Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Convex Concave other tips

Avoid right angles in poses. Make sure one side of limbs is smaller than the side facing you.

When drawing cartoons its best to exaggerate the attachment of the head, almost as if the head is a toy ball jointed onto the neck. But it can only look this way if the shape design of the head is very solid- the shape cannot look wobbly. In fact, most of the time, the head ISNT volumetrically drawn, when you overconstruct the head you loose the graphic sense of it- most of the time, the outline of the head itself, as a shape, has solid enough qualities to be graphic and solid and the same time, without overconstructing.

And the neck is something you just have to plain get right, because it's part of the spine. If the neck is off the entire body is off. 

Especially for the arms, legs, and hands, always refer to other body parts to size it out. Always know your peak, angle, and the width of a limb cross section before executing the outlines. Keep the outer contours of the limbs convex. 

Easy cartoon ryhtym (most of the time)- outer contours- convex, inner contours- concave.

If you are going to build a line don't lift your pencil to do it, execute the line as if you're coloring a coloring book. Build your lines for  inking things like hair, eyes, and lips, because they have soft complex curves.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Random stuff

It's a good idea to draw the entire line, and then build up your line around the middle when inking. Get used to building up your line when it comes to difficult curves.

Keep the structural integrity of the neck shoulder area. Keep the thighs long and triangular. compare arm sizes to leg sizes. The torso actually flows more like a volcano (head to crotch), it's just that there is stuff going on in your back that fools the silouette into being more barrel shaped.

Pause when you gesture more often. More definite shape statements.
Fool around with foot shapes more- stage it sideways often simply to make a stance clearer.

Kaizen approach- improve drawing- one drawing at a time.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Pencil Movement: Watching People Draw

There's a lot of physiological mysteries in drawing. Sometimes I like to watch videos of really awesome artists draw and see how they move.

Me: My natural instinct is heavy handedness- just feel it out in the beginning, get any kind of silouette desired any way possible, no matter how messy. I draw like Wanderlei Silva, I swing for the ropes and hope it lands, and if it doesn't I keep on trying.

Artists whose pencil movement I like:

Eric Goldberg: I think his pencil movement is the simplest to understand, and is the most effective in most cases. He has almost an etch-a-sketch quality to the way he moves his pencil- it barely ever jumps off the page, so he has a quality of pushing the line to make it what he wants. He also uses his small fingers to thrust subtle smaller lines to be more confident, which is an awesome idea, as it allows speedy coverage and easy closure of shapes. He arcs his wrist frequently to make the most out of his pencil tip and get an ideal angle. When he moves to different body parts, he DOESN'T PAUSE at all, he almost teleports his pencil tip across the figure as if he intended everything as one piece.

Jim Lee: I like his pencil movements because he's brisk in a good way, the best thing about him is his CONSTANT movement. He never pauses, wherever his pencil is, it's doing something. And he does this because he wants to keep the entire image unified. He never lingers in one place for too long. Watch him draw that hard line of the Joker's jaw- you can FEEL that he felt how hard the bone is just from how swift the line was at 1:27. And he draws details he keeps it light, brisk, and easy. He switches up his grip from time to time- further back to start, tighter when things are tighter. He shows you that you can do a lot with simple tools.

Artists who are amazing, but have movements that don't work well if you attempt it:
Glen Keane: His video is actually the first video I've seen of an artist that really inspired me just watching him draw, but I think I picked up a lot of bad habits from him. He draws very heavy-handedly. He hacks down lines, and his grip is constantly stiff. When I watched this video a year ago, I felt as though the boldness of his line is how every statement should be- so not knowing any better I imitated this behavior to bad effect.

It's bad because Glen doesn't have much dynamics to his pencil movement compared to Eric Goldberg, every line is fierce- frequent elbow/shoulder movement. Less fine control. He draws more like Mike Tyson compared to Eric Goldberg's more Sugar Ray Leonard fluidity.

Skottie Young: is a huge mystery to me, he draws freakishly well and fast. I can barely analyze how, because he's left handed and he has a really odd grip on top of it, and it doesn't even appear that he has any under-drawing at all on that sketch. Furthermore, it looks like he's using a Faber-Castell brush pen, which is, in my opinion, a very difficult pen to use. He jumps around almost as if he's drawing drunk. Must be talent.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dont overlook contrast

Shape design is a tricky subject. Something I've realized just now is that you can't lump in "flow" with shape design. I think flow is something that you just have to have in your bones, you can't even think about it- flow can mess up the larger goal of shape design.

