Video Game Nudity and Naked Animation

| May 2, 2014 | 0 Comments

Commentary on Nudity in Animation (or lack thereof) and Video Game Nudity

When we launched our new nude forum Nicholas was one of our first members. His posts about his experiences as an animation student were extensive and insightful. We love getting a fresh perspective on things, so we asked Nick if he would write a blog post for us from his viewpoint on nudity in art, animation and video games.

Guest blog by: Nicholas Cannan

Nudity in Video Games

Video Game Nudity – When an artist wants to create a representational image (a drawing, sculpture, painting, etc.) of a human being, (s)he must consider first the base of the structure. What comes first? The fully rendered, clothed figure is the end result so first the artist needs to peel away the layers that conceal the form to then build up to this finished piece.

So, again, what comes first under everything? The skeleton. The bone structure defines proportion and structure. It is what frames the body. The muscles come second. They are what hold the skeleton together and allow the body to stand, to move, to live. Last comes the skin and flesh and we finally have a nude figure.

Only, most artists leave out parts. Specifically, the genitals and nipples (for both males and females). I attend the Art Institute of California – Sacramento and I’ve seen this happen even when drawing from a nude model in an environment where we are supposedly encouraged to draw everything. These elements, while they will most likely never be seen in most professional / commercial work, are still essential to understanding the human body just as every other part is.

Why? It’s a simple matter of learning the form. When drawing a man in his underwear, for example, (it does happen) the male penis will form a visible shape that cannot be simplified to a sphere’ish box-y thing as I’ve seen it done without looking odd. Also, the nipples are “landmarks” on the body to measure proportions and, with females, can help with understanding the direction the breasts hang either straight forward or turned out to the sides, tilted up or down, etc. Breasts are complex and come in an infinite number of shapes. They are also not symmetrical in every case.

So why are artists afraid to draw what they see?

I am a student of animation and nudity in animation is something that is rarely, if ever, seen. But we all learn to draw from nude people. One of the few masters of traditional animation, Richard Williams, animation director of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and author of “The Animator’s Survival Kit” argued fiercely against the negligence of drawing the nude figure that many animators suffer from.

My professors have been reluctant to discuss these areas as important to drawing. Most new artists, I’ve noticed, draw a basic, rough shape of the body and then draw nipples and genitals. These are the areas that “textile” artists notice the most simply because they have not been able to study and truly look at these parts before. They are the most interesting parts.

But our teachers tell us not to emphasize them. I agree. Genitals and breasts should not be exaggerated any more than the arms, legs, or face would be. In a caricature, this would be fine, but that’s more advanced than an anatomical study.

So, these new students decide it’s too embarrassing to be chastised for drawing these parts and thus omit them completely.

Part of this could be blamed on the standard of drawing established by Andrew Loomis author of many books, most notably “Figure Drawing for All it’s Worth.” His drawings omit genitals completely and turn the human body into a mathematical equation.

Drawing Loomis figures is acceptable in nearly all commercial works and was nearly exclusively the format used for figure drawings in the early 1900’s until today. Marvel and DC Comics both used Loomis charts to design their super heroes with skin-tight costumes. This is the real reason super heroes fly around in their undies. It’s the Loomis figure with added lines, boots, and colors!

Video Game Nudity YNA

Andrew Loomis’ anatomical proportions chart from “Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth.” Figures are measured in ‘heads’ which equate the height of the subject’s actual head. (Notice the omitted groin, substituted with a blank block or leaf.)

In the above image, Andrew Loomis expresses his opinion that “normal” proportions look “dumpy” (he even includes a balding scalp and drooping moustache) to himself and most artists and that the “idealistic” and “heroic” proportion models are always the best way to go. Many do agree with this, but perhaps this is only because we as people are used to seeing these proportions and therefore regard them as normal rather than the proportions more true to life.

Ultimately, though, these proportions are just a form of exaggeration, no different than the giant, glittering eyes of anime, the bulging, jagged muscles of Marvel, or the noodle-y characters of “Adventure Time.” The mistake is in professors and professional artists claiming that this way, or any way, is the only way for humans to look and be drawn.

Real bodies can be very disproportionate. My girlfriend is only five and a half heads tall. But she is a real, normal, and proportionate person and a more reliable model than these “ideal” drawings. A particular professor of mine pushed the Loomis way and taught out of the book “How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way” by Stan Lee and John Buscema. These books helped me learn. But that’s all. They are not the bible of realism the way a lot of artists treat this style.

And it’s not only the Loomis / Marvel ways. Realism is very popular and audiences are constantly arguing if a film or piece of art is “realistic” as if that were the only thing that mattered in whether or not it was enjoyable.

In the animation field, nudity in the artwork is considered to be in bad taste or meant for an “adult” experience. Animation itself has nearly no nudity in its history with the exception of a few topless women in the occasional daring film. Most notably Walt Disney’s Fantasia has topless harpies in the “Night on Bald Mountain” sequence as well as nude fairies in the “Nutcracker Suite” and topless centaur women in “Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5” both of whom were also missing their nipples and genitals. (On a side note, I do not count hentai or other cartoon pornography as legitimate animation.)

