Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Comic Stips from young artists

Teaching young minds to draw like they've never lifted a pencil before can be difficult.  Teaching them to draw lightly and loosely is especially difficult when they bear down on that pencil with all of their might.  You almost need to take on a Yoda approach and get them to "Unlearn what (they've) Learn". 

But, this class is a fun, after school art class.  My objective was to get them to step outside of the box, come up with fun characters and a fun storyline or joke to make a comic strip out of.  These kids really came up with some special pieces. 

I've been a little backed up with life.  And who hasn't, am I right?  So, to those who are looking for your work to be posted, it's coming.  Still cleaning and composing your work, so keep an eye on this blog.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Few Hints On Character Design

You can’t have a comic without characters, right?  Having well-designed characters that can express elements of their personality or temperament is quite helpful to the reader, but there are some tips that can really take your characters to another level. There are so many characters from comics, cartoons, TV shows, movies, and other media that have achieved iconic status. Think of the minions from Despicable Me– so simplistic, yet so recognizable… and so unique. Like many things, coming up with something 100% new is almost impossible… the key is using inspiration and combining qualities you like from other designs to create your own personalized character design that will be easily recognizable and memorable.

If you ever have trouble coming up with an idea for a character, just look in the mirror.  When I created my character of myself, leaning on the pencil, I was 13 years old, a little overweight, my skin had started to break out, and I was uncomfortable in my own skin.  I designed a cartoon version of myself.  He was thinner, good skin, good hair, and he had the kind of confidence I wanted to have in myself.  Over the years, I would fine tune his design elements.  I changed his hair, clothes and as my style of drawing evolved, so did his overall look.

In the case of designing Iago for “Aladdin”, animator Will Finn had the exciting opportunity to animate a character that was wild and zaney.  He was a complete departure from Cogsworth, who he had just animated on “Beauty and the Beast”.  He convinced the directors that comedian Gilbert Gottfried would be the perfect casting choice for the loud mouthed, sarcastic parrot.  Gilbert’s way of speaking is very loud and squints his eyes tightly when he gets excited or angry, and they used those qualites to his limits.

In this situation, designers emphasized the actor’s eye brows, squinted Iago’s eyes and a very large set of teeth. (probably the only time you will see teeth in a bird, right?)

Just like writing an essay in school, a good place to start is by brainstorming and an outline.  We call this “blue sky” in the artistic world. You probably have some ideas of personality, possibly some visuals, of your main characters bouncing about your head? Put those on paper! Here’s a good exercise to get to know your characters better without the overwhelming task of just DRAWING them head-to-toe. Take a piece of paper and divide it into 3 columns. Title the first column “Adjectives”, the second “Features”, and the third “Doodles”. Make one sheet per character that you want to “outline”… but first start with your main characters.
1.Descreptive Column - Write down any and all adjectives and descriptive words about your character. Don’t think too hard, just jot them down.
2.Features Column -
Try to think up clothing, body shapes, accessories, hairstyles, or any other visual features that a character with that aspect of their personality, would have. For instance, if you listed “athletic”, that character would probably wear sneakers a lot. If your character is someone who jokes around a lot, maybe they wear a joy buzzer or a squirting flower.
3.Sketch Column
- Time to loosely sketch out some ideas! Nothing too detailed, not yet.  Just doodle some of the features you jotted down. A hat, a style of shoe, type of jewelry, logo on a T-shirt… you’re putting together the pieces of the puzzle!


Have fun with this.  This is your character, so have fun with it.  You aren’t going to have the perfect design right away.  You have to play with it a little before it will be something you like.

If you are stumped and need inspiration, hey, it happens to the best of us.  Try looking at pictures.  Like Iago in Aladdin, animators looked to the voice actors for inspiration in their character designs.

When animating  the Mad Hatter in “Alice in Wonderland”, animator Ward Kimball watched Ed Wynn while he recorded his voice for the film.  His nose was bulbous and perfect for caricature.  His cheeks were high and his jaw line hung low, so his face was stretched out below the eyes. 

Cool bit of Trivia: For the role of King Candy in “Wreck it Ralph”, Alan Tudyk imitated Ed Wynn’s voice.  The character designers took his performance and decided King Candy should resemble Ed Wynn to match the voice recordings.  Do you see a resemblance in the picture below?
Look at how design inspiration came from Cliff Edwards as Jiminy Cricket.  His nose and mouth were lifted right from the actor and simplified for cartooning.  Jiminy was the very first Disney character to be designed to look like the actor.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Drawing Loosely

Hello there, sorry that it's been a while.  I haven't grown disinterested in the blog.  I've been so wrapped up in commissions, side projects and my cartooning lessons that I teach, not to mention life...  I allowed myself to become over consumed.

And speaking of my cartooning class, as you may know, I teach cartooning classes to elementary school students.  They seem to be as thrilled to learn from a professional cartoonist as the cartoonist is to teach basics to those who really want to learn.  It's a great symbiotic relationship.  Anyway, the same questions pop up, week after week, which brings forth the thought that I should write about it here.  Drawing lightly and loosely.

It is very important for a good cartoonist, or a good artist, for that matter, to draw loosely.  Famed Disney animator, Ruben Aquino starts off his day at his animation desk drawing lots of circles to loosen his hand, wrist and shoulder.  He fills very large pieces of paper with lots and lots of circles.  I shake my drawing hand for a minute to get all my fingers and my wrist good and loose before I begin drawing. 
Glen Keane, the animator of the Beast and Aladdin draws very loosely.  You’ll see in his drawing to the left that every line is loose.  He lets the pencil find the form of the character.  It isn’t until the clean-up process, (when we begin inking) when the stray lines are erased, and the final line is permanently drawn. 

Without loosening up in your drawings, another thing will occur.  Your drawings will become stiff and flat.  This is why every character begins with construction lines.

Happy Drawing, Guys!