Monday, January 11, 2010

The Preston Blair Book

You will need this essential book on the basics of cartoon drawing.



Oh and if you find this site and the lessons, helpful, don't be shy about clicking that Paypal button . Thanks!



  1. I got mine here, and it's true: there's a LOT of things that you can only find in the book. The prints in the ASIFA blog are absolutely necessary, but so is the material in the book.

  2. Is there a difference between the Animation 1 & 2 books, and the Cartoon Animation (The Collector's Series) one? I didn't know if the Collectors series is both books in one.

    1. The cartoon animation collectors series is
      no3 : ANIMATION
      no4 : DIALOGUE
      no5 : TECHNICAL

  3. 1 is the one to start with.

    2 is more confusing and he did that a lot later.

  4. Great tips, of course!!!

    I got my light table off Amazon (search for "Artograph") and taped pegs to it, though the one I got is not as big as the one John recommends.

    You can also tape pegs to a desk, point a webcam at it (I found one on sale for $8!!) or DV camera at it and use something like iStopMotion (great program) or MonkeyJam (pretty buggy) to shoot pencil tests.

  5. John
    Is there a place I can post sketches that I am doing from the book? Or should I just set up another blog that I can post them to?

  6. Hi John,
    I just got my 1st lousy animation job as a cleanup artist, and today started a monthly donation for you. I WISH I could send more. These are some PB exercises I've done so far: here

  7. John, just gave you a donation under my wife's name, Michelle. Also just started a blog with my 1st sketches.

    Your lessons are great and are a great way to keep me learning and training every day.

  8. John, I am at the beginning of my animation studies/career. I started working with Preston Blair's Animation 1 last year. Just recently started working with his "Cartooning" Disney's "Illusion of Life", "The Animator's Survival Kit," and began school for animation in January at the Illinois Institute of Art. I plan to get my ass to LA within two years.

    You (as well as Tex, Bakshi, Jones, Clampett, etc. {and old movies, comedies, jazz and swing}) are my absolute inspiration for dedicating my life to good funny cartoons like they were in the 30s, 40s, and 50s. I've loved your work since I was 8. I am 100% dedicated.

    You have such a wealth of knowledge and resources. Where can I begin following your lessons, and how can I get good enough to work with you? Willing to donate.


  9. I have that book and the extended version (forget what it's called, but it's green with an elephant on it) and they're very informative. Unfortunately I don't get much free time to practice the concepts.

  10. Great Book! and light Table. Can't wait to start. I've have been trying to create my own two goofy characters. Ones I can place in various situations. Its tough to create a character I can duplicate over and over in different positions, but this book really helps. If I could do what you have inspired me and so many others to do, it would be a life dream.
    Its only my third year in college, have one more left till I graduate, then back to Chicago for more art, hopefully grad school. Any suggestions of how to get noticed?
    I started a blog, but need to work on it more. I'm really into animation, but its more of my own side projects. I havent been able to take an animation class yet, more learning on my own.
    Again, great stuff here John. Much appreciated.

  11. That Cartoon Colour Co. lightbox will work fine ,but it's great to have an actual animation disc which turns.

    Colin Johnson Animation Desks sells a very reasonably priced portable animation table which comes with a plexiglass animation disc.

    More expensive than the Cartoon Colour Co. light box , but much less expensive than similar portable animation desks sold by other companies.

  12. Thanks for this site. I just realized you had it. =\ Got to get the light table and I will dive in. Donation to come after the light table. :P

  13. "That Cartoon Colour Co. lightbox will work fine ,but it's great to have an actual animation disc which turns. "

    Yeah, that's better but then you gotta buy an animation desk too and you start spending a lot of money.

    So I was just suggesting the cheapest way to get started for people who aren't rich yet.

    Actually, I just use the light box though. It works fine for me.

  14. Whenever I get the money, I'm going to finally donate to your awesome blog, John. Sorry I could never donate before (I felt I've been cheating you for so long. Again, I'm sorry.). My family is always in a tight economic situation, so it gets hard for them to even eat because of it. Heck, I can barely afford drawing supplies anymore.

    And just thank you for your life-changing lessons from the Preston Blair book and just your unique insights about cartoons and animation in general.

