Four Reasons to Follow The Simpsons Drawing Club

The Simpsons Drawing Club is a brand new tumblelog that, yes, is drawings of various Simpsons characters. It’s early days yet, but judging by what they’ve posted so far, this is certainly a site to watch. Here’s just four samples of what to expect.

And my personal favourite:

Frame By Frame Does Exactly What It Says on the Tin

The proliferation of inventive Tumbelogs continues apace with the latest one I’ve stumbled across being Frame By Frame, which purports to do exactly that. However that is not all, because each shot also comes with it’s own little GIF to show everything in motion. See the example below:

There are many more like it with the posting schedule approximately every other day. Either way, consider this one followed.

PS. Obligatory link to my own tumblelog of awesomeness.

“Why don’t more animators use tumblr?” Is The Wrong Question to Ask

 Via: The Rauch Bros. Tumblelog

Fred Seibert has opined that more animators should be using Tumblr as a platform for their art. I do not disagree with this statement. In fact, I agree, the Tumblr platform has a lot of features to offer and has proven itself to be a great tool to build a community around your work in addition to discovering new stuff.

However, Fred’s post misses the mark when it comes to its reasoning.

Yes, Tumblr is a social platform, but so is any blog (so long as certain features are engaged).  Fred points out the Adventure Time tumblelog as an example, stating that:

 Very few of the posts get fewer than hundreds of notes (you can see the number at the bottom of each post.) Regular readers will recall that very, very, very few of our posts got even one comment on our old blogs.

This is true, except that comments and “notes” are mutually exclusive. One is a tool to provide feedback or opinion on a post, the other is simply a statistic on how people have responded to it (either likes or reblogs).

Comments are a truer measure of social interaction in that they indicate that people have thoughts or feelings on the post, not merely that they liked it or were suitably enthralled enough to post it on their tumblelog too.

This is not to diss the notes system. Indeed, you can implement Disqus commenting in Tumblr, just as Frederator have done, if you so desire and get the benefit of both worlds. I just don’t see the point in proclaiming the benefit of one over the other.

What Fred is right about is the ease at which Tumblr allows you to share content. One or two clicks and you’re done. Compare that to even twitter, where you often have to click, login, edit the tweet and click again to post. That can get tiresome, especially if you like to post multiple times a day.

A post Mark Coatney proves to be the inspiration for Fred’s post, and although it also focuses on numbers, it lists three things that are essential to building a community on Tumblr:

  • Be Engaging: Have interesting things to say, and don’t talk simply about yourself. Respond to other Tumblr users, ask questions, etc. Remember that Tumblr is a visual medium (more than half of the 25 million things posted on Tumblr each day are pictures), so look for compelling images to tell your story whenever possible.
  • Be Social: Tumblr is above all a social sharing platform. Use this space to show off your best stuff, encourage others to share it with their followers, reblog posts from other Tumblrs that you think your followers will enjoy.
  • Be Yourself: No publication has to fundamentally change who they are to connect with people on Tumblr. The audience responds most to a personal, peer-to-peer connection with you; embrace that.

These are all great points, except that that they are applicable to any platform, not exclusively to Tumblr. This very blog is an example, I engage with commentators, I’m socially active through Twitter, Tumblr and Google+ and I am myself, right down to popping in a ‘u’ in places American’s find weird.

What Fred should have focused on was what he mentions in the very first paragraph:

Some young artists are using it [tumblr], but for some reason a ton of animation blogs are on Blogger, some on WordPress.

Yes, they are using Blogger and WordPress, and I dare say that the biggest mistake they make is not in choosing these platforms, but by neglecting to maintain them! I can easily say that of the 300+ artist blogs in my reader, well under 10% are updated on a regular basis. In fact, I recently went through and deleted any blog that hadn’t been updated in over a year. The numbers were depressing to say the least.

These animation bloggers can’t blame the platform for their failure, they can only blame themselves.

Instead of asking “Why aren’t more animators aren’t using Tumblr?” we should be asking “Why aren’t more animators taking blogging more seriously?”

Sometimes I Raid my Tumblelog For Inspiration…

…and instead I become engrossed in the stuff I find there, even from years ago. Feel free to follow me if you’re on Tumblr too. 🙂

Here’s a few of the wilder examples of animation stuff I rediscovered.

Mickey contemplating recent developments in the world of medicine
Homer shilling my favourite shoes
Woody hitting the moonshine
The Big Bad Wolf from the Three Little Bops
The real-life Wacky Races

Recommnded Reading: Dresden Codak’s Tumblelog

It’s been a while since I’ve done a website recommendation and in order to get a bit of structure back into this blog, it’s time to start doing them again.

Today, it is the turn of Dredan Codak a.k.a talented maestro, Aaron Diaz.

If you’re not already familiar with Dresden Codak, you probably should get yourself over to the website and do some catching up. It’s a superb (web)comic with a diverse cast of characters and a great look/design.

