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If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all

11 Dec
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Preston Blair inspired drawings, part 10

1 Dec

Rabbit are you watching me
Originally uploaded by HVargas

I tried some more drawings from Preston Blair’s excellent book about character animation drawing. I was curious how he had come to such a design, in general terms, of course.

Judging from the photo of this rabbit, he started with a cute animal template and grafted “rabbit” onto it. You would expect the other way around, but I think that wouldn’t work. I think Preston abstracted the general body plan of rabbit-like creatures, stylized it into a cute animal template, and then set to work incorporating features of the animal in question.

While we can never be sure what goes on in the back of the mind of an artist (who isn’t aware of it as well), we can try to reason how to recreate a certain style, and use it to build our own.

I’m not stating that I’m going to do that in this blog post, for it surely requires years of study to be able to discuss an artist’s style with some authority, but I’m going to make a few statements that should make it easier to develop your own style based on someone else’s style.

Preston Blair inspired drawings, part 10

So the drawing above are my attempts to recreate the drawings of Preston Blair in his book. Next, I found the photo of the rabbit you see in the beginning of this post. Using that, I tried to stylize the realistic rabbit in a more cartoony version (on the right of the realistic version).

The bottom two drawings are an attempt to stylize the rabbit even more (left) and to recreate the Preston Blair drawing with my new found knowledge about drawing rabbits. As you can see, there is more life in the bottom right rabbit than in both the top two drawings based on the illustrations in the Preston Blair book.

I think this is a very productive method. Rather than to copy drawings of an artist, try to understand his style, look to the reference of a real animal (or whatever was drawn by the artist), and try to stylize it so, it resembles the original drawings somewhat. Your observations of the real animal (real object) will be incorporated into your own stylized drawings.

In my opinion this has two advantages, you can develop your own style, avoiding any copyright infringement claims, but more importantly, you can vary your style, between pure iconic and pure realistic. I’m sure you could even go abstract as well, but I haven’t yet looked into that aspect of illustration.

That is all.

Preston Blair inspired, part 9

26 Nov

Some things in drawing are just hard, like going from a basic setup to a full-featured sketch. I guess that requires years of good training and not a few days of trampling around with his pencil by some person who thinks he can draw.

Preston Blair inspired, part 9

Well, at least the drawings are getting better. They are still replicas of the originals, though, and not originals themselves. The problem still is that I can’t imagine a 2D shape as a 3D form. Getting some kind of “wire frame” in my head seems impossible.

Who knows, maybe it is indeed impossible for me. That is worrisome, because I’m already having problems telling stories. What is there left to do for someone who wants to draw comics if he can’t tell original stories and can’t draw original art?

In case you were wondering where part 8 is, I’ve published that on twitpic.

That is all.

Preston Blair inspired drawings, part 7

25 Nov

While on the surface most of these faces look very much alike, in reality they are different, too different for my critical eye.

Preston Blair inspired drawings, part 7

I guess it is important to draw on model, especially in animation drawing. This is I think the third sheet of egg shaped smiling faces I did since my previous post. One could say, get on with it, just go to the next exercise. However, I think being able to draw consistently is an important distinction between drawing for leisure and drawing more seriously (or even professionally). I’ve got to figure out this “draw on model” thing.

One of the things I’m struggling with is the precise shape of the egg form. The best I can come up with is to start with putting light pencil markings where the top and bottom of the egg shape is, and where the widest points left and right are.

Again, this is not enough. You also have to imagine how the shape looks if it were a three dimensional form, a true egg, like you buy at the grocery store. After all, you want to draw the egg shape from all sides, and fill it with the features in correct perspective. Perhaps I should use a real egg and do some sketches from different angles to get a better feel for egg perspective. I could even imagine drawing a face on a hard boiled egg, and draw that as well on paper.

Wrapping my head around seeing flat images as three dimensional is hard. For instance, when I study my cat’s heads close up, I try to imagine how the head would look from a different angle. Then I check to see if I was right. Sadly, I’m mostly wrong at this point.

I can only hope something will “click” at some point and turn on the 3D-light.

That is all.

Preston Blair inspired drawings, part 6

23 Nov

This drawing exercise was an attempt to create a consistent look in egg-shaped heads, independent of size and perspective. If you study each head and compare heads among each other, you can clearly see I still need a lot of practice. The six heads were drawn in roughly 45 minutes. It was the second batch of drawings for this exercise, and certainly not the final.

Preston Blair inspired drawings, part 6

The problems are manyfold. You first have to draw an outline, that is consistent with the egg form. This means you need to have a mental picture of the 3D shape. Then you have to put in the features (eyes, nose, mouth, etc.), which have to look consistent when comparing left and right side of the face. And third you have to make the expression consistent in all the faces, which also requires a mental picture of a curved plane with the features place on it. Remember, this is illustration, so sometimes the image has to modified slightly from the mathematically accurate three dimensional form. Clarity is generally more important than an accurate and realistic depiction.

All three things have to be done more or less simultaneously, requiring full concentration of an artist who still has to learn all this.

That is all.

Blasphemy

26 Feb

I created this short animation, using Leo’s laughter as a soundtrack.

That is all.

Having a bad hair day

30 Dec

If drawing badly is the same as being evil, I’m pure evil.

monkey evil

That is all.