Tuesday, 21 July 2009
I'm sure I'll want to fix and fiddle with it in another hour, but it's gotta be done. . . .
Gotta pick up a frame and then bring this into Toronto.
Monday, 20 July 2009
Several thumbnails later I come up with the pose that captures what I want -- Laura (I hope I'm remembering her name), was wearing and ankle bracelet and a toe ring or two and I want to emphasise it without having the feet point into a corner. Solution -- she's playing with one of the cushions with her feet. I think the "action" being more central and vertical will allow me to use other elements to maintain the composition.
Thursday, 16 July 2009
I brought the worst paper the draw on I've ever bought (BOO!)
No idea why I bought this paper. I rarely leave an art supply store empty handed and I'm prone to just buy things that I might try out, so I must have bought this pad on a whim. I grabbed it on a similar whim on the way out instead of my other stacks of paper. I really felt like using conté Monday, but after setting up at the Cameron House and making a few warm-up marks on the paper I had an immediate sinking feeling. The wise and gorgeous Sharlena was sitting next to me and commented that she didn't like this paper when she tried it some time ago. I tried a few other media on it and settled for carbon pencils. I really should have brought a nice slick newsprint or similar surfaced paper as that was what I really wanted to work with. Bad planning.
Since that was worst aspect of the night, I really shouldn't complain -- but since I already have I guess I'll have to live with it.
The second sketch challenge was EXTREME FAIRY TALES -- so I did a Bo Peep/Goldielocks mash-up. Sharleen won with a wonderful Peter Pan drawing and got a six-pack of delicious-looking cupcakes
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
Whenever I review portfolios I almost inevitably recommend George Bridgman’s drawing books. They were first recommended to me by the first professional comics artist I met, George Freeman. The story he told me was that these were the books that Frank Frazetta used to learn anatomy. SOLD!
I went down to my local WH Smith’s bookseller and ordered the Dover edition of Bridgman’s Life Drawing. The book was a revelation on how to approach drawing the figure. I’d already seen a number of approaches using the stick figure and spheres and cylinders, but this was the first time I saw someone using nice, solid blocks. For the first time I was reading how the body was really put together and learning a system that made sense when put in context of a real body. As limited funds allowed I obtained all 5 of the currently available Dover paperbacks of Bridgman’s drawing books.
Now, most people might think I might be as big a booster for Bridgman’s Complete Guide to Drawing from Life, but they’d be wrong.
It’ll do if you really don’t have a choice, but, if you’re using the internet and can follow a link like this: Bridgman’s Life Drawing , you have a choice. I haven’t parsed the Complete book to see if the language has actually been altered, or how much of Bridgman’s organization has been disrupted, but I feel that the whole of Bridgman’s intent and approach is best taken in context of the book he placed it within.
Using Bridgman’s Books
I’d suggest starting with the one book Amazon Associates seems unwilling to let me list in the widget to the right, Bridgman’s Life Drawing. Luckily, I have what amounts to at least a yellow belt in web fu and I made a link from the title for those interested.
This book is really the best place to start with Bridgman. It was suggested to me the best way to study Bridgman was to copy each page from each book, cover to cover, and repeat until I understood it all. I’m going to pass along similar advice, but in an altered form:
1. Yes, do copy all of his drawings as you go through the books, (and do make a manikin from wire and blocks like he suggests), but don’t ever let it be mindless copying.
2. Think about why Bridgman drew shapes in a certain way, about why he merged masses together in a certain way.
3. Interrupt you sessions copying Bridgman to try and apply it to drawing from real life.
4. Try to understand why Bridgman is exaggerating and simplifying and try to apply similar thinking to exaggerating and simplifying your own drawing in your own way.
5. Do read his text, but understand that the real content in his books is gleaned from his drawings.
6. Only move on to the next book when you think you’ve taken what you can from the one you’re currently studying. Don’t fight to extract every bit of knowledge on the first pass – let the information come to you when you’re ready. The book and its contents will be there for you the next time you come to it.
I think the best order to approach studying the Bridgman books is this:
Bridgman’s Life Drawing
The Human Machine
Heads, Features and Faces
The Book of a Hundred Hands
The last two can be interchanged depending on your whim, since I feel the real core study is contained in the first three books, while the latter two are more about refining or breaking down the approach into more complex forms.
