When I got to the 20th strip of the comic, I decided it was time to step back and review things. In this article on the artwork, I’m looking at the Faces & Characterisation.
People Like It!
Something that I haven’t sufficiently appreciated is how much people enjoy a well drawn facial expression. Which is strange, considering how much I also do, and how much I enjoy drawing them! Here’s a very old one ^ of mine which nearly everyone says is one of their favorites:
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.