Clean up in traditional animation is extremely important. Bad clean up can kill great animation. I can’t help but get psyched when I see awesome clean up, and I stumbled on a blog tonight from Richard Smitheman which features a ton of amazing drawings. Mr. Smitheman has an impressive resume the bulk of which appears to be during his time at Dreamworks when they were in the hand drawn feature business.
To the layman, the term “clean up” refers to the process of going over the rough animation drawings on a new sheet of paper (or in today’s digital world, a new layer in your digital ink and paint program) with a tightly drawn line which can be as thin as seen in Richard’s Prince of Egypt drawings or as bold as those found in Dexter’s Lab. The clean up stage is important because its in this step where the volumes and shapes of a character are ironed out and solidified into a whole. Bad clean up will lead to all kinds of inconsistencies which will cause a character to appear less stable and fluid on screen. So head on over to Mr. Smitheman’s blog and check out some really nice work.