Once upon a time – after the time when I was young and had sense – but before now upon a time, when I’m a disillusioned mess, I was in the habit, as many mature – but boring people are, of grinning, and making fun of those over-weight, balding, middle-aged men who frequent comic shops.
After all, I’d gone to art college, travelled Italy, read copious amounts of art historical literature including Vasari and Ruskin and had good taste and a pretty educated eye for proper art.
When I rediscovered my childhood art about 5 years ago, and thought about the fact that I’d become an unhappy professional designer, I realised what an idiot I’d been. You see, I’d been drawing my own comics from the age of 8 or 9, and was dead-set on being a comic artist when I grew up, but somehow I took a wrong turn.
I see now that it’s so important not to throw all of those childhood passions away so lightly, because they can still inspire the adult!
I’m still not getting Clive’s character design right.
The week before last I went back over pages 2 and 3 to make him more consistent [he’s like Lon Chaney Sr., The Man of a Thousand Faces!]. I thought I’d managed it – well enough. But I haven’t. I posted a bit on the Facebook page ^ yesterday, and I’ll expand a little on it here.
‘Cartoony’ & Detailed/Abstraction vs Realism
I’ve also realised the problem of using a simple cartoon style and then trying to do close-ups. Surely the face should become more detailed in close-up. Otherwise, you end up with a few abstract looking lines?
Above: Clive, has been drawn anew each time in closer/larger aspect. See how he changes?
Next, I crudely increased his size from the small, quickly scribbled version using Photoshop. Pretty abstract little bunch of lines – but he still looks like the same guy.
Above, having learnt my lesson [finally] I drew over the blown-up version on the right, adding just a bit more detail. He looks more like the same person. The lesson is so obvious that I’m probably the only person on earth who didn’t realise it – to my cost. You have to work out the design of the character in the simplest possible forms – FIRST. Basic shapes and dimensions – and stick to that no matter what size he’s drawn at and regardless of detail.
It’s all in the preparation
That’s what decorators say. The problem really, is impatience and over-confidence. I have a small part of 2 days per week when I’m off work to do the comic and I just dashed into it. I’m going to have to loop-back over the previous pages – again, fix the faces and hopefully that’ll be the end of it. But I mustn’t do it until I’ve got Clive’s design nailed-down and codified into some sort of easy to use formula. I also need to work on drawing him from every conceivable angle. In animation studios they end up with what’s called a model sheet for each character. And as I mentioned in a previous post, they often even sculpt the characters in clay so you can examine them from every angle and make sure it works.
Well, I just learned a valuable lesson – that never should have had to be learned:
Get the drawing right first– before proceeding to colour.
I know I’m not the first or only person to make the mistake of thinking:
“It’s good enough, it’ll all come out great when it’s coloured.” Wrongggggg.
So this morning, I went to the considerable trouble of re-doing last week’s page 3 of the comic [See the differences below]. It’s more than changing the drawing, you have to patch the new bits into the page – erase the old bits of line and colour and tone, and redo all the flats and other colours and tones for those areas. Hours of work!
So, lesson to me: Don’t rush – it’s a false economy – more haste = more waste!
Oh, and there’s another thing: I should get some proper model sheets done. Clive, from all angles and and with lots of different facial expressions. I suppose this is why Disney and Pixar like to sculpt 3d models of their characters for the animators to refer to in-the-round.