Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Appeal...part one

This is a section from a handout I did recently for a lecture at CalArts.

I've been talking a lot about layout and composition but I definitely want to talk about drawing characters as well. I've been remiss not to get into this sooner...but my rainy day technical problems (see previous post) force me to abandon my plan and post what I have available to me at work!

Appeal is a very very hard subject to's very elusive and hard to quantify. I don't know much about it myself! But this section touches on so, so, so many things I want to cover in detail in the future. So check it out and I will build on all of these concepts more and more in the future.

The three concepts I talk about first - rhythm, variety of shape, and proportion - are three huge, huge secrets to doing great character design. I really wanted to talk about these in depth....but again, maybe there's a benefit to my rainy day dilemma of just throwing all this out there. Read this stuff and I will build on these simple concepts as we go.

A big key to great drawing - in my mind, anyway - is GROUPING. Any drawing can be improved by unifying it. A drawing should feel like one thing...not a bunch of human parts stuck together on a background that is made up of different peices of landscape. Many drawing books encourage you to think of humans or animals as being made up of different sections as you draw. That can be a big help, and definitely works well for some people. But my approach is to try and learn everything I can about the subject before I draw it - know the skeleton backwards and forwards, and know the musculature backwards and forwards and draw the subject as ONE THING as you draw. Because the gesture of whatever you draw should be consistent within all the parts and give them a unified direction. If you're thinking of the figure as different peices it's hard to give them a unifying overall gesture and line-of-action.

At least that's my goal anyway....I'm still working on the knowing everything backwards and forwards bit.

Again, much much more on this to come.

For now, try this out yourself - if you're unhappy with a drawing, look and see what you can "group" together to simplify the pose and give the figure or object more direction or a better gesture.

Anyway, take a look, and I will try to add to all this stuff when my issues are resolved. Know that this is just the very tip of the iceberg on all of these issues. If anything seems confusing, don't worry, I will blab about it ad naseum when I can!


Scott LeMien said...

ooh, FANTASTIC! I especially clicked with your reference on the last drawing, to having the backleg, neck and back hand pointing in the same flow or arc of action.

Hehe, I'm so happy there's gonna be more!

Goobeetsablog said...

great handout- thanks for the tips

zoe said...

Re: the right angles --

So THAT'S what was bothering me so much about that drawing I did a few weeks ago!

Thank you so much. These kinds of posts make me feel like I can take another step forward.

Steve said...

Diddo what Zoe said Mark...

These posts are helping me to break my drawings down, and really make progress =]

AWESOME stuff!!!!

RoboTaeKwon-Z said...

This is a great lesson, Mark. I'm learning a lot too!

Gabriel said...

I'm guilty! I never realized it until now! Thanks for this stuff, I couldnt pinpoint before what exactly was making some drawings of mine look weird. Specially the running guy, most of my running people look like your example of 'wrong'.

mark kennedy said...

Thanks for taking the time to write such nice comments! Can't wait to post more. So glad it helped everyone - it's always helpful to me to see this stuff again as I post it.

Robo, knock it off. One look at your Chippy stuff says you know it all!

Jorge Noujaim said...

Great tips. thanks for posting.

Emma said...

I always get bogged down in the details... this is a great handout.

Do you practice gestures like this from life, eg. kids in the park, people at coffee shops? Or do you sit down and do pages and pages and pages of gesture drawings and figure out which ones are most communicative?
I'm having real problems simplifying my drawings (and getting them to be appealing) so that they're suitable for story work... I'd like to hear your process.

mark kennedy said...

Thanks for all the comments!

Sorry emma, I didn't get back to your question earlier. Yes, I carry a sketchbook whenever I can but I don't get to use it as much as I'd like. All of this gesture stuff definitely applies to drawing from life. And in answer to your other question, I do that too. When I'm working, I'll draw pages of thumbnails to figure out the best way to draw something and have it communicate well.
Simplifying your work is very hard. A lot of people don't get that and they prefer "busy" drawings with a ton of detail. I will post more about that here and you should seek out the work of arists you like and analyze their stuff to see what they're doing. That's all I have ever done!

Cedric said...

I finally got around to reading this post, and I just wanted to say thanks so much for all the great work you put into your blog. If you ever post more of your lecture notes, I would love to download them as well. Much obliged!