Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rhythm, Tilt and Twist - Glen Keane

     Today I stood about five feet from a man who knows how to draw. You might think that a lot of people know how to draw.. But Glen Keane KNOWS how to draw. I listened for a few hours to all his knowledge and insight and it was very inspirational to see him draw and talk. Even though it seems as the drawing magically flows from his pencil, there is no magic, there are no tricks. Even Glen himself stressed that all he is doing is basic drawing principles.

      It might be comforting to imagine that good drawing takes deep understanding of the cosmos and the insight of line and only deities such as Glen Keane are genius enough to penetrate the mysteries of the pencil... (and all the animation geeks start slobbering on cue)
     But isn't it more empowering and motivating to know he accomplishes these great flawless drawings based on a few drawing principles we all learned in college? The only difference is that he executes THE PRINCIPLES while the most of us forget them.

Glen Kleane stressed three words over and over.. Rhythm, Tilt, and Twist. When a drawing looks bad, it most likely lacks either one or more (rhythm,tilt, or twist) DANNY WHAT DO THESE WORDS MEAN?? TELL US HIS SECRETS!!!

RHYTHM: (see picture above and below) The over all movement of the drawing. IT IS NOT the line of action. The line of action is a huge understatement of what rhythm is. Rhythm is how each line curves into the next. And how each line contributes to the over all shape of the drawing. Glen Keane used a river as an analogy. He said imagine that you view a river from above, and you see the curves and the bends the water makes and how the landscape controls where the water flows. Everything works together to give the river it's overall rhythm. So in a drawing, every line flows and curves into each other creating a rythm. it'll capture your eyes lead it around the drawing in a sort of dance.

TILT: A very basic principle, if your hips are tilted one way, your shoulders are tilted the other way, and then your head is tilted the opposite way etc etc. Glen said if you ever have a stiff drawing, it's most likely because it lacks tilt.

Twist: Instead of standing figure looking at you straight on you can add some twist to it. The legs are one way, while the torso is facing another.. You can draw lines suggesting the 3D Form of your character even though it is literally a flat drawing.

       It was a real treat watching Glen Keane draw in person. it was fun watching people geek out over Glen Keane in person. I'm never one to geek out over people like Glen or Deja. Even when I first started working at Pixar and I would see Pete or John walking around. I wasn't raised on animation. I'm not an animation geek nor do I really worship any ones style in art. I respect and am interested in artists and recognize when they are VERY talented.. but these people are just people. They are artists and you all have the same potential inside of you to do what they do. It when you start to worship these artist like gods that you disconnect with their art. You imagine their art to be heaven sent when in reality it's made with human hands.. just like yours. Do not distance yourself and your dreams by imagining that there's a kingdom where only great artist live, great artist look like you and me and live in one bedroom apartments too. So next time you are about to geek out, try to calm down and breathe... because people can smell someone geeking out a mile away and it's not sexy at all. Stay classy.

-Daniel Gonzales


  1. I'm a huge glen keane fan, and an animation geek aswell, but I agree with you completely. It's one thing to recognize great talent, and another to worship like a god.
    This is great information- thanks a bunch.

  2. the advise your've written above are the basics for moving objects, but before you can more an objects, it is important to remember, the basics of drawing, aka:structure. it is rather wrong to look for things like rhyme right away , but more important that you solve the basic of the the basics first, i personally undergone the hard way and the wrong when i looked for these things before i can structure properly, and i wasted an entire year. it was not fun. Also, to these who have trouble undersatnding the tilt and twist, just remember one word: articulation, pay attention to the direction/articulation of each indivuduel parts

  3. As I understand it these principles are things that Glen would constantly work with the animators on Tangled as he did his dailies "draw overs" with them.
    I'm fascinated with the idea of working these principles into my poses in CG tilt and twist seem to be the easiest to wrap my head around when considering the rig, but I'm curious about rhythm, seeing the lines of the drawing build the character it's easy to feel your way into the metaphor of the river but when you take this concept to CG it seems to me to be the most difficult to reconcile, curious if you have any insight into training your eye to read rhythm in your poses with a CG rig.

  4. silhouette Value! thats how you incorporate that into CG. and tell you the truth CG is really still a 2D image ON A SCREEN. all these principles in this post are still completely valid in the CG world. I was a skeptic at first but by being here in DISNEY I've seen it first hand at how everything still applies to CG. freeze frame ANY frame of tangles and you go, tons of examples on any frame. The information i have here I got it from a talk that glen gave when he came to Pixar and talked about Tangled.

    images are images no matter if they are in 3D or 2D. it's still on a flat screen TV and has a definite line, outline, form.

    thanks for the comment!

  5. Great article! Funny when you said not to Geek Out over artists, I was thinking it's like being afraid of a Dog and they get a bad odor that irritates them. Probably similar. My favorite movie is The Fox and the Hound and in particular the Bear scene that Glen animated.