Friday, April 28, 2006

Willard Mullins: Line of Action

This is from an old book called "The Complete Guide to Drawing, Illustration, Cartooning and Painting." For a book with such an ambitious title it doesn't really deliver as much as you might hope. These two pages are the best thing about it.

This is by Willard Mullins, a great newspaper cartoonist who specialized in cartoons about baseball. This is an interesting piece about how he approaches his work by starting with the line-of-action.

Some drawings he did of a baseball player. Interesting, of course, because the poses look ones you'd associate with a ballerina, not a baseball player.

Again, note how E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G on the figure is made to follow the Line Of Action. I used to have a life drawing teacher who said that even the bellybutton should reflect the pose. It should bend, twist, squash or stretch to fit what the figure is doing. As it does in real life, of course!


Marmax said...

I can't get enough of these scans though. The line of action seems so simple but it is even easier to ruin the flow of your drawing once you start building the form around it. I feel I have to exaggerate the line of action even more to compensate a lot of the time.

chickennuggets said...

i've never seen your belly button squash and stretch.

Scott LeMien said...

i think that first sheet helped me a lot in communicating the line of action concept.

mark walton said...

Oh, man, I love those drawings, particularly the baseball ones! HA! They're almost like fashion illustrations, with enlarged hands and long limbs to really exaggerate each pose, and clearly show the direction of movement. Showing clear line of action really separates the great illustrators from those merely trying to copy parts and shapes of what they see, without comprehending the intent of the whole. I keep meaning to write about the different artists represented in the Masters of American Comics exhibit I saw a while ago, particualry E.C. Segar who did the original "Popeye" strips. Man, it is amazing how much action and movement he crammed into those strips - and the simple, graphic appeal belied incredibly sophisticated choreography and handling of weight, mass, speed, and direction in his drawn figures. It really seemed to me like this guy had done a lot of homework and had actually watched a lot of fights carefully - the way the figures moved always felt real and believable, no matter how crazy and imaginative the story got.

SMacLeod said...

Wow! Incredible drawings.