A real benefit to be taken from Bridgman is a solid foundation in understanding form and mass in space, which if you want to draw the human figure well from your imagination, you need. Bridgman isn’t about surface or rendering, it’s about developing a structure. In many ways, Bridgman’s approach is applicable to all imaginative drawing; start with accurate, simplified forms in space and develop them into more complex and detailed shapes as needed.
On a scale of 1-10, where 1 means the book shouldn’t even be looked at and 10 means it’s an artist’s bible I rate the Bridgman books
Bridgman’s Life Drawing 10/10
Constructive Anatomy 9/10
The Human Machine 9/10
Heads, Features and Faces 6/10
The Book of a Hundred Hands 6/10
Bridgman’s Complete Guide to Drawing from Life 7/10 (only if the others are unavailable)
I'm using Amazon.com as the default link online bookseller for it's near-ubiquitous place on the internet. I'm Canadian and most often use Chapters-Indigo for my online book buying. You should be able to find any book I review and recommend here at the bookseller of your choice, though I might earn gift certificates to buy even more art books if you buy them from the links to the right. What's of real importance is that the artists out there get the best information and support possible.
Monday, 6 July 2009
by Alberto Lanzillotti & Manuel Bracchi
A nicely drawn and coloured strip, it avoids most of the novice issues with Zuda entries, but there are some significant storytelling issues. The reader needs to know where the action is set and who the participants are. Clarity is important – less so in the talking heads scene that opens the story than the fight scene that wraps up the entry. The big negatives with this strip is that it feels like it was drawn for a traditional format and cut to fit in the Zuda window; so it really feels like 4 pages of comics spread over 8 and it just ends.
If a team can’t take Zuda seriously enough to craft a real entry for the format and in consideration of how those first 8 pages will be received, I really don’t think it deserves to win.
By Justin Jordan
It’s a visually annoying strip – the exaggerated dot-colouring emulating old four colour printing techniques doesn’t help the strip in any way – in fact I think it obscures some the details that should be readily visible to enhance the storytelling. One page of strip makes no sense until you see the first panel of the next page – considering that one of the characters was reacting to something the audience should have been able to see, it’s a dropped ball on the part of the writer/artist.
I found the “acting” over the top and the action largely uninteresting, which turned me off on a genre I usually dig.
By Jeff McComsey & Jorge Vega
A nice, solid entry. Solid drawing, the letting needs a little work to sit better within the work and the colouring is off in places (the colour of blood is rather orange and dull, for example). As an entry, McComsey crafts a nice 8-page sequence and cliffhanger that gives a sense of place, time and character and wraps up with a good cliffhanger that might drive the right number of people to want to see what happens next.
By Erik Valdez y Alanis
This is a weird and occasionally charming entry. I’m not partial to the drawing style of the majority of the strip, but it’s well done for its type and it’s deviations into other styles and techniques are nicely handled.
The story doesn’t really hang together too well, but it sets up it’s ending in an interesting manner.
Interrogation Control Element
By too many people to list here.
I guess this is the start of some sort of political thriller. The drawing is, well, its okay. Some of the drawing is too sketchy or stiff, the colouring a little flat and without nuance. The Arabic characters are drawn with white features and the colouring isn’t up to the job of covering the shortcoming. Considering that this is a story that seems to be setting itself up to deal with Middle-Eastern characters on an ongoing basis, that’s a problem.
The story feels like a technical exercise at this point – touching on a bunch of points to set up its credentials and the world it exists in, but not doing so in a manner that really caught my interest. It’s a case of doing the right things, but just not doing them well.
By Eric & Chris Zawadzki
A damn fine entry with some really, really awful colouring. Nicely setting up its initial characters and conflict and moving to a energetic and intriguing climax I can overlook the oddball “censored” banners in the word balloons. I think Zuda is cool with the occasional F-bomb. The title bothers me some -- feels like the name of a shareware video game from the 90s. Not saying it was, just that if there were a shareware game about a city under attack and this was 1997, Metropolitan Siege would be a likely name for it. Was Alien Siege or Viral Siege already taken?
If it’s picked up, the colouring really needs to improve and, while I’m making suggestions, the inking could be more sensitive and less flat.
By Aluísio Cervelle Santos
Essentially a seven-page fight sequence. It have a nice, early-80s Paradax feel to the art, though not as accomplished as Brendan McCarthy’s work, nor as surreal as his narratives.
