Helpful Harrie
This is an art resource blog.
If you need any help, don't hesitate to send me an ask!
  spoopyybaka said:
dear mr. baxter, i've seen your work from gravity falls and so i looked into this blog! your work is truly inspiring to me. i've wanted to animate 2-D characters my whole life. but sadly, i get really discouraged because whenever i talk about becoming an animator to someone they scoff and say it's a pointless or dying business. is there really any chance someone could get into cool projects like that? could you give me some tips or pointers on how to maybe make that aspiration a reality?



Hi spoopyybaka, don’t get discouraged! This could be a very exciting time in animation. Even the people in charge of the largest movie studios and tv networks don’t really know how things are going to change, and they are changing. There are new venues and platforms opening up for animation all the time, and some of those things require hand-drawn technique. Gravity Falls follows the default workflow of having the story and layout handled in the US and outsourcing the actual animation to Asia. The reasons for doing it that way are economic, but I’m not sure that’s an idea that has been re-examined lately. I feel that it doesn’t have to be done that way.  Like I said, things are changing really fast so there’s every reason to be hopeful. In answer to your question, of course there is a chance of getting to work on cool projects. My friend Alex Hirsch studied animation at CalArts and after working for a couple of years in the industry, created Gravity Falls and pitched it to Disney TV. He made his own future. If you keep at it and the work is good, there will be an audience.

I actually have to do hand-drawn animation. I can’t help it. It’s just who I am. So, if someone wants to pay me for it, yay! But if not, I’ll do it anyway. It’s my art, and nobody can stop you doing your art! It’s true, hand-drawn is not the default technique for most animation in the US anymore, especially in feature films, but there is still hand-drawn work out there, in commercials and television, and yes, the occasional theatrical project. They are important skills to learn for any animator. Right now I make a living doing CG animation, which is fine, and I definitely recommend acquiring those CG skills as an animator (which is really just learning a couple of software packages) to make you more employable. But character animation is character animation and the list of differences in animation technique between CG and hand-drawn is remarkably small. At the heart of it you are still communicating character and story through sequential pictures. People who scoff don’t know what they’re talking about.

Hand-drawn animation will always be my art. I find the experience of creating it and watching it magical, when compared with a digitally simulated world where there is no surprise that everything moves. But a drawing that springs to life? That’s magic!

Sound, balanced perspective on 2d animation (from one of the masters of the craft)

  Anonymous said:
Hey! Can you help me in something? in the last months i started drawing harpyes, and i want them to have wings intead of arms, but with hands, but i cant find a great combination between these two. So,can you help me, please?

Ah well this is a difficult one! First off, you’re gonna want to get super familiar with the bone structure of wings

and the bone structure of hands

i highly recommend just doing some sketches of these diagrams to cement the structure into your head, cause it’s this that you need to merge.

Bird wings are essentially an arm with a hand and one finger which is like two fused together size wise

As such I personally would merge the bones together into something like this

Which if you then put some skin and muscles on there it’s gonna look a little alien

but then with some feathers will look something like this

Note that the wing finger lacks a joint and also the fingers go where the alula usually is, so there’d be a little less control over flight.

Not all birds have alulae, but it’s essentially a bird’s thumb and a freely moving digit. It has five or so feathers of its own and serves the same function as slats on a plane

How would I improve on drawing hair? Like hair strands and stuff. I know hair doesn't fall separately you get strands but I can never draw it and I always end up making each hair separate and help cause I'm an art student I needtoknowI'mpanickinghelp


Ooh cool! My favourite artist to look at for hair is Alphonse Mucha’s sketches of girls.


Look at the way he reserves areas of white (girl w/ long hair on the right).  I came to see those areas as ‘implied hair’ because you don’t need to draw every strand to let people know it’s hair. And then the mass of hair that’s flowing down - he’s bunched them up in the middle so there’s less lines (and more white) until the tips where there’s more definition. I’ve used this principle every time I’ve drawn hair  (leaving the middle ‘implied’ with few strokes, then defining the strands at the tips as well as at the top of the head).


This is a drawing I did last year in July, and you can see (girl on right) there’s more detail at the roots and tips than middle


These were done by ‘deducemysoul’ on tumblr and I love how different the approach is. It’s not line based like Mucha but ‘shape’ based. She’s focused on the tone and values of masses of hair and then added a few flyaway hairs. In the first painting, it’s interesting to see how ‘sleek’ hair is portrayed with just colour/tone and no lines (until the tips).