I think the most important strategy of shape design is contrast of sizes- know how to make something big, medium, or small, short, skinny, wide, fat, etc to your advantage. Thinking in this mode at least allows you to lay something out- and it works excellently with groups of figures.

In fact, I would go as far as to say that the shape of any part itself isn't important- it's the contrast of it that really matters.

Even for poses, you can look for where the body is tight, versus where the body is loose.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


I can finally say what gesture is about in a way I am happy with-

Gesture is about hitting a pose CLEARLY.

The best tool to be clear is shape design- as it lends to graphic poses. When you want to draw an intended pose you have to have a graphic idea of the entire pose. To make sure you confine the pose as a unified shape design it's a good idea to mark the top, bottom and side boundaries- that way you pack in all your lines in the right places.

When you copy drawings you learn a graphic shorthand- that wont help you hit naturalistic poses necessarily. To hit naturalistic poses, you have to draw sets of graphic shorthands in relation to other sets- you have to keep all of your line placement graphically relational.

Always pay attention to where your line starts and ends.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

2nd pass roughs & Inker's Mindset

So inking should be more difficult than drawing because you have that added pressure of putting down a perfect line and not making a mistake. So the 2nd pass is all about making the final inking pass easier.

Here are some things I look for in a second pass:
1. Flip the gesture horizontally, because you see problems you normally cant if you dont.
2. Quickly clarify the shape separations by solving the tangency issues and implying more line weight separations. Dont worry about drawing a perfect line. This pass is about making shapes more graphic and not tangent, because you don't want to make these decisions in an inking pass.

3. Take time to perfect the hands & feet. Generally, in a second pass, you want the hands and feet to already look as you intend them to, and when you actually ink it, you'll look to simplify it so it looks more graphic.

And when you actually ink, you might find that you didn't do everything you should have in the 2nd pass- if that's the case, don't draw things with an inker's mindset. Switch modes, rough it out enough . . .

Here, I didn't follow my second pass game-plan exactly, as my inks don't follow where the blue shapes are exactly, but I found it more effortless to rough little touch ups than to ink and guess.

Drawing vs. Cleanup vs. Inking

A huge revelation- inking is NOT the came thing as clean-up. Clean-up is not the same thing as drawing. Drawing is neither inking nor clean-up. All of these things are completely different mental processes, and I feel that understanding this has been one of my greatest leaps forward in terms of progress. This is how I perceive the three tasks:

1. Drawing- drawing is about gesture, silhouette, acting, shape design, solidity/construction, getting the proportions right. You do these things to CONVEY AN IDEA QUICKLY. This is a drawing:

2. Clean-up- This concept exists only in animation. It's about streamlining the roughs- picking the right C, S, and I lines, avoiding tangents, avoiding parallel lines, and flipping to ensure it animates as intended. And you make these choices to ultimately ANIMATE. That's why clean-up is not inking.

3. Inking- Inking is NOT drawing or cleanup. Inking is rendering. Inking is about feeling out a hard or a soft edge, texturing, varying the line weight for clarity, spotting blacks. You make choices that ultimately get you to a CLEARER PRETTIER version of a drawing. It's only similar to clean-up in that you also have to be cautious of avoiding tangents and parallel lines.

The mistake I always made is that I always thought that inking was the same thing as cleaning up a drawing, and that cleanup is just re-drawing the gesture better. NO. YOU CANNOT DO THIS. All of these things are completely conceptually different! If you misunderstand this, you only end up with a bad clean drawing, or it only looks good because you shit it out of your ass and tried super hard.

The catch is- cleanup and inking help your fundamental drawing abilities tremendously- I think mostly in a physiological/memory associated way. The simple experience of feeling what the "actual finished" lines of a character brings you a greater understanding of how the lines are spaced out, and how much pressure you need.

Monday, May 3, 2010

More random tricks

I've been finding that when it comes to legs, the outer silhouette is most important- that is, the silhouette should be drawn straight away and it should show the structure straight away.

I've been trying to wean techniques of drawing from observation into how I would draw from memory.

One thing I've noticed is that when I draw from, say, a comic panel- something with a backgrounds & complexity- I spend a lot of time observing the center of interest- namely the placement and the size of the main figure.

This is to say that the simple process of designing in a figure in a box in an aesthetic and storytelling way is a delicate thing.

Oftentimes, its worth starting over and over again, just placing one figure in a panel in a relevant and clear way. The idea of the panel should be clear with only the fewest elements possible, and such elements should be drawn first.

For other people in a panel- design their body language in angles. Other people should be used to lead you to the main person.