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Character Mentor: Learn by Example to Use Expressions, Poses, and Staging to Bring Your Characters to Life [Paperback]

Tom Bancroft
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 April 2012 0240820711 978-0240820712

You've researched your character extensively, tailored her to your audience, sketched hundreds of versions, and now you lean back content as you gaze at your final character model sheet. But now what? Whether you want to use her in an animated film, television show, video game, web comic, or children's book, you're going to have to make her perform. How a character looks and is costumed starts to tell her story, but her body language reveals even more. Character Mentor shows you how to pose your character, create emotion through facial expressions, and stage your character to create drama. Author Tom Bancroft addresses each topic with clear, concise prose, and then shows you what he really means through commenting on and redrawing artwork from a variety of student "apprentices." His assignments allow you to join in and bring your drawing to the next level with concrete techniques, as well as more theoretical analysis. Character Mentor is an apprenticeship in a book.

Professional artists from a variety of media offer their experience through additional commentary. These include Marcus Hamilton (Dennis the Menace), Terry Dodson (X-Men), Bobby Rubio (Pixar), Sean "Cheeks" Galloway (Spiderman animated), and more. With a foreword by comicbook artist Adam Hughes, who has produced work for DC, Marvel Comics, Lucasfilm, Warner Bros. Pictures, and other companies.


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Character Mentor: Learn by Example to Use Expressions, Poses, and Staging to Bring Your Characters to Life + Creating Characters with Personality: For Film, TV, Animation, Video Games, and Graphic Novels
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Product details

  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Focal Press (1 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0240820711
  • ISBN-13: 978-0240820712
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 22.2 x 27.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 222,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"You've researched your character extensively, tailored her to your audience, sketched hundreds of versions, and now you lean back content as you gaze at your final character model sheet. But now what? Whether you want to use her in an animated film, television show, video game, web comic, or children's book, you're going to have to make her perform. How a character looks and is costumed starts to tell her story, but her body language reveals even more. Character Mentor shows you how to pose your character, create emotion through facial expressions, and stage your character to create drama. Author Tom Bancroft addresses each topic with clear, concise prose, and then shows you what he really means through commenting on and redrawing artwork from a variety of student 'apprentices.' His assignments allow you to join in and bring your drawing to the next level with concrete techniques, as well as more theoretical analysis. Character Mentor is an apprenticeship in a book."--CartoonBrew.com

"If, like me, you are always looking to push yourself as a character artist I cannot recommend this book enough... Each chapter is a lesson on a specific topic, ranging from Posing to Shape-based composition. At the end of a chapter [Tom] sets you homework followed by examples of completed tasks by fellow students. Tom himself has gone over each example, annotating and thoroughly explaining each one in order for you to see how to bring your own work up to scratch...The best thing about this book for me, however, is that it doesn’t end. You can never be truly finished with it as the teachings within are always relevant...it’s like having a teacher on your shelf that will never be too busy to help you out and will always give you good advice."--Robin Liebschner, Skwigly.com

 

About the Author

Tom Bancroft is a 30 year veteran of the animation industry. In his artistic career he has specialized in children's character designs, animation, video game development, and comic books. Formerly, he worked at Walt Disney Feature Animation for twelve years, animating on new Disney classics, including Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Mulan, Brother Bear, and more. He is the author of the popular character design book Creating Characters with Personality: For Film, TV, Animation, Video Games, and Graphic Novels.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book on bringing your characters to life 18 Jun 2012
By Parka HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Length: 1:01 Mins
Character Mentor is sort of an extension of Tom Bancroft's earlier book Creating Characters with Personality.

The first book focuses on the actual designing of characters. This book focuses on bringing the characters to life with body language, specifically by using expressions, poses and staging. In other words, this book is about acting using your characters.

It's filled with tips and insights, just like the first book. As the book title suggest, the teaching style here is one of mentoring. There are many assignments included, and Tom Bancroft has included his students' work, together with his mentor notes on the different ways to improve the result. You'll feel the years of experience seeping through the pages as he explains. It's all very simple and practical tips you can use to improve your characters instantly.

There are many wonderful illustrated examples in the book to show how important acting is to creating believability. One look at them and you'll be able to guess accurately how the character is feeling, who the character is or what the scene is about. These are all done without dialogue. The goal of the book is to impart the knowledge of getting to that level of clarity with your characters, the same sort of clarity you would expect from a masterful silent movie.

