Beginner’s View of Inking and Painting Cels

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There was no problem when the figures were walking forward (fig. 3), but when the figures turned to walk across the screen the problems started. (Fig. 4) Obviously I could not just paint up to the line and over it because there would be no demarcation between the front leg and the back leg. I could have used the old convention of making the rear leg darker, but this would have meant another colour run and it would have looked a bit strange if I had tried to do the same thing with the arm.

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I had drawn in the face on the figures and was intending to try and paint around these so as it was not covered up. I decided to do this with the back lines which bounded areas which had no difference in colour.

Perhaps I am a little out of practice with a paint brush but for a start I found painting up to the line and not over it nearly impossible.

I can remember being told many times that you do not need a fine brush to paint detail, merely one which comes to a good point. I tried using a No. 6 brush which seemed to come to a reasonable point but found this a rather mixed affair, and sometimes I resorted to the No. 1 brush with only a few bristles and the constant problem of running out of paint on the brush on even fairly small areas.

Keeping a fine point on the brush seems to be a matter of getting the correct consistency of paint, but this is at the same time as trying to get the right consistency to cover the cel smoothly.

I did not have all that much trouble in getting the blue to cover properly but when it came to the shades of orange I ran up against the problem of opacity. One coat would not make it opaque enough although it turns out that I was not applying a thick enough coat.

Finally I went over the lines that I had half covered up, and then just used ink to black out the boys hair instead of using the paint. In fact I had already used brown paint to pick up the lines that I had lost completely in the blue run, when I was doing the brown run for the shoes.

Having reversed all the conventions of cel animation in this first attempt I am learning what works.

Some ideas that came to mind are that I could have ‘Inked” the cels on the front with paint to match the area, although this would have taken a careful hand with a fine brush. Coloured wax pencils might be the answer. I can also see the advantage of painting on the back. On the areas like the face where I did want line detail I wouldn’t have had to worry about going over the lines.

But I am not going to change at this stage of the film. I am going to photograph the cels for a finished result. I will tell you how I get on in the next issue.

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Originally printed in Animator’s newsletter Issue 5 (Summer 1983)

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