What the heck does that mean??

In animation it can mean a number of different things. In the different departments of an animation studio, the artists are responsible for different parts of the production: Conceptual Design, Location Design, Character Design, Prop Design, Storyboard, Layout, Animation, Clean-up, and Inbetweening. I'm not counting areas like Background Painting because they deal more with colour and values as opposed to strictly line drawing.

Each department has it's own specific focus and so they have certain areas that require a specialized area of consistancy. For example, character designers generally speaking don't really have to worry too much about perspective in the same way that the layout artists do, however, both need to be very careful of proportions, volume and scale.

Storyboard artists and Rough Key Animators are not as concerned about line quality as the character designers, layout artista, clean-up and inbetweening animators.

Layout artists are more concerned about spatial relationships and composition than the storyboard artists but they still need to follow the rules.

As the project and artwork gets closer to what will finally be on screen, more attention must be made to this area. But this still doesn't answer the question of "What is consistancy in drawing?"

As a general statement, it means, keeping the drawing "ON MODEL". This also means keeping the drawings in the same design style, proportions, volumes, spatial relationships, and line quality. The character designer and location designer are the first people in this food chain. They are the one's who decide what the characters and locations re going to look like.

The character designer is responsible for creating model sheets showing the character from a variety of different points of view and in different positions, as well as a range of facial expressions that the character will use in the story. The character is shown in a front on view, a side and rear view as well as a 3/4 front and rear view. For 3D character design, these are orthographic drawings, sometimes called: "the T-poses" as the character is usually standing up straight with their arms straight out from their shoulders in a crucifix pose.

The modeller will often just import these drawings and project them onto planes and model the character to them in 3D. This helps the modeller to keep the model exactly in proportion to the original 2D design. The other model sheets will show the character in a variety of different poses that they would use within the story line and show the extent to which the character is allowed to go to in their actions. It's not absolute, but just used as a guide.

The real purpose is to give everyone who will be working with the characters in storyboarding, layout, and animation a clear and consistant guide for how the characters are to look.

The location designer will create two location designs that are 3/4 downshots of the environment from opposing corners. These show where all the things are within the environment and their spatial relationships and proportions. There may also be auxillary prop designs that show specific details for furniture, etc. Again, the location designs are specifically for the storyboard and layout artists. Spatial relationships and proportions are the main concern. It's important that things don't move around or shrink and grow throughout the film.

I recently bought a book on layouts by the disney studio and was amazed to see so many inconsistancies in the layouts. Of course, no one is perfect and it's a constant struggle to maintain consistancy within a production. You try to be as professional as you can and do your best.

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