After looking through some old Comic-Con finds, I drew this Chris Sanders inspired girl. I love how he makes things both solid and pudgy (especially feet!) and how delicate and confident his line work is.
We've been busy attempting to sell our home and buy a new one since May, so pretty much everything else in life -- including working on new art -- has been put on hold.
But since I miss updating my blog, I wanted to share my sister, Laura Mensinga's amazing short film, which she shot, directed and filmed with Kirsten White. It features their bike gang/art collective The Deadly Nightshades and toured with the 2011 Bike Film Festival. I think it's awesome, and I'm excited it's now online. Enjoy. :)
Pencils for an illustration I may or may not finish.
One of the challenges of parenting for me is maintaining enthusiasm for creative projects. I begin with a lot of energy and excitement, but where I used to just sit down and work on something for several hours/days until it was done, I now must work in small increments, stopping and starting over and over. After stoping and starting five or six times, it feels (even if it's not true) that the art is going nowhere and I should probably just start something new.
Writing seems to be the one exception to the rule, thank goodness. And I think it's because even if I can only sit down for a half hour, I can still knock out a couple of pages and create something that, even if needs polish, still feels complete.
Don't pay attention to this first version of page five. It's horrible. But my post makes the most sense if I start with this image.
Last week I was really lucky to hear Glen Keane speak. If you don't know who Glen Keane is, it would be worth your while to do some googling. He's the incredible talent behind many iconic Disney characters and his beautiful artwork has been a huge inspiration to me and many many other artists.
After Mr. Keane's talk, my husband asked me how it went and I said, "Meh."
At first I couldn't pinpoint why I was disappointed, I mean, Glen Keane did a great job speaking. But then I realized that a silly part of me thought that by listening to one of my art heroes speak, some of his awesomeness would rub off on me and I'd be magically transformed into a better artist. And another equally silly part of me thought I'd leave that lecture with some powerful art secret I never knew before. Ridiculous. I know.
But as the week's gone on, Glen Keane's talk keeps coming to mind; things he said and things I observed about his work. Much of it is stuff I should know, or used to know when I was fresh out of college, but somehow got lost along the way. So thanks from the back row, Mr. Keane! And since one of his points was how important it is to share what we know with other artists, here goes:
- Think of your line drawing as a three-dimensional sculpture.
- It's all in the eyes.
- If you're not satisfied with the first drawing you do... redraw it. And then redraw it. And then redraw it, pushing the pose, the design, etc, until it's as awesome as it should be. I used to do this a lot, particularly when designing characters for people. But for some reason it never occurred to me to approach comic pages the same way.
- As long as you understand how something is built, you can draw it.
- Ebony pencils pretty much rock.
So... above is the artwork for page five of a comic I've been working on. I did this artwork several months ago, tried to ink it by hand, loathed it, and then inked it digitally, which although it's better, it's still stiff and soulless;
Yesterday, thinking about Glen Keane's talk, I decided to dig a bunch of ebony pencils out of my dusty art supplies and apply some of the things I learned to my comic.
Since I was using that first image as my reference and haven't worked on this book in months, I forgot that I got rid of the blindfold... but you can see that I'm thinking about the characters more three-dimensionally. And since I knew I could redraw the page if I made a mistake, my line work is bolder and more confident.
So here's another take on it. (By the way, if you'd like to do this kind of workup to your art, semi-translucent animation paper is a good way to go... I recommend chromacolour. Vellum will also work or a light table.) You can see here that the top panel is getting more interesting, the acting is stronger and I'm figuring out the best way to use my lines to express volume and shape. However, her hair is still weird there at the bottom, and I realized I forgot to take that blindfold off! Argh!
Round three! Or is it four? His blindfold is off, her hair is better and the lines are nice! The group up top is far more expressive that I originally drew them and they have some great descriptive shapes too. But, taking that mask off the blind guy has made him worse, his hair is too flat and his right eye is too high. I also think that the girl's hair is maybe a shade too big. And the dialogue she'll be delivering has menace, so she looks too sweet. The line work is also getting too clean... and for me, clean generally means stiff and blah. One more try!
I thought the top group was working well enough, so I left them out. The blind character's face is better, the girl's expression is more appropriate to her dialogue and everyone's hair has improved!
The only thing I still might change is technically the girl should be looking more to camera, like in the original drawing. But there's something sinister about a sideways look and what she's saying is fairly grim, so we'll see.
By the way, all these ebony drawings took me about two/three hours tops, and half of that time was spent keeping track of an active toddler. That's FAR faster than either of the first two drawings.
So maybe listening to Glen Keane talk didn't magically transform me into a better artist last Thursday, but it transformed me into a better artist one week later. Not bad!
Recently, I had to wait in line for two-three hours to enroll my kids in preschool. Luckily I brought my sketchbook and a fistful of sharp pencils. (And some snacks and my kindle...) Not sure who this girl is, but I like that she doesn't have a traditional comic-book shape and is still pretty sexy.
And here are my feet. Who needs shoes?
... and then I decided that I should probably draw my hands, because I still kind of secretly hate drawing hands.
And here's a stab at a Belle sketch, to possibly follow up that Little Mermaid painting. I wish Disney marketing focused more on Belle's love of books, rather than her poofy yellow dress.
Here are some random dragon creatures.
And here's an unfinished fairy, because at that point I got to the front of the line! Hurrah!
I haven't posted a painting in a while, but I actually have been painting a lot since last summer doing freelance concept design. It was fun to sit down to paint this and realize that all that freelance work has upped my confidence when it comes to digital painting. I've done digital paintings that I've liked in the past, but I always felt that they were 20% deliberate design and 80% unpredictable blind luck. I felt entirely in control painting this. It's so nice to be at that point.
Two revelations that have helped me paint better...
The first: Chop the painting into a few (but not too many) logical layers. In this case, I worked with half of Ariel's hair on the top layer, her face and body on the middle layer and the rest of her hair on the bottom layer.
The second: This one might be a little more complicated to explain. But here goes... and I stole this theory in part from someone at DNA Studios, but I can't remember who now. I'm sorry!
Think about the world in terms of shape, flat color (which can also mean various shades of black and white in something monochromatic) and volume (shading within a shape to make it seem more three-dimensional). Then make two of those elements more pronounced than the third. In this case, I'm focusing on shape and color. I've kept my shading to a minimum.
It would be so fun to see a remake of some of Disney's classically animated films. I know, gasp, hand to heart. But hear me out... I adore classical animation and the original films are of course beautiful and breathtaking, however, we all love seeing a beloved story retold in a new way. Who doesn't like going to see another Batman movie? :)