Artistic Tools

One of the most important ideas that I hope you have acquired in these lessons is something I have not given to you: a set of rules. Though artists as a whole have more things in common than differences, it is the differences that are more often noticed.

All artists, in a sense, have the same list of elements that they must deal with in their creative work. It is the hierarchical arrangement of these elements that creates the differences.

These lists, made up of the elements that we use, are not only visual but intellectual and emotional as well. To one artist, shape is the most important; to another, color or tone; and a third may feel subjective implication or symbolic relationships are the most important. It is the priorities chosen when putting these lists in order that later constitute the differences between one artists and another, as it does for one epoch or culture and another.

This course has focused on the fundamentals of describing forms and basic procedures. It is important to keep in mind that these fundamentals, i.e. boxes, cylinders, spheres, atmospheric perspective, etc. are tools. As tools, these basic elements can be used in many ways in the service of your needs. As the tools and basic procedures become part of your thinking pattern, you transform them into a personal language of communication. A basic drawing course is, in essence, a basic visual-thinking course.

This manual was designed as a twelve week course in basic figure drawing. When I teach in the classroom, my students take this course many times, each time gaining a deeper understanding than the last – some even take the basic course over and over again for a number of years. My goal is to give you the tools to keep studying whether in a class or on your own.

For many disciplines it is a simple truth that the more advanced you become the more important the basics are. It is no different when you learn to draw. Remember: knowing the basics provides the tools for expression.

By Glenn Vilppu

This article first appeared in Animation World Magazine April 01, 2000

Glenn Vilppu teaches life drawing at the American Animation Institute, the Masters program of the UCLA Animation Dept., Walt Disney Feature Animation, Warner Bros. Feature Animation, Dreamworks and Rhythm & Hues Studios. Vilppu has also worked in the Animation industry for 18 years as a layout, storyboard and presentation artist, most of this time was spent working at Disney. His drawing manual and video tapes are being used worldwide as course materials for animation students. Glenn Vilppu has, in effect, either through teaching them directly or teaching their teachers, trained an entire generation of professional animators.

This was taken from the twelfth in a series of articles on drawing for animation. The lessons are based upon the Vilppu Drawing Manual and will in general follow the basic plan outlined in the Vilppu Drawing Manual. This is the same material that I base my seminars and lectures on at the American Animation Institute, UCLA, and my lectures at Disney, Warner Bros. and other major studios in the animation industry, both in the U.S. and their affiliates overseas. If you have not seen the previous lessons starting in the June 1998 issue of Animation World Magazine, it is recommended that you do. The lessons are progressive and expand on basic ideas. It is suggested that you start from the beginning for a better understanding of my approach.