Japanese anime is usually more willing to put nudity in their animation, but it is rarely in good taste and usually for cheap entertainment and fan service. One exception being an anime entitled Elfen Lied. This was originally a manga written by Lynn Okamota, which, unfortunately had more gratuitous sexuality than the television adaptation. The story involved victimized women who had evolved to have psychic-like powers and were thus feared and imprisoned.

These girls (as they were mostly all female) were locked away and treated inhumanely which included keeping them nude. Since most of them were imprisoned at birth, they had no concept of shame from nudity. It was actually this anime that truly piqued my interest in nudism in the first place.

In the show, nudity was commonplace for most of the characters and was never brought to the foreground as dirty or wrong but rather as innocent and normal, even childish. Perhaps, this was simply because of Japan’s more lax view on nudity of segregated genders, but it definitely played to the story’s advantage showing both sides; the victimhood (while imprisoned) and the freedom (after escape) that nudity can bring.

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Nude Anime Video Games – From Elfen Lied, Nana (left) and Mayu (right, off-screen) talking in the bath.

In video games nudity is frowned upon, even more so perhaps. The only games that include nudity are titles such as God of War which is very “Greek” in the sense that nearly every woman is topless, and every entry to the series has a sex mini-game to earn experience points. Other titles with nudity are Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto or Red Dead Redemption, both with explicit sexual scenes.

Where is the non-sexualized, plain ol’nudity? Strangely enough, I found it in a Nintendo game. I bought my girlfriend a 3DS last summer (2013) with the game Animal Crossing: New Leaf and I picked up a copy for myself as well. Every so often, a fox character named Redd would visit the town and sell artwork. This included Michelangelo’s statue of David and the Venus de Milo, both of which are faithfully recreated in the game with no censorship. This is a game developed with children in mind and is rated by ESRB as “E for Everyone.”

video game nudity animation animal crossing naked statues

David and Venus de Milo in Animal Crossing: New Leaf featured here in the dream town of Aika Village: (2600-0218-7298)

Here’s a question: Why can’t people be naked unless they’re centuries-old statues? It’s okay for nudity to be in a children’s game and even get an “E” rating, but if a character were to appear nude (artistically, practically, or just-becausedly), it’s “M” or just banned altogether.

So I decided I wanted to create my own nudist town within Animal Crossing as best I could. The game gives the player a good amount of freedom with designs and so I was able to at the very least, create t-shirt designs that made the player characters appear topless (for both genders), with nude cutouts and other artwork.

Video Game Nudity - nudist town animal crossing new leaf nudity video game naked

Video Game Nudity – The neglected town of Deadhole, an official nudist town in AC:NL: (4900-2288-3659) (…Unfortunately, I didn’t put much thought into the rest of the game…)

To this date, Nintendo has had no problem with my town and it hasn’t been taken down. However, on that note, the Wii U drawing app “Art Academy: Sketchpad” banned me from the Internet service Miiverse for posting traditionally posed nude digital paintings on the grounds that it was “sexual content.” I re-read the EULA again like they recommended and it appears that, yes, nudity officially falls under “sexual content” as the first example. But I guess it’s fair as they’re just protecting their brand and themselves from angry parents.

But there is definitely a market of people who want to play video games with nudity. Look at Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Practically the first thing anyone does with Bethesda’s sandbox games is create nude mods, or alterations to the PC version’s original code.

This takes a lot of work! Not to mention that even the slightest error in gaming 3D models can cause clipping (going through itself), collapsing (bending in on itself), or even downright crashing the game.

The mods include a variety of body types and textures (the skins, essentially) including the choice as to whether or not Skyrim men are circumcised or not. Though most modded bodies are fit, thin, and/or muscular, they sort of have to be since the limitations of the game give each gender a body for all characters and most characters are warriors. Regardless, it helps give Skyrim more realistic-looking bodies. Some modders even went far enough to create physics or animations for breasts so they aren’t as stiff as stone like in the original game.

There are even mods for Perks (bonuses for leveling up and meeting certain requirements) for not wearing clothing. For example, picking locks without gloves gives your character better lock-picking skills or not wearing anything makes it easier for people to trust you by boosting your Speechcraft points. It’s fun to be a naturist in Skyrim’s natural and romantic environments with these Perks that actually make sense.

Now, of course, there are those who get off on this kind of thing, and chances are those kinds of people are the ones that made these mods in the first place. But, really, whatever. If I can run around naked in a blizzard in Winterhold while fighting a dragon with a light-saber, it doesn’t matter the motivations.

So the grand point I’m trying to make here is that nudity should not be restricted to the fine arts or more “classical” pieces. We should be seeing it in these new forms of art. Animation is barely a hundred years old and video games are roughly forty. These are young mediums, but they’re maturing at an incredible rate. We had black and white cartoons and pixelated arcades not all that long ago. I think it’s time they took a chance.

And to do that, the artists who make them need not be afraid of drawing all of what they see.

This article about video game nudity was published by – Young Naturists and Nudists America YNA

Photo credits:

Andrew Loomis and “Figure Drawing for All Its Worth” is open source material and available on the Public Domain.

“Elfen Lied” is property of Lynn Okamoto and licensed to ADV Films for North American distribution.

“Animal Crossing” is property of Nintendo EAD.

“The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” is property of Bethesda Softworks.

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Category: Art, Nudist Blogs, Social Nudity Blogs

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Guest blogs written exclusively for Young Naturists America.