The book also includes a section on composition. It teaches you how to frame your scene with your characters to better tell a story. While this section is not technically character design, it's still useful knowledge. Several guest artists are also invited to have a go at an assignment. Artists such as Stephen Silver, Sean Galloway, Terry Dodson, etc.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 10 Mar 2014
By miki
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A very good reference guide. Lots of hints and tips, as well as challenges so you can follow along and put his lessons into practice. The text is very clear and breaks it down and there are also tips and working methods from artists working within the industry.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Love it 23 Oct 2013
By Nat
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book was very informative and had all the tips I need to become a better artists. Fully recommend the book!
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
i didnt find something more than the sketches i can found in deviantart.com . inside you can find good sketches but that's all . i have a better books in my hands for this work
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  55 reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent work by Tom Bancroft! 3 May 2012
By wandrlust - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Since I was 3 years old I wanted to be a Disney animator. I've practiced and practiced and gotten pretty far studying the masters of animation. But there was always just a little something missing. This book has already given me the boost I need. It has tons of helpful advice for anyone from novice to advanced users. Most books on character design really only scratch the surface. Tom Bancroft takes a chisel and turns that surface into a carefully sculpted work of craftsmanship. He allows us on the "outside" of the industry to finally get at all the juicy tips he learned in his time at Disney. Outstanding work, Tom. I'm forever a huge fan.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BEST HOW-TO BOOK ON CARTOONING EVER? 7 May 2012
By Eric C. Martin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I don't know where to begin praising this book. Sure, there's TONS of how-to books on cartooning out there
but FINALLY here's a book that is hyper-specific on the little nuances of creating characters. "Twinning", using depth,
specifics on how wrinkles work on clothing, etc. In addition, there's contributions by other artists like Terry Dodson,
Stephen Silver, etc. Also, there's some assignments for the reader to do. Tom's Disney-esque drawing style is just bursting with
life and energy. (Obviously a graduate of CAL-ARTS.)

Please note that this may not be a book for beginners. The book focuses more on bringing life and energy to your
characters.

I highly recommend purchasing Tom's previous book "Creating Characters with Personality" too by the way.

A MUST for any aspiring cartoonist!
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book on bringing your characters to life 18 Jun 2012
By Parka - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Character Mentor is sort of an extension of Tom Bancroft's earlier book Creating Characters with Personality.

The first book focuses on the actual designing of characters. This book focuses on bringing the characters to life with body language, specifically by using expressions, poses and staging. In other words, this book is about acting using your characters.

It's filled with tips and insights, just like the first book. As the book title suggest, the teaching style here is one of mentoring. There are many assignments included, and Tom Bancroft has included his students' work, together with his mentor notes on the different ways to improve the result. You'll feel the years of experience seeping through the pages as he explains. It's all very simple and practical tips you can use to improve your characters instantly.

There are many wonderful illustrated examples in the book to show how important acting is to creating believability. One look at them and you'll be able to guess accurately how the character is feeling, who the character is or what the scene is about. These are all done without dialogue. The goal of the book is to impart the knowledge of getting to that level of clarity with your characters, the same sort of clarity you would expect from a masterful silent movie.

The book also includes a section on composition. It teaches you how to frame your scene with your characters to better tell a story. While this section is not technically character design, it's still useful knowledge. Several guest artists are also invited to have a go at an assignment. Artists such as Stephen Silver, Sean Galloway, Terry Dodson, etc. You get to see how their interpret the story scene in their own way.

This is an insightful book to character design. It's a great addition and supplements the first book well. Recommended to artists with some basic knowledge on character design, which is to say you should check out Creating Characters with Personality if you haven't done so.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Real Deal 8 May 2012
By B. Wong - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In the fields of animation and illustration, the craft of character design is often completely overlooked by the casual observer. Instead, the human eye perceives the most well-crafted characters as living things, whether we're looking at a sequence of frames or simply one static image, because the finest character designers have learned what exactly tricks the brain into seeing life in lines.

There have been a handful of books over the last thirty years or so that have touched on this topic to one degree or another. However, these are very often oversimplified, starting with volumetric shapes and hurrying through the details to arrive at the quickest complete character possible. Such methods are certainly valid and universally applicable -- for first-year animation students, perhaps, or fledgling comic book artists. Up until now, the question of what makes a character truly unique and lively has been left as something the novice must explore him/herself.

Tom Bancroft's book is probably the first one of its kind that goes past this basic level. Right off the bat, Tom assumes the reader is not only intelligent but avidly interested in the details. He explores perceptual cues, the various methods of conveying emotion and personality (which are far more numerous than simply drawing a smile or a frown), and the tiny little decisions that can completely alter the way an audience will see a character, for better or for worse.

Tom's experience as a veteran of Disney's traditional animation era really shines through here. And in an age where technology provides an ever-increasing range of shortcuts, it's ultimately all the more important that these techniques be detailed and passed on to the next generation of artists. Check this out -- you won't regret it.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just for animators 8 May 2012
By Ivan Flores - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Over the years many people have purchased how to draw books of any find from How to the Draw the Marvel Way to How to Draw Manga series, all of which are good in their own respects. What makes this book significant to any aspiring artist who wants to get into comic books or animation, Tom Bancroft explores the in between details that some of the How to books don't explore. Beyond facial expressions it explains the small details like "why does this pose look funny or stiff". This is a must have for anyone getting into the field.
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