Combining Spheres with Boxes

In previous lessons, we developed our skills at handling spheres and boxes, manipulating them, and giving them personalities. In this lesson, we are going to combine them and at the same time introduce two new elements of material and proportion.

Step One
Start by placing a sphere over a box; they should be roughly equal in size.

Combining Spheres and Boxes 1
Combining Spheres and Boxes 1

The next step is very important. Draw Illustration No. l-A again, but this time do it as if it were covered by some form of material. ”Feel” the form underneath. “Feel” where it leaves the surface of the sphere and stretches over to the edges of the box (B). Now make the material be a little tight or elastic so that it comes in at the waist (C). It is important to be able to “feel” the form underneath in order to draw it. Try to imagine that your pencil is on the surface of the object rather than on the paper.

Now let us start to work with these new forms in the same way we did in Lessons Two (on Spherical Forms) and Three (on Box Forms), bending, twisting and giving them personality (Illustration No. 2).

Combining Spheres and Boxes 2
Combining Spheres and Boxes 2

Notice the pinch and stretch as the forms bend and twist. Don’t forget the use of overlapping forms in creating the feeling of volume. Again, this is one of those exercises that you should spend a lot of time on; the simplicity of it looks deceptive.

Step Two – Introducing Proportion
Now let us introduce some variety into what we are doing and at the same time open up the possibilities. In Step One, the sphere and box were roughly the same size. Start introducing proportion into the drawing in a controlled manner. Proportion is the relationship of various elements in a drawing which includes sizes, tones, textures, quantities and differences that give expression or character to the work.

Proportion can be the size of the head to the body or just simply a large form to a small form. Artists have spent their whole careers trying to find ideal proportions in their work. We will look more deeply into proportion in a later lesson, but for now I want you to have fun trying different possibilities with our simple forms. Be as creative as you can be. Remember, there are no rules, just tools.

Now try stretching the distance between the forms.

Combining Spheres and Boxes 3
Combining Spheres and Boxes 3

You should be starting to feel a certain amount of flexibility and confidence in drawing without a model by now. We will get to the model and anatomical elements in other lessons.

By Glenn Vilppu

This article first appeared in Animation World Magazine December 01, 1998. This was taken from the fourth in a series of articles on drawing for animation. The lessons are based on the Vilppu Drawing Manual and will in general follow the basic plan outlined in the 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.

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.

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