There are occasionally weak storytelling choices next to really interesting ones as well as a few nice lettering touches. It feels like its missing something that would make me want to read more, so, despite some really strong elements, I find myself less than interested in following this strip if it were to continue.
The Adventures of Mr. Simian
By John Bivens
Bivens’s second stab at Zuda, first solo (unless I missed one along the way). This looks like pure fun – escaped super-smart lab animals on the run in a flying car. The drawing is very strong, lovely cartooning going on in here. I’m not a huge fan of the filters on the colouring, but it certainly doesn’t bother me to the degree the affected colouring of The Assignment does. I would like one word balloon moved on the last page so it’s easier to distinguish what’s so special about the car, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a perfect Zuda entry out of the gate.
Mr. Simian could be a strip that really kicks ass.
The Ares Imperative
By Steve Ekstrom, Mikael Bergkvist & Jesse Turnbull
This very “talky” and slow moving entry serves as an intro to a story that implies some big, secret science project that falls flat with an ambiguous and actually dull final page. The final image of a few bodies, frozen in the snow isn’t particularly shocking or disturbing to me as a long-time comic reader, so it does nothing to intrigue me about where the story is headed. Writers should keep in mind that they aren’t competing with the reader’s own life experiences when trying to shock them, but more often their experiences from other comics.
The art is very derivative –Alan Davis and perhaps Dale Keown’s style are heavily stomped everywhere – and the inking is often clumsy. The lettering and colouring are actually the strongest elements in this entry.
By Don Kunkel and C. P. Wilson III
It sells itself as a superhero comedy, with an aged super-heroine who talks like someone in their 20s. There wasn’t much in the way of funny on display, but the B&W art is actually quite acceptable – things like solid perspective and consistent anatomy can usually be overlooked when humour is the supposed goal. This is a strip where the decision to go black and white was obviously a bad one. Colour would have greatly enhanced the feel that this was a superhero tale, and it looks like it was drawn with colour in mind. Page 2 suffers greatly for the lack of colour.
Should I go one more about how the lack of colour hurts this entry? Didn’t think so. Even with the colour the lack of real funny and sour note characterization would sink this one.
Either I’m mellowing after my break from my quick reviews, or this month’s entries are actually better overall than those I’ve seen previously. On quality, my choice would be either Mr. Simian or Metropolitan Siege to win. History tends to favour the entry with the largest number of participants or a devoted local non-English support network, which might give it to Rockstar or Interrogation Control Element.
As I have in the past, I might expand or update my reviews as the ranks come out.
Sunday, 5 July 2009
Things I want to pick up again now that things have settled some include returning to monthly ZUDA reviews, posting developmental artwork for things I can share with you, I want to review and suggest a number of art books from my library -- both how-tos and artist collections -- on a monthly-ish schedule.
The illustration above was for Damon Sasser's Two-Gun Raconteur, an excellent journal on the works of Robert E. Howard. More info and how to order below:
REH Two-Gun Raconteur #13 in now avilable.
This issue of The Definitive Howard Journal made its debut on June 12th at the 2009 Howard Days in Cross Plains to rave reviews.
Contents include: "The Black Moon" by Robert E. Howard, illustrated by Robert Sankner; "Kingdoms of Clouds and Moonmist" by Brian Leno, illustrated by Bob Covington; "The Hyperboreans Re-imagined" by Morgan Holmes, illustrated by Richard Pace; "Kings of the Night: A: Bran Mak Morn Portfolio" by Michael L. Peters; "The Skald and the King" by Chris Green, illustrated by Bill Cavalier; "The Long and Winding Road: A Poetic History" by Rob Roehm, illustrated by David Burton; "Sailor" Steve Cositgan: A Portfolio" by Clayton Hinkle; Verse by Frank Coffman; "The Mighty Revelator Passes" Tributes and Final Farewells to Steve Tompkins, plus additional artwork and features.
LIMITED EDITION of 250 numbered copies.
Price is $23.00 per copy ($19.50, plus $3.50 for US shipping and handling)
Order from and make checks and money orders payable to:
Damon C. Sasser6402 Gardenspring Brook LaneSpring, TX 77379
Payment also accepted via PayPal:firstname.lastname@example.org
I really enjoy contributing to projects like this, partly because I'm a Howardhead, but also because the journal is so well done.