Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The King Has Returned!

Boy, do I have a treat for you today!  As I mentioned in my last post, I am thrilled to be going to Disney World at the end of this week.  And what better way to commence my trip then to share my finally-finished 30 Simbas with you!

You may remember back in this September post that I planned to follow up my "30 Horses In 30 Days" endeavor with "30 Simbas In 30 Days."  With calendar contests, the Christmas card illustration, the holidays, and life in general, they didn't end up being 30 consecutive days, but I have officially completed the exercise.  Huzzah!

You may be wondering, "What took you so long?"  Well, all I can say is that this ended up being a difficult project for me.  Simba is one tough kitty to draw, and I mean REALLY TOUGH TO DRAW!  What's so difficult about him?  Oh, just his paws, his ears, his hair as a cub, his hair as an adult, his nose, his whiskers, his chin, his tail, his eyes, his....

Well, you get the idea.  These things were so difficult for me, though, because I wasn't drawing in my own style.  The "30 Horses" project was easy peasy in comparison; all I had to worry about was getting the anatomy right, while the style remained my own.  With the "30 Simbas" project, I had to worry about drawing both the lion anatomy AND the Disney style accurately.  To make matters more frustrating, Simba is a rather inconsistent character.  Sometimes he has a line through the middle of his nose; sometimes he doesn't.  Sometimes he has tufts in his ears; sometimes he doesn't.  His number of whiskers change; his bangs swap sides; and it makes a nit-picky, eagle-eyed perfectionist want to scream.

I don't care what Disney says.  This Simba is NOT the same---

---as this Simba.  (Unless he lost 20 pounds in 10 seconds?)

And don't even get me started on Lion King Simba versus Lion King II Simba!  I learned by day 11 to only use the original movie as my reference source.

Who is this guy?!  He's one eye-shadow wearing, smooth-maned Simba!

This was the first (and last) Lion King II Simba I drew.

With so many inconsistencies and issues I came across mimicking the Disney style, these sketches didn't take 5-15 minutes to complete like the horses.  No, they took more like an hour (or two!)  Since I just don't have an hour to devote to Simba everyday, that dragged out the process even further.  And as if that wasn't enough to slow me down, I also have something I like to call, "Enormous Simba Syndrome," wherein my Simba sketches literally got ENORMOUS!  No matter how hard I tried to block out the body shapes and keep my Simbas within the confines of my sketchbook, time and time again he ended up falling off the paper.  I couldn't just leave those Simbas without paws or a neck, so I had to start over from scratch on numerous occasions.  (So technically, I drew more than 30 Simbas.  Take that!)   

This was take 2 for Simba #28. I wanted to wring my own neck each time I did this...

As difficult as this project was, though, I'm very glad I stuck with it.  It was a wonderful exercise in precision and control.  It also gave me a new respect for Disney animators.  I already thought they were completely awesome, but now I know first hand how hard it is to draw in someone else's style.  The sheer fact they can animate an entire movie in the same style with a whole TEAM of artists is simply mind-boggling!   (Barring those ear tufts and fat-faced Simba discrepancies, I'd say the end result is astonishing.)  

But enough of my jabbering--let's get to those Simbas!  Here's a general progression of my project:

I started with 4 days of this tutorial pose to commit the body shape to memory.

I then moved on to 4 days of another tutorial to practice facial features.

Days 10-20, I tried to mimic the Disney style. I focused more on young Simba.

In the 20's, I practiced a variety of expressions and focused on adult Simba.

The culmination of my project.  (I tried to draw this about 100 times as a kid!)

Even at the end of day 30, I still see flaws in my Simbas, but there is overall improvement throughout the journey.  (And hopefully I'll be able to draw him just a little bit quicker in the future!)  Even my best Simbas still look Kathryn-ized to me--particularly the shagginess of the manes and whisker tendencies.  (I'm usually a three-whisker kind of gal.)  I also find it funny that my skill-level fluctuated, with some earlier Simbas turning out better than some later ones!   

Simba #10 knows he looks good...
Simba #21 says, "How come Simba #10 looks better than me?!"

And my favorite of all the Simbas?  That would definitely be Day 27 :

I love his emotion.  (And wind-swept locks!)

And that pretty much summarizes this exercise!  I hope you enjoyed seeing my progress.  (If I can figure out how, I'd like to compile all 30 Simbas in one Photoshop pic for the full-effect!)  I'm 100% relieved that I can finally cross this project off my to-do list.  While I'm certain I'll be drawing more Simbas in the future, I do think it's time for me to take a little artistic break from my favorite feline.  (Let's just hope my trip to Disney doesn't inspire "30 Bambis in 30 Days"...)

Time to go bask in the awe-inspiring glory of the Disney animators!  See you next week!

I'll be well-rested and raring to blog again before you know it!

Note: If you want to learn to draw Simba, too, I found these two Deviant Art tutorials a great place to begin: dj coulz and Emo-Hellion.  And do start your sketches small; you don't want to end up with "Enormous Simba Syndrome" like me!  :)

Simba is (c) Disney.  I used a variety of screen shots, mugs, piano books, coloring books, etc. for my sketch references.  The screenshots in this post are from The Lion King Source and The Lion King Gallery respectively. 

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