing Wilma’s mom behind!

  • http://selcouthblog.blogspot.com Mesterius

    I second what Chowderfan says, Amid. It would be interesting to hear your real, down-to-facts analysis of the Looney Tunes frame.

  • Daev

    Amid, I’m also with Chowderhead in so far that this post is much more constructive than the recent new-Loony Tunes one. Thanks for posting this.

  • http://www.sweetposer.tk/urbmn/ Cameron A.

    @Baron Lego: Yeah, I’m sure 86-year-old Janet Waldo has nothing to do but rant on Twitter all day. The attempted Eric Bauza joke only works when the voiceover actor has a blog and/or social media presence.

    As for the more recent of the two Flintstones pictures…where are Betty Rubble’s feet? That missing detail bothers me more than anything else.

  • purin

    I was there right up until the grandma part.

    What’s with this image of grandmothers, anyway? I get the idea that women emasculate animation or something. Don’t blame us for bad design!

    (I know he technically wasn’t, and I kind of get what he was going for, but still…)

  • Baron Lego

    @Cameron A: Janet Waldo’s most recent Twitter update sez that you need to relax. And be less dismissive.

  • Chris Barry

    Thanks for crediting George Nicholas. His style is easily recognizable here. I seem to remember he and Bill Kiel were paired together often on The Flintstones.

  • Mark Kennedy

    I just saw this and want to return Will’s kind words – Will is an incredibly smart and talented guy and always writes great posts. I found his recent posts to be really inspiring and I hope all of this appreciation makes him write much, much more!

  • http://robcatview.blogspot.com robcat2075

    I gotta say he’s cheating on his floor line critique. The diagonal line he draws over the picture is farther from the actual floor line than a horizontal line would be.

  • Rooniman

    I can sum it up like this:
    Top image= Crap!
    Bottom image= Beautiful!

  • Professor Widebottom

    I love “exorcist Barney”! You’ve got this great drawing, full of fun and, yes, the artist took liberties with Barney’s cranked head, but it fits! It just fits. There’s a level of personal aesthetics that can’t always be packed into a tidy analysis and justified with geometric explanation, thought he overall effect has unity to be sure.