Okay! Maybe you want to start a folder of nice hair pictures and draw from them (doing studies from other artists is also a great idea).


I love Amanda Norgaard’s hair in this photo, it’s got a nice colour and wispy-ness to it. So if I were to do a pencil drawing I’d draw some of the roots at the top of the head where the split is, between that and where the hair tucks over the ears I’d leave it as ‘implied’ hair. The shadows I’d draw in around the ear and where the hair does that plait curl. And then I’d pull a Mucha for the mass of hair that’s flowing down.  

I hope that made sense haha. And don’t panic! Drawing hair can kinda be therapeutic, there’s no easy or fast way around it, so just take your time.


Digital Painting - Line Weight


Edit: That’s Matt Kohr speaking. I’m a creature with a female voice.



How To Draw Better In 2 Minutes

I expected this to be a troll video about sacrificing your soul in exchange for art skills or something but this was actually very informative.

  freeglassart said:
You may get asked this a lot, so please excuse my ignorance - but how do you go about constructing character expressions and body language and such? Thanks!




Besides The Basics (construction of heads and skulls and muscles and skeletons and how they move), I’ll go over some things I’ve been trying to work on myself lately:

1. Treat expressions as a single gesture of the face/head, as opposed to a head and then individual features dumped on a plate and arranged into an expression.

First, just get down the big shapes of your expression, just like you would for a pose.  

So say I wanna do a low angle angry pose.  I know the features are gonna be all mashed down at the bottom because of perspective.

 Scribble it down


start to put on features


fix stuff


put on more stuff


fix stuff again


erasing and flipping and stuff a whole bunch until you are happy with it or stop caring

Whole head is a gesture!image


2. Just like a facial expression, jot down where the important parts of an entire pose goes first.  You can force the rest of the body to fit the pose.

So here I knew I wanted the shoulders tilted a certain direction, and te hand to be in that particular position in front of her face. 




That’s the simplest explanation I got.  Don’t be afraid to push and pull faces and bodies around! Worry about being “on model” last!

I’m feel really strongly about this right now and I weirdly enough think about this a lot so I’m gonna word vomit a little buuutttt

Makani is seriously like my favourite artist ever and I think when it kind of comes down to it probably had the biggest hand in teaching me how to draw?? I’ve been looking at her stuff ever since I started going on the internet when I was like 2 years old (I feel like this is common) but kind of never really thought about it aside from consuming as a  fan however I guess getting into tf2 and meeting makani on the chan seriously changed how I drew entirely and it’s really bizarre to think about how such a huge factor in the way I draw today was from playing around on tf2chan LOL I feel like I never would’ve drawn characters/ interactions/ facial expressions/ etcetc if it wasn’t for that.

Anyways I guess makani has just stayed consistently impressive and incredible and I still just go look at her art like every day and start deliriously laughing because she’s so fucking good LOL Thanks for coming to my TED talk on makani 

Makani is my hero. Also for those of you who ask me about expressions and body language, here’s some extremely helpful advice!

To Plan or Not-to-Plan Your Novel: What Will Work Best for YOUR Writing Habits



Lately, I’ve seen a lot of debate on what is the more successful way to complete a novel: free form or planned structure. I have always been more on the free form side of things, just because I think it works and I’m horribly awful at sticking to plans. But with my latest novel, it is very planned and structured with an outline that I wrote in less than 24 hours and so far so good! Seeing both sides of this debate and trying them both, I would say that the way that is best for you to write depends very much on your writing habits. 

For the writer who has trouble finishing a story:

When I say “trouble finishing a story,” I mean, you either get sick of it, realize there is something wrong with it, or just aren’t sure how you want it to end - whatever the reason, your story just never gets finished and you move onto the next one, which also never gets finished. You’re most likely a freeform writer. You write in spurts of passion and the passion dies at a certain point and you can’t get it back. You need to write a structured story. Write a chapter by chapter outline, all the way through to the end. Make it action-packed. You are moving from one shocking scene to the next. This way, if one scene isn’t perfect, you still are looking forward to the drama of the next one all the way too the end. When creating this outline, consider taking into account my tips on the 3 Act Structure, as a basis before moving into individual chapter outlines. 

