Just a teeny tiny post this morning, as I’m driving back to Los Angeles today. This moment is in the finished movie – I included it in the blog because of the second panel, into which I included an extra arm and hand. The intention was to get Eep and Guy tangled, and I just couldn’t get enough activity with four hands. So I added one. That one extra set made the drawing work, I think, and communicated the intention more clearly to the animators.
Here Grug is about to be trampled by a pack of Liotes – a creature that is a combination of Lizards and Coyotes. Grug is chasing the Liotes, who are in turn chasing a huge flightless bird, who is carrying the egg that Grug wants. In the midst of the pack, Grug slips. After being trampled, one of the Liotes lingers for a little payback, then moves on. Moments later Eep streaks past, easily passing the Liotes and reaching the huge bird.
The Liotes developed a lot of personality in the early boards, which they retain in the finished film.
From the beginning, I was clear about my intention of getting at least some of the Croods onto the tusks of a speeding mammoth. Through diligence and occasionally pretending I didn’t hear things, I achieved this goal. In the finished film the ENTIRE Crood clan is momentarily collected on the front of the runaway beast. But in this early version it was only Thunk, Grug and Eep.
If you’ve been following past posts, this is part of the original hunting sequence where Eep wasn’t allowed to join in. You’ll notice that the vampire rabbits and tiger come and go – this is due to a revision I made where I added the tiger and rabbits, but didn’t have time to convert all the drawings. In this sequence we were establishing a rather modern situation – that of a son being pressured to follow in his father’s footsteps. Eep knows the truth, that Thunk doesn’t want to be a hunter, and is urging him to come clean with their dad. But every time Thunk turns to Grug he maintains his glowing façade of enthusiasm for hunting. Grug in turn, is ignoring some big clues that his son isn’t exactly “hunting material.”
Frustrated by these two lunk-headed men, Eep steps off the mammoth and digs her heels into the ground, bringing the dysfunctional episode to a spectacular finish as the mammoth crashes into a field of exploding cactuses.
I didn’t include the crash – too many drawings. Maybe later.
This bit is in the movie, but we reversed the stacking of Eep and Guy. Now Eep is on Guy’s shoulders. This board is much, much later in the production, and I’m a lot more accurate with what everyone is wearing. I cannot seem to pass up the chance to draw belly buttons on characters, weather they are people or animals. It’s usually the last thing I do before moving on to the next panel.
Early versions of the film had a separation between the hunters and the gatherers. Eep was fairly frustrated having to watch her brother Thunk taken out to the hunting grounds while she had to spend her days in the trees. Making things worse was the fact that Thunk was a complete failure when it came to hunting, and Eep was a natural. This board picks up where the plant-fighting board left off. After Eep beats a carnivorous plant to a pulp to pluck a strawberry out of it, she gazes out to the hunting grounds. Thunk is about two miles away, trying to knock a little bird off the back of a mammoth. Thunk has been missing the bird all day, and Eep is tempted to finish the job. Eep stores the strawberry away in her dress, then pulls a throwing rock out of her hair, where she keeps one handy. Before she can throw it, her mother drops in to remind her not to get involved in her brother’s hunt.
But Eep is going to throw it anyway. I boarded it to cut between Eep and Thunk winding up, and releasing their rocks at the same moment. At a few feet away, Thunk misses, and also manages to fall flat on his face. Eep hits the bird from two miles away.
All this was dropped in favor of a more compact sequence where all of the Croods hunt together. The new sequence works much better, but all this preliminary boarding went a long way in establishing the characters’ traits and tone, and developing the world they lived in.
The point of today’s post is that doing lots and lots of rough drawings can do wonders for your gestures. I’ve had the experience of struggling all day on a single drawing, only to have it come out way too stiff and self-conscious looking, and end up throwing it away – eight to twelve hours for nothing. In the case of storyboards you don’t have time to fret over things, you just plow ahead and leave rough drawings behind, hoping to get the time to clean them up later. Consequently, you’re forced to relax and just throw down little graphic scribbles that capture a teeny little piece of the larger puzzle. After the first dozen or so I always start to pick up speed, and by the end of the day can have several hundred such drawings. None of them ready for a story reel or anything, but plenty strong enough to pitch. And there are always some that I can pull out for beautification, their poses or expressions way better than if I had set out to draw only one.
This is the main reason I use a fat China Marker – it’s impossible to draw details.
In this series of drawings, pulled from a much larger sequence, Eep climbs up in a tree to vent her frustration from an argument she just had with her father – she wants to keep Guy but of course her father wants to let him go. As I mentioned in the last post, the Croods are quite a bit more dense than Guy, mentally and physically. I made it my mission to have them treat Guy like a rag doll or stray kitten whenever the opportunity arose. Not the prettiest drawings, but the last five have an ease and confidence that I can only manifest if I’ve been drawing all day.