However, that is not what I’m recommending today, well it is, but the actual site is slightly different. It’s actually the Dresden Codak tumblelog, “Indistinguishable From Magic“.

Plenty of artists use Tumblr as more of an auxiliary blog for posting scraps, development work, personal stuff, etc. Others, like the too-talented-for-words Dan Meth actually use it as the base of their entire website!

Either way, many people appreciate the flexibility that Tumblr provides in terms of design and use as well as the following capabilities and reblogging features that help grow and maintain a devoted audience.

IFM is no exception to that rule but it is the content that sets itself apart from the rest. Far more than an auxiliary blog, Aaron has turned it into a veritable gold mine of art, advice, opinion and lessons.

For example, his excellent post on character’s figures (see image above) contains the kind of honest advice that is kinda hard to come across these days. One you read it, you begin to look at characters in a whole new light.

Aaron also uses the tumblelog to interact with people who ask various questions on the comic, art and drawing in general. All are answered with the upfront honesty that defines a creator who appreciates the devotion of his fans.

In addition to all of the above, what kind of artist would Aaron be if he didn’t post some cool sketches as well?

Sketch of Janelle Monae

If you’re an artist, comic or otherwise, following Indistinguishable From Magic is a must. You simply cannot miss out on all that Aaron is posting.

The 7 Things That Made Adventure Time A Success

Adventure Time Promo art

Soon to be premiering its third season, Adventure Time has been on a seriously roll since it was first broadcast all the way back in 2010. Is there some kind of secret sauce that Pendleton Ward and co. have been hiding from everyone else? The answer is no, but there are a few things that the team, the studio and the network have done to ensure the shows success.

1. It’s Premise

Two best friends living in a magical land called Ooo? How could that not be special? How about if one of them was a magical dog who could talk? Even more so of course! The setup for Adventure Time is the ideal cartoon setting in that it allows for plenty of room for story. Being magical and all that, there have been no shortage of stories that make full use of such a location.

2. The Diverse Characters

Adventure Time is chock full of quirky characters who fill an episode and make it all the more fun to watch. Besides that, the regular cast are a diverse crowd, with a human, a talking dog, a bubblegum princess, a vampire and a flying ‘rainacorn’. Much like the Land of Ooo, the core characters are suitably different and complex as to permit a wide array of stories to be centered around them.

3. The Original Short

The original short, was part of Frederator’s Random! Cartoons and was broadcast on Nickelodeon back in 2008. Since Nickelodeon declined to pick up the series, it could have sat on the shelf for a year and a half. Instead, someone (somewhere) was clever enough to ensure that the short made it onto YouTube. In no time at all, it had ratcheted up over a million hits and a pseudo-cult following.

Besides that, the short was also extremely effective at introducing the world, the cast of characters and the kind of situations they have to deal with in the land of Ooo. Such a solid base was perfect as the foundation for the show’s fans on which to grow.

4. Getting Picked Up

With a bit of internet popularity, there was already an audience waiting for a series, so it came as no surprise when Cartoon Network announced their acquisition of the series, that there were many fast-paced discussions on forums as to how the show would turn out. As a result, the show’s premiere was one of the highest watched in Cartoon Network history and the show has remained a top ratings winner ever since.

The key here is that thanks to the show being on YouTube, it already had a group of people who wanted to see it. As such, it was easier for the creators and network figure out which direction the show should go in and what made it so popular in the first place.

5. The Tumblelog

The good folks at Frederator have run production blogs for all their shows since My Life as a Teenage Robot so it is no surprise that they have one for Adventure Time too. Stretching all the way back to the original short, there is literally hundreds of bits and bobs from the show like character model sheets, colour studies, sketches, storyboards and promotional art. It’s a veritable treasure trove of Adventure Time paraphernalia.

Why this is so important is because until now, the vast majority of shows normally hide such stuff away and try and keep it out of the public’s eye until at least the show’s premiere (the common fear is ‘piracy’). Posting such a large amount of art on a regular basis only served to whet the appetite of the fans, however, and when the first series was broadcast, many fans were already familiar with the episodes and were anticipating them even more.

6. The Secret Sauce of Awesomeness

[Shhh, don’t tell anyone]

7. Actively Engaging The Fans

I wrote about this last year sometime, but it is still something of a rarity in the cartoon landscape in that the producers actively engage fans and encourage them in many ways. Of note is the original tumblelog but also the many many fansites that have sprung up. The official tumblelog also requests, accepts and posts fanart and pictures of people either cosplaying or wearing Adventure Time clothing. No other show (outside of Frederator) seems to be doing this even though it has immensely helped cement the show’s reputation as being fan-friendly.

Conclusion

So there you have it, seven things that have helped Adventure Time become the success it is today. It should serve as a role model for other shows on how to successfully grow your viewer base into a fan base.

 

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