For the writer who keeps revising her outline and seems to do more planning than writing:

Typically, this problem follows aspiring sci-fi and fantasy writers like a shadow. It’s the world building problem! Your worlds are so elaborate and complicated that you lose track of everything else that already makes it tough to write a novel. My suggestion is probably something that all of you will hate, but it honestly helps - skip the world building. Base it on a real place, maybe some place in history like Ancient Rome, the legendary Troy, or Pompeii. Use features from these places or just play around with a map of a town near you. Make it crazy and fantastical as you go so it can be the world you wanted it to be, but focus on the story. If you’re less worried about believable geography, you’re more likely to actually sit down and start writing. Fix it to be the world you want once the first draft is complete. 

If you’re not a sci-fi or fantasy writer and you’re having this issue, I think you could use some practice in free form. Pick your beginning, middle, and end and just write it. If it’s not perfect, don’t worry. Just keep going. Write and write and write. That’s the only way to get out of this problem. Just keep in mind that you’re writing one of many drafts. This is not what the publishers will see, this is for you. It might look like crap, but you’ll fix it later. 

For the writer who has written 20 k words and realizes he’s missing a plot: 

Aristotle did say, “Plot is character revealed by action,” and he’s right. You need a plot. It doesn’t have to be all action, action, action, but there needs to be something that the characters want, there must be some type of conflict to keep the reader going. Actions are so telling of who a person really is, despite what they have to say. For you, I would suggest, taking a look at outlining, or at the very least, check out my page on The 3 Act Structure. Decide what yourThink about Antigone by Sophocles. While there are very few actions in this play (Antigone bury’s her rebel brother against the wishes of her uncle, Creon, the king, he gets angry, has her buried alive, and in a domino effect, his entire family commits suicide.) Despite what either character has said, the viewer is left wondering in the end who was right - Antigone who disobeyed the king or Creon who only asked one rule be enforced. 

Those are the main problems I see in first drafts… If there’s any bad writing habits I missed, let me know and I’ll add it to the list! 

  Anonymous said:
I was wondering how you manage to make your faces actually look like the person they are meant to look like? Some of my facial features always end up looking the same, and yours are so perfect... *showers you with love* You are my art guru.


art guru!!!!



BUT NO in all seriousness, thank you! You’re a sweetheart! ;O; Proportions are pretty awful to get down when you’re just starting out, and while there are a bunch of ways you can start practicing with it, it’ll be difficult to be absolutely precise. I still struggle with proportions occasionally. Fun fact: I don’t post all of my work. I only post the work that turned out okay aHA. So basically don’t be frustrated when every single piece doesn’t turn out. Here are a few tips.

Let’s use this picture of Laurence and Hugh because why not.


They’ve both got eyes, a nose, and a mouth, so why do they look different?


These lines are the generic way of mapping out where to put things together. I used this when I was starting out and it’s a helpful way of getting your hand and wrist to work together. At this point they both nearly look the same. I say this a lot, but I think it’s important: shape is what puts a drawing together.

Compare features of the face to help you figure out placement.

For example:


The bottom of his ear lines up right to the middle of his nostril. His tear ducts line up right at the corners of his mouth. Then you can get super technical and say, oh, the outer corner of his eye lines up with that fold in his collar and then from there you can see other things like the approximate distance from the edge of his mouth to that connecting line from the eye to the collar. They don’t meet so his mouth is smaller than the width of his eyes, etc, etc. Whatever works, man.

This is a favorite technique of mine so lemme use another example:


Eventually you get to the point where most of your proportional accuracy will come from just looking. You will eventually adjust your eye to see what makes a person who they are by the shape of their features.


Laurence has narrow, oval shaped eyes, while Hugh has more of a diamond shape. Not everyone has perfect almond shaped eyes. You can capture an entire character personality through their eyes alone, so shaping them out is extremely important.

The way you draw your lines is also important. Sharp and smooth lines will give your drawing personality. Reveals the character, in a sense.


Other things to consider: the shape of the nose.


Mads’ is flat and goes down in a steady slope, while Hugh’s juts out in a smooth, almost concave curve.

SHAPES SHAPES SHAPES. Use shapes and structure to find proportion.


I did a lot more than I anticipated omg. Oh gosh and I have a feeling I kinda just rambled and didn’T MAKE ANY SENSE AH. Let me know if you need more help or if I was speaking gibberish I am so bad at putting my thoughts into words aHHHH. But gosh I hope this was at least vaguely helpful. You’re a darling and thank you for your kind words!

Good luck on your artistic endeavors! /hugs