  15. Hey John,
    what is the purpose of the light box? are we supposed to just use it as a drawing table, or are we supposed to use the light function? if so how?

    thanks, you friend


  16. Hey John! How can I get in on the JK Cartoon School?

  17. Nice lessons Jon, but i have one major question: By copying the drawings from the Preston Blair book or studying cartoons, do you mean directly trace them while using the rules of studying their construction and/or line of action, or do you mean copy what you THINK they're like and compare them to the real deal? Or both? Please clarify this for me, i really need to know before i get anything done.

  18. I have another question: I want to get that light table, but 130$ is a hard price to swallow (and that isn't including getting the paper). Granted, i could have up in a couple weeks to get it (since i have a part time job with about 100$ every two weeks) but do you think i could just get my Grandpa to help me make one? He's really good with mechanical stuff and building things, so do you think it would just be more practical and cheaper if i had him help me build my own animation stand for free? (i have one of those bendy lamps already, which could serve as a makeshift light from below) It's hard enough to get a drawing stand while trying to collect as many classic cartoon DVDs and books as possible (i want my baby sister to grow up on all of the classics) on a low budget.

    And one last thing-how do i show you my "homework"? Do i post it on my blog and give you a link to it via a comment or something?

    Thanks very much if you reply.

  19. You at least need a pegboard - which is cheaper and you can get it at the same site.

    Then your dad can build a lightbox around it.

  20. Mr. Kricfalusi, I have an issue with the head excercise. I want to know if you have any solutions, or if I'm screwed.

    I always go slowly when drawing and try to make as little mistakes as possible...because in order to control the pencil, I must push down hard. By pushing down hard, I make it impossible to completely erase lines. When making an exact duplicate of a Simpsons drawing, for example, I can only make one or two mistakes if I do it slowly. But it's a much bigger deal with the Preston Blair exercise. I will eventually need to erase the construction lines from the heads in between steps. Do you have any advice?

  21. Try not pressing down so hard - look at the line quality of Preston's drawings. They are soft and gray - try to emulate that

    you also don't need to get the line in the right place the first time
    notice on Preston's rough drawings, there are usually more than one line in each area. He sketches the shapes over a couple times until he gets them looking right. Most of us do that.

    We don't put a dark line down until the drawing is roughed out softly first.


    try some different pencils and find one that's easy to erase

    a harder pencil lead is usually easier to erase- like an hb

    or Colerase brand colored pencils - like blue or red

    the best erasers are the white ones

    the ones on the ends of pencils tend to just smear everything

  22. Hey John,

    big fan.

    I started going through the book, posting it here:

    would love any tips :)

    (p.s. i donated!)

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. No, that's not a random comment, I just can't log in via Google to comment on your other blog. Well, I run a funny face contest:

    Suprise, suprise, half a dozen people did appeal in the first few hours. And because there is a prize, I would need an expert for funny faces as a juror. Interested? Well, it's not a real meme already, but no totally pointless promotion, too. And you're the creator of Muddy Mudskipper, so you're double sophisticated!

  25. Big John!
    I love your style, reminds me the old school cartoons with a lot slutty mixed . Good stuff man. I admire your courage. today, is not easy not being "politically correct".
    I have a blog of illustrations (nothing compared to yours)where when I can, I try to be dirty, ehehehe.
    If you can take a look.

    All the best for you.

  26. Hey John
    i wish you could have had a animation school. Your lessons are great. Thanks for the site.

  27. Hey John. Awesome that you've been doing this for the asspiring animators out here.

    Speaking of ass, I've been bustin mine in the Preston Blair for the last several days, and I haven't gotten past that damn bear head at the top of the page. I couldn't figure out why I couldn't make drawings like the finished head using the diagram. I actually have some artist's training (not cartoon... classical) Then I noticed that Preston skipped a step:

    I kept trying to fit the details into a perfect sphere (as shown)... (except for the ears, of course...) but in reality, the head wasn't anything close to a perfect sphere... it was way different!

    Do you think that first bear sketch is important to nail? Because it takes me seriously at least 10 minutes to draw with the circle and glob shape shown (because i have to erase and redraw and adjust things... since the diagram is off)

    I'm thinking of moving on to doing the egg head sketches. Will I miss anything by giving